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Thursday, 25 November 2010
Page: 3949

Mr IRONS (12:00 PM) —I rise to speak about the continued tax levied by the Gillard government on the state of Western Australia, its economy, its lifestyle and its people. There are many ways that WA is being attacked, whether it be through anti-small-business Fair Work legislation which strikes at the very heart of our entrepreneurial business community, the impending mineral resource rent tax, the scrapping of the condensate concession which raised the cost of gas to consumers in WA, through to the very important issue of the sharing of the GST revenue.

To put it as simply as possible, the people of WA are being robbed. We are being punished for our success and the lazy eastern state Labor governments are being rewarded for their incompetence. The member for Canning had a justified swipe at the state of Tasmania yesterday and, from the responses he received, he obviously hit a raw nerve. Currently WA receives 68c in the dollar return on GST revenue and forecasts could see this reduced to just over 50c over the next three years. This is completely unacceptable. I have heard WA Premier Colin Barnett talk about scrapping the Commonwealth Grants Commission and I agree with the Premier of Western Australia on the minimum floor of 75c in the dollar return to the states no matter how successful they are. I call on the Prime Minister and the government to address these issues that affect my electorate and all of Western Australia. Do not worry about a MRRT, just stop robbing us of our GST. WA is very fortunate to have the only coalition government in the nation and, with Colin Barnett as Premier, I am sure we will see a long and successful period for the state.

We continually hear in question time, with all the dorothy dixers that are asked by the other side, about threats to this and threats to that. The biggest threat to WA and its prosperity is this Gillard government and its continual focus on punishing WA for its success and efficient government. What makes the situation all the more worrying—and I stated this earlier—is that while WA is being punished, the inept and inefficient state Labor governments continue to be rewarded under the current Grants Commission scheme. What incentive is there for state governments like New South Wales to become efficient machines if they can be sure their mates in Canberra will continue to top up the kitty?

Peter Urban, former chief economist for DFAT, correctly identified in his article in the Australian on 18 November that the Grants Commission has it all wrong. Firstly, the Grants Commission treats mining royalties as taxes, which is incorrect. A mining royalty is a payment made for the purchase of a state owned asset. For the Grants Commission to get such a basic economic term wrong is very disturbing, but not all that surprising. The ability to charge royalties is a major source of revenue for WA and if Labor plans on refunding mining companies the royalties in the proposed MRRT, we are effectively giving away the state’s resources for free.

The Prime Minister does not understand that these two issues, the proposed mining tax and GST revenues, are linked. If Canberra are refunding royalty costs, this extra hole in their budget needs to be filled. No doubt that is why WA is firmly in Labor’s sights. In the 2010 election, constituents in my electorate of Swan and WA recognised Labor’s policies would endanger their quality of life and WA’s economic prosperity, so they put their trust in the conservatives. Many people in Swan and in WA source their incomes from the mining industry and everyone in the state shares from the sale of the state owned assets or from related industries downstream.

My biggest fear for WA is that under this Labor government, in partnership with the Greens who actually hold the power, the mining tax and the carbon tax will be introduced, stabbing our state in its economic heart. So on top of the GST rip-off, WA will be punished even further. This is a dangerous way to even things out in Australia. What we should be doing for the other states is encouraging them to develop their own wealth and not rely on choking WA until there is nothing left. We do not want to be a state that purposely drives itself into being a welfare state. One such state is enough for this nation.

On behalf of the constituents of Swan, I offer my condolences to the families of the New Zealand victims of the Pike River mining tragedy. Our thoughts are with them. To all my colleagues in this place, I warmly wish them a safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year. I extend that wish to all the parliamentary staff in this building, including the Comcar drivers and the security staff. Also to the people of Swan and my staff, I offer you my best wishes and I thank you all for the work and the trust that you have put in me. To my son, Jared, and my family in Melbourne, I am looking forward to spending some time with you over the summer recess. As we do our work for this great nation we live in, it is the sacrifices our families make that enable us as parliamentarians to do our job, and I thank them all for their patience and understanding.