Tax lure for live-in staff
Companies operating in WA mining towns will not have to pay any payroll tax on workers who live in the community rather than flying in and out, under a plan put forward by WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls.
The Nationals’ Live Where You Work policy will complement a promise to raise the payroll tax threshold to $5 million.
The two policies would hit the State’s revenue stream and are dependent on the Nationals’ election centrepiece — the new tax on mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.
“The Nationals will provide a 100 per cent payroll tax rebate for residential workers in designated mining communities or affected areas,” the policy document says.
“As well as new employees, this rebate will apply to existing employees so we can reward those employers who have already supported a residential workforce.”
Mr Grylls said the policy was designed to encourage companies not to use as many fly-in, fly-out workers.
“We’re sending a clear message to employers that if you employ a residential worker, you don’t (pay) payroll. If you employ FIFO, you have to pay the costs of FIFO plus the payroll costs,” he said. Although he did not have a total cost for the policy, the $7.2 billion raised by changes to State agreements would fund many policies.
“It is pretty difficult to model what the cost of that policy would be and how quickly a FIFO workforce would respond,” he said.
“I believe we have scope within that policy to invest in the communities of the Pilbara that want the ability to grow and prosper — I’m not challenged by the costing of it. I’m more challenged by the implementation plan that we’d need Treasury to endorse.”
The WA Nationals will also take aim at two more Pilbara workers camps. Mr Grylls said there was “no way” Lands Minister Terry Redman would be signing off an extension to the Wheatstone workers camp.
Mr Grylls also backed the Town of Port Hedland in a push to shut down BHP Billiton’s Port Haven village.
Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said taking on existing facilities was not the best way forward.
“When new facilities come up, that’s the time to have those discussions,” he said.
Mr Howard-Smith said despite the improvements to Pilbara towns, people should not be forced to move for work in the region.