The West

Clive Palmer exploited WA's raw deal for GST grants.

Clive Palmer was able to exploit the goods and services tax as a Senate campaign issue because the major parties avoided it, according to Colin Barnett.

The Premier said yesterday that Liberal and Labor had suffered in the re-run Senate election because they did not address the "major issue" for most West Australians in terms of Federal-State relations - the carve-up of the GST.

"I was disappointed," Mr Barnett told _The West Australian _. "Clearly in a by-election relating solely to WA the No.1 issue was the GST. And Clive Palmer was able to exploit it because the major parties avoided it.

"And I think people thought the carbon tax and the mining tax had been dealt with; they dealt with that when they voted Labor out last time."

On his visit to Perth last week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott sought to deflect questions about the GST by saying changes to the system of distribution were a matter for the agreement of the State premiers. Asked if the PM had put Linda Reynolds' third Senate seat in jeopardy because of this, Mr Barnett said: "I'm not going to speculate on that, I'll just get myself into trouble."

"Let's get our GST back for WA" was a key subject of Mr Palmer's massive election advertising spend, despite his limited ability to achieve meaningful reform even with the apparent election of Dio Wang as a Palmer United Party senator.

Mr Palmer, the MHR for the Queensland Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, also has senators Glenn Lazarus in Queensland and Jacqui Lambie in Tasmania, States that would lose GST if WA was to get a greater share of the pie.

Queensland's the Courier Mail newspaper at the weekend slammed Mr Palmer's WA GST pitch as a "plan to rob us (Queensland) of $1 billion".

"He certainly will have some leverage in the Senate," Mr Barnett said of Mr Palmer. "How he uses that remains to be seen."

Mr Barnett has changed tack in his continuing campaign on the GST, arguing that while the agreement of the States is necessary to change the GST's rate or scope, its distribution is a matter for the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which he claimed could be directed by Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey.

But the 2008 intergovernmental agreement on Federal financial relations, signed by the Commonwealth and every State and Territory, including Mr Barnett for WA, could still be an obstacle because it commits the signatories to a level fiscal playing field.

The West Australian

Latest News From The West

Popular videos