Hockey gets tough on online goods

Treasurer Joe Hockey has imposed an end-of-year deadline on State treasurers to lower the GST threshold to make consumers pay more for online purchases.

Although other States would like the $1000 GST-free threshold reduced, WA Treasurer Mike Nahan is reluctant to do anything that leads to WA losing more GST revenue to other States.

Dr Nahan also indicated yesterday that WA was in no rush to take up Mr Hockey's offer of a "bonus" payment if States privatised assets and invested the proceeds in building new infrastructure, saying his priority remained paying off State Government debt.

The treasurers' meeting in Canberra was dominated by talks on infrastructure and the GST.

As revealed by _The West Australian _ this month, the Commonwealth Grants Commission confirmed WA would get only 37.6¢ in every GST dollar raised within the State. WA's amount of GST revenue will fall $236 million to $2.215 billion in 2014-15.

Mr Hockey said it would not be a treasurers' meeting without grizzling over the GST carve-up, but he made it clear he wanted unanimous support from the States over imposing the GST on internet purchases worth less than $1000.

Dr Nahan said he was reserving judgment.

"I'm not interested in WA paying more for online sales if the vast bulk of that money goes to the Eastern States," he said.

Mr Hockey won unanimous support from the States for his proposal to free-up billions of dollars for infrastructure spending by "recycling" the profits of privatisations.

Dr Nahan stood by the Barnett Government's priority of using asset sales to pay down debt but said the Commonwealth's proposal was attractive to help pay for planned projects, such as the Forrestfield rail link.

"Whether we take the carrot or not is up to us to decide, but it is a good carrot and we will consider it," he said.

The West Australian

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