Changes afoot in the WA Nationals
The big news in WA politics in recent weeks is the return of Brendon Grylls as WA Nationals leader. Renee Wilkinson looks at what’s taking place in the WA Nationals.
Brendon Grylls is back, with a bold new plan to impose a $5 levy on BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto for each tonne of iron they produce, up from 25 cents. So what’s going on?
As well as returning to the leadership of the WA Nationals, Mr Grylls has taken over the portfolios of Housing, Racing and Gaming.
Mr Grylls is known for negotiating support for his bold Royalties for Regions policy with the Liberal party in 2008 and has a strong belief in regional development, jobs and business opportunities.
Terry Redman is continuing as Minister for Regional Development and Lands and is the Minister assisting the Minister for State Development. He is well regarded as a Minister and former leader of the Nationals WA.
Colin Holt has stepped down from his role as Minister for Housing, Racing and Gaming but remains closely involved in those portfolios in his role as Parliamentary Secretary. He is also Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Water, Sport and Recreation and Forestry.
Resources Rent Tax
Under state agreements, miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto pay the state 25 cents for every tonne of iron ore they produce in addition to royalties of 7.5%. Mr Grylls and the WA Nationals are proposing raising this to $5 – although last week suggested that may not be necessary if the state secured a bigger slice of the GST.
However Prime Minister Turnbull’s announcement at the WA State Conference over the weekend that he wanted to put in a floor to how low a state’s share of the GST could fall was not enough to move Mr Grylls to abandon his policy.
Not surprisingly Rio Tinto and BHP have both publicly slammed the policy as damaging to the industry. Competitors FMG and Roy Hill have both also thrown their support behind the big miners, suggesting the policy would lead to reduced jobs and investment in WA.
With a support base in the regions, it will be interesting to see how the WA Nationals play this out.
Sale of Western Power
The sale of Western Power is a topic often in discussion and Mr Grylls this week confirmed he is open to selling Western Power provided most, if not all, proceeds are re-invested into infrastructure for the State.
It is understood that Mr Grylls favours a partial rather than a full sale, with the WA Government to retain a significant share. The Premier is still maintaining the Liberal party is yet to take a final position on the proposed privatisation and whether it will take a position to the coming State election.
Sale of TAB
In his new role as the Racing and Gaming Minister, Mr Grylls has indicated support for privatising the TAB if the racing industry supports it. Speaking in Parliament, Grylls suggested he was yet to speak to industry representatives. He praised his predecessor Colin Holt for working with industry to ensure it had a voice in the development of plans for the privatisation.
In the lead up to the State election next year, expect to see more Members of Parliament looking for ways to show their commitment to their electorates. This is particularly important in regional areas with large projects. If your business is looking to build relationships with Government and opposition, we can guide you through the policies, processes and personalities.