Premier Mark McGowan has welcomed the federal Coalition’s decision to bow to pressure from the states and include a “no-state-worse-off” provision in historic GST reform legislation.
The move means the GST deal, which will send an extra $6.3 billion to WA’s state coffers, could be signed off by parliament in days.
A legislated guarantee that no state would be worse off under the reform was the last sticking point for the agreement of states to the deal and was a condition of Labor party support in the parliament.
Mr McGowan said the time for talking and debate was now over and urged his federal colleagues to pass the legislation quickly.
“The light is at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
“I think everyone in Australia is heartily sick of this debate, especially in Western Australia.
“Let’s fix it now once and for all, let’s get it done, hopefully this week.”
The guarantee to the states would be in place over the next decade as the GST transitions to a new structure by 2026-27.
The Productivity Commission would then review the equity of the system.
Mr McGowan said this was a fair compromise.
“I understand that Tasmania, South Australia, Queensland senators are causing the federal government some grief,” he said.
“But the main thing for Western Australia is that we get a floor in place, we get the system benchmarked against New South Wales or Victoria, we get top-up payments, it’s a fair outcome for WA.”
Federal Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said the backdown was a humilation for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and indicated Labor would support the legisaltion if “an amendment for the people of all states and territories to be reassured that they will be no worse off”.
“I will discuss with state and territory treasurers the way forward, but I accept that of course an amendment needs to be appropriately framed and cover a period of time,” he said.
“I accept that. So we will be constructive when it comes, and if the Treasurer wants to discuss it with me he will be welcome to.”
WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry Rick Newnham called on Labor to “take the high ground” and back the legislation containing the guarantee for the states.
“Make no mistake, every state will get more GST if the Federal Government’s GST reform legislation passes — the additional funding in to the GST pool assures it and it has been confirmed by the independent Productivity Commission,” he said.
“Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten must end the bickering between the states and support the government in its national interest solution.”