The Bligh Government has refused to rule out another increase in mining royalties to help fill the $11billion revenue black hole in the State’s budget over the next four years.
The resources industry, which was subject to a royalty increase just last year, is concerned the increase could be another smash and grab raid.
Last year, the rate for coal over the value of a $100 a tonne jumped from 7% to 10%.
Royalty from coal and other minerals delivered $1.4 billion to state government coffers in 2007-08.
About $3.6 billion was forecast in 2008-09 despite a 25% fall in coal prices over the last 8 months.
Treasurer Andrew Fraser, the mastermind behind the Bligh Government’s scheme to increase the royalty rate, could not guarantee that tax would not rise in the budget if conditions worsened.
“I don’t think any treasurer worth their salt and being honest with the people of Queensland can rule anything in or out,” he said.
With the State election looming, mining royalties has become a hot topic of contention for those running for power.
Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg told journalists he would rule out a tax increase if an LNP government is elected in the 21 March election.
“We warned when they did this it would be action that strangled the goose that laid the golden egg,” he said.
“We don’t want to. It sends a bad signal. We want to make Queensland an attractive place to invest.”
LNP mines spokesperson Jeff Seeney echoed the comments of the opposition leader saying mine workers and their families have every reason to be angry with the Bligh Government which has ignored repeated pleas to rethink its massive hike in royalties.
“Every time the Treasurer has a budget hole to fill he wacks up the mining royalties and now miners and their families and their communities are suffering the results,” he said.
“The Beattie Bligh Government has been so keen to rip the royalties out of the industry when times were good …without any consideration of the impact of the increase on mining when the inevitable downturn came.”