Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Dave Grills MLC has urged Western Australian mining communities to keep fighting for changes to the Fringe Benefits Tax in the wake of the July 2 Federal Election.
The prevalence of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforce practices on resource projects in regional WA has been attributed to the application of the Fringe Benefits Tax to regional accommodation.
A 2013 report by the Commonwealth House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia, entitled ‘Cancer of the Bush or Salvation for our Cities?’, recommended changes to the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986 to reduce the use of FIFO workforces and encourage the development of regional communities.
The committee stated that the application of the Fringe Benefits Tax should be subject to consideration of location and function so that exemption applies to FIFO travel and accommodation in genuinely remote areas and the construction phase of mining operations only.
Mr Grills said the Fringe Benefits Tax required an urgent overhaul to ensure the long-term sustainability of inland regional communities.
“Since the introduction of Royalties for Regions in Western Australia, much has been done to address decades of neglect and make our regional towns better places to live, work and invest,” Mr Grills said.
“The problem is that such State-led regional development efforts in the Goldfields, Pilbara, Kimberley and elsewhere are being hindered by the ongoing use of FIFO workforce practices.
“This practice discourages workers from living in existing towns and contributing to the local economy and community.”
Mr Grills said country local governments across the State needed to band together to lobby Federal politicians to reform the tax.
“The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder initiated a campaign prior to the July 2 Federal Election aimed at presenting a united front against the widespread use of FIFO,” Mr Grills said.
“It is vital that we continue to develop a cohesive strategy and ensure this issue is placed firmly on the agenda in the new Federal Parliament.
“If a coalition of country local governments supported by State MPs makes enough noise, I believe there is a strong chance this issue may receive the attention it deserves from the major parties in Canberra.”
The ‘Cancer of the Bush or Salvation for our Cities’ report can be found here http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_Representatives_committees?url=ra/fifodido/report/fullreport.pdf