West Australian Liberal backbencher reluctant to fight election campaign on GST
Nervousness over a potential Government plan to hike the GST has continued to spread throughout the Liberal backbench, with O'Connor MP Rick Wilson the latest to speak out.
The resumption of Parliament this week brought with it the prospect the Government will look to raise the GST to 15 per cent, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison leaving all options on the table.
But Western Australian MP Mr Wilson said the prospect of having to fight an election campaign on a tax hike was not an attractive prospect for many of his Liberal colleagues, particularly with premiers and chief ministers in constant disagreement over reform.
"There's many of us here thinking, why would we take all the political pain of going through a GST election, only to have a couple of states turn around and say, 'We don't want change anyway'," he told John Wibberley on ABC Goldfields.
"Queensland and Victoria have already made it clear they won't support any change ... I suspect any move to reform the GST will be stymied by a lack of agreement from the states."
While suggestions of large-scale unrest have been dismissed by Government frontbenchers, a growing number of MPs are believed to share Mr Wilson's concerns.
While Labor continues to trail the Government in the polls, Opposition MPs have made it clear they are willing to fight this year's campaign on the merits of any tax increase.
Distribution issues still a problem for WA MPs
The drop in Western Australia's share of the GST also looms as an issue for the Government in selling any prospective increase or broadening of the tax.
The state's Liberal MPs and senators joined forces last year, calling on then-treasurer Joe Hockey to address WA's share, which shrank to 3.4 per cent in 2015.
Mr Wilson said any debate over the GST increase represented an opportunity to discuss further reform.
But he said he was unlikely to support any increase unless Western Australia's concerns were addressed.
"As a West Australian, I probably wouldn't," Mr Wilson said.
"Because patently, we won't agree as West Australians to an increase in the GST rate unless WA gets a better and fairer share."
Mr Wilson holds O'Connor by a 1 per cent margin against the WA Nationals, who have previously attempted to turn WA's GST share into a major campaign issue.