The West

Barnett wants more GST noise

Premier Colin Barnett has accused his WA Federal Liberal colleagues of failing to make sufficient noise about reforming the goods and services tax since the election of the Abbott Government.

Asked in a live chat on yesterday whether WA's contingent of Liberals were doing enough to reform the GST, he said: "I think they could do more. I think they should be more . . . outspoken in Federal Parliament, as Christian Porter has been."

Federal Liberal figures declined to criticise the Premier, with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann saying he "appreciates" the Premier's commitment to standing up for WA and Senator Dean Smith describing Mr Barnett's comments as "a powerful rallying call".

WA Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said Mr Barnett had talked about GST reform for 5½ years but had achieved nothing but "hot air".

He said the Premier had once threatened to withhold WA donations to the Federal Liberal Party unless WA got a better deal, yet nothing had happened.

"What has all his discussion, commentary, alleged agreements with other States achieved? Zero," Mr McGowan said.

"The most recent example of his failure to achieve . . . was when he didn't stand up to the Commonwealth over its cuts to WA health, education and pensioner concession programs.

"That is going to cost the State billions into the future and yet he didn't even attend (a meeting of premiers) and elected instead to go to a football game and a Hugh Jackman function."

Mr Porter, a former WA treasurer, got national attention after he used his maiden speech to the Federal Parliament last year to highlight the GST and fiscal imbalance between the Commonwealth and the States.

Senator Cormann reiterated that the Abbott Government would not break its "firm pre-election commitment" by changing the GST in this term of Government.

"As local Federal members of Parliament we are all working very hard to achieve a better deal for WA every day," he said.

Senator Smith pointed to several of his own speeches in the Federal Parliament on the GST.

"Reform of WA's GST distribution is a top-of-mind issue for all WA Federal MPs and the Premier's comments are a powerful rallying call," he said.

"Given the complexity of the issue, this is something that will require a tightly co-ordinated approach between State and Federal Liberals in WA".

The West Australian

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