A consortium of local government authorities from around Australia are lobbying for regional housing support in response to the issues of housing affordability and living costs in Australia’s mining communities.
The More Than Mining campaign calls on the Federal Government to create a regional tax incentive to drive regional relocation, slow population churn and smooth out the volatility of house prices.
The proposal calls on Government to support residents with the same Fringe Benefits Tax concessions as they provide to the big mining companies.
According to the consortium, residents in regional mining communities receive less incentives to pay for housing than companies who operate in these towns.
The proposed policy will not change the benefits to mining companies, but rather extend them to individual residents.
The Australian Mining Cities Alliance (AMCA), Regional Development Australia Pilbara and the Karratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry have united to back the campaign.
The remote mining shires of East Pilbara, Ashburton, Coolgardie and Leonora, as well as the Town of Port Hedland, have also added their support.
Former Western Australia National Party leader Brendon Grylls said there is no other place in Australia where the inequity of living costs is more pronounced.
“Regional Australia is at breaking point. The impacts of the bust cycle on our mining towns are all too familiar – mining operations contract, construction workers leave, property prices plummet,” Grylls said.
“But the booms hurt us too. Housing demand hurts those who can’t afford to keep paying more to stay put.
“Industry growth and development is critical – these investment decisions keep our economy buoyant and globally competitive, but every new project announcement widens the divide between big business and the people at the heart of these regional communities.
“Government has a responsibility to respond with policy action to mitigate the community collateral damage of these large mining investments.”
AMCA executive officer Gary Stevenson echoed Grylls’ sentiments.
“We are determined to support families and businesses in mining communities by supporting innovation and entrepreneurship that can transform these cities and towns as they look to the future,” he said.
“More Than Mining Fringe Benefits Tax reform gives us a roadmap to achieve this and a foundation for these communities to look beyond mining to grow and diversify.”