Thursday, 23 August 2018
Questions without Notice
Goods and Services Tax
My question is directed to Senator Birmingham, who I understand represents finance matters for the government at the moment. Minister, can you please clarify whether Western Australia's $4.7 billion GST is under threat or not? According to media reports today, the federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, has warned that a coalition government under Peter Dutton could scuttle the deal for WA. Therefore, can you guarantee to my constituents that there is no threat to WA's GST deal irrespective of whether there is a change in the government's leader?
I thank Senator Georgiou for his question. Earlier I went through a number of the achievements of the Turnbull government. A very significant one that I failed to mention was the achievement of the government in terms of fixing inequities in relation to GST distribution. That was something that was addressed with real reform, not the type of bandaid measures that Mr Shorten and those opposite propose. Mr Shorten used to spend—
GST reform is a key reform of the Turnbull government and of this coalition government, and I am confident it will be an enduring reform. In fact, I would be so bold as to predict that, at some time—which I hope is a very long, long way away—those opposite, who have not given a straight answer in relation to our GST reform, will actually just quietly accept it. At some time in the future they will quietly accept it, for Mr Shorten was shown to be somebody incapable, as a leader, of making difficult decisions, of delivering the tough reform that our GST reform has indeed put in place.
Our proposal is a real measure of reform. It will benchmark all states to the economies of New South Wales or Victoria. It will provide greater stability and predictability in state GST payments. We are boosting the GST pool available for the states by providing an injection of $600 million in the pool in 2020-21 and a further $250 million in 2024-25, with all of it to be indexed. I am confident that the only threat to the GST arrangements are those opposite, because they have no policy in this space. They promise bandaid solutions. My WA Senate colleagues—each and every one of them—and the coalition's, the Liberal Party's Western Australian lower house members, championed long and hard for real GST reform, not Labor's bandaid solution and, as a coalition government, we are proud to have achieved it.
I've just given a very categorical answer with regard to the fact that GST reform by this coalition government is here to stay—under this coalition government, under any future coalition governments—and the only threat that exists is under a future Labor government. It is the Labor Party who squibbed it when it came to GST reform. Mr Shorten thought a little bucket of money for some infrastructure projects would be enough to buy off Western Australia, whereas instead Mr Turnbull, Mr Morrison, Senator Cormann and every single WA Liberal senator and House of Representatives member worked hard, worked together to ensure that we came up with a fair solution, an enduring solution, that will ensure that Western Australia gets its fair share of the GST whilst ensuring that every other state continues to enjoy funding growth from the GST pool to be able to invest into their essential services as well.
We've worked carefully to ensure that the GST solution that we have proposed and that we are implementing is one that is fair to all states and territories and one that is fiscally responsible. It's one that will see an additional $4.7 billion flow in support for WA through GST payments. That is significant. We are pleased that it was welcomed by the WA Labor Party, notwithstanding the fact that they had no viable solution on offer from those opposite. The next election in Western Australia will be one where the 'hollowman' of Mr Shorten will be on display. He tried to buy WA off with a bandaid solution, whereas the coalition government, led by our WA team, made sure there was a real solution in place for Western Australians to make sure that they get a fair share of the GST in the future without any detriment to any other state or territory.