UPDATE 3.30pm: A report claiming the WA Government paid out $6.2 billion in subsidies to the mining sector over the past six years has been labelled “nonsense” by Premier Colin Barnett.
And parts of the mining sector have also attacked the Australia Institute report which found that in the 2013-14 Budget the Barnett Government subsidised the mining sector by $1.4 billion alone.
Nationally, States and Territories spent $18 billion over the past six years either through direct subsidies to miners, building infrastructure predominately used by miners or through other means.
At $9.5 billion Queensland spent the most helping its mining sector with WA the second largest.
According to the institute, the amount spent by the WA Government was substantial compared to its population and expenditure on other areas.
“WA has the largest minerals and fossil fuel industry, along with a smaller population than the eastern States,” it said.
“With a large industry and a smaller population to service, the assistance paid to these industries is substantial even when compared to some of the major budget items such as police and health”.
The assistance to the mining sector eclipsed the $1.3 billion spent on the State’s police force in the 2013-14 financial year.
The institute said its study was the first of its kind to pull apart State and Territory budgets to see how they helped the resources sector.
But Mr Barnett gave the report little credence.
“This report is nonsense,” he said.
The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies accused the Australia Institute of releasing an anti-mining report.
“The report ignores the billions of dollars already paid by the industry to the Federal Government and to the respective State and Territory Governments as a return to the Australian community for the extraction of a non-renewable resource, not to mention a myriad of other State and Territory based taxes, fees, charges and levies,” association chief executive Simon Bennison said.
“The report lacks credibility and overlooks the fact that the resources sector is providing the future economic growth in the Australian economy, especially in rural and regional communities,” said Mr Bennison. But WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said the report was proof that the mining sector got substantial support from State taxpayers.
“The State Government tries to say its all benefit and no cost for the mining sector,” he said.
“But this report shows that there are substantial costs.
“It shouldn’t come to the point that an independent third party has to do the research to find how much States are paying a profitable sector like mining.”