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WA: Barnett calls on Rudd government to rethink stimulus package

06 Feb 2009 5:52 PM

PERTH, Feb 6 AAP - West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has sided with federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull in calling for a rethink of the Rudd government's stimulus package.

The WA Liberal leader said the federal coalition's claim that $42 billion spending was too much at one time was "a valid point".

And he said while the public housing and education components of the package were commendable, the $950 cash handout was not money wisely spent.

"I think it (the package) is on the high side to be honest," Mr Barnett told reporters in Perth on Friday.

"I commend the Rudd government for acting early in this recession, as indeed governments around the world have.

"Forty-two billion dollars is a huge amount of money.

"... I question the tax grants, the rebates, the $950 payments.

"That is in my view not well targeted and the effect will be there but it will be very much a short-term, transitory impact.

"Improving medium- to long-term programs such as the public school and housing will have a lasting impact and leave the community with something out of the process - a gain in education and a gain in housing.

"Whereas simply paying out $950 - it'll be spent in all sorts of ways.

"Sometimes it will be spent very well, sometimes it won't be spent very well, but it can go either way."

Mr Barnett said a permanent rise in seniors' pensions would have been more effective policy.

He said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was aware of his views.

"The Liberal opposition has made the point that it is a very large package and maybe it is too much at one time, and that is a valid point," he said.

The coalition voted against the stimulus package in the lower house of parliament this week and says it will block it in the Senate as well.

Mr Turnbull wants the package to focus on tax cuts instead of cash handouts, but he is calling on Mr Rudd to sit down with him and negotiate changes to the package that both sides of politics can agree upon.