Bill Shorten uses GST to pressure Liberals in WA as Labor targets marginal seats

| 30.08,18. 06:35 AM |

Bill Shorten uses GST to pressure Liberals in WA as Labor targets marginal seats

Photo: Mark McGowan (l) has welcomed federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's GST promise. (ABC News: Eliza Laschon)

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has rushed to Western Australia to press his electoral advantage just days after the Liberal leadership spill, targeting the sensitive issue of GST distribution as Labor puts pressure on a group of marginal seats that could prove key once a poll is called.

WA Premier Mark McGowan yesterday endorsed federal Labor's plan to enshrine a 75-cent GST floor in legislation within 100 days if it wins the next election.

Mr Shorten had previously pitched the plan to "make the floor the law" but was in the west on Wednesday to convince voters he would make this happen quickly if elected.

"It's terrific to have Bill announce today a unity ticket with the Federal Government on GST to ensure Western Australia gets its fair share," Mr McGowan said on Wednesday.

"What federal Labor is doing is locking it in stone, so locking it in stone is good."

Under the Opposition's plan, a floor of 70 cents would be locked in by next financial year, and this would be lifted to 75 cents in 2024-25.

Mr Shorten said the funding would also be "untied" and could be spent by the states and territories as they wished.

Mr McGowan and WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt had expressed strong support for the Liberal Government's proposed GST reform, where the state would be nearly $5 billion better off over eight years.

"(Federal Labor's pitch) still means that Western Australia … subsidises the rest of the country, but we will never get to the point where we will go down to 30 cents in the floor again," Mr McGowan said.

It is Mr Shorten's sixth visit to the state this year, as he eyes off a set of key Liberal marginal seats.

Attorney-General Christian Porter is seen as vulnerable in his seat of Pearce, while fellow frontbenchers Ken Wyatt (Hasluck) and Steve Irons (Swan) are also sitting on thin margins.

Labor is also targeting Canning MP Andrew Hastie, who backed Peter Dutton in the leadership spill.

"I think that what it does is it puts it in black and white," Mr Shorten said of his 100-day GST promise.

"I think West Australia will be better off if we just legislate the floor. No doubt in my mind."

Shorten's 'shifty' fix: Cormann

But the promise has been dismissed by the Morrison Government as simply "a furphy".

"He's trying to distract from the fact that he has refused to commit to actually fixing the GST distribution formula," Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said.

"He is using shifty weasel words.

"West Australians don't want top-up payments from the Federal Government in perpetuity.

"West Australians want and deserve a genuinely fair deal on the GST, and that is what we'll be delivering."

Mr McGowan said he had requested a written commitment from the new Morrison Government it would deliver on its GST reform proposed under the previous Turnbull government.

Despite his written request, and a follow up text, Mr McGowan said he had not yet received a written confirmation.


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