Wednesday, 25 March 2015
Questions without Notice
Goods and Services Tax
My question is to the Minister for Finance. For many months now the call for a fairer distribution of GST has gone unanswered. The people of Western Australia are frustrated by the conflicting information and little assurance other than vague hints of future promises from government ministers. From various reports, it is justifiably suggested that the government is playing politics with Western Australia's genuine GST entitlements by holding back information in order to boost the appearance of a more accommodating budget in May. My question therefore is this: will the minister agree to release the government announcement on GST distribution before the end of this month, March 2015?
I thank Senator Wang for his question. The government of course is not withholding any information. The government is managing relations with the states and territories in an orderly and methodical fashion consistent with past practice by previous governments of both persuasions.
Senator Wang may be aware that there is a scheduled meeting of federal, state and territory treasurers in Canberra, I believe, sometime in the middle of April. As is the usual practice, in the lead-up to that meeting, the Treasurer will provide relevant information to state and territory treasurers in the usual way.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The WA state Treasurer was reported on 18 March as letting it slip that our federal Treasurer:
… now has the review from the grants commission on his desk, though he won't release it … until the NSW election's over.
Will the minister confirm that this is the case?
I cannot answer for assertions that were made by the state Treasurer in Western Australia. The timing of the election in New South Wales is completely irrelevant when it comes to the timing of relevant information in the lead-up to the state and territory treasurers' meeting. It has always been the practice that the federal Treasurer provides relevant information in time for these regular meetings of the federal, state and territory treasurers. That is what will happen on this occasion, and information will be provided to state and territory treasurers in the usual way sometime in April.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Do the minister and his colleagues in the government not realise that, every single day that Western Australia's deprivation of its fair share of GST continues, it takes the state's employment and growth prospects another seriously adverse step backwards?
The Australian government wants all states and territories across Australia to be as successful as they possibly can. Of course from that point of view, the Australian government makes judgements that are nationally fair, and we want the great state of Western Australia to be as successful as it can be; we want Tasmania, South Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory to as successful as they can be. In that context, we have to consider all of the relevant perspectives from people in government from different parts of Australia and then we have to make decisions that are nationally fair, and that is what this government will continue to do.