The WA Nationals want to use $610 million in revenue from their proposed tax increase on big iron ore miners to boost regional tourism and diversify the state’s economy, following the end of the mining boom.
The party’s leader, Brendon Grylls, said huge amounts had been invested by taxpayers to allow miners to export iron ore from WA and reap huge profits, and the same should be done for tourism to boost regional jobs.
The Nationals want to increase an existing 25 cents a tonne iron ore fee paid by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto to $5 per tonne, raising $7 billion over the next four years.
The proposal has been severely criticised by the resources sector, although Premier Colin Barnett — who is also opposed to the plan — said he was not impressed with the mining industry’s campaign against the Nationals.
Mr Grylls has promoted the tax hike as a way to help fix the state budget, but said $610 million of the yet-to-be realised extra revenue would fund a “tourism investment revolution”.
That would include a regional infrastructure fund, cheaper regional flights, Indigenous tourism initiatives, visitor centres and a regional events program.
“The West Australian Nationals with the new special lease rental can really drive investment into that sector,” Mr Grylls said.
“The fund would enable WA to lead the nation in tourism product development, marketing and world-class Indigenous tourism experiences.”
Mr Grylls also said the Premier had promised to preference the Nationals first, and his party would do the same for their alliance partners in government.
Meanwhile, despite prediction of big gains for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Mr Grylls said the Nationals had “nothing to fear” from the party.
He said One Nation had delivered nothing for voters the last time it had elected MPs in WA.
Online Source: www.abc.net.au