By HARRY CLARKE
QUEENSLAND’S peak resources body is indignant following revelations the state government is “looking at” slugging the coal industry with higher royalties to pay for the woes being experienced in the public health sector.
Treasurer Cameron Dick conceded the government was considering taking a greater clip from coal industry revenues when the budget is delivered on June 21, as the Australian Medical Association asks for $2 billion to fix ambulance ramping and hospital bed shortages.
“Obviously that resource (coal) belongs to the people of Queensland and now we’re looking at what that might look like in the future,” Dick told journalists yesterday.
“We’re working through that detail at the moment. But ultimately we’re talking to the industry about that, and then we’ll make an announcement at an appropriate time.”
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian MacFarlane said plans to impose higher royalty taxes than the annual $6 billion it currently pays to support the health budget was “disingenuous”.
“The resources sector is already paying more than double the coal royalty taxes it paid last year due to higher commodity prices, so every Queenslander benefits when our sector is doing well,” Macfarlane said.
“Queensland’s royalty taxes are already the highest in Australia. They’re almost double what NSW producers pay and are one of the highest amongst coal exporting countries.”
MacFarlane said the coal royalty taxes paid by the industry this financial year are expected to reach more than $6 billion – at least $2 billion more than predicted by Treasury – which is a record and the highest amount of royalties ever paid to a Queensland Government.
“Imposing higher taxes on our sector is a short-term, political decision to plug a hole in the state budget that will inflict an immediate, negative impact on foreign investment and confidence in our industry, and will have long-term consequences for regional jobs and businesses,” he said.
Meanwhile the Queensland leader of Katter’s Australian Party is calling on the Palaszczuk Government to urgently commit to keeping the 700MW Callide B coal-fired power station online until at least 2038.
MP Robbie Katter made the plea while visiting Biloela yesterday to campaign alongside the party’s candidate for the Callide by-election, Biloela local Adam Burling, who works at the government-owned Callide coal mine and power station.
Robbie Katter said it was necessary to keep the government-owned coal mine running for another decade.
“The wholly State Government owned Callide B generator will reach the end of its life in 2028, but it’s understood with the necessary investment it can be kept online for at least another decade,” Katter said.
“Callide, home to coal mines, gas exploration and power stations, is ground zero when it comes to the climate wars consuming the country.
“In their mindless, and ideologically-motivated, attempts to ‘out-green the Greens’ and appease affluent inner-city voters on the Net Zero catch-cry, the major parties have driven Australia to its absolute brink.
“We should be enjoying the cheapest power in the world, but instead we are feeling the effects of the renewables lie that we have been spoon-fed for the better part of two decades.”