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The greatest gig on the planet or 'a disgrace' - miners escalate royalties row

Business

The relationship between the mining industry and the State Government appears to be worsening with Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane labelling its latest ad blitz as “a disgrace”.

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The already strained relationship nosedived after the State Government hiked royalties in coal in the recent Budget to earn billions more in revenue from the industry which is in the middle of an extraordinary price boom with coal receiving record prices.

In response the QRC refused to attend the launch Government’s resources plan.

But one former finance sector leader, former Merril Lynch Asia and Morgan Stanley managing director Neale Muston, said despite the hike coal mining in Queensland was still “the best gig on the planet” and no company was likely to leave because of it.

The situation wasn’t helped by comments from Japan ambassador Shingo Yamagumi in which he said he feared the royalty hike could damage the trust and goodwill of the Japanese businesses who have invested heavily in Queensland resources sector.

The Government has backed it up its hike with an extensive advertising campaign which riled Macfarlane.

“I’ve never before seen a Government launch a taxpayer-funded advertising campaign against an industry that underpins its own state economy,” Macfarlane said in a LinkedIn post.

“This is the same industry that kept Queensland afloat during Covid. I urge people not to be taken in by the simplistic, divisive and highly misleading message in the Palaszczuk Government’s campaign against the resources sector. What a disgrace.”

Monday morning Macfarlane said the QRC’s door was always open and Queensland Government ministers had his direct mobile number anytime they wished to cease hostility towards the resources sector.

 “The Queensland Resources Council engages regularly with the State Government and its departments across a range of policy areas including safety, mine approvals, environmental issues, processes and planning,” he said.

 “That engagement is continuing, but we will take every opportunity to explain to the State Government the negative impacts of its unprecedented royalty tax hike.

 “This excessive tax grab is relevant to every single aspect of future development of the resources sector.”

But at least one former finance industry heavyweight has come to the rescue of the State Government.

Muston, who regularly comments on business and finance issues, said Macfarlane’s stance was: “Absolute rubbish and book talk”.

“You are enjoying outrageous prices as a result of war in Ukraine, post Covid supply chain bottlenecks and 50-year highs in inflation,” he said.

“You rent resources from the community and make vast profits at this time. No, mining companies do not own these resources.

“Through transfer pricing, royalty payments are minimised.

“You absolutely will not take your business elsewhere because even at greater taxation, it is still the greatest gig on the planet.

“You mine a rented, diminishing, polluting resource. Be thankful you don’t have to deal with carbon pricing, climate vigilantes and other jurisdictional impediments to making record profits.

“LNG needs similar treatment … $60 billion in exports in 2021 yet just $300 million in royalties paid to the WA Govt , employing less than 1 per cent of WA.

“(The) Queensland Govt are dopes on many things, but not this. The other states must join in and use proceeds to pay for removal of excise at the pump.”

The Japan ambassador also met with Treasurer Cameron Dick late last week to discuss his intervention in the debate.

The Government did not reveal any outcome from the meeting.

 

 

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