Malcolm Turnbull has challenged Bill Shorten and Mark McGowan to come up with their own solution to WA’s woeful share of the GST while defending his plan to make no changes to the system until the end of the decade.
The Prime Minister said the best way to deal with WA’s problems was to wait until no other State or Territory would be worse off, even if that did mean waiting several years.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission will this week release the latest update on how the $63 billion GST pool will be carved up with WA on track to receive just 38¢ for every dollar of the tax raised within the State.
Mr Turnbull, who said he had been attacked “unrelentingly” by Mr Shorten over the GST issue, said he was the first Prime Minister to have come up with a solution to WA’s problems.
He said Mr Shorten was sticking with other Labor States rather than coming up with a proposal to benefit WA taxpayers and the State’s Budget.
“So the challenge for the new Labor Premier of Western Australia is how is he going to get his own party onside?” he said.
“That’s the real question. Because Labor is absolutely rock solid at the Federal level in defending the existing arrangements on the GST distribution.”
Mr Turnbull said his proposal, which on current trends would see a floor put in place from 2019-20, was one that would safeguard all States from going through the problems faced by WA.
“I believe there is an opportunity to set a floor. But to do so at a time when nobody is actually going to lose. That’s the point,” he said.
But WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the responsibility for the GST rested with Mr Turnbull.
“Ultimately the Prime Minister needs to understand that he is responsible for delivering on the commitment he made to WA over six months ago,” he said.
“It’s something we look forward to working with him on and understanding when he actually intends to introduce a floor,” he said.
“I’ve got to work out what the floor proposal is and hopefully I’ll get the chance to do that over the next week when I meet all the other State treasurers.”