Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson MP has welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s investment of an additional $499 million to road infrastructure in Western Australia.
Mr Wilson said this investment acknowledges the unusual circumstances facing Western Australia as a result of their GST revenue reduction next financial year (2015-16).
“This is an even bigger win for WA than we expected because media reports speculated $600 million over two years but the announcement today is $499 million for one year and Minister Cormann has personally assured me this time next year another discussion will take place to see how the Federal Government might be able to help WA in the 2016-17 financial year,” Mr Wilson said.
“What this announcement means is the state government can now allocated the $499 million they were going to spend on these projects to other items – be it reducing the debt, on services or other infrastructure projects, items they would have spent their GST revenue on.
“It’s also the result of months and months of hard work by WA members and senators – starting when this issue was raised in the party room last September and quite frankly wasn’t well received by the Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey.
“What this $499 million provides is a buffer for WA (for at least the next year) while the years of high revenue flow out of the system and we will see WA’s share of the GST rise.
“When WA’s share of the GST rises, the other states’ shares will decrease and hopefully then everyone will be open to a discussion on introducing a 50 cent floor in the GST distribution. Without the agreement of all the states we won’t get a better system.”
At last month’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting the issue of GST distribution was raised by Premier Colin Barnett and the Prime Minister. Their opinions were vocally dismissed by the other states’ Premiers.
They strongly rejected any reform of the formula and jointly signed an open letter published in The Australian.
“I applaud the Prime Minister for recognising the current system is unfair and trying to address the imbalance in the face of strident opposition from every other state.”
While the money this year has ‘no strings attached’ there was discussion between both governments about WA pursuing further micro-economic reforms including further privatisations in relation to ports, the TAB, poles and wires and further deregulation of trading hours.
A press release from the Abbott Government said Western Australia will be able to access significant federal incentive payments towards further investment in job creating economic infrastructure, when re-investing the proceeds of any privatisations into such infrastructure projects.