The Nationals WA have welcomed the release of the “Keep it in the regions” report, with many of the key recommendations forming part of the party’s existing policy platform.
Leader Mia Davies said the report praised The Nationals WA’s flagship Royalties for Regions program, even going as far as recommending other mining States introduce their own version of the scheme.
“The report recognises RfR as the most significant program in Australia aimed at reinvesting mining royalties into regional areas,” Ms Davies said.
“It’s pleasing to know that a policy devised, created and delivered by a small, regionally-focused party such as The Nationals WA can leave such a lasting impression and gain national recognition.”
The report, compiled by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources, addressed terms of payment offered by mining companies to their suppliers and contractors in regional areas.
“The length of payment terms is something The Nationals WA have historically gone into bat for regional businesses over,” Ms Davies said. “In 2016 we led a campaign to make Rio Tinto accountable for increasing payment deadlines from 45 to 90 days – taking our concerns to then-chief executive Sam Walsh and iron ore boss Andrew Harding.
“I am pleased that the committee has recommended significantly strengthening the Australian Supplier Payment Code, pending the result of a separate review.”
Ms Davies said the report’s first recommendation to compare data on the wealth extracted from regional areas with what resource companies return to those same communities reflected a long-held view by The Nationals WA that regional areas miss out.
“It is only fair that the communities which generate our State’s vast wealth receive their fair share in return,” she said. “We’re not asking for a Fiona Stanley Hospital or stadium in every town, but we do expect regional West Australians to have access to quality infrastructure and services.”
Ms Davies said The Nationals WA Senate candidate Nick Fardell had been instrumental in bringing the Standing Committee west and into the Goldfields.
“Nick Fardell, along with my State colleague and Deputy Leader Jacqui Boydell, wrote to the Committee in September making the case for them to visit Kalgoorlie,” Ms Davies said. “Up until that point the Committee had only been scheduled to visit Port Hedland – something which was announced late and only confirmed after Nick put some pressure on through the media.
“Nick Fardell has again shown a remarkable ability to get things done and stand up for Western Australia.”
Other recommendations welcomed by The Nationals WA include reviewing the provisions of the Fringe Benefits Tax, which incentivises mining companies to employ a FIFO workforce over residential, and inducement for mining companies to develop remote operating centres in regional towns rather than the metro area.