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State treasurers lament tax talk agenda


State treasurers have labelled a meeting with their federal counterpart Wayne Swan a lost opportunity for a full discussion on the GST.

Mr Swan, who is meeting the treasurers in Canberra on Monday, has ruled out changing the base or rate of the GST but wants to talk about other aspects of a tax review by former premiers Nick Greiner and John Brumby.

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird said it was disappointing Mr Swan had decided against discussing a GST hike.

"It seems to me ... he either hasn't read his papers, he's interested in conspiracy theories or he's not interested in any way, shape or form in dealing with tax reform," he told reporters in Canberra.

NSW supported the recommendation in the review suggesting GST revenue be distributed to the states on an earnings per capita basis.

Mr Baird said that system had broad support across the states because it would be fairer, more transparent and reduce volatility.

West Australian Treasurer Troy Buswell said the failure to discuss the GST fully was a lost opportunity for Australia.

"States are keen to look at more efficient, more effective taxation systems ... but they can't do it alone," he told reporters.

Mr Swan ruled out any talks about lifting the rate of the GST above 10 per cent or broadening its base to include fresh food or health costs, branding it a "lazy way" of going about tax reform.

"From this Labor government's perspective, we will never consider increasing the rate or the base of the GST," he told reporters.

"Doing that would hit the lowest income earners in our community really hard."

The Greiner/Brumby review was not allowed to consider a hike in the GST or extending its base under the government's terms of reference.

Mr Swan has urged the states to reform their own taxation regimes, saying they could start by getting rid of stamp duty.

He said a number of Liberal state treasurers had been encouraged to raise the issue of the GST by shadow treasurer Joe Hockey.

That suggestion was "complete and utter nonsense", Mr Baird said.

On mining royalties, WA was comfortable with the existing position despite a recommendation from the OECD they be dumped and replaced with a uniform resources rent tax.