Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

China warning a wakeup call as WA Nationals gamble with WA jobs

Chamber of Minerals and Energy Chief Executive, Mr Reg Howard-Smith, said the letter from the managing directors of Baosteel and Sinosteel Australia to the WA Premier was above politics and stripped bare the economic reality of the WA Nationals’ scheme.

“The WA Nationals’ plan is bad for WA and bad for Australia. China is our biggest export customer for iron ore which is our biggest export commodity. If sales and investment from China is reduced or, in a worst case scenario, cut all together, it will ultimately mean less revenue to our State and less money for essential government services like police, health and schools,” Mr Howard-Smith said.

“Only weeks ago similar concerns were raised by Japanese companies. With China indicating their extreme concern this has gone from a very serious situation to a critical one. This proposal is already having an impact on how WA is viewed internationally.

“The WA Nationals are naive if they don't think this proposal introduces sovereign risk to WA. When a government talks about unilaterally changing state agreement acts, talks about imposing increased charges as large as the WA Nationals want – that IS sovereign risk – that WILL impact investment.

“By dismissing China’s concerns on the mining tax and plans to unilaterally change State Agreements, the WA Nationals are playing Russian roulette with the jobs and livelihood of thousands of Western Australian families and businesses.

“It is now black and white – if the WA Nationals’ mining tax goes ahead it will impact on investment in this state resulting in deceased business spend and cost jobs.   

“It is a real shame, but the WA Nationals are rapidly becoming the greatest risk to Western Australia’s prosperity as they literally jeopardise billions of dollars of investment in WA, particularly regional towns.”

The ramifications of the WA Nationals actions go beyond iron ore. While they say they are only targeting big iron ore miners now, how can investors in large scale projects in WA have any confidence they won’t face a similar attack in future years if the state still has budget problems or specific WA Nationals projects need to be funded.

“What assurances can the WA Nationals give Chinese investors they want to attract to the next stage of the Ord project that they won’t be doing the same to them down the track?” Mr Howard-Smith said.


  • WA’s iron ore miners have contributed more than $27 billion in royalties to the WA Budget over the last 10 years.

This is equivalent to WA spending on police and protective services and more than double the amount spent on roads over the same period. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto collectively paid:
→ $5.2 billion in company tax in 2015
→ $3.2 billion in royalties in 2014-15 – 65 per cent of all minerals royalties paid in WA
→ $259 million in other state government taxes (ie. payroll tax, stamp duty and land tax).

  • WA’s leading iron ore miners pay an average of $19 per tonne in taxes fees and charges. The statement that all they pay is 25 cents per tonne is a lie.
  • Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton employ 17,523 people in Western Australia, with 3,441 employed directly in the state electorate of Pilbara. These jobs rely on a stable and competitive taxation environment. An ill-conceived tax grab will place these local jobs and the growth of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton’s iron ore businesses at risk.
    BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations directly employ almost 20,000 people in Australia. In addition, there are over 15,000 employees of contractors working on site for these two companies.
  • Two in every three WA communities benefit from mining
  • More than 300,000 WA families benefit from mining