The Australian

West pressures PM to lift its GST share

- PAUL GARVEY

Scott Morrison is facing fresh calls to recommit to raising Western Australia’s share of the GST as he attempts to buttress his government’s crumbling fortress in the state.

Mr Morrison arrived in Perth late on Tuesday for his first visit to WA since 2019, amid signs that his government could struggle to hold its dominant position.

His visit comes as a delegation representi­ng the WA branch of the Liberal Party voted to call for the government to reaffirm its pledge to lift WA’s share of the GST to 75c in the dollar.

A resolution seeking the GST recommitme­nt at an upcoming federal council in Canberra was approved by Liberal delegates at a party meeting at the weekend. The Australian can reveal that there were calls within the meeting for WA to push for a full rebate of every cent of GST the state raises, but this was eventually watered down when it was finally approved.

While WA was central to helping Mr Morrison to his 2019 election win, when the Liberals secured 11 of 16 seats in the state, there are growing concerns within the party that its support is slipping.

A Newspoll this month showed the Coalition trailing Labor 47-53 on a two-party preferred basis in WA, a swing that would see the government lose three seats. A fourth Liberal-held seat, Stirling, is already slated for abolition under an electoral redistribu­tion announced last month.

The poll result has been a wake-up for MPs who had believed that the deep unpopulari­ty of the Liberals at the state level would not translate federally. Newspoll had earlier accurately predicted the Liberals would win just two of 59 lower house seats at the March state election.

Sentiment has begun to turn against the federal government after it briefly sided with Clive Palmer in his High Court challenge against WA’s COVID border restrictio­ns last year. That union was exploited by WA Premier Mark McGowan during the election campaign, setting a template for Labor leader Anthony Albanese to follow.

Ongoing controvers­ies surroundin­g Christian Porter and senator Linda Reynolds, the abolition of the Liberal-held seat of Stirling, and the loss in recent years of high-profile figures such as Mathias Cormann and Julie Bishop have added to the Coalition’s challenges in WA.

Mr Morrison, who was criticised by Liberal figures including former premier Colin Barnett for failing to lend his support to thenopposi­tion leader Zak Kirkup during the disastrous WA election campaign, was originally not scheduled to meet with new WA leader David Honey but the pair will now sit down during Mr Morrison’s visit after a late change.

Under the GST changes previously announced by Mr Morrison, WA will eventually be allowed to retain at least 75c of every $1 of GST revenue it raises. Its GST share had previously fallen to as low as 30c in the $1 under the previous system, putting huge strain on the state’s budget when iron ore royalties fell.

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