The Federal Government has confirmed it has no election commitments to ensure WA gets its fair share of GST revenue, after being questioned by Senator for Western Australia Zhenya ‘Dio’ Wang.
In question time today, Senator Wang asked the Finance Minister to explain to his fellow Western Australians why simple changes for a fairer distribution of GST among states and territories had still not been made, given that WA has four Cabinet Ministers in a Liberal Federal Government that has held power alongside a Liberal WA Government for several years.
“The WA Treasurer has warned his Federal Liberal colleagues to ‘stop pussyfooting around’ or both Liberal governments would be ‘held accountable’ over repeated promises for reform,” Senator Wang told the Senate.
“Does the Minister realise that every single day that WA is denied its fair share of GST revenue, the state’s employment and growth prospects deteriorate even further?”
Senator Wang said when he first started asking questions in the Senate in 2014 about why WA was being short-changed on the GST, the Minister told him that “any changes to our tax system would have to flow from a tax review white paper process” that the Turnbull Government has since abandoned in favour of revealing its policies in the looming 2016/17 Budget.
“Almost two years after this response, today I asked whether the Finance Minister from WA could commit to taking a fairer GST distribution system to the next election given the Government has now abandoned the ‘comprehensive and strategic’ tax white paper it promised,” he said.
“But instead of giving Western Australians this commitment, the Minister pointed to a $500m compensation payout that falls well short of reimbursing WA for the billions of dollars we are owed in GST revenue because the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s distribution calculations fail to keep pace with mining volatilities.”
“The Minister claimed ‘you can’t just take away money from one state to give it to another state’ – I wonder how he will go back home in WA telling that to his Liberal colleagues, who have to explain to Western Australians why a state that is a net GST contributor is headed for a budget deficit, when South Australia and Tasmania as net GST recipients are headed for a surplus.”