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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3056

Goods and Services Tax


Senator GEORGIOU (Western Australia) (14:30): My question to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann. Minister, earlier this month, Perth's TheSunday Times published an article suggesting the government is getting ready to announce an 80c GST floor for Western Australia. We also saw, today, that a poll conducted by the WA chamber of commerce has confirmed that the GST is the No. 1 issue in the state. As a Western Australian based minister, can you confirm that you and Prime Minister Turnbull will be announcing, at the Liberal Party state conference in Perth later this year, some good GST news that your fellow Western Australians finally deserve?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for Finance, Special Minister of State and Vice-President of the Executive Council) (14:30): The story in The Sunday Times, which I also read, does not reflect the position of the government. That was something that was entirely written up by the columnist involved. What I will say to you is that, of course, the Turnbull government acknowledges that WA's share of the GST is unfair. We've said that for some time. We were the first government that actually did something to stop the drop in WA's share of the GST. Under the Gillard government, when WA's share of the GST started dropping, it was heading towards below 30c in the dollar. We were the first federal government that provided a federal top-up payment to Western Australia, and we've made $1.4 billion worth of federal top-up payments to Western Australia so far—which is a policy, incidentally, that the Leader of the Opposition has since copied and tried to rebrand, and he has promised that for 2019-20 onwards.

We have also said that we do believe there is a structural issue to be addressed. That is why we commissioned the Productivity Commission review, which reported in mid-May. The Treasurer has received the Productivity Commission's report, which has assessed the implications of GST sharing arrangements for national productivity and growth. That is something that will be considered by the government and released in due course.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Georgiou, a supplementary question.



Senator GEORGIOU (Western Australia) (14:32): The Productivity Commission has finished its report into the GST review. Can you advise that the report will be released to the public this week?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for Finance, Special Minister of State and Vice-President of the Executive Council) (14:32): I cannot confirm that it will be released this week. What I can confirm is that it will be released very soon.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left! Senator Georgiou, a final supplementary question.



Senator GEORGIOU (Western Australia) (14:32): When the report is released, do you expect it to contain favourable news for WA—that is, can we expect recommendations that suggest Western Australia deserves a bigger distribution of the GST compared to the paltry 47c in the dollar that the state is set to receive this financial year?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for Finance, Special Minister of State and Vice-President of the Executive Council) (14:32): I can't pre-empt a report that is yet to be released. What I can say is that WA's share of the GST, based on what we know today under the current system, is expected to continue to increase in the years ahead. This financial year, because of the decisions that our government has made, we have lifted WA's share of the GST, through a further GST top-up payment, to 50c in the dollar. Over the next few years it is expected to go past 60c in the dollar. There will be recommendations that we will consider, and, at the appropriate time, the report and the government's response will be released.