Politicians are notorious for slapping each other down, so much so that most barbs are like water off a duck’s back to their intended target.
But NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has at least come up with something a little inventive when taking a shot at WA Premier Mark McGowan after he delivered his first state budget as WA Treasurer on Thursday.
Perrottet called McGowan the “Gollum of Australian politics,” referring to the famous fictional Lord of the Rings creature.
“Mark McGowan is the Gollum of Australian politics. You can just picture him over there in his cave with his little precious, the GST,” Perrottet said, invoking the cave-dwelling Gollum’s favourite saying to refer to WA’s massive $5.6 billion budget surplus.
Perrottet said the budget delivered a huge surplus, but no clear plan on how the government would direct that money in the bust times.
“The reality is in WA they have a very volatile economy and when they had a Liberal government over there they squandered those years of surpluses and the deal they obtained with the federal government ensured that was maintained well into the future — that’s not good public policy,” he said.
“What struck me about yesterday’s budget in WA is a substantial surplus but no reform there to protect those monies into the future when there is a downturn.”
On Friday McGowan refused to take the bait.
“If (WA) is a cave it’s a pretty good cave,” he said.
“We’re certainly the most free and open society in Australia, and perhaps the world, and we’re doing very well economically and in a health sense, and I think West Australians should be very happy with what they achieved.
“I understand it’s very difficult in NSW at the moment, they’re going through a very, very tough period.
“And obviously, I’m understanding it’s not easy for them.
‘If (WA) is a cave it’s a pretty good cave.’
“So I understand these sorts of things are said. I’m not too worried about it, I’m more worried about the people of NSW and what they’re going through.
“The main thing about NSW … we’ll continue to support NSW, we’ll continue to provide health services to NSW.”
McGowan pre-empted the ire of other states at a federal deal ensuring WA got a better outcome in the national GST carve-up.
On Thursday the premier predicted other state leaders would be “wildly angry” at WA’s economic success, warning he would fiercely resist any bid to unwind the GST revenue deal which guarantees WA a return of 70 cents to the dollar.
Perrottet, who opposed the federal deal, took issue with McGowan’s comment.
Your cookie settings are preventing this third party content from displaying.
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your .
“Yesterday (McGowan) lashed out at premiers before they had even said anything,” he said.
“The reality is what has happened with WA with the GST revenue is exactly what we predicted would occur some years ago when treasurers like Tim Pallas (from Victoria) and myself and other treasurers fought very hard for this ‘no worse off’ clause.”
But WA Liberal senator Ben Small came to McGowan’s defence on Friday, saying the NSW treasurer was acting “like a sore loser.”
“Scott Morrison stands firm behind WA and won’t bend to pressure or petulance from NSW or anywhere else in the east,” Small said.
“The PM has made it crystal clear the deal he did won’t change.”
This content was originally published here.