The West Australian Premier has taken another swipe at NSW, jokingly targeting the state’s new leader while brandishing an intimidating looking weapon.
Mark McGowan had been gifted by Banjima traditional owners a large, serrated punishment stick at the official opening of BHP’s massive new South Flank iron ore mine in the Pilbara on Thursday when he smirkingly challenged Dominic Perrottet to a fight.
“Anyone want to take me on? Where’s Dom Perrottet?” he joked, drawing laughs from the crowd.
Mr McGowan made the quip again at a later press conference, saying the weapon could also be used on misbehaving journalists and looking clearly chuffed with his gift.
He and Mr Perrottet, who was sworn in as NSW’s 46th premier on Tuesday, have been waging a war of words over the GST carve-up, with the NSW Premier previously calling the WA leader “the Gollum of Australian politics”.
Mr Perrottet spent years as state treasurer arguing for an overhaul of the GST system and has stepped up his barbs at WA in recent weeks, arguing the allocation puts a heavy financial burden on NSW and Victoria while the mining state’s economy booms.
“I’m not going to stand by and have NSW worse off because, while there might not be that much public interest in GST reform, it’s GST that pays for our schools and our hospitals and our nurses and our teachers and our police officers,” he said previously.
But Mr McGowan hit back, telling reporters on Thursday that WA’s finances were the envy of “every other government in Australia and the other governments in the world, which means they’ll try and undo the GST deal”.
“That revenue is largely generated by the states that are actually producing wealth for the Commonwealth … Queensland and Western Australia are net contributors,” the Labor leader said.
“For every dollar that we put in, we get 70 cents back – NSW is about 96 cents for every dollar they put in so they’re not taking account of the fact that the deal is already favouring NSW.”
Mr McGowan said NSW’s budget delivered a few months ago, on the other hand, was deep in the red and didn’t account for long lockdowns the state had endured since.
“Their financial situation will now be far worse,” he said.
“They’ve made terrible mistakes with Covid, with financial management – they shouldn’t look to Western Australia to bail them out any more than we currently are.
“We already bail out NSW to the tune of billions of dollars. They shouldn’t complain about that – they should be grateful.”
Mr McGowan also took aim at NSW’s reopening plan, saying the state was not following the nationally agreed plan.
“If they’re able to do that with the support of the federal government, well then they should be flexible about what we do, because our position is obviously to ensure that we keep people safe as possible,” he said.
“Setting artificial dates of Christmas and overseas travel before such time as we are ready is the wrong thing to do.”
Mr McGowan, who is NSW born and also WA’s Treasurer, has previously described NSW politicians as “whinging”.
“He (Perrottet) is a relatively young man so I assume he’ll be around in that role (for some time) – although NSW premiers turn over pretty quick,” he joked at the weekend.
“They’re like prime ministers, they turn over very quickly.
“Clearly his sights are set on undermining our revenue, our GST.
“To be frank with you, I’m tired of listening to their whinging. They never stop whinging.”
In NSW’s most recent state budget, while Mr Perrottet was Treasurer, he wrote that the GST allocation was “inequitable and unfair to other states”.
The Morrison government introduced a GST floor of 70 cents per dollar in 2018 to ensure no state would be “worse off” under the system, after WA’s share fell to 30.3 cents per dollar following a mining sector downturn.
The floor rises to 75 cents in the dollar in 2024-25.
WA’s record budget surplus has deepened resentment in NSW and Victoria, which view the arrangement as a special deal for the western state.
Mr Perrottet has declared he is ready for a showdown with WA over the issue.
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