State and territory treasurers will meet with Joe Hockey in Cairns on Friday, rather than having their routine gathering in Canberra.
The last time state and territory treasurers collectively met Joe Hockey was before his first budget.
The federal treasurer gave no prior warning that he was about to cut $80 billion from state schools and hospitals funding by 2024/25.
Understandably, the states reacted with a “not happy, Joe”.
Yet the same budget provided states with a means to boost infrastructure spending.
Aside from what Mr Hockey once called the usual “grizzling” about distribution of GST revenue, infrastructure will be a key topic when treasurers travel to Cairns for a routine meeting on Friday, replacing their usual gathering in the nation’s capital.
Mr Hockey is in far north Queensland for a two-day meeting with G20 finance ministers and central bankers at the weekend.
With private investment high on the agenda of the world’s richest developed and developing countries as as part of an ambitious growth target, it makes sense for state and territory treasurers to be in town to discuss their own infrastructure plans.
Friday’s meeting will provide an opportunity for an update on the so-called asset-recycling plan.
When they met in March, Mr Hockey struck a deal that would provide financial incentives to build billions of dollars worth of infrastructure.
It encourages states to sell-off public assets and direct the proceeds into new productive infrastructure projects, such as roads, in a bid create jobs and lift economic growth.
The commonwealth will provide states with a 15 per cent bonus on top of the sale price.
With the massive contribution from mining investment in decline, the other 90 per cent of the economy has to be fired up, Mr Hockey argues.
“If you want jobs these are the sort of activities we need to undertake,” he says about infrastructure projects.
The meeting will revisit the long-running saga surrounding the GST exemption on foreign goods under $1000.
Retailers in particular believe they are at a disadvantage given the explosion in online shopping since the threshold was put in place in 2000.