WA Premier Colin Barnett’s threat to withhold election campaign funding from the Federal Liberal party unless it backs his push for GST reform is “not believable“, WA Opposition Leader Mark McGowan says.
The premier told reporters on Tuesday that WA contributed “massive” funding toward the national Liberal campaign at the last election, but this time around support “will be reliant on a commitment on GST“, namely a change to a per capita distribution of the funds.
While WA Labor agrees the mining State does not receive a fair share of the nation’s GST distributions, it has long blamed Mr Barnett for signing the Commonwealth’s GST plan in 1999 when he was part of the Richard Court-led State government.
“We’re not responsible for the deal that Colin Barnett provided us with,” Mr McGowan told Fairfax Radio on Wednesday.
“Back in 1999, Mr Barnett was an advocate for the system we now have that is so damaging Western Australia and he doesn’t seem to recall that it was partially his fault.
“This is just something he’s saying before an election to throw people off the scent of the fact that he is responsible for the situation we’re now in, and after the election it would all be forgotten.”
Mr McGowan questioned whether other WA-based Liberals, such as Senator Matthias Cormann and Deputy federal Opposition Leader Julie Bishop, would accept Mr Barnett’s comment.
“If it was believable, why did Mr Barnett in the same breath invite (federal Opposition Leader) Tony Abbott over here to participate in his election?” he asked.
Mr McGowan said he was disappointed that Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson had decided against substantive reform to the GST, taking on just three recommendations from last year’s review led by Nick Greiner.
Mr Abbott said on Wednesday he wouldn’t be making any promises on the GST until after the federal government had responded to the Greiner report.
“My response you’ll get in good time, before the next election and after the government’s response,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
A media report on Wednesday said Prime Minister Julia Gillard would not travel to WA until mid-March, after the March 9 State election.