Tuesday, 26 June 2018
Goods and Services Tax
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) Western Australia receives a much lower proportion of goods and services tax (GST) revenue per capita than any other state – in 2017-18, the GST share per dollar for Western Australia was just 34 cents; no other state or territory received less than 87 cents,
(ii) on a per capita basis this equates to just $882 for every person in Western Australia compared to:
(A) $11,941 for every person in the Northern Territory,
(B) $4,624 for every Tasmanian, $3,690 for every South Australian and $2,389 for every Victorian with each of these states receiving more than three times the GST distribution per person when compared with Western Australia,
(iii) in 2016-17, Western Australia contributed 35 per cent of the nation's exports – by far the country's leading state on a balance of payments basis,
(iv) Western Australia subsidises all other states and territories, and, according to analysis by the Productivity Commission, over $3 billion dollars a year is being drained from Western Australia,
(v) international economic studies have shown that revenue transfers between states discourages economic development in recipient states and makes them dependent on subsidies from more economically progressive states, and
(vi) the Productivity Commission has prepared a report at the request of the government into the current GST distribution system, presented to the government on 15 May 2018 but not yet released;
(b) recognises that it is in the interests of the nation that tax revenue be fairly distributed; and
(c) calls on the government to immediately table the Productivity Commission report into the GST distribution system.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
This is the most important issue in my home state of Western Australia. It is discussed every day by members of the WA community, including the media. West Australians are sick and tired of getting a raw deal with the GST. We have been propping up the eastern states when we simply cannot afford to do so. We in Western Australia are getting just 34c for every dollar. Meanwhile, our neighbours in the Northern Territory get $4.60 for every dollar and our neighbours in South Australia get $1.43 for every dollar. The situation is so ridiculous that the Productivity Commission was called in to review the system. Now we have the report, but the government is not releasing it. I urge all senators, especially those supposedly representing the Western Australian people, to vote in favour of this motion. Show all Western Australians where they really stand on the issue of a fair GST for WA.
The government is committed to the fair-go principle of horizontal fiscal equalisation and to put in place a real solution that does the right thing by our national economy. Our goal is straightforward: to deliver a fairer, more durable and more efficient system for implementing horizontal fiscal equalisation into the future in the national interest. The government intends to table the Productivity Committee report shortly.
The Greens don't support this motion. And, as a senator for South Australia, I just want to make it very clear that we're not interested in seeing this change, which would result in less money going to smaller states, such as Tasmania and South Australia. And I might just point out, while I've still got 44 seconds on the clock, that it is appalling that the Liberal candidate for Mayo, Georgina Downer, has gone to this by-election with a background of saying that South Australia doesn't deserve the share of GST that we get. Why on earth we would want this person, with these views, representing the people of Mayo and being a representative from South Australia is beyond me. She shouldn't be there, she would never represent our state properly and she shouldn't be elected.
At the risk of conflating the facts before us with the emotional political rhetoric that Senator Hanson-Young has just determined, I want to point out that this motion only describes the facts as they apply to Western Australia. It is understandably calling for a fairer distribution in favour of Western Australia and seeks the tabling of the Productivity Commission report on GST redistribution. I support it on that basis. There's nothing wrong with the government tabling the report so we can ponder the solution that is being put forward, and that's the motion that I'll be supporting today.