GST inaction a vote changer in WA

31 July, 2017

The Turnbull Government could face annihilation in Western Australia at the next federal election if it fails to deliver a better GST deal for the state, according to recent polling by WA’s peak business advocate.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia (CCI) says a recent state-wide Patterson poll of more than 800 Western Australians, commissioned by CCI, shows that the Australian Labor Party could gain a 27 per cent increase in the number votes if the party endorsed a policy to reform GST which delivers a greater share to WA.

CCI Chief Economist Rick Newnham said that the independent polling strongly indicates that GST reform is at the forefront of voters’ minds and inaction at a federal level could result in a loss of Liberal seats held in WA at the next election.

“Western Australia not only deserves a greater share of GST, an increase of revenue from the Federal Government would help to improve the State’s economy,” he said.

“If GST was distributed equally per capita, WA would gain more than $11 billion over the next three years which is the equivalent of seven new Perth Stadiums.”

More than 80 per cent of those polled said that GST reform ranked highly as an issue leading in to the next federal election, with 51 per cent of respondents indicating it was one of the most important issues.

“GST is now the major issue for swing voters in WA,” Mr Newnham said.

“9 per cent of those polled said they would switch their vote from another party to the Liberals if PM Malcolm Turnbull committed to reforming the GST distribution, while 12 per cent of voters said they would switch to voting for Labor, from another party, if Opposition Leader Bill Shorten committed to GST reform.

“CCI has demonstrated in its submission to the Productivity Commission that the current GST distribution mechanism hinders national economic growth. The Business Council of Australia’s support for CCI’s analysis and proposal shows it is a national problem for business growth.”

Mr Newnham said the CCI and the business community are calling for the immediate introduction of a GST floor below which no state’s GST share can fall and this can be done today by the Treasurer simply directing the Commonwealth Grants Commission.

“We are also calling for partial equalisation should the Productivity Commission conclude that the current GST model hinders national economic growth,” he said.

“A partial equalisation system of GST distribution would not only increase much-needed revenue for WA but also incentivise other states to grow under-developed industries which has the potential to pump billions into the national economy.

“There is a growing discontent within the business WA community and understandably, Western Australians want the Federal Government to act quickly and fix the broken GST system.

“The vast majority of WA voters are not asking for special treatment, they are simply demanding a system that incentivises economic growth in the country, instead of stifling it.” Mr Newnham said.

Simon Bailey
Counsel Communications
+61 400 248 880