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What the Papers Say

Gold tax hike condemned

Liberal and National Party politicians have been quick to condemn the WA Government's plan to raise $392 million in additional gold royalties.

Member for Durack Melissa Price said this would hurt miners and prospectors.

"In my electorate there are several gold mines operating on slim margins including the Newcrest Telfer mine in the East Pilbara, and the Northern Star mine at Wiluna," she said.

"Combined, these mines employ around 2200 people and they provide business and work for the subcontractors of the Pilbara, the Goldfields and the Mid West for everything from cleaning services to waste disposal.

"Their employees deserve the chance to work, they deserve the chance to get ahead and to support their families and the McGowan Government has slapped them in the face." Member for North West Vince Catania also decried the move to abolish the existing tax-free threshold of up to 2500 ounces, and to increase payroll tax.

"To be brutally honest, Reg Howard-Smith, CEO of the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy also needs to shoulder some of the blame for this as well," he said.

"If it wasn't for the $5 million campaign against the Nationals WA policy of increasing the Special Lease Rental Fee for Rio Tinto and BHP, the gold sector wouldn't be faced with this massive increase." Mr Catania said it showed the Labor Government was scared of BHP and Rio Tinto who had just posted multibillion-dollar annual profits.

"Mark McGowan would rather slug the more marginal gold sector with massive increases in payroll tax and royalty charges when they are only just getting back on their feet after years of hardship," he said.

"In a double whack for the gold ? CONTINUED PAGE 2 Royalty hike anger ? FROM PAGE 1 sector, the Labor Government has also increased payroll tax from 5.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent depending on company payroll size.

"This will impact 50 gold mines and 1200 businesses operating across WA at a cost of $435 million over four years." WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the changes would not affect small producers and prospectors producing less than 2500 ounces a year.

"It is only fair that the Western Australian community receives a more appropriate return on the State's gold resources," he said.

"Recent increases in exploration expenditure, employment and the value of gold sales, and high gold prices, indicate strong conditions for the gold industry.

"The changed royalty arrangements are not expected to impact investment in the State's gold industry."

Source: Mid-West Times, Geraldton WA 

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