Budget woes need fortitude
Mark McGowan is forcing West Australian households to fix the Budget by refusing to enter negotiations with the State’s biggest mining companies to update an outdated 1960s fee in their State Agreements.
The staggering increases to water, power, licences and other charges announced in the past week will add $440 a year to the expenses column of each WA household, putting further pressure on stretched budgets.
This is a slap in the face for WA mums and dads, small businesses and pensioners when the Premier has refused to take up The Nationals’ policy of negotiating an increase to the 25¢ special lease rental fee paid by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.
The rental charge is not new — the miners have paid it for decades — nor is it a royalty. It is, in fact, tax deductible. Mr McGowan has said everyone needs to share the Budget burden, but these increases to fees only create pain for households and little gain in the deficit column — just $59.5 million a year.
When you’re trying to knock down a projected debt of $42 billion, that is a pittance. The Nationals’ policy would have seen $7.2 billion added to the State’s bottom line by increasing BHP and Rio’s outdated rental fee.
The Nationals accept the mining companies pay a significant amount of royalties to the State and we understand the importance of the industry to WA and the nation.
We aren’t advocating ripping up State Agreements. But we do not accept the McGowan Government allowing a fee struck 50 years ago to remain untouched forever while ordinary West Australians are asked to foot the bill.
It’s time Mr McGowan brings the miners to the table and stands his ground on behalf of West Australians who don’t get the option of being asked nicely to pay a bit more to fix the Budget.
Peter Rundle Member for Roe