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The time is right for review of the iron ore industry's contribution to WA

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22.01.2019

The government claim that BHP owes hundreds of millions in iron ore royalties raises many questions, but there is one thing citizens can be certain of: the iron ore industry marks the difference between Western Australia being an agrarian backwater and the financial powerhouse that it currently is.

Successive governments have been reluctant to implement change in how the iron ore industry contributes to the state.Credit:Reuters

Unlike the gold industry that had a century-long tax holiday, iron ore has always paid its way and in the entire economic history of WA, no other industry has made the contribution to this state that iron ore has.

That contribution to WA is rarely given the recognition it deserves, and hundreds of thousands of city folk unknowingly depend on that industry for their jobs and without it the state government’s finances would collapse.

But is it time to modernise the iron ore industry’s contribution to the state?

The National Party’s previous proposals to increases taxes on the iron ore industry were fundamentally flawed.

The surcharge they objected to had not risen for years because there is a legal and binding agreement that it would not. That alone should have meant the end of that story.

However, the back story is enlightening, the surcharge the Nats wanted to increase was implemented because when the iron ore industry started, the government realised they did not have the means to provide the necessary infrastructure like towns, schools, roads, hospitals, water and electricity.

So the industry did all of that and the government realised they had to staff and operate........

© WA Today