Cracks have emerged in the McGowan Government over a proposal put forward by Sport Minister Mick Murray to introduce a new tax on Pilbara mining companies.
The Pilbara News reported earlier this month the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries was investigating a 2-4¢ per tonne levy to help Pilbara sports clubs buy equipment.
Mr Murray and Pilbara MP Kevin Michel were both quoted in the article supporting the proposal.
Yet in Parliament on Wednesday the Premier slapped down his Minister, saying “obviously we don’t have any plans to undertake that activity”.
Nationals Leader Mia Davies said the McGowan Government were scavenging about for funds because the Premier refused to consider real budget repair measures.
“The Sport Minister was happy to spruik his idea to local journalists and clubs yet went to water in Parliament, claiming he had no knowledge of the proposal,” Ms Davies said.
“Whether this was a thought bubble by an overzealous minister or something that is genuinely being investigated by his Department is yet to be made clear.
“What is clear, however, is that an increasing number of MPs in the McGowan Government are now of the opinion that a conversation must be had with our State’s most profitable mining companies about playing a meaningful role in budget repair.”
Earlier this year the Treasurer raised the prospect of addressing the special lease rental fee within the legacy iron State Agreements of BHP and Rio Tinto, only to be rebuffed by the Premier.
“The Nationals proposal to increase the 25¢ special lease rental fee – which has not changed for more than 50 years – remains the only meaningful Budget repair measure at the McGowan Government’s disposal,” Ms Davies said.
“The Premier is fighting against a rising tide within his Cabinet and caucus to have this fee revisited. It is time the Premier sits down and has the hard conversation with the iron ore miners, rather than slugging mum and dads, small businesses and pensioners with increased fees and charges.”
Member for Mining and Pastoral Jacqui Boydell said mining companies were required to contribute to community development as part of the State Agreements allowing them access to WA’s resources.
“Many mining companies make welcome contributions to Pilbara clubs but there is an expectation they do so,” Ms Boydell said. “The focus of the discussion needs to be whether these companies are paying their fair share to the State as a whole.”
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