Grylls, Alchin face off over mine tax rise
It was 25 minutes of Brendon Grylls unplugged and the main thing on his mind was 25¢ — the rental lease paid for each tonne of iron ore by mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.
“No one has been able to make an argument that the 25¢ special lease rental struck in 1964 should still be 25¢ today,” the Nationals leader told a business breakfast last week.
“Even my political opponents in the Pilbara say it’s a bit of an anomaly, but they’d rather not talk about it.”
Pilbara Liberal candidate Mark Alchin said that assertion was either ignorant or arrogant.
“We have been talking about it for the past three months,” he said.
“It is a shame Brendon only wants to listen to his own voice.
“He knows the royalty rate doubled in 2013 on the fines, which has bought in over $1 billion each year.
“With the advent of automation, all that means is people will be retrained for higher skill jobs.”
Mr Grylls is staking his career on a plan to make the big two miners pay $5 a tonne, and he turned up the volume in front of captains of industry.
“For the last six months you’ve been bombarded with an advertising campaign from our political opponents, sorry, by the two biggest companies in Western Australia,” he said.
“We have been pushed, prodded and poked about our signature policy in a way we haven’t before in an election campaign and so we should be.
“We have been asked to bend over and cough.”
Mr Grylls lampooned Labor leader Mark McGowan’s strategy for paying off WA’s $33 billion debt “slowly” as “bulldust”.
“I may not be a trained economist, but Mark, you can’t slowly pay down debt when you have a Budget deficit,” Mr Grylls said.
“You can’t pay the mortgage if you don’t have an income.”
He turned on his partners in Government and the Premier for rejecting the rental rise plan.
“Colin Barnett, the Liberal Premier, has bizarrely attempted to give the balance of power to a political party that opposes the central Budget policy of the Liberal Party in the sale of 51 per cent of Western Power,” he said.
Mr Alchin said the mining tax was little more than a revenue source for Mr Grylls’ “spendathon”.
“He started this debate saying this was supposed to be about paying down State debt,” he said.
“If you add up all he has committed to, there is going to be very little left in the piggy bank.
“Brendon is great at using company credit cards but he hasn’t actually created any lasting jobs once these project are completed.”
Mr Alchin said the Premier had ruled out support for many of Mr Grylls’ commitments, including his plan to reduce airfares.