RON McLEAN is a farmer from Newdegate in the Great Southern agricultural region of WA. In this week’s THINKING ALLOWED he argues that the McGowan government should start charging royalties on gold and rare minerals mined in WA before they run out.
I BELIEVE the man in the street, that is, the majority of voters, want to see the huge debt which Barnett and company left for the next parliament to overcome is looked on as the main problem to be solved.
With a huge majority held by Labor and only nine Liberal members being present, suggests to me that voters as a whole, would support most propositions put up by the Labor party to overcome the huge WA debt left by the Liberals.
This is when I have to raise the recent issue on the defeat of the increase in royalties on gold in the upper house.
When you look at the royalties on gold and the huge amount of income amassed, I believe what was proposed by the government should have been supported in some way.
It would have been a great opportunity to try and retrieve something from the move to increase the royalty by 1.5 per cent which was only going to cost mining companies about $90-$100 million per year.
A good move by a small party would have been to have two bob each way…and that is, to move an amendment to the original 1.5 per cent increase and have it increased by only 0.8 per cent.
The public would have become aware of this move with many accolades for the small party by voters who want action taken to fix the debt.
It is a well known fact that eventually lots of rare minerals will be exhausted in Australia within the next 50-60 years.
One of those is Zircon, which only has enough in Australia to last 10 years.
Consider this—no royalties were paid on gold produced in Australia for 150 years!
Then, if you look at the time royalties commenced, you will see the big gold miners cried poor and said they would have to put staff off and close mines down in certain areas, well in spite of the new royalty, the production of gold in WA has gone ahead in leaps and bounds.
Now you see the same cry of dissention from the same organisations when they believe it could be possible they may have to pay more on royalties.
The other facts which you must consider now this issue has arisen. First of all, the statement that the increase would be unbearable should be examined in depth.
Over the last 10 years of production of gold in Australia, the total royalty collected was $2.4 billion, but the income for that period was $137b dollars
That $2.4b dollars would hardly be noticed in the budgets of big miners and an increase of 1.25 per cent in my opinion would not cause financial hardship on the mining sector.
So, now the new royalty rate was thrown out by the upper house, all voters will be looking at who was responsible for this, and they will see members of the Liberal Party were the main players and they were supported by the smaller parties.
I believe that now the present parliament will still be intent on raising the same money from somewhere and the focus may go on the man in the street and pensioners again.
If this happens, who are they going to blame, but those who follow the disgraced Liberals!
The mining companies are ripping billions of dollars out of Australia and all Australia is getting are a few jobs and piddling amounts of royalties.
It is time the Australian government started to demand reasonable returns from Australia’s wealth and build up development funds from the riches which we have, as even cows milk dries up after a while, so will the finite resources.
A good example of building up value for resources removed should be taken from Poland.
Because of good government the Polish people are some of the richest people in the world on a per capita basis.
The citizens of Poland are winning all the way, as they are reaping benefits of all exports. The valuable products are not owned outright by big business but ownership is between big business and the people of Poland.
The Australian people would be the richest in the world if our resources were handled in the same way as Poland does.
A good example of the depletion of gas can be seen in the history of the North Sea gas fields off the British coast and how quickly that was exhausted.
Now in Australia, we have proven gas supplies which are the largest in the world, yet we are giving it away to overseas companies and paying exorbitant prices for gas produced in Australia, in fact, there is now a shortage of available gas in Australia.
Yes it is certainly evident that we need politicians who have the strength to examine the past history and see how Australia was developed with people of vision for the people of Australia and not be there to just get elected next time around which seems to happen constantly in the federal scene.