Transport Minister Dean Nalder says low GST receipts and falling iron ore prices mean the State Government can’t be too hasty about removing the carbon tax component from public transport fares.
Mr Nalder was responding to Opposition calls to immediately remove a 1.5 per cent increase on fares which the State Government attributed to the carbon tax in 2012.
Despite the carbon tax being repealed two weeks ago, Mr Nalder declined to guarantee the State would ever take the carbon tax component out of WA public transport fares, let alone immediately.
“We are facing a number of challenges in this State, and some of those challenges are as a result of our declining share of GST but we also know that the price of iron ore is dropping and it does affect the royalties the Government receives,” he said.
“So we have some significant challenges we are facing as far as revenue in the Government and we need to take all of these aspects into consideration prior to looking at any specific reduction in fares.”
When it was pointed out that the Barnett Government had been a big critic of the former federal Labor Government’s carbon tax, Mr Nalder said: “The Government has also been a big critic of the way GST is allocated out to the States”.
“We are down to 37 per cent and so we need to be a prudent government and manage our financials very carefully,” he said.
“We need to understand a much broader picture around the Government’s financial position, making sure that we are prudent and not putting out some savings somewhere and then having to raise fees elsewhere.
“I’m not saying we will or won’t (remove the tax component). We just need to take other things into consideration when we are assessing it.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he expects the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to make sure savings from the tax repeal are passed on to consumers in full.
Shadow transport minister Ken Travers said the Barnett Government had blamed the carbon tax for driving up the cost of living.
“Mr Abbott needs to step in,” he said.
“It doesn’t require the ACCC, this is a very simple matter. Mr Abbott needs to get on the phone and tell (Colin) Barnett that he’s got to pass the savings on.”