Treasurer skirts GST issue during visit to Belmont


Scott Morrison.
Scott Morrison.

TREASURER Scott Morrison paid a visit to Belmont recently during his trip to Perth to announce funding for a new community centre.

While he was there, the Gazette asked him about WA’s economic future in the wake of the mining boom, the impact of GST top-ups for the state and what he’s expecting from the Productivity Commission’s review into the GST carve-up.

WA currently receives a return of 34.4 cents in the dollar of GST, with many calling for a shake-up of the system.

Now that WA is coming down from the mining boom, what kind of impact do you think GST top-ups will have for locals?

There was just under $230 million in this latest budget for this.

There was $500 million in the two previous budgets to bring it back up to the 2014-15 levels… which is still very low compared to the other states and territories, but we’ve put our money where our mouth is.

$1.2 billion says we get it, we get that it’s a problem. And the reason we’ve put all that top-up money into infrastructure… you’ve got people transitioning out of the mining projects and a lot of those were in construction.

So you’ve seen that taper off in WA and people are coming back to Perth. They were FIFOing out of Perth before, but now those skills can be redeployed to these types of projects.

But we’re also seeing in the west, I think we had 28,000 fulltime jobs that we’ve created over the last 12 months.

And they’re finding themselves in other sectors and new areas that are popping up.

Part of the displacement activity we saw from the mining investment up north was that it was sort of dragging a lot of resources and peoples and skills… I remember when I was coming over at that time, the biggest concerns were that you couldn’t get people to work in a cafe or restaurant in Perth because all were going north.

So you’re seeing a sort of rebalancing of that stuff here.

What kind of outcome can we expect from the productivity commission?

I’m not prejudging it and it’s important that I don’t.

I know what outcome many people would like and I’m being very careful not to raise expectations but just to work methodically through the issue.

The best solution will be a lasting one and a lasting solution will based on very credible, solid work that justifies the decision that’s made one way or another.

There’s been a large number of submissions that have come into the productivity commission from the west and that’s great, as I expected there would be.

They haven’t been given an opportunity by government before to express themselves constructively into a process that’s examining the very thing they want addressed.