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Former WA premier Colin Barnett says he feels vindicated by new GST blueprint

Former premier Colin Barnett says he feels vindicated by the new GST blueprint after years of being “ridiculed and dismissed” for standing up and fighting for WA.

“I know everyone is claiming credit, but I think I take some comfort in winning the argument,” Mr Barnett said.

“From being ridiculed and dismissed, I was pleased Scott Morrison started his comments by saying the system is broken.

“It’s just taken a long time to get a result.”

Mr Barnett said he started warning the Commonwealth about the dangers of the GST system for WA in 2009, and called for a 75¢ floor.

He was adamant that if the imbalance had been fixed sooner he would have left the State’s finances much better off at the 2017 election.

“I will always be criticised as a big spending premier,” he said. “I can concede that with hindsight. But if we’d had a 75¢ minimum floor in place then we would never have gone into deficit.

“We had six Budget surpluses and then the falling GST share and collapse of the iron ore price. It’s history, but it forced the deficit and left WA with a legacy of a higher level of net debt than it should ever have had.”

He said the McGowan Government would have no excuses for not taking the State back to surplus in the 2020s and that Federal Labor could no longer play politics with the GST issue.

“They have to accept this and I think they will,” he said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s very good.”

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