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Tuesday, 17 October 2017
Page: 10960

Mr MORTON (Tangney) (19:45): WA federal Liberal members and senators have long advocated for GST distribution reform. Through their efforts and persistent advocacy, the government has committed to implementing a floor in the distribution of GST under which no state's share can fall. This government has also tasked the Productivity Commission to report on the impact of GST distribution on national productivity and economic growth. That inquiry will give the government the evidence it needs to make real and critical GST reform that sticks. As a new member of parliament, since my election I've been pleased to witness and assist the work of my WA federal Liberal colleagues. WA federal Liberals have succeeded in developing the pathway to reform with the release of the draft report that we can now see bearing fruit. The hard work and advocacy of the WA federal Liberal team will continue throughout the PC process, and particularly when the government considers the final Productivity Commission report.

In politics, there are choices. So we have to assess the position of federal WA Labor members who have disgracefully opposed the reform of the GST distribution. Federal WA Labor members said in their submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry that they:

… seek an outcome to this situation, but one that doesn't negatively impact on other States and Territories.

Their submission goes on to say:

The reality is that our local community is not particularly concerned by the specifics of formula adjustments or policy framework.

Specifics and good policy are exactly what people in Western Australia demand. Emails and calls to my office on GST are frequent and are very detailed. What our community is sick of is Labor's tricky politics of saying one thing and doing another. Recently the opposition leader announced the ALP's single and shameful solution to fix the GST. A bit like a Monty Python skit, Labor's solution to fix the distribution of the GST would not change in one way the actual distribution of the GST. Even worse, the shadow Treasurer confirmed that Labor would not consider the final Productivity Commission report and did not support changes to the distribution of the GST. As expected, WA federal Labor has fallen into line. Labor's most senior federal WA MP, the member for Perth, has said that the pain facing WA is 'a blip on the radar' in a system that is sound. Labor's position is absolutely outrageous.

But it's not just the pollies who have a role to play. It's essential that WA business makes the case for GST reform to national business organisations. The work of the CCIWA has been invaluable, and I thank them for their efforts, in particular the great work of their chief economist, Rick Newnham. But, sadly, the CCIWA have not been able to get their own national peak body, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and interstate chambers to support the case for reform. Worse still, these bodies have sought to undermine the case for reform and have directly countered CCIWA's position by making unhelpful submissions to the Productivity Commission inquiry.

We are entering a crucial phase between the draft report and the final report of the Productivity Commission inquiry. While I'm very pleased with the draft report, we will face some strong opposition from the eastern states. In the same way WA federal Liberals have made the case to our leadership and our parliamentary colleagues in other states, it is essential that WA business makes the case to peak national business organisations. The Productivity Commission is inviting comments in response to the draft report, and there is an opportunity for public hearings in WA on 13 and 14 November, in Melbourne on 17 November and in Sydney on 22 November.

WA federal Labor has the opportunity to correct the record and stand up for Western Australia, and the CCIWA have time and should be judged on their ability to get the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the eastern state chambers to support GST distribution reform. We have to use a Productivity Commission process to make the case for change in the national interest. The draft report, while pleasing, has awakened the eastern states' beast. We all need to work together during this critical period to continue to make the case for reform. This fight is not over. The hard work and advocacy of the WA federal Liberal team will continue.