The treasurer of Western Australia and the man who wants to displace him have staked their jobs on two respective promises in a bid to prove they mean what they say.
An audience of business leaders gasped when a deadly serious Mike Nahan vowed to resign from Treasury if the Liberals form another coalition with the Nationals and agree to Brendon Grylls’ mining tax.
He’d been goaded by opposition treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt, who predicted the Liberals would bend to the WA Nationals leader’s will – not necessarily lifting the iron ore rental lease charge paid by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto by 20-fold as proposed, but by some amount.
“Read my lips. We have not supported an increase,” Dr Nahan told the crowd.
“I give you a guarantee. If … we do form a coalition government with the Nats and that party puts together a Brendon Grylls mining tax, I will resign from the Treasury.”
Dr Nahan reiterated to reporters after the event that he wasn’t prepared to support an increase in any shape or form, saying his quitting comment wasn’t made on impulse.
“I’ve thought that through,” he said.
Mr Wyatt drew laughs from the business audience when he quipped he’d quit too if Labor won the election and didn’t build an outer harbour at Kwinana, killing off the $1.9 billion, mainly federal funded Perth Freight Link to Fremantle Port, which the Liberals propose to sell.
“The point I’m making is the outer harbour is a key piece of economic infrastructure,” he told reporters.”
Another bold promise made at the event was Dr Nahan vowing no increase to taxes and levies.
WA was one of the lowest-taxed states in the nation and that would continue, he said.
But the Barnett government couldn’t be trusted, Mr Wyatt shot back, given taxes went up after then-treasurer Troy Buswell made the same pledge campaigning for the 2013 state election.
While Mr Wyatt said he didn’t intend to hike taxes, he left wriggle room to do so.
“No government can promise that. But it’s certainly not my intention because … the economy is weak,” he said.
“I don’t think people believe politicians who say they’re never going to raise taxes or levies.”
A running theme through press conferences at campaign announcements, which included the Liberals beating Labor’s Balcatta High School funding pledge by $10 million, was One Nation preferences.
Labor has now twice ruled out state-wide deals with Pauline Hanson’s right-wing party.
Opposition leader Mark McGowan said each One Nation candidate would be assessed before Labor decided where to put them on how-to-vote cards, suggesting they won’t necessarily be ranked last.
Premier Colin Barnett was vague when asked if the Liberals had done deals with One Nation.
“Yes, in the upper house, seats preferences will probably play a role, they may play role in some lower house seats – it’s not something I am directly involved in,” Mr Barnett said.