WA’s National party has called for funding raised from a foreign property owners tax hike to be put towards regional education, amid claims from WA’s One Nation Party that the plans were a “furphy”.
Nationals WA Member for the Agricultural Region Martin Aldridge said a portion of the money needed to be used for education services, if the bill to raise the tax from 4% to 7% was passed in parliament.
The tax is expected to raise $123 million dollars over four years, with $23 million to be used by the State Government to freeze Tafe fees.
Mr Aldridge said there would be a large surplus that would save regional education services.
“Our argument is that it would give them an extra $100 million surplus,” he said.
“Earlier this year, they’ve revised their education cuts in Western Australia to some $40 million, many of those affected regional services in our communities.”
“We don’t think it’s an unreasonable ask that a portion of that $100 million surplus be put to this effort.”
Mr Aldridge said their stance has not changed and support from other parties was needed, with parties including One Nation withdrawing their support.
His comments came following a rally on Tuesday outside Parliament House, where protestors called for the State Government’s education cuts to be reversed.
However, WA’s One Nation Party leader Colin Tincknell said the Nationals had “conned” Western Australians, giving them “the wrong impression” about the tax.
“They’re saying that if the foreign buyers tax, if they were to agree with our amendment, then there would be money for regional Australian education,” Mr Tincknell said.
“That’s not quite true because what’s actually happening is the treasurer’s told me on two occasions that if the amendment goes through, the Nationals amendment goes through, there will be no foreign buyers tax.”
“There’ll be no money for education, there’ll be no money for Tafe, there’ll be no money for regional education.”
He said the State Government had other priorities for the funds.
“He (treasurer Ben Wyatt) needs the funds to repay the debt and to also pay the $23 million for the Tafe,” Mr Tincknell said.
“He’s not going to put the bill through unless it does the job that he wants it to do.”
He said however, his party still backed regional education.
“No one more than One Nation has stood up for regional education,” he said.
However, Mr Aldridge said the McGowan Government was not paying down debt, claiming Mr Tincknell had instead been “conned” if he believed funding from the legislation would be used to reduce state debt.
“They don’t intend to pay down debt,” he said.
“Debt is increasing year on year in Western Australia and the budget papers have been printed by the treasurer will show you just that.”
“The $100 million surplus that they’ll raise over the next four years alone will be used to continue to fund their lavish and unfunded election commitments.”
Mr Aldridge said they were still willing to talk with the government to pass the legislation.
“We’ve been prepared to work with the government to see the passage of the legislation if they were prepared to have a conversation with us and our communities about the impact of their education cuts,” he said.
The legislation is currently being debated in parliament, with support still needed to pass the legislation.