Miners say they pay the bills, even without MRRT boosts
As the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) is collapsed by the Government’s repeal bill, the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has launched a report claiming it contributes billions to local communities regardless of the tax.
The Minerals Council has dug up evidence for a range of ways it funnels the vast profits of the industry back to economies close to where the product is originally mined.
The MCA report says; “$34.7 billion was spent on community infrastructure, Indigenous contractors, local suppliers and other activities in 2011-12” by mining companies.
The Minerals Council claims the figures show that the MRRT is not needed, but many local government groups say the associated boost to the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) is what will truly be missed.
Federal Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister, Warren Truss, has tried to ease the fears of some local governments that they will lose the RDAF money from the MRRT.
At an Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) conference last week Mr Truss said the Government was “considering arrangements for RDAF projects without a contract in place prior to the election”, and that the MRRT was “another cost to business – but it wasn’t raising much money anyway.”
The MCA says industry spending on communities “is many times larger than the projected returns from the MRRT”, and that “it also exceeds the industry’s 2011-12 company tax and royalty payments, which Deloitte Access Economics have estimated at $21 billion.”
Many Councils have been incensed by the habit of mining companies to employ a fly-in, fly-out workforce, which contribute dramatically less to a community than if the workers actually lived there.
Part of the RDAF funding attached to the MRRT was intended to balance the deficits imposed on communities where mines are set up but direct economic benefits are slim.
“The size of the community contribution also conclusively demolishes the suggestion that prior to the introduction of the MRRT, Australians were not getting a “fair share” of the mining boom,” Minerals Council chief executive Mitch Hooke said.
There has been no word on the introduction of a similar subsidy to regional communities once the MRRT is no more.