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Gillard to avoid McGowan during poll
Staying away: Julia Gillard will avoid WA. Picture: Michael Wilson/ The West Asutralian

Colin Barnett yesterday threatened to cut off funding to the Federal Liberal Party for the forthcoming election campaign unless Opposition Leader Tony Abbott agrees to GST reform.

The Premier's threat came as it emerged that Julia Gillard will avoid WA in the lead-up to the State election but Mr Abbott will visit WA to campaign with Mr Barnett.

In his continuing tussle with Canberra, Mr Barnett pounced on a newspaper report that suggested there would be no real reform to the national GST carve-up and hit out at Mr Abbott and the Prime Minister over the issue.

WA wants an overhaul so payments are calculated on a per capita basis - something rejected by shadow treasurer Joe Hockey last year.

"That will be a critical issue in a Federal campaign," Mr Barnett said. "The last Federal election, there was massive funding from WA towards the national Liberal campaign - that will be reliant on a commitment on GST.

"Not only support from within the Liberal Party but support from the corporate sector. That's the No. 1 issue for the Federal campaign. (Mr Abbott) knows my view very, very well."

State shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt described the Premier's threat as "laughable", saying Mr Barnett had helped create the "flawed" GST plan in 1999.

Mr Abbott's office and Liberal Party State director Ben Morton did not return calls.

Meanwhile, _Th _ _e West Australian _has been told Ms Gillard will not travel to WA until mid-March - after the March 9 State poll.

Labor members believe an appearance from Ms Gillard would taint State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan by association, with her Government out of favour in WA.

A spokeswoman for the PM did not put a date on her next visit.

"The Prime Minister made regular visits to Perth in 2012 and expects to visit WA frequently in 2013 in the lead-up to the Federal election," the spokeswoman said. "It is expected that the WA campaign will be fought on State issues."

Asked yesterday if he would like the PM to join him on the State campaign, Mr McGowan said little.

"I have stated previously, this is a State election which will be fought on State issues. This election is about Colin Barnett and his priorities," he said.

It is understood Mr Abbott will appear alongside Mr Barnett before the election, and could join the Premier at the Liberal Party State campaign launch.

"If Tony Abbott wants to come over, he will be welcome," Mr Barnett said on Monday night. Several Liberal MPs are urging that Mr Barnett have as little contact with Mr Abbott as possible before the poll, warning that he is almost as unpopular as Ms Gillard in some Liberal seats.