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McGowan calls for PM 'backbone' on GST

Malcolm Turnbull should show some backbone and change the GST formula, WA premier Mark McGowan says.
Malcolm Turnbull should show some backbone and change the GST formula, WA premier Mark McGowan says.

New West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has urged the prime minister to “show some backbone” and change the GST carve-up, saying agreement with all other state and territories is not necessary.

Malcolm Turnbull can make the decision himself and stop WA being dudded under the current distribution formula, Mr McGowan says.

He’ll be in Sydney on Friday to meet the Chinese premier and says he will put his case to Mr Turnbull then.

Mr McGowan said he understood it was politically difficult for Mr Turnbull to make the change, but he had the power to and could not wash his hands of the responsibility to act.

“If anything would have focused the mind of the prime minister, it would have been the election result in Western Australia,” the Labor leader told reporters on Wednesday.

“He needs to show backbone. He can write a letter today to the Grants Commission and get the formula changed – that’s the way it works.”

The premier said taking action would improve Mr Turnbull’s standing among West Australian voters and improve his chances of being re-elected.

Mr McGowan also said he welcomed an offer by newly-installed WA Liberal leader Mike Nahan to work together in a bi-partisan way to improve the state’s GST share.

Other issues Mr McGowan says he’ll raise with Mr Turnbull include re-allocating federal funds for the now-abandoned Perth Freight Link to Labor’s road projects and flagship Metronet rail proposal.

While Mr Turnbull has told the WA government it must improve its business case for Metronet, he has promised to assess it in a fair way, although he says any Commonwealth cash could be years away.

“I’m sure we’ll reach a mutually acceptable outcome even if it takes a little bit of time,” Mr McGowan said.

Labor is also assessing whether to join the National Disability Insurance Scheme rather than administer it locally.

Treasury figures released last month showed the state running the NDIS itself accounted for an estimated $533 million of $41.1 billion in net debt in 2019/20.

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