Minerals belong to the states: Moore

THE Western Australian government is working behind the scenes on a possible constitutional challenge to halt the Minerals Resource Rent Tax. The Gillard government is a major impediment to the state’s growth, according to WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore.
Minerals belong to the states: Moore Minerals belong to the states: Moore Minerals belong to the states: Moore Minerals belong to the states: Moore Minerals belong to the states: Moore

Western Australia Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore

Blair Price

“It is paramount that we continue to create optimum conditions for new investment and it’s also paramount that we remain vigilant about the threats to the profitability of the industry,” Moore told delegates at the Mining & Engineering exhibition in Perth on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately for all of us the federal government looms as one of the most significant impediments to ongoing growth and development in Western Australia.

“I’m not being political today I am simply relaying to you the way we see it at the present time.”

Moore said the federal government’s proposed MRRT and “expanded” petroleum resource rent tax were predicted to raise $A38 billion over the next 10 years and that 65% of that amount would come from companies operating in WA.

“That is one of the reasons why we have significant concern about this industry,” he said.

“But more importantly we believe it will reduce the attractiveness of our state as an investment destination, and it will compromise the state’s constitutional right to a fair return from its resources through the current royalties system.

“Strangely in respect to royalties, the federal treasurer still does not seem to understand that the minerals in the ground belong to the states.”

Moore said states had the right to charge a royalty for companies to access those minerals, and they did not belong to the federal government.

“One of the potential challenges to this legislation may be on the basis the tax is in fact a royalty of sorts and is being applied to something the federal government does not own,” he said.

“So we are working very hard to make sure that we get this right, and if there is a potential challenge in the pipeline that we will take that opportunity.

“Because we are also very concerned that the federal government is going to use this tax in a way to manipulate the states and to lever the states in respect to how we might manage our own royalty system.”

He also chipped in on the carbon tax.

“The full details as you know have not been released for obvious reasons, they are still being invented by a parliamentary committee of the willing,” he said.

“We just discovered this morning of course that we are going to all know on Sunday the details of this particular tax.

“And that is good because we are particularly eager to find out what is going to be the starting rate, what sort of compensation [there will be] for businesses, what the reduction targets are going to be by 2020.”

The minister also laments the rise of green groups.

“Another area of concern to our government is the emergence of green activism in Australia, and the way in which many green organisations seemed to be totally opposed to the resources sector no matter what you talk about,” he said.

“So they are opposed to coal, they are opposed to nuclear power, they are opposed to gas, they are opposed to digging holes anywhere.

“And as they have more and more political clout, the effects of their political activism will play out in Australia much to the detriment of this industry.

“And so it’s very important that industry associations and organisations make their voices heard because the green groups certainly have the ear of significant parts of the media.”

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