PM gives Tassie 'thermal' GST comfort

Jennifer Jennings
Malcolm Turnbull says a report on how the GST should be changed will be released within weeks

Huddled together braving the Cradle Mountain chill, Malcolm Turnbull embraced the Tasmanian premier.

As Will Hodgman pledged to keep fighting for the Apple Isle's share of the GST, the prime minister's arm came around him.

"I'm just warming him," Mr Turnbull told reporters.

"This is a political hug ... designed to provide thermal comfort."

Mr Hodgman was clearly struggling to get his message out in the cold weather.

"The biggest problem I've got is my mouth's not working because it's cold," he said.

"I feel like I've had an anaesthetic or something. You can take a tooth out and I wouldn't feel it."

Mr Turnbull committed Tasmania won't lose a cent out of any changes to the way the tax revenue is carved up.

But he acknowledged part of what needs to be reformed is how actual payments to the states fluctuate year-on-year, making it hard for planning.

He wouldn't confirm when a Productivity Commission review into possible changes and now with the government will be publicly released - or if it will come before upcoming by-elections in Tasmania, South Australia and WA.

"It will be released within weeks not months, but it's a huge report ... I haven't had the opportunity to read it, it's over 400 pages I might add, it's quite a doorstopper," Mr Turnbull said.

The commission's interim report said the system - known as horizontal fiscal equalisation - should use the second-strongest state or average as the basis of the carve-up, rather than the strongest.

State and territory treasurers plan to meet in Melbourne next week to discuss their priorities for reform.