WESTERN Australian Premier Mark McGowan has warned miners to pay more attention to local content and apprenticeships to assuage the “rich vein” of hostility the Nationals’ proposed mining tax unearthed in regional areas.
McGowan, who is also State Development Minister, told the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA’s annual business lunch in Perth’s CBD that although he believed the proposal was “unwise” for three key reasons, miners should not dismiss the negativity it revealed.
Former WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls claimed last month that miners spent up to $5 million to defeat his party’s proposed mining tax during the election campaign. While Grylls ended up losing his seat to Labor’s Kevin Michael, McGowan said the $7 billion in benefits the former Nationals leader had claimed the tax would bring were “real”.
The tax would have raised the special lease rental fee BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto paid on their two biggest iron ore deposits from 25c per tonne to $5/t. The scheme would then have been expanded to others.
The tax would have raised about $7 billion over years three to four years as a part solution to the state’s financial situation, which McGowan described yesterday as “dire”, with “extraordinary”debt and deficit levels even by Australian standards, as highest in the country of state and federal governments”.
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