Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) MPs have today put the State Government on notice, warning that any income generated from proposed coal royalties hikes must be injected in Northern and regional communities.
Speaking to media after questioning Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad on the matter this morning, Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said KAP offices had recently been informed the State Government is conversing with coal mining companies about proposed royalty increases.
According to the most recent figures, a sizable $4.2 billion dollars is already delivered to the State Government’s budget each year by coal royalties.
Mr Dametto said while no increases had been officially announced, Ms Trad had not refuted the rumours.
“When questioned about this, the answer from the Treasurer wasn’t a yes or no but rather a ‘we’ll let you know after we have decided on what’s happening’,” he said.
“There has been a lot of chat within the coal mining communities and some of those companies have got in touch with us and through the State Leader’s office.
“We either want those rumours put to bed or we want some transparency around them and some assurances that the regions that actually generate this money will benefit from more taxation.”
Mr Dametto said it was clear unfettered spending on public service jobs and road and rail projects in the south east meant the State Government was keen to get its hands on more money.
“We understand the Queensland Government is quite hungry at the moment – their spending is quite high and they probably need to find some extra money,” he said.
“If they are going to increase coal royalties we want to make sure they are going to be spending that in North.
“At this point in time we don’t believe that any possible increases will be returned to our communities which, unfortunately, is just more of the same as what we are used to.”
State KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said the KAP was seeking transparency on the matter.
“There is no hesitation by our government in accepting these royalties, and even to increase them if these rumours are to be believed, but where is the support for the communities and companies that sustain this industry?” he said.
“It’s a contentious subject but look at the vitriolic way the Labor State Government has treated the issue of opening up mining in the Galilee Basin.
“Nine years on and we are still waiting to find out if the State Government has determined if mines in this region ‘stack up environmentally and financially’.
“By now, Labor should be well-aware that North Queensland has called time on its political games in this regard.
“To continue down that path and then to even entertain the idea of hiking up royalties is an absolute farce and we would like the State Government to show its hand on this.”