Remoteness is a term that has been very topical in the media lately, and for good reason according to Put WA First convenor, Chas Hopkins.
“The GST Grants Commission uses a discriminatory technical definition of remoteness to play a part in denying WA of its rightful share of GST,” said Mr Hopkins.
Remoteness is one of the many factors taken into consideration by the Fiscal Equalisation scheme that the Grants Commission utilises to calculate each state’s GST revenue.
This is due to the premise that it costs a state government more to deliver services to remote areas than major population centres that already have significant infrastructure.
“It is highly pertinent as GST revenue is largely used by state governments to fund the delivery of services,” said Mr Hopkins.
“As Hobart does not have a population of more than 250,000, the Australian Bureau of Statistics does not consider it to be a capital city.
“In turn, the Grants Commission conveniently, does not recognise Hobart as a capital, and uses the nearest capital city to calculate remoteness. This happens to be Melbourne,” said Mr Hopkins.
“Hobart is 602 km from Melbourne whereas Menzies is only 551 km from Perth, therefore, the Commission’s view is Hobart is more remote than Menzies which is ludicrous.”
Mr Hopkins said it is absurd to suggest delivering services to the Hobart metropolitan area will cost the same as delivering them to some of the remotest towns in WA.
A lot of these towns do not even have a bitumen road going to them, let alone scheme power and water,” he said.
“It’s the height of hypocrisy to refer to the GST calculation formula as a ‘Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation’ when it is biased against WA everywhere you look.
“There is nothing equal about it.”
Chas Hopkins is a former Lord Mayor of Perth who has formed Put WA First as a single-issue political party to fight for a fair GST dividend for WA.