The Lock the Gate Alliance has called for greater public scrutiny of hand outs to mining companies following a new report that finds state and territory governments gave $17.6 billion in subsidies to mining interests in the past six years.
The report, published today by the Australia Institute, notes that state and territory governments’ assistance to the minerals and fossil fuels industries sucked-up a significant proportion of the money they received in royalties.
National president of Lock the Gate Drew Hutton said the subsidies were offensive when ordinary Australians were being asked to tighten their belts.
Queensland was the most generous handing out $9.5 billion in subsidies to the minerals and fossil fuels industries. WA was next in the table of big subsidizers gifting $6.2 billion over the six-year period.
NSW provided $872 million to its minerals and fossil fuels industries while the Northern Territory gave $406 M, South Australia $316M, Victoria $205 million and Tasmania $54M.
“In the 2013-14 financial year the Queensland government allocated a bigger slice of the state budget to assisting the fossil fuel industry than it did to disability services,” Mr Hutton said.
“The big winner was the coal industry which received a generous $500 million a year just in transport subsidies to use the railways in Queensland.
“We have to question why one industry sector is given so much, particularly while householders are facing increased fiscal pressure and rising utility costs.
“This financial year alone Queensland planned to spend $1.5 billion on industry assistance, around 60 per cent of the $2.6 billion that it was to receive in royalties.
“In South Australia taxpayers have paid more than $17M to clean-up an abandoned mine site in the Adelaide Hills that has been contaminating local water resources due to poor closure practices.
“South Australia also provides large subsidies to get its gas extraction industry up and running and in the six years covered by the report ploughed $40M into this industry alone.
“We need an urgent public debate on the need for selected industries to get massive handouts while ordinary people are asked to cut back and do without.
“It is well past the time for a detailed open and forensic look at what, where, why and which mining industries are getting government handouts and exactly how much,” Mr Hutton said.
The report analyzed state budget papers from 2008-09 to 2013-14, revealing for the first time the size of the assistance provided to the minerals and fossil fuels industries.