Mr Wilson (4:42pm) — There is a problem with the distribution of GST proceeds and it needs to be fixed. Everyone accepts that there are swings and roundabouts in the system, and since Federation there have been considerable periods in which Western Australia has been a net beneficiary of Commonwealth financial support.
But over the last decade, off the back of a strong resources economy, Western Australia has made a significant GST contribution to the wellbeing of the Commonwealth. We have been a net contributor by a large margin and I believe most Western Australians are proud to have been able to do that, but the situation has changed dramatically. Western Australia is in recession with sharply falling demand, low investment and high unemployment. We needed investment in productive infrastructure and jobs to start some time ago, but the coalition government has done nothing about this issue. The payment of top-up funding is no solution.
It works to keep the whip hand with the Commonwealth and leaves Western Australia vulnerable to the top-down, high-handed approach that seeks to dictate which projects our community can pursue, and it puts us at the mercy of Western Australian Liberals, who take their support in Western Australia entirely for granted. The current GST calculus does not take account of gambling tax receipts, a source of revenue that Western Australia has quite sensibly chosen not to chase. We should not be punished for that. Nor does the current system take proper account of the costs of remoteness and these are things that can be addressed. The bottom line is the current system which last week allocated Western Australia 34c in the dollar at a time of severe economic downturn is not fair and it is not working.