The prime minister has challenged newly elected West Australian Premier Mark McGowan to convince his fellow Labor leaders in other states to change the GST carve-up.
Malcolm Turnbull promised in August, during the Liberal party’s state conference, to introduce a floor to the GST below which no state or territory’s share could fall.
But little has happened since then, with later clarifications to the announcement indicating WA would likely have to wait until 2019 for it to happen.
Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Monday that the fiercest opponents to what he proposed was federal Labor leader Bill Shorten and Labor leaders in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.
“So the challenge for the new Labor Premier of Western Australia is how is he going to get his own party onside?” Mr Turnbull said.
“That is the real question because Labor is absolutely rock solid at the federal level, so far anyway, in defending the existing arrangements on the GST distribution.
“I believe there is an opportunity to set a floor but to do so at a time when nobody is actually going to lose.”
Mr McGowan has previously vowed to be “forceful and unrelenting” when dealing with Canberra.
The prime minister was also asked about WA Labor’s plans to scrap the $1.9 billion Perth Freight Link in favour of other infrastructure projects it hopes to pursue using the same federal funding.
“I am an enthusiast for urban rail, we need it in all our big cities. I welcome that,” Mr Turnbull said.
“But as to the extent of federal government funding, that is going to be after due consideration of what is proposed.
“I mean, this idea that the state government can put out a press release and say, “Give us the money on the basis of the press release”, Australians would not think well of my government if we were as careless as that in dealing with their taxpayers’ dollars.”
Former state Treasurer Mike Nahan, who is expected to become leader of the WA Liberals after a party meeting on Tuesday, offered to work with Mr McGowan on the GST issue.
Dr Nahan said the issue had been one of the most frustrating during his time in government and agreed it was up to Mr McGowan to convince Mr Shorten.
“I’m offering my hand to Mark McGowan to say let’s work on this together, let’s put a solution together and go to Canberra,” he told ABC radio on Monday.
“I’ll do the Liberal side, you get Shorten on side, and if that works, we as a state are better.”