Peter Costello

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GST; Intergovernmental Agreement; State Tax Abolition - Interview with Liam Bartlett, ABC Perth

Interview with Liam Bartlett
ABC Perth

Friday, 1 July 2005
10.30 am AEST

 

SUBJECTS: GST; Intergovernmental Agreement; State Tax Abolition

BARTLETT:

Peter Costello, good morning.

TREASURER:

Good morning. Good to be with you Liam.

BARTLETT:

Treasurer, is this announcement designed to provoke Eric Ripper into action?

TREASURER:

Oh yes, it is designed to get tax cuts for Western Australians. When the GST came in, the GST was introduced to get rid of a whole raft of other taxes some of which the Western Australian Government has got rid of but not all of them. Now, the other States and Territories apart from New South Wales are now moving to abolish those other State taxes and WA should do the same, otherwise, WA would have double taxation, they would have the GST and the taxes that it is designed to abolish. And the poor people of Western Australia can’t be put in a situation where they pay double taxation which is not paid in other States. They deserve the same fairness.

BARTLETT:

In real terms though Treasurer what will you do?

TREASURER:

We have put a proposal to all of the Governments abolishing the remaining taxes from 1 July 2006. That has (inaudible) and between now and then we will be announcing measures designed to get tax cuts for Western Australians. We have got to fight for Western Australians, their Government is taxing them higher than other States. It is taxing them with State taxes and the GST. That was never the intention so we the Federal Government will have to get tax relief for Western Australians.

BARTLETT:

Are you talking about legislating WA tax cuts from Canberra?

TREASURER:

Well we are talking about measures which will get Western Australians the same tax cuts that everybody else in Australia is getting and we will be putting pressure on the West Australian Government to do what the other Labor Governments are able to do, which is to cut the taxes, not cut, I should say abolish the taxes which the GST is designed to replace.

BARTLETT:

But is this possible though? Is it possible for you to go over the heads of Eric Ripper and Geoff Gallop?

TREASURER:

Well if Ripper and Gallop want to double tax Western Australians we have to show faith with Western Australians. We have to do whatever we can to get them their tax cuts because Ripper and Gallop want to double tax them. Now we couldn’t have that, we couldn’t have West Australians being penalised by their own State Government when everybody else in Australia is paying the GST and they got State taxes abolished as a quid pro quo why shouldn’t Western Australians.

BARTLETT:

Well as you know, I mean we have already talked about this on the programme and we have had the same sort of conversation with Eric Ripper. Eric Ripper says he has already complied and as far as he is concerned as of today the first of July he is happy with that situation. Are you talking about measures with your new control of the Senate, are you talking about measures from Canberra over his head to ensure WA tax cuts?

TREASURER:

Yes. Why should Western Australians be the only people in Australia who pay stamp duty on their mortgages? How can Mr Ripper justify that? Every other Australian has had stamp duty on their mortgage abolished because they are now paying GST. Well why shouldn’t Western Australians have the same treatment? Why shouldn’t they have stamp duties on their leases abolished? Why shouldn’t businesses in Western Australia have abolished stamp duties on non-residential conveyancing. These were all taxes which were slated for abolition when the GST came in. Now you can’t have the GST and the taxes. He can have his State taxes and not the GST or he can have his GST and not the State taxes but you can’t have both and the rest of Australia is not going to have both and Western Australia shouldn’t have both.

BARTLETT:

Treasurer given that State/Federal split have you taken legal advice on this? I mean, is it possible to do what you’re suggesting constitutionally?

TREASURER:

Oh yes. There are plenty of measures that can be put in place between now and July 2006. But the point that I am trying to make here Liam is, you know Mr Ripper and Mr Gallop both say this is Perth against Canberra. It has got nothing to do with that. This is where a Government has turned on its own people, where the Labor Government has turned on its own people and has said we will make you pay taxes that people in other States don’t have to pay and we will make you pay them even though the GST should have replaced them. And because the Commonwealth Government put the GST in place to have those other taxes abolished we feel an obligation to the people of Western Australia to get them tax cuts and that’s why we’ll be using a full range of measures which will be designed to encourage the Western Australian Government to do the right thing by the Western Australian people.

BARTLETT:

Speaking of tax justice – how much taxpayers money has been spent on the advertising tit-for-tat between you and Eric?

TREASURER:

Well I don’t know but every time the Western Australian Government misrepresents the situation the Commonwealth Government will point out the facts. We will respond. Why? Because, let me tell you this Liam, this year the West Australian Government will get $3.8 billion of GST revenue. They will be getting a windfall of $226 million, money they never expected, never budgeted for and they’re refusing to abolish taxes that it is designed to replace. So you can’t sit back and say well the West Australian public will suffer double taxation which is not going to occur in any other State. You have got to give West Australians a fair go, which we’re going to do.

BARTLETT:

Treasurer do you say then that between now and next July, July 2006, when do you think you will fire the first bullet?

TREASURER:

Well look, none of this is necessary if the West Australian Government does what the other State Governments are doing. I mean, you know what happened in other States Liam? The other State Governments went out and made a virtue of this. They said “we are abolishing stamp duty on mortgages” and the public said “that’s fantastic, that’s great, that’s good, we can buy houses at a cheaper cost”. I would actually be quite pleased if the West Australian Government went out and made a virtue of this as they are doing with other States. Do you know that the Bank Accounts Debits tax is being abolished today? That tax that you pay when you take money out of a bank account, it is being abolished because the GST was introduced to replace it. Now the States are saying look at us we are abolishing Bank Accounts Debits tax, that’s right, that’s good, that’s why they have got the GST. They ought to make a virtue out of abolishing stamp duty on mortgages as well.

BARTLETT:

Well all right, well we will wait for you to raise the gun.

TREASURER:

Well Liam as I said this should all be done by agreement. It has been done by agreement in six other States and Territories. It shouldn’t have to be an argument and I hope that there’s not. There’s 12 months to go and there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and then.

BARTLETT:

Treasurer, thanks for your time this morning.

TREASURER:

Thanks very much Liam.

1 Jul 2005

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