GST share to test Abbott s WA relations
GST share to test Abbott's WA relations

Tony Abbott will be under pressure this week during three days in Perth to declare where he stands on the GST carve-up after Colin Barnett warned that Australia faced its own Boston Tea Party moment.

Since declaring in May he was sympathetic to the Premier's demand for GST handouts to be on a per capita basis, the Federal Opposition Leader has become more ambiguous in talking about the need for a fair and transparent system.

But Mr Barnett has ramped up his concerns about WA's declining GST share, telling ABC radio yesterday that WA's relationship with Canberra could soon become a "secondary financial interest" as the State's GST share dipped below 30¢ in the dollar.

"At that stage our relationship with Asia and the income from royalties become the dominant income source," Mr Barnett said.

"I'm not saying we are going to have a Boston Tea Party, but there are parallels and I think the senior bureaucrats in Canberra in Treasury and other agencies understand that, and that's a pity, it weakens the Australian Federation."

The Boston Tea Party was a 1773 protest that contributed to the American Revolution when colonists were furious at paying a British tax on imported tea.

Mr Abbott said yesterday it was important that the GST review by former premiers Nick Greiner and John Brumby helped make the Commonwealth Grants Commission more transparent.

"It is very important that it not only be fair but that it be seen to be fair," he said. "What I want to see is far more transparency in the Commonwealth-State financial arrangements."

On a per capita basis, WA would get $2.4 billion more but the Northern Territory would get $2.4 billion less. South Australia ($1 billion) and Tasmania ($666 million) would also be big losers.

In May, Mr Abbott said in Perth he supported GST distributions "closer to a per capita arrangement" and this was the "unified position of the coalition premiers".

"It makes a lot of sense and I think that's what the Government should be considering," he said.

The West Australian

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