Mark McGowan’s WA budget surplus labeled ‘unfair distortion’ by Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas

Victoria’s Labor government has criticized its Western Australian Labor counterpart for receiving “special treatment” over the GST, describing WA’s $5.7 billion budget surplus on the back of huge mining royalties as “an absolute disruption “of justice.

But Prime Minister Mark McGowan escalated the war of words with Victoria, saying that if they didn’t like the GST deal, “they should probably just jump in the lake”.

WA Prime Minister and Treasurer Mark McGowan announced the near-record operating surplus yesterday as billions of dollars from skyrocketing iron ore prices and additional GST subsidies boosted the state’s revenues.

Mr McGowan had goaded other states to the strong result and was the only government to record a surplus, saying they would be “green with envy.”

Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas responded today.

A close-up photo of WA Premier Mark McGowan's face with a microphone next to his right cheek.
WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan expected his $5.7 budget surplus to spark jealousy

“For God’s sake, Western Australia has budget surpluses of $7.8 billion a year, in circumstances where commodity prices are going through the roof, this is nothing more than an absolute distortion of what fairness looks like,” Pallas said.

“It tells the rest of the nation that you can get special treatment.”

WA struck a deal with the Morrison government in 2018 to guarantee it would get back 70 cents for every dollar of GST it produced.

That should increase to 75 cents in the dollar by 2025.

Mr. McGowan pointed out that WA still received by far the lowest share of GST per capita of any state or territory and no other state or territory had lost a cent in GST revenue from the deal.

New South Wales gets $1.01 back for every dollar of GST it generates, Queensland $1.10, Victoria 92 cents and South Australia $1.35.

PROXY GST
WA struck a deal with the Morrison government to get back 70 cents for every dollar it produces.Gregory Nelson / ABC News

The WA Treasury calculated that without the GST deal, the state’s share of the GST would have fallen to 15.8 cents in the dollar in 2022-23 and 1 cent in the dollar the following year.

McGowan told ABC Radio Perth today that Victoria and New South Wales were happy to blame Western Australia for their “accident or mismanagement”.

“Because we stayed open during COVID when they went into lockdown, we were able to supply countless billions of dollars to the Commonwealth government which were then given to New South Wales and Victoria as they were closed for months,” said Mr McGowan.

“We have supported them through difficult times and gratitude from other states is a normal part of Australian life.

“They will try to blame someone else, New South Wales and Victoria, for their own actions.”

Federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese refrained from criticizing Mr McGowan and turned the issue into an attack on Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

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