SAMANTHA MAIDEN: WA’s demand for a greater share of the GST has led some Liberals to champion a Brexit style campaign known as WAxit. This is outstanding. Joining us now is Ben Morton from WA and Tim Hammond from WA as well, we’ve got the Labor and the Liberal side covered off. Let’s start off, is it WA Exit or WAxit?


MEMBER FOR TANGNEY BEN MORTON: Any form of WAxit sounds really painful to me.


MAIDEN: Really? That’s another arresting mental image this morning.   Have you had this experience before when you’ve tried waxing that you would like to share with us?


MORTEN: Let’s look at the substance of what happened over the weekend. The WA Liberal party has formed a committee to have a look at WA becoming more financially independent. I reckon every State should be looking at how they can be more financially independent like my good friend the Finance Minister said in the media over night, I think it’s a good thing.


MAIDEN: I’m not going to allow you to shoot this story down; this is the greatest story to come out of WA in years. The original motion said you were going to basically secede and some fun-police watered that down to having some sort of boring committee.


MORTON: The committee element was always part of the original motion but let’s not forget if the secession part had of been there the motion would have failed. There is no suggestion of secession coming out of the WA Liberal party.


MAIDEN: But why not? You’re cashed up.


MORTON: We are very proud Australians in Western Australia but on a serious note, and I think Tim will agree with me, there is a lot of passion in Western Australia on the issue of the GST, there is a lot of emotion running high, from both parties.


MAIDEN: As there should be because you are being completely ripped off. So on this front Tim why not secede? You guys are cashed up. You’ve got your own electricity system; you’re not even connected to the grid.


SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS TIM HAMMOND: We’re not nearly as cashed up as we should be Sam. I don’t know where we are at with this secession business but I can’t help but wonder if they got the motion wrong. It is very important to focus on succession perhaps, but I think they have it back to front.


Is it wax on, wax off? I think Mr Miyagi would be turning in his grave if he realised what was happening over in the great State of WA.


MAIDEN: This is a Karate Kid reference?


HAMMOND: Yes, it is Karate Kid, wax on, wax off, WAxit…


MAIDEN: Ok, right I get it.


HAMMOND: it was a bit of a Dad joke, but it was Father’s Day yesterday.


MAIDEN: You’ve jumped the gun on this investigation into how to distribute the GST and Bill Shorten has run around WA, when you had your own ALP conference where rose petals and balloons fell from the air and he said he was going to give WA more money. But you’re not doing anything about the overall carve up of that money, why have you squibbed that?


HAMMOND: I don’t believe it is a squib at all. Again, if you look at the substance of what Bill announced, particularly when compared to the sound and fury of “Mike’s Mates” at the weekend & you couldn’t get two more different approaches in terms of fundamentally wanting to address the GST disparity in WA.


Let me explain how it works: What Bill announced a weekend ago was to create a separate fund, protected by legislation that has $1.6 billion in it to address vital infrastructure projects. Now, that $1.6 billion is not a figure that has been plucked out of the sky Sam, that is equivalent to getting WA’s GST up to a 70 cent floor. So what it actually does is what Malcolm Turnbull and the Libs have been talking about and we’re actually doing it and what that is creating a pool of money to get Western Australia to 70 cents upon a Shorten Labor Government delivering its first budget.


It’s real money, over and above what is already there to fix the anomaly that is in place right now, which could be fixed by Malcolm Turnbull if he had the gumption to do so.


MAIDEN: How are you going to fund that? And why not just take money off the States who are getting more than they should?


HAMMOND: As much as the State Liberals would like to have you believe the last time I checked we were actually in a Federation and this isn’t about punishing any other State or Territory in terms of what its GST allocation is. It’s about making sure WA actually gets a fair share.   


MAIDEN: How are you going to fund $1.6 billion dollars?


HAMMOND: It’s been backed in by Shadow Cabinet, it’s been assessed by Chris Bowen… (Interrupted by journalist)


MAIDEN: How are you going to fund it?


HAMMOND: It will be funded out of general consolidated revenue.


MAIDEN: So taxes will have to go up?


HAMMOND: Taxes won’t have to go up. You know what we could be doing, we could be saving $65 billion by not giving big business a tax cut and instead do what Bill Shorten is committed to doing which is infrastructure spend to address the GST anomaly.


MAIDEN: This is the biggest Magic Pudding argument I’ve heard – you’re smarter than that.


HAMMOND: It’s absolutely not a Magic Pudding.


MAIDEN: Then where is that $1.6 billion going to come from?


HAMMOND: It’s not out of the GST pool; it is out of consolidated revenue that is budgeted as part of Federal Labor Government’s first budget.


MAIDEN: We have a deficit.


MORTON: This is typical Labor, trying to fix the GST distribution problem by actually not doing anything to fix the distribution. There is absolutely no problem these guys don’t solve with taxing people more and spending more. It is absolute nonsense.


MAIDEN: $1.6 billion over how long?


HAMMOND: Over two years.


MAIDEN: OK, that is a lot of money.


HAMMOND: It is a lot of money and it demonstrates the appetite which we have to fix this disparity.


MAIDEN: Are you saying the deficit is going to go up?


HAMMOND: No, this is all part of a Federal Labor Treasury team making sure that taxpayers funds go to where they are needed the most. At this stage in terms of addressing an unforeseen disparity, we have a commitment by the Federal Labor team to make sure we get to a 70 cent floor over and above anything close to what Malcolm Turnbull is doing, which is simply to just kick the issue a bit further down the curb.


He’s had four years to fix this, we’re providing a pathway forward with stability and certainly, that’s the last thing we saw from the Liberals at their state conference this weekend.


MAIDEN: Is the argument though because there has been this economic argument that we need to not get so upset about being in deficit as long as it’s good-debt, bad-debt, using it to fund infrastructure. Are you saying it’s OK for Australia to stay in debt longer as long as you are funding infrastructure projects?


HAMMOND: I’m not saying that at all and I’m not buying into this good debt-bad debt analysis because that is a soft option. It is about where we prioritise our investment. Labor has made it very clear that we think the wrong thing to do is to back in $65 billion in terms of giving a tax cut or chop out to the big end of town. Instead we should be concentrating on investing in infrastructure, particularly in WA when we need more than at any other time consumer confidence to get the State up and going again.


Instead of talking about secession, we should be talking about investment and that is precisely what Bill and the Labor party are doing.


MAIDEN: Ben Morton, would you like a right of reply?


MORTON: What the real question is and Tim maybe can answer it; will this announcement from Labor take off or put on the table any future support from the Labor party for changing the distribution of the GST?


HAMMOND: We have made it very clear that we will review the outcome of the Productivity Commission if and when it comes. But what we’re actually doing is addressing the hurdle right now. It can be done, it is being done, and we’ve shown the path forward.


What Malcolm Turnbull could do is actually show some leadership and match it instead of coming along to the state conference and saying he is the first Prime Minister to have worked out there is a problem - how about addressing it, it can be done.


MORTON: Tim, looking at addressing the issue it is the Liberal party and only the Liberal party that has got a position of supporting a floor in the GST that will result in the change of the distribution.


HAMMOND: But when?


MORTON: You haven’t said yes or no in relation to that being your position.


HAMMOND: But when are we going to see this magical floor introduced?


MORTON: The floor will be introduced at a time in the future when the relativities get to a point in which it can be done.


MAIDEN: We are going to have to leave it there because I think we have to go to a break. So, you’ll come on together again, your magnificent together – you can explain the magic pudding to explain the $1.6 billion and you can explain the magic floor.


HAMMOND: What I’d like to know is how it is we are going to solve this citizenship issue if it is that the Liberals get their way and we become the new republic?


MAIDEN: Doesn’t Bill Shorten just need to cough up his documents that prove he’s not a Pom?


HAMMOND: I don’t think Tony Abbott is in any place to put that ultimatum on the table. He has had five years, very disingenuous to do it now and using language I’m trying to tell my five-year-old not to use.


MAIDEN: Yes, I had the same problem today when I unfortunately had Sky News on when he said that then I had two young boys under the age of 10 running around the house screaming things like…anyway. Thank you very much for your time today gentlemen.