ANALYSIS: Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls has attacked the debt reduction strategies of both the Liberal and Labor parties as unrealistic. However, he confirmed that, in the event of a hung parliament after the March 11 election, his party would only work with the Liberals to form a new government.
Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls has attacked the debt reduction strategies of both the Liberal and Labor parties as unrealistic. However, he confirmed that, in the event of a hung parliament after the March 11 election, his party would only work with the Liberals to form a new government.
Mr Grylls also branded Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as hypocritical for criticising the Nationals’ planned $5 per tonne charge on Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton when the PM had previously supported a review of the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax.
Speaking at a business breakfast in Perth this morning, the Nationals leader said the Liberal debt reduction plan was flawed because of the party’s preference deal with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.
While the Liberal plan relied on the proposed sale of 51 per cent of Western Power to raise an estimated $11 billion – $8 billion of which would be earmarked for debt reduction – One Nation was strongly opposed to the sale. If it had members in the Legislative Council, they would move to block the transaction, effectively scuttling the debt reduction plan.
Mr Grylls said Labor leader Mark McGowan’s opposition to selling Western Power, combined with the current deficit budgets, meant he aimed to slowly pay down debt with revenue he did not have. Significant increases in water, power and public transport charges under Labor would be inevitable, Mr Grylls suggested.
But he claimed the controversial Nationals plan to increase the mining charge on Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton from 25 cents a tonne to $5/t would raise $7 billion over the forward budget estimates, resolve the budget problem and fund significant payroll tax concessions.
Mr Grylls said his party would again seek to form government with the Liberals. He would push for the adoption of his $5/t mining charge in a new alliance (despite Premier Colin Barnett’s strong criticism of the plan) but stopped short of saying it would be a non-negotiable issue.
The Nationals leader, who faces stiff opposition in his seat of Pilbara, will spend the next two days campaigning in the South West.