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Tuesday, 23 October 2018
Page: 10771

Mr HASTIE (Canning) (17:19): It is with great pleasure that I rise to support the Treasury Laws Amendment (Making Sure Every State and Territory Gets Their Fair Share of GST) Bill 2018. It's a rather long title, but it's very important. Deputy Speaker, before I start I want to take you back to 27 February 2018. I've got a news story here from The West Australian, written by Sarah Martin. In it she talks about the member for Burt, who said that fixing the GST system is 'almost politically impossible'. The article states:

… he did not believe the Federal Government would implement any changes to the GST formula, despite the Productivity Commission reviewing the issue.

   …   …   …

“Whatever the Productivity Commission does they (the Government) will not implement those changes,” …

He said that trying to get any changes through is 'almost politically impossible'. The article finally states:

… if the Government did adopt a change to the formula—which might happen “in the land of pigs might fly”—then the Opposition would look at it.

Well, the good news is that pigs are flying, they are definitely flying, and the GST fix is in, and that's what we're talking about right now. I don't want to be too harsh on the member for Burt; he does have a colourful turn of phrase. I did enjoy reading through this.

Ms Butler interjecting

Mr HASTIE: That's right, exactly: pigs are flying.

This has been a long time waiting for Western Australians. It's been a consistent sore point for this great state, my great state. Last year, I did about 30 town hall forums across Canning and this was the issue that consistently came up—GST: it needed to be fixed. We surveyed over 40,000 Canning constituents last year, and GST was raised most consistently. We started a hard copy petition and we gained over 2,000 signatures to that petition to get our fair share. I realised it was a real issue when I went to Quambie Park in Waroona, which is an aged-care facility, which this government actually gave $1.3 million to under the Building Better Regions Fund. At Quambie Park, I was speaking to the residents, and an elderly woman in her 90s stood up and said, 'When are you going to fix the GST?' I think that really drove home the point that people in WA had had enough of the unfairness at the heart of this system.

This government believes in a fair go for those who want to have a go. As Liberals, we believe in reward for effort as the proven means of providing prosperity for all Australians. At the heart of Australian culture is this idea of a fair go. WA does a lot of heavy lifting economically for this country; it is productive and enterprising. I know in Canning, especially, we have a lot of workers from the resources sector. They kept Australia going, particularly during the GFC and the years that followed, during the boom. It's really important that we get our fair share, and that's what this bill seeks to do.

The old model of horizontal fiscal equalisation was based on the principle of a fair go, with each state and territory equalised to the strongest. But it became clear that it couldn't adapt to sudden changes in economic conditions. Of course, we had the boom in WA, and when the boom slowed down, WA hurt and hurt pretty bad. We went down to having a GST share as low as 30c in every dollar. And that is unfair. This coalition government, this Liberal-National government, asked the Productivity Commission to have an inquiry into the HFE. On 15 May this year, the inquiry report to government showed broad support for HFE, but it was very clear the model couldn't adapt to local economic shocks, as we saw in WA. So what did this government do? The government responded to the inquiry report on 5 July this year and proposed reforms to the way the GST is distributed that will leave all states better off while protecting the integrity of the system.

What the government has proposed is a three-step transition plan that ensures that no state will be worse off under the new system. The government will provide short-term transition payments to ensure no state or territory share will fall below 70c per person, per dollar. It will put in a floor, which is very, very important. It will phase in a new HFE model based on reasonable equalisation, so each state and territory will be equalised to the stronger of either Victoria or New South Wales. Then we'll do a full transition to the new model and a permanent in-system of 75 per cent relativity floor. The government will also permanently boost moneys available in the GST revenue pool, which is another important part to ensure that no state or territory is worse off. So, on the 1st of this month, 1 October, the government further committed to no state being worse off during the 2021-22 and 2026-27 transition periods. Every state will receive funding that is at least the better of the current system or the updated system.

What does all this mean for WA? It's very clear we're actually reforming the system; we're no longer just doing top-ups. This government has done top-ups for some time. Labor were for legislating top-ups. We went with the Productivity Commission's suggestion of reforming the system, and that's what we're doing. So this isn't just some political fix. This will be enduring, which is really, really important. As I said, this will be a much fairer system so no state or territory will be worse off, and, importantly, we'll see an extra $4.7 billion directed to WA, starting in fiscal year 2019-20.

I really hope to see some of that funding committed in Canning. There are many projects that I'd like to see worked on. I'd like to see the Peel Health Campus developed, for example. It hasn't kept up with the pace of population growth, and we need funding to improve the services to a very senior population down in the Peel region. I want to see more roads and rail in Canning. We've got the Tonkin highway fully funded and we've got the Byford train station funded, but I'd like to see the Lakelands train station funded. I'm looking forward to seeing that $4.7 billion that's going to come to WA being put to good use—building up our public infrastructure, making Western Australians' lives just that little bit better and, of course, at the end of the day, making the system fairer, which is at the heart of this bill, and that's why I support it.