National interest argument transformed GST debate

To fix the unfair GST distribution the ‘poor WA’ argument was never going to convince a nation – we had to make the national case for change.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA’s (CCI) focus on the national interest transformed the debate to one that ensures every Australian stands to benefit and this has helped to get reform over the line.

Recent polling of 2,350 Australians, commissioned by CCI, revealed that more than three-quarters (78%) of West Australians believe a change to the GST should ensure no state or territory is left behind but every state and territory is encouraged to get ahead.

Sixty-eight per cent of West Australians believe the GST distribution should focus on the national interest instead of a political fight between the states and territories.

This demonstrates that while West Australians were the most vocal in calling for GST reform, they wanted to ensure that every Australian stood to benefit. No state or territory should be punished the way WA has been for developing its own economy.

CCI has been leading the charge to advocate for GST reform on behalf of industry. The Productivity Commission agreed with CCI in its final report that the current GST arrangements hold back the national economy and backed CCI’s model of ‘equalising to the average’ to fix the GST – the only organisation to have achieved this support.

Although the Federal Government has not adopted the ambitious model of equalising to the average, we believe the Federal Government’s approach meets the national interest test for change.

These reforms transcend the zero-sum game of GST reform, ensuring that every state and territory receives a greater amount of GST while structurally improving the system.

To put this GST fix simply, the Federal Treasurer is taking all the states out to lunch, he’s giving them all a bigger piece of pie, and for once WA doesn’t have to pick up the bill.

CCI recognises that it has not been the sole voice for change. The campaign for GST reform has been hard fought as a unified front across WA industry and representatives of all political persuasions. We thank everyone involved for their commitment to a long-term fix in the national interest.

We urge Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and each state Premier to back the Federal Government’s proposed model given that every Australian now stands to benefit.

The Federal Treasurer, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, will speak about the GST reform proposal for the first time in Perth at a CCI breakfast this morning, followed by a Q&A session.

*All comments are attributable to CCI Chief Economist Rick Newnham.

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