Senator for Western Australia Zhenya ‘Dio’ Wang’s legislation before the Australian Parliament could have more than covered the bill for the $3.1 billion budget deficit blow-out announced by the WA Government this week.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission Amendment (GST Distribution) Bill 2015 introduced by Senator Wang would have provided WA with about $3.5 billion in additional GST revenue in 2015/16 – while making no other change to the assessment and distribution of GST revenue to other states.
“While Canberra has repeatedly acknowledged the perverse outcome for WA from the outdated process of three-year royalty estimations when calculating the carve-up of GST spoils to the states and territories, the response of gifting WA an annual bail-out to compensate for year-after-year of unfair losses is nothing more than a band-aid solution to a systemic problem that requires major surgery,” Senator Wang said.
“Why is everyone tinkering around the edges when the real problem is so obvious? As the WA Treasurer said this week, this is an issue that requires national leadership and it is entirely within the Federal Government’s capacity to alter the formula for calculating the GST dividends – without requiring states’ and territories’ consent – as provided for in my Bill.
“If my Bill was already law, WA would have received an extra $3.5 billion in GST revenue this year – which would have left the WA Budget in surplus, instead of a record deficit.”
A parliamentary inquiry into Senator Wang’s Bill is due to report in March next year. Since the Bill’s introduction, Senator Wang’s office has been in ongoing communications with the WA Treasurer’s office regarding the WA Government’s pending submission to the inquiry.
Following the inquiry, Senator Wang said the Federal Government should immediately bring on a vote in the Parliament to test the political will for a fair go.
“Stop kicking the can down the road,” Senator Wang said. “WA doesn’t need special treatment – we just need fair treatment. The big GST revenue recipients, South Australia and Tasmania, are on track to budget surplus soon, yet WA as a net GST contributor is struggling to control its widening deficit.”