The Western Australian Liberals have set out a hardline shopping list of demands they want from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, including the immediate deployment of more troops to protect the west and north coasts of Australia against China.
The WA division on Saturday night ratified four motions it wants debated at the Liberal Party’s federal council, scheduled for June 23 and 24 in Sydney.
Fairfax Media has been provided with details of the four motions, which include: Conducting a full review of how the GST is distributed, and provide Western Australia a bigger share;Removing the great white shark as a vulnerable and threatened species, to permit killing of the species for better beach safety;Commissioning an independent inquiry into the function and operation of the Fair Work Commission, the nation’s industrial umpire established under Labor;Increasing Australia’s military presence on the western and northern coasts in light of heightened Chinese naval activity in the Indian Ocean.
The four motions were selected by the 30-person state executive which includes the Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. The motions were then passed unanimously by state council, which comprises more than 100 Liberal Party delegates.
The most radical proposal is the push to beef up Australia’s military presence on the west coast as a hedge against China’s increased activities in the South China Sea. Fairfax Media understands this was at the urging of the former senator Alan Eggleston, who fears China could cripple Australia’s economy within three weeks if it curbed key shipping routes.
The call to remove the great white shark from the Department of Environment’s vulnerable species list is also controversial. If the government agreed to this demand, it would pave the way for shark culls. Liberals argue the safety of humans wanting to enter the ocean for recreation is paramount.
The other two motions – to reform the independent industrial umpire and increase the state’s GST share – are more predictable.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission in March recommended WA’s share of the GST be increased from 30.3?? in the dollar to 34.4?? because it is considered to be the state with the strongest fiscal capacity. In contrast, Tasmania receives 180?? for every dollar, which is a 3?? increase. Tasmania is considered to have the weakest capacity.
In April, Treasurer Scott Morrison buckled in the face of pressure from his WA colleagues and ordered the Productivity Commission to review the formula for the way GST revenue is carved up.
The guest of honour at the federal council’s June conference will be former US four-star general David Petraus, who quit his job as director of the CIA in 2012 after pleading guilty to a charge of mishandling evidence.
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