The Liberals have taken WA for granted for too long

Published on Tuesday, 11 September 2018 18:50

We need change so that WA gets a fairer deal. It is intolerable, despite the importance of having horizontal fiscal equalisation, when a state like Western Australia falls down to a share of 30c in the dollar. It's particularly intolerable when that happens countercyclically, and that's what did happen in Western Australia. We found ourselves receiving some 30c in the dollar precisely at the time that we were going into recession.

Mr Wilson (6:50pm) — It was great to listen to the member for Tangney finish his 10 minutes with a 180-degree turn towards bipartisanship and say, 'Let's leave politics out of all of this,' after 9½ minutes of pure politics. But I'm happy to say—and I've said this since I first came into parliament—that we need change on the GST. We need a fair deal on the GST. Federal Labor was the first side of politics to commit to a 70c floor, and we're happy to support a lift to a 75c floor. So there is agreement, belatedly, on how to get a better share for WA on the GST, and we're happy to look at the way that that change can be made permanent.

But, for the member for Tangney's benefit and for the benefit of the people of Western Australia, let's just look at this through clear eyes. We need change so that WA gets a fairer deal. It is intolerable, despite the importance of having horizontal fiscal equalisation, when a state like Western Australia falls down to a share of 30c in the dollar. It's particularly intolerable when that happens countercyclically, and that's what did happen in Western Australia. We found ourselves receiving some 30c in the dollar precisely at the time that we were going into recession. We've only just, for the first time in three years, experienced two consecutive quarters of growth. We've only just come out of the recession that was bequeathed to Western Australians by the Barnett Liberal government, just as they bequeathed to the new McGowan government $30 billion of debt. We need a change that ensures that that doesn't happen again. It has impacted on Western Australia.

Where have we got to? We have got to the point now where there's a bipartisan commitment to 70c in the dollar, rising to 75c in the dollar. But how do we get there? What's extraordinary is that the member for Tangney has the gall to stand here in the Federation Chamber and say: 'We did this. We fixed this. The Prime Minister, who's been in the chair for nine or 10 days in the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison—dot dot dot—government has fixed this.' Where is the money? Have we had one additional cent of GST out of this government in its five years? We haven't had one additional cent in GST out of this government in five years.

Consider the time line. The member for Tangney and all those on his side are happy to make a big deal about the process: 'Oh, we asked the Productivity Commission to look at it.' They asked the Productivity Commission to look at it. They put the Productivity Commission report date back so that it conveniently fell at a time beyond the most recent budget. Does the solution that they've now put forward have anything to do with the recommendations of the Productivity Commission? No, absolutely not. The Productivity Commission said, 'This is the way to deal with it.' The solution that the member for Tangney and his government have come up with has nothing to do with that. So why did they wait for the Productivity Commission report that they delayed beyond the 2018-19 budget? Precisely so that they wouldn't have to put their hand in their pocket and pay one additional cent to Western Australia.

I've put a question in writing to the Treasurer on this: I'd like to know when the Treasurer asked Treasury for the costings that form the basis of the plan. I'd like to know when he took that plan to cabinet. There's no doubt it was before the Productivity Commission report landed, because the plan has nothing to do with the Productivity Commission report. The question is: did it happen before the budget, and, if so, why wasn't that 70c-in-the-dollar solution delivered in the 2018-19 budget? Do you know how much that would have been worth to Western Australia? This government could have delivered $1.8 billion this financial year. What are they going to deliver? They're going to deliver zero, because, by the time we get to next May, we'll have an election and these jokers more than likely won't be here anymore. They have done absolutely nothing for Western Australia and they have conned the people of Western Australia to some extent—in fact I don't think they have, because I think the people of Western Australia get it. They have conned some in the commentariat. The fact that they've conned the CCI of Western Australia is no great surprise considering the ambitions that are held by some of the people involved over there.

I think it was the middle Prime Minister of this government—I can't keep count which one; it wasn't the current one—who floated the idea of a 70c floor more than two years ago. How did we get to a 70c floor? There were two factors. The first was a commitment from federal Labor to a 70c floor. We committed to it and we budgeted for it. The second ingredient was the election of the WA Labor McGowan government. After eight years the cosy relationship between the Barnett Liberal government and the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison—dot, dot, dot; watch this space—government suddenly came to an end, and the McGowan government held the backsides of Liberal members in Western Australia to the fire and said: 'Did you have a look at those results in March 2017? Do you know what will happen if you jokers don't come along with something sensible?'

It was only at that point, out of mortal fear, that there was finally some move on part of the 11 House of Representatives coalition members and all their senators—all of their riches, all of their cabinet members, all of this influence that did nothing for four years. The state government did nothing for eight years. Finally, as with every motivation of this government, when they sniff the cold wind of electoral oblivion, they get a bit desperate and decide, 'We better do something.' They came on board with Labor's 70c floor and added to that a 75c floor in the relatively distant future. We are happy to support that, because it was our idea. It was the solution that the WA Labor McGowan government has essentially forced people like the member for Tangney and all his colleagues into out of mortal fear that there won't be very many of them left when the people of Western Australia, who have already passed judgement on them at the state level, pass judgement on them at the federal level. But the people of Western Australia are not fools. The fact that you keep running colour full-page ads in The West Australian saying that the GST problem has been solved, and they haven't seen a single additional dollar through a sharp and bitter recession, is not lost on the people of Western Australia.

Mr Morton: Recession? What recession?

Mr JOSH WILSON: The recession in Western Australia—many quarters of falling demand in Western Australia, for the member for Tangney's benefit. That's the definition of recession: falling state demand, record high unemployment.

Mr Morton interjecting—

Mr JOSH WILSON: For the member for Tangney's benefit, we've just had two consecutive quarters of growth. We've broken the recession that was bequeathed to the people of Western Australia by the Barnett government, during which time the member for Tangney was the state Liberal director of Western Australia.

In any case, let me finish by pointing out something else. Let's not forget in Western Australia. Let's not allow the GST to cover a multitude of sins. The GST has been very poor because of Liberal federal and state governments. We've fixed the first part. We have a McGowan Labor state government. Now we're going to try to fix the next part. That's when we'll deal with the GST. In the meantime let's not, with our focus on the GST, ignore all other areas where this coalition government has short-changed Western Australia. We are getting far and away the worst deal when it comes to the NBN. The fibre-to-the-node, 19th-century copper technology is without doubt the worst NBN technology, and Western Australia is getting 60 per cent of its line network in fibre-to-the-node, which is half as much again as any other jurisdiction. New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria are all getting around 40 per cent of their line network in fibre-to-the-node, a much higher proportion of fibre-to-the-curb and a much higher proportion of fibre-to-the-premises. We're getting 60 per cent.

When NBN decided earlier this year that they were going to provide an additional 400,000 premises with fibre-to-the-curb, did they use that to help correct what was going on in Western Australia? No. We got less than 10 per cent of the additional premises. We are being short-changed on the NBN. We are getting ripped off when it comes to the ABC. The member for Moore has had a recent conversion to the practice of honesty and transparency. The member for Moore has come out and said that we're getting a terrible deal on shipbuilding, and that's why he had to support the end of that Prime Minister in the middle that I was talking to you about before—Mr Turnbull. The member for Moore had to support bringing him down because he acknowledged we were getting a terrible deal on defence shipbuilding. So we do need to fix the GST. We need a federal Shorten Labor government to do that and to fix all the other ways in which we've been taken for granted by the Liberals for too long.

ELECTORATE OFFICE
62 WRAY AVENUE, FREMANTLE WA 6160
POSTAL
PO BOX 1224, FREMANTLE WA 6959
PHONE: 08 9335 8555
EMAIL: JOSH.WILSON.MP@APH.GOV.AU

 

AUTHORISED BY JOSH WILSON
AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY CANBERRA
© COPYRIGHT 2018 JOSH WILSON MP