Organisations representing the WA social and community sector, unions and environmental groups have called for the voices of ordinary West Australians to be heard in a tax debate that has been dominated by the well funded interests of the mining sector.
These groups support reform of mining tax as a key recommendation from the Henry Tax Review that will modernise the tax system and allow it to meet the future challenges of the state’s ageing population, climate change and social infrastructure in a fair and equitable way. Representing a broad cross section of society, social and community groups argue that mining company self interest is unfairly dominating the debate regarding tax reform.
Community groups and WA workers come together in a stunt to highlight alternate views on the mining tax
The soaring price of resources coupled with a huge increase in demand has delivered huge windfall profit gains to the big multinational companies operating in Australia.
This resources boom brings with it both the revenue and the need to build a stronger, more sustainable society that will benefit all Australians for generations to come.
Any delay of the reform process will only increase the pressure on future Australian government’s to raise the required tax revenue by increasing the burden on ordinary wage earners.
Australia’s mineral wealth belongs to all Australians and a fair and efficient tax system is vital if the benefits of this wealth are to be shared by all.
We must learn the lessons of the last boom and ensure that the exploitation of non-renewable resources benefits all West Australians and helps fund sustainable infrastructure for the future.
Further areas of tax reform need to include a more consistent approach to investment income; a fairer distribution of tax breaks for superannuation contributions; land and housing tax reform to improve affordability; and the closure of tax loopholes.
The case for a resources super profits tax is clear. In the words of the recent ‘Statement by 20 economists’ in support of the tax:
“Mining is different to other industries in that it uses and depletes natural resources. Some return on those resources should flow to the Australian public. The existing royalty system reflects the fact that it is desirable to levy a charge for access to publicly owned mineral resources, in addition to normal corporate income tax.”
While the design and implementation will be resolved through consultation WA not-for-profit organisations argue it is vital that ordinary Australians are represented in this process.
Unions WA Secretary Simone McGurk:
“It must be acknowledged that not everyone in this state has benefited from the growth of the mining industry, and reform of the tax system is the fairest way to share in the wealth that is produced by our natural resources.
There is no question that a decision that is this important warrants debate, however as yet we have heard almost exclusively from the vested interests of the mining industry and their doomsday predictions and there has been precious little attention given to alternative voices such as ordinary WA working families.
Billions of dollars are at stake in the negotiations over this tax – so we call on people to look critically at the mining industry’s claims, and to support tax reform that will deliver for ordinary West Australians."
Louise Morris, Campaign Coordinator of WA’s peak environment group, the Conservation Council of WA:
“Our mining industry is based on the once-only sale of non renewable resources so governments have a responsibility to ensure that resulting profits are invested in the future and in the public interest.
“In Western Australia we experience firsthand the costs of our resource industry, including the destruction of our environmental heritage and spiralling carbon pollution. On top of this, Australian taxpayers already subsidise the mining industry to the tune of around $5 billion per year.
“It is about time the most profitable industry in the country paid its environmental debts and returned a fair deal back to the Australian community”
Judy Dymocks, Manager of Nardine Wimmin’s Refuge said:
Mr Terry Quinn, Executive Officer, Catholic Social Justice Council, Archdiocese of Perth:
“While there is a lot of talk about how fantastic the last mining boom was, it must be acknowledged that mining work arrangements and the increased cost of living in WA associated with the boom put many families under a lot of pressure.
“Part of the problem with the current fly in fly our arrangements that many miners work under is the stress that this arrangement can put on families and we see this from some of the women who come into the refuge. If more resources went into the communities that surround these mines then I think you would see more families able to relocate to stay together and this would reduce the pressure on many families.
“WA is an expensive place to live and this increased significantly during the last mining putting many families under considerable financial and emotional stress. The community needs to receive a greater share of mining profits to ensure that people aren’t left behind during the next mining boom.”
“A fair taxation system is a form of solidarity with those Australians whose needs are greater than ours. In his day Jesus Christ strongly criticised those in authority but he did not consider it unjust to pay taxes to Caesar. If we are working for a fairer Australia, the government has a right to its due, namely, a taxation structure better prepared to meet the massive challenges before us.”