MINING 080721 AFR PICTURE BY PETER BRAIG / Generic pic. BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, BMA is austalia s largest metallurgical coal miner and exporter. Goonyella Riverside Mine near Moranbah. queensland, australia SPECIALX 210708Angry sections of the Western Australian Liberal party are pushing to launch a fresh attempt for the state to secede, in what members are calling “WAxit” – a nod towards Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
The Liberal Party’s division of Brand has proposed the idea, which comes in response to long-held unhappiness in the state with GST distribution.
The WAxit idea is one of 25 motions to be put to this weekend’s state conference, potentially embarrassing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who is due to address the gathering.
The motions, provided to Fairfax Media, show the Brand division calling for the party to establish a high-level committee of three ex-MPs and three State Council members.
It calls for the party: “to examine the option of Western Australia becoming an independent state within the Commonwealth and answer the question ‘Should we try’ with a response to be referred to State Council no later than July 2018.”
In 1933, 68 per cent of Western Australians voted in a referendum to self-govern, butthe bid was overruled by the Commonwealth.
But the push for greater independence for the state is at odds with a renewed plea from the membership for Defence Minister Marise Payne to deploy more troops to Western Australia to protect the state from China.
That policy was the brainchild of former Senator Alan Eggleston and was put forward for debate at federal council in June, but time ran out before it came up for discussion.
One of WA’s long-running sores with the Commonwealth is the tiny share it receives of the GST revenues, which are divided amongst the states and territories.
The Stirling Division wants a “robust scoping study” into the “long term costs, benefits and merits” of WA’s membership of the federation and “to make the case for sensible, urgent reform.”
The Curtin division called for a floor on GST payments for the state, and notably urged the federal government to “support the efforts of all WA Liberal Senators and Members of Parliament” who are campaigning for a greater share for WA.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission’s method calculates that WA’s capacity to produce its own wealth, because of its mineral resources, means it needs less GST revenue than smaller states and territories like Tasmania and the NT, which cannot match WA’s earning capacity.
WA receives 34.4 cents in every dollar of GST revenue raised in the state. State leader Mike Nahan is threatening a High Court challenge claiming the formula discriminates against some states and therefore violates the constitution.
But any court case is unlikely until Treasurer Scott Morrison’s review for the GST system reports back next year. Young Liberals want minimum wage abolished
Other controversial motions to be put to the conference include the Young Liberals’ calls to abolish the minimum wage, which is set by the independent Fair Work Commission.
The Young Liberals said the federal and state governments should be urged to “acknowledge that the government can use other mechanisms to ensure minimum living standards in order to reduce unemployment and increase workplace participation.” But they did not state what these were.
The group also called for the federal government to preserve the national anthem and oppose any attempts to change the wording, and called for foreign aid to be slashed. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who represents the Western Australian seat of Curtin, has already slashed Australia’s foreign aid budget to a low of $3.9 billion.
This year Australia slipped to 17th spot in the OECD’s rankings of 29 developed nation’s aid budgets.
None of the motions are binding but the state and federal leaders will receive a formal letter notifying them of the relevant motions endorsed by the membership this weekend.
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