NSW Treasurer lashes Mark McGowan, calling WA Premier ‘Gollum of Australian politics’

Lanai Scarr, Peter Law & Josh ZimmermanThe West Australian
VideoWATCH NOW: In tonight’s episode of Up Late, Ben Harvey dives into the most extraordinary budget in WA history

New South Wales Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has labelled Premier Mark McGowan the “Gollum of Australian politics” in a low-blow over Western Australia’s $5.6 billion surplus and strong budget position.

Mr Perrottet, who opposed a Federal deal to ensure WA got a fairer share of the GST carve up, said while yesterday’s State balance sheet showed a “strong budget position” it did not reveal how the money would be reserved for any future mining slump.

“Mark McGowan is the Gollum of Australian politics. You can just picture him over there in his cave with his little precious — the GST,” Mr Perrottet told Sky News Australia.

“The reality is what has happened with WA with the GST revenue is exactly what we predicted would occur some years ago when treasurers like (Victoria’s) Tim Pallas and myself and other treasurers fought very hard for this no worse off clause.”

Mr Perrottet said WA had a “very volatile economy” and previous State Governments did not do enough forward planning for when times were not booming.

“Yesterday (Mark McGowan) lashed out at Premiers before they had even said anything,” the NSW Treasurer said.

“The reality is in WA they have a very volatile economy and when they had a Liberal Government over there they squandered those years of surpluses and the deal they obtained with the Federal Government ensured that was maintained well into the future — that’s not good public policy.

“What struck me about yesterday’s budget in WA is a substantial surplus but no reform there to protect those monies into the future when there is a downturn.”

At a post-Budget breakfast event at Crown Perth, Mr McGowan said it was the first time anyone had compared him to the iconic The Lord of The Rings character, but he didn’t bite back at his NSW counterpart.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has labelled Mark McGowan the “Gollum of Australian politics”.
Camera IconNSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has labelled Mark McGowan the “Gollum of Australian politics”. Credit: Pool/Getty Images

Instead, he repeated that WA had supported the entire nation by keeping the mining industry open throughout the pandemic, helping to fund “massive bailouts” of locked down NSW, Victoria and ACT.

“Everyone in NSW, whether it be politicians or the people of the State, it must be very, very difficult and very painful. So I understand they’re going to say some things like that,” the Premier said.

Earlier, in his speech, he said other States that were recording ballooning debt and deficit would face a “reckoning” in the future and need to consider tax hikes or spending cuts to balance their books.

Mr McGowan said other leaders used the GST “as an excuse” for their own budget mismanagement and pointed out that none were worse off under the distribution changes introduced in 2018.

“They just want to point somewhere else for their own very mediocre budgeting,” he said.

WA Liberal Senator Ben Small came to the defence of Mr McGowan, saying the NSW Treasurer was “acting like a sore loser”.

“The PM fixed the the GST to help WA and NSW is again acting like a sore loser. Scott Morrison stands firm behind WA and won’t bend to pressure or petulance from NSW or anywhere else in the east,” Senator Small said.

“The PM has made it crystal clear the deal he did won’t change.”

Earlier this week Mr Morrison told The West Australian the GST deal ensuring no state got less than 70 cents in the dollar would not change.

“I made a commitment to deliver West Australians their fair share of the GST, and that commitment stands firm,” the PM said.

“Since we legislated to protect Western Australia’s fair share in 2018, the west is expected to receive $4.9 billion in GST top up payments by the end of this financial year.”

Unveiling his first WA Budget after appointing himself Treasurer, Mr McGowan yesterday claimed other States would be “wildly angry” about the $5.6 billion surplus — and that agitation to unwind the GST deal put in place in 2018 would ramp up.

Appearing on 6PR Radio this morning Mr McGowan was asked if his provocative commentary on GST was looking for a fight.

“It is already there,” Mr McGowan said.

“They’ve already been doing it in every meeting I’ve been in.

“The real point here is the review of this system (that guarantees WA retains 70c of every dollar of GST paid in the State) that is due in 2025.

“The other States are trying to bring that forward. To bring that review forward, that would be with a view to undermining the system that's been put in place. So that's the first thing we have to fight.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly ruled out any premature changes to the current system — but Federal Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has made no such commitment.

“I'm certainly going to make sure it’s an issue I raise with him,” Mr McGowan said.

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