Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would be dreading this week’s visit to Western Australia following a poll suggesting the Coalition is heading for an election rout in the state, Premier Mark McGowan said.
The PM and his cabinet head west this week, but he has made the trip only twice in 11 months – the last time in February before the WA election when he damaged former premier Colin Barnett’s campaign by backing away from a promise to lift it’s GST share.
“He knows these issues are here, he needs to deal with them, better to bite the bullet and get it over with, rip the bandaid off rather than procrastinate and make excuses,” Mr McGowan told reporters.
A Galaxy poll published on Sunday indicates a swing of six points and a loss of four Liberal-held seats across WA, which would deliver Bill Shorten power.
Those potential lost seats include cabinet ministers Michael Keenan, Christian Porter and Ken Wyatt.
If Mr Turnbull wants to improve his stocks, he must stop pork barrelling in other states and fix the flawed GST distribution model that gave WA by far the least amount and sent billions of dollars to other states, the premier said.
The PM announced to a standing ovation at the Liberal state conference in Perth last August he would fix the system and lift WA’s share, but then all but walked away from that promise on his next visit in February.
“The federal treasurer and or the prime minister can sign a letter to the grants commission today and the formula will change,” Mr McGowan said.
“That’s all he has to do or can he top up Western Australia to 80 cents or 90 cents, whatever he’d like to do it is all within Mr Turnbull’s hands.
The Galaxy found only 21 per cent of respondents trusted the PM to change the GST distribution system, while 61 per cent did not.
The Coalition government has tried to appease WA by launching a Productivity Commission inquiry into the system and providing $1.6 billion in top-up funding for state road and rail projects, although that money was merely reallocated from previous state government projects.
He was speaking at the launch of tunnel-boring work at one of those projects, the $1.86 billion new Forretfield-Airport link train line.
Mr McGowan said he hoped to meet with Mr Turnbull but nothing had been organised yet during the visit that will include Perth and regional towns including Broome, Albany and others.