The Council on Federal Financial Relations (CFFR) met today in Canberra to progress issues of national economic significance.
Treasurers provided an update on the economic and fiscal outlook at the Commonwealth and State levels. The Council noted that Australia’s economy continues to navigate the transition from the mining boom to broader based growth. While we are in the midst of our 26th year of continuous economic growth, we noted the distribution of growth varies across States and Territories.
There was consensus amongst Treasurers that addressing housing affordability is a key priority for both Commonwealth and State Governments. Recognising that States and Territories are already undertaking a range of initiatives to improve housing supply and affordability, Treasurers affirmed their commitment to continue to work on policies to improve housing affordability, including rental affordability for those on low-incomes. It is important that the Commonwealth funding provided to support the National Affordable Housing Agreement is invested more effectively to deliver these outcomes.
The Council received a presentation from the Chair of the Fintech Advisory Group, Mr Craig Dunn, on the digital revolution. A constructive discussion followed on how digitisation can deliver efficiency gains across the economy and the role governments play in promoting digital reforms.
Signatories to the Intergovernmental Agreement on Competition and Productivity enhancing Reforms noted the progress in developing a Regulatory Reform National Partnership.
Last December, Treasurers agreed that further work needs to be done to explore what factors might be impeding business investment in Australia and have asked Heads of Treasuries to prepare a report for consideration in late 2017. This inquiry is progressing well and consultation with industry – including small, medium and large business – is underway.
The Treasurers agreed to consider a common national approach on examining a point of consumption tax for online gambling having regard to South Australia’s approach. Treasurers will consider a model that provides for Commonwealth oversight of consistency. The common approach will include a National Consumer Protection Framework on online gambling. Each State and Territory will need to individually consider the impacts on sports organisations within their own jurisdictions and the Commonwealth will report on efforts to crack down on illegal offshore gambling.
Treasurers have asked Heads of Treasuries to report back to the next Council meeting on such a potential model, including an assessment of the transitional impacts on existing State and Territory arrangements.
The Northern Territory reserved its position on this issue, subject to receiving the report.
I also consulted with my colleagues on the Commonwealth Grant Commission’s recommended GST relativities for 2017-18. The Commission’s report is now available on the Commonwealth Grant Commission’s website.
This was a productive meeting and I thank all of the Treasurers for their valuable contributions.