Lead Senate candidate Nick Fardell has called for the fringe benefits tax (FBT) to be suspended for a decade to allow the Goldfields to recover from the damage of fly-in, fly-out work practices.
Mr Fardell urged businesses and residents to make a stand against the “insidious” FBT at a Productivity Commission forum in Kalgoorlie-Boulder on 7 May.
Residents can have their say on remote tax schemes such as the FBT, which Mr Fardell has blamed for incentivising a FIFO workforce, as well as the zone tax offset and remote area allowance.
The FBT allows companies to write off the cost of flights, meals and accommodation as a business expense.
Mr Fardell said both the Liberal and Labor parties had failed to act on the FBT and remote area allowance, and if the current situation persisted it could “destroy the Goldfields”.
“Both taxes have contributed to the cancer of the bush — FIFO,” he said.
“Many people don’t realise FIFO could be largely eradicated with the stroke of a pen at a Federal Government level.
“If the major parties won’t end the insidious FBT then they need to at least suspend it for 10 years to allow the Goldfields to recover. If this trial is successful perhaps it can be made permanent.”
Mr Fardell said since the FBT legislation came into play it had seriously affected Goldfields communities such as Kambalda.
“It has taken 30 years to destroy Kambalda; there are 230 empty houses down there and they can’t even get the government to fix a pool,” he said.
“When we have more people in regional communities, the local government gets more rates to put towards more services in the area, rather than working out how to reduce services.”
Mr Fardell called for an increase to the zone tax offset allowance which, because of legislation changes in 2015, meant people who worked but did not live in a zone were no longer eligible.
He said the single biggest issue in Kalgoorlie-Boulder was liveability and increasing the allowance for residents would relieve increased transport and living expenses.
“The cost of living, transport and everything in regional WA is a lot higher and the current zone allowance in Kalgoorlie doesn’t even buy you a carton of local beer,” he said.
The Productivity Commission will determine the future of remote tax assistance and the final report is set to be handed to the Australian Government in February 2020.
FIFO tax 'destroying' regions (Kalgoorlie Miner, May 6)