Pauline Hanson has urged a better deal for small businesses, saying they should be given a tax cut, spared from paying penalty rates, and be allowed to sack people “when they need to”.
The One Nation leader’s comments in the West Australian city of Mandurah came as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed he would not return to WA before this Saturday’s state election.
Federal issues have come to the fore in the WA election campaign just days out from an expected narrow loss for the Barnett government.
A new online poll by the Australian Institute for Progress gives Labor a 51-49 two-party preferred lead over the Liberals.
But opinion is mixed on who will win, with 29 per cent expecting Labor to be in power, 23 per cent the Liberal-Nationals, 20 per cent a hung parliament and 28 per cent unsure.
Mr Turnbull, who’s only been on the WA campaign trail once so far and has been urged by some Liberals to stay away, told reporters in Melbourne he would not be returning.
“My schedule is not taking me to Perth this week,” Mr Turnbull said on Monday, before heading to Indonesia for a leaders’ summit.
Treasurer Scott Morrison also said he would not be heading to Perth to campaign before the election.
“I’m locked down for the budget,” he told 2GB radio.
Senator Hanson told reporters, following a Fair Work Commission decision to cut retail and hospitality penalty rates, small businesses needed a break.
“Small businesses are screaming – they want the taxation fixed up, they want the red tape cleaned up, they want to be able to employ and sack people when they need to, and they want infrastructure put into place,” she said.
“Small businesses are crippling out there.”
WA Premier Colin Barnett said he’d like to see “excessive” penalty rates brought in line with Saturday’s and the base rate of pay increased.
Federal Labor workplace spokesman Brendan O’Connor said voters were left with a clear choice.
“West Australians have a choice on Saturday to vote for a Labor government that doesn’t want a cut to penalty rates or a Liberal government that does,” Mr O’Connor said.
Senator Hanson also weighed into the GST debate, saying she’d like to investigate whether the “unfair” share of revenue going to WA was a breach of the Constitution.
Mr Turnbull last year promised WA Liberals he would put in place a GST floor to stop the state’s share falling below a certain level.
Mr Morrison said there was a “prospective commitment” to look at a GST floor, but only when the “level of share gets to a reasonable level again”.
Constitutional expert George Williams told AAP the Constitution was clear that the federal government could grant financial assistance to any state “on such terms and conditions as the parliament sees fit”.