DATE: 17 JULY, 2017
SUBJECT/S: GST in WA
VAN ONSELEN: I have long been dissatisfied to say the least with the lack of action to address the problems attached to the GST share that the great State of Western Australia receives. It is since, in the dollar, currently 34 cents in the dollar. It’s not good enough. Other States have never dipped below the mid-eighties in terms of cents in the dollar they receive, Western Australia is post its mining boom, it has not implemented pub and clubs pokie machines in a desperate bid to find revenue for the State yet it has been penalised for that. Now, I have been very critical of Federal Liberal MPs for talking the talk but not walking the walk when it comes to what should or shouldn’t actually happen in relation to the GST. On the weekend in the Sunday Times I took aim at Labor Federal MPs, including my next guest, a front bencher, the most senior MP out of the great State of Western Australia; I’m talking about Tim Hammond. I took aim at them all for what was a six page submission that they put forward to the Productivity Commission and in it, plenty of partisan rhetoric criticising the Barnett Government for things we all know, a build-up of debt and all the rest of it but I didn’t see one recommendation in there for how to actually fix the GST blight on WA and as a result I labelled their submission a ‘joke’. From the Gold Coast where Mr Hammond I assume you have gotten as far away from WA as is physically possible after that six-page review you guys all put in.
TIM HAMOND SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFIARS: Nothing could be further from the truth Peter, good afternoon, I’m here for the grand total of about 18 hours before I get straight back to my great home State of WA. There’s nowhere else I prefer to be than sunny WA I can tell you right now.
VAN ONSELEN: Let me be very clear, my criticism is not targeted at you personally it’s targeted at the nine of you though and I made the point in my introduction that I have been very critical of the Liberals on this. My real gripe with the six-page submission is not that I disagree with the failings of the Liberals, I just don’t see what your recommendations are for action and I’m not alone, State Labor MPs are pretty disappointed. Take us through right now why you take the view that we’re all wrong.
HAMMOND: Peter, I just can’t agree with your characterisation or assertion of the submission that was put in by what I might say is a very united Western Australian Federal Labor team and there are four reasons for that. Firstly the document clearly articulates the problems and challenges we face in WA and makes it very clear that WA Federal Labor are listening to our community in relation to the disparity and inequity they feel they are receiving as a result of an unequal GST share. We make that very clear and set out the reasons for that. We also set out in some detail some of the shortcomings in relation to the way that is currently being assessed and we simply call for a fair share. We are very united on that and we are very consistent on that and can I just make this point; what we have seen from the other side here is nothing but disunity and that is getting us absolutely nowhere. Quite frankly the WA community is getting fed up with it, they’ve been fed up with it for eight years in relation to Colin Barnett and Mike Nahan and four treasurers before him and they are certainly most fed up with it in relation to inactivity from Malcolm Turnbull.
VAN ONSELEN: You say that you submission calls for a fairer share, I know it does, I’ve read it, but you don’t have any ideas. Isn’t it important for the collective nine of you, particularly senior members to have some ideas about how to fix it.
HAMMOND: There is another couple of areas I have to respectfully disagree with you in terms of a shortage of ideas. We are constantly listening to the needs and wants of our community in relation to addressing the shortfall by way of getting a fair share. Where that comes into to play, as we make it very clear in the document, there is a current issue in relation to remoteness that Bill Shorten has already talked about on one of his many times over in WA. There are areas in which we simply say the community want to be compensated for what they feel is an inequity that is not being addressed at the moment. It is not our place Peter to pre-empt the outcomes of a Productivity Commission review, that will make its way in due course. What is in our place to do, in a very unified way, which we have done quite frankly, is make it very clear that the community is fed up with the current state of affairs under Malcom Turnbull, Scott Morrison the Federal Liberals and eight years of State Liberal rule. We’re in a parlous position where we just need it fixed and Bill Shorten has been very clear on this, we simply need a fair share.
VAN ONSELEN: You say it’s not your place to pre-empt and I agree with that but a submission is all about ideas isn’t it? The ideas that were put forward by the Liberals at a State level and indeed by State Labor that it should be a per capita share but you guys didn’t have any ideas you just had gripes. They’re not gripes I disagree with Tim Hammond, but there’s no ideas.
HAMMOND: Again, I respectfully disagree and for two reasons. Firstly a close analysis of those submissions put in by our opponents, at least some of them but not all of them and that’s important too not the ones who could make a difference here but have failed to do so, some of them don’t put forward these ideas as so called solutions they simply refer to other work. They don’t at any stage of their submission say ‘this is what we believe in’ and a close analysis of the language they use shows the few of them who have put their name to that submission as to what they really are and that is incapable of actually fixing this. They’ve had four years to do it and we’ve seen nothing. Secondly, our role as representative of our community in WA is to make it very clear to the Productivity Commission Review that our community wants more than they have and they’re entitled to that. That is important to be taken into account so far as the deliberations of the Productivity Commission Review.
VAN ONSELEN: The State Labor Government wants a per-capita share. McGowan says that is the best solution and that 90 per cent of the population when represented by MPs and Premiers in other States are covered by wanting a per-capita share, do you agree with your State Labor Premier Mark McGowan?
HAMMOND: Peter, I couldn’t be any clearer. What we agree on is the need for a fair share. What Bill Shorten agrees on is a need for a fair share, he stood shoulder to shoulder with Mark McGowan, not only on the 2 June just last month on his eighth visit to WA in a period of time –where Malcolm Turnbull has spent 20 hours – Bill Shorten stood shoulder to shoulder with Mark McGowan on 11 March on election day to say that he was listening and he understood the representation from his Federal Labor team and the State Labor team that WA deserves a much fairer share than what they are getting now.
VAN ONSELEN: We all agree on a fairer share. You point out rightly or wrongly, I think rightly, I’ve criticised them as well, the inaction and some of the inconsistencies by the Liberals but you’re not willing to put any meat on the bones for us Tim Hammond about how that fairer share might be carved up.
HAMMOND: What we are doing time and time again in a united way in our communities in WA and over in Canberra and to the Productivity Commission Review is making it very clear that we’re representing the interests of our community in seeking a remedy to this current situation. The Productivity Commission Review will take its course and will finalise its findings in due course over the preliminary review ion October and the final findings in January. But right now the most important thing we can do as a united Federal Labor team presenting itself as a credible alternative Governmentis to make it fundamentally clear that we’re delivering to the Productivity Commission Review the needs and wishes of our community. That is exactly what we are doing and I am very proud to stand with my Federal Labor colleagues in doing so.
VAN ONSELEN: You’re over there in Queensland. Queensland is a net recipient per dollar of GST it puts in, I don’t know how, like Western Australia it’s a mining State. Are you going to be meeting up with some Queensland Labor people, from Government, to ask them why the hell they think it is appropriate that they receive more in the dollar and WA only receives 34 cents in the dollar. Surely you are going to take the opportunity, you’re all the way over there?
HAMMOND: Including night time, as I said, I’m here for the sum total of 18 hours. I’m here in my Shadow Ministerial portfolio responsibilities in consumer affairs. It is very important I dedicate as much time as I possibly can to that sector of my portfolio responsibilities and that’s what I intend to do while I’m over here. If I happen to meet any of my State Labor colleagues from the sunny State of Queensland I’m really happy to have a conversation with them and I’m happy to be as direct with them as I’m being direct with you and that is I intend to fight for my local community, it’s what I have been incredibly proud to do ever since I was sworn into Parliament.
VAN ONSELEN: Before I let you go, last question. What are your three preferred options to create a fairer share?
HAMMOND: My three preferred options are a fair share, a fair share and a fair share and I’d like to see it happen under this Turnbull Government. They could do it with a stroke of a pen, they haven’t done it yet and I’m not holding my breath but that’s what they should be doing.
VAN ONSELEN: And if Labor get into Government you’re confident that Bill Shorten will create that fair share?
HAMMOND: you have a look at what Bill has said himself when he has been in Perth many of the eight times he’s been there in the last nine months. He’s made it very clear that he has heard our advocacy and that he also recognises that Western Australians are due a fair share, he’s made that very clear just as late as last month.
VAN ONSELEN: We’re out of time Tim Hammond, appreciate you joining us on Newsday thanks for your company.
HAMMOND: Always good to be with you Peter.