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The State Government is holding talks with some of Queensland’s biggest mining companies to create a Resources Community Infrastructure Fund.

It plans to invest $30 million and will be seeking contributions from mining companies on a voluntary basis.

But State KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has slammed the Palaszczuk Government for trying to ‘leech money’ from the industry and questioned how many benefits from the fund would flow to mining areas like Mount Isa.

He says the Treasurer is effectively asking mining bosses for $70 million in return for a freeze on royalty rises.

The Queensland Resources Council said it welcomed the Palaszczuk Government’s offer to freeze the rates of royalties on coal and minerals for three years. 

It would now ask its member companies to consider the Government’s offer along with their request for the resources industry to contribute $70 million to a regional infrastructure fund over three years, the peak group said. 

Targeted help for resource communities

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the fund would be targeted at improving economic and social infrastructure across Queensland’s resources communities.

“The Palaszczuk Government backs the resources industry and we back the jobs and communities that industry is built on,” Ms Trad said.

“We acknowledge and are grateful for the investment resource companies already make in the communities in which they operate.

“Now we want to supplement that investment through a partnership between government and industry to invest even more in regional communities, for the workers and their families who live there.”

Ms Trad said her meeting with major mining companies in Brisbane today had been very productive.

“Today’s discussions have been an important and positive step and I look forward to further discussions with the industry to make this fund a reality,” she said.

Mr Katter said the KAP had questioned the State Government in recent weeks on any plans it might have to further tax mining companies across the state.

“The KAP’s Nick Dametto called the Treasurer out in Parliament on rumours we were hearing about coal royalty hikes,” he said.

“Now backed into a corner after promising the Queensland Resources Council not to raise them (https://www.qrc.org.au/media-releases/resources-industry-assured-by-government-that-royalty-increase-not-in-state-budget-preparations/), I would suspect the government is looking for ways to ensure it can somehow secure more money from the mining companies.

‘Poor form’ says Katter

“This is poor form and is going to do nothing to sure up confidence in our resources industries, which is what we desperately need.

“The mining industry already provides billions of dollars annually in royalties as well as thousands of jobs – it needs to be treated as job enabler and not a cash cow.”

Mr Katter said he was sceptical about where exactly the money from the new “regional infrastructure fund” would be spent.

“We don’t know the full details of this policy yet but, the KAP would always welcome investment in regional and rural areas, particularly in North and North West Queensland,” he said.

“But what is regional to me is not necessarily regional to my counterparts in Brisbane – are we talking about money for the Copperstring project out in Mount Isa, or money for a new rail line or road in outer Brisbane?”

Royalties increase an attack on resources sector

QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said increasing royalties would be increasing taxes and an attack on the resources sector that supports one in eight jobs in Queensland – the equivalent of 315,000 full-time jobs.

“The Palaszczuk Government is already on track to receive more than $5 billion in resource royalties this financial year – a record and almost $1 billion more than they expected from their current budget.

“Any increase in royalty taxes is a disincentive for investment in regional areas and would mean lost job opportunities for all Queenslanders.

“The industry will respond to the Government on its proposal as soon as possible.”

State push for big miners to bankroll infrastructure fund