Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison’s ordering of a Productivity Commission inquiry into the GST carve-up is no cause for celebration and is most definitely not a victory for WA.
The people of WA will now have to wait another year to be told what they already know — we’re being dudded by the Commonwealth Grants Commission formula.
Every single day WA is sending millions upon millions of dollars of our GST money across the Nullarbor because of an abysmal redistribution system which rewards lazy States that choose not to develop their economies.
Every second this injustice is allowed to continue is another missed opportunity for WA’s 28 Federal MPs — on both sides of the political ledger — to do the job for which they were elected, that is, standing up for their home State’s interests.
WA’s 12 senators could form a unified crossbench tomorrow and help resolve the problem in record time.
Similarly, with the Turnbull Government holding a wafer-thin majority in the House of Representatives, any one of WA’s 11 Liberal members in the Lower House could easily turn up the heat on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Morrison by refusing to vote on Government Bills until our hideous GST share is rectified.
It is time WA Federal MPs put State interests ahead of political and the collective good ahead of personal.
Morrison is fully aware of the built-in disincentives for States like Tasmania and South Australia to develop their economies and an inquiry will simply cost time and taxpayer money.
The Treasurer knows these States inherit a windfall GST share by leaving their resources in the ground, not to mention wearing none of the pain of servicing that sector with infrastructure and skilled workers.
But the real kick in the teeth for Sandgropers is that the Federal Treasurer, at any time he chooses and with just the stroke of a pen, could fix this entire mess.
CGC chairman Greg Smith told The West Australian last year that the commission’s role was to make recommendations to the treasurer on how to dish out GST revenue among the States consistent with the terms of reference but, ultimately, “the treasurer is responsible for determining each State’s share”.
No other State would tolerate such abhorrent treatment from Canberra, so why should we?
During the decade to July last year WA had contributed $149 billion more in taxes to the Federation than it had received back in Commonwealth services, welfare payments and grants.
Meanwhile, South Australia received $58 billion more than it had contributed in tax revenues.
We built the equivalent of the infrastructure of Tasmania in just eight years, as 500,000 people flocked to our State for the mining boom, yet $23 billion of our GST was sent east via the CGC in the past decade.
WA has six ministers sitting around the Federal Cabinet table.
The head of that table, Turnbull, is on the record stating WA’s GST system is “unfair, unbalanced and not reflective of the State’s investment in the infrastructure that has been required to support the mining boom”.
Yet all we have to show for it is an inquiry.
The results of which we already know.
Enough is enough.
If WA’s Federal MPs — and, yes, that includes Labor because Bill Shorten has had umpteen chances to outline his plan to fix the mess and failed woefully — won’t do the job we put them there for, it’s time to find someone who will.