Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has intervened to get personal assurances from the Barnett Government that the carbon tax will be history in WA amid delays in removing it from State fees and charges.
Mr Hunt telephoned his WA counterpart Albert Jacob yesterday after State Parliament was told the Water Corporation would collect an estimated $1 million a month in carbon tax payments until at least November, despite the tax being repealed on July 17.
Transport Minister Dean Nalder said this month that low GST receipts and falling iron ore revenues meant the State may not remove a 1.5 per cent carbon tax component from public transport fares that is funnelling about $300,000 a month into Government coffers.
Premier Colin Barnett later said the Government "intended" to lower fares but gave no timetable for doing so.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott charged the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission with making sure savings from the axing of the tax were passed on to consumers in full.
Yesterday, Mr Hunt picked up the phone to satisfy himself that the key election promise of the Abbott Government would be fulfilled in WA. "I have spoken with the West Australian Government and been reassured that the tax will be coming off and that West Australian consumers will see the benefit," he said.
In the WA Legislative Council on Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Ken Baston said November 1 was the Water Corporation's "target implementation date" for removing the tax component from water and sewerage charges, which reaped $12 million in 2013-14.
Mr Baston, representing Water Minister Mia Davies in the Upper House, said that was the "earliest practicable date" because the Government had to change pricing regulations and update the corporation's billing system.
He made no guarantee the tax savings would be backdated, in contrast to Energy Minister Mike Nahan, who has pledged to backdate the removal of a 9 per cent carbon tax component from electricity bills.
WA Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said it was extraordinary the Federal Liberals did not trust their WA counterparts to remove the tax.
Mr McGowan said Mr Nalder's comments revealed the State was reluctant to pass on the savings because of its financial position.
"They've known that the tax was to be repealed for at least eight or nine months and yet they're delaying another four months before they even consider taking it off," he said.