Media in parallel universe over GST: PM

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has claimed the media is in a “parallel universe” over WA’s attitude towards the Federal Government and the GST distribution.

Mr Turnbull, who will spend the last day of his week-long WA trip in Broome today, will leave the State without a solution to a multibillion-dollar revenue black hole, which includes almost $2 billion in lost GST after a fall in population projections.

Ahead of Monday’s deadline for State Budget submissions, Premier Mark McGowan could not rule out new taxes or increased debt to manage the revenue loss.

Speaking on ABC radio yesterday, Mr Turnbull said he had received a warm and positive welcome from West Australians, contrary to media questions on how people felt about the GST.

“I listen to you saying how angry people are and how furious they are and how they wish I wasn’t coming and so forth,” he said. “It is a complete parallel universe between what the media is saying and what the people I’m meeting in the real world are saying to me.

“I know politicians should never complain about the media, but your listeners I reckon have a much more positive view if they are like the hundreds of people I’ve met this week.”

Mr Turnbull’s comments came after a meeting with Premier Mark McGowan on Wednesday night, where the pair discussed WA’s GST share and the $2 billion black hole.

Mr Turnbull described the meeting as “courteous” and “constructive”. Mr McGowan said that while he was disappointed the meeting did not resolve the issue, the Prime Minister had understood the problem WA faced. “It was constructive and forthright on a range of issues,” Mr McGowan said. “Obviously there’s no resolution to the $2 billion GST hole that we are confronting.”

“You’re going to have these conflicts and disputes. I’d have thought they would have come here with major announcements on GST and infrastructure. They haven’t so I’m going to keep putting the pressure on. I’m still hopeful of a resolution by Monday but I doubt that will happen.”

When asked if State debt would blow out beyond predictions of more than $42 billion because of the $5.4 billion revenue write-down, Mr McGowan said there were not a lot of options available for the Government to fix the issue.

“You can’t conjure money out of the air but we have lost $5.4 billion and that’s verified and hard to cope with,” he said.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison rejected a bid to re-purpose more than $300 million in Federal funds for the Oakajee facility. “The commitment from the Rudd government was for an equity investment, not grant funding, and was specific to the Oakajee project,” he said.

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