Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Gold Royalty – Motion

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (14:50): I will be short and sweet because I know there are a number of other speakers who want to speak on this motion as well. I rise to speak to the coalition’s motion, which aims to disallow regulation 5 of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) (Mineral Industries) Regulations 2019 and, by extension, revoke the 2.75 per cent gold royalty which will be imposed on nearly every single operating goldmine in Victoria. While I note that there are some obvious arguments about the need for mining companies to pay their fair share of tax, I do have some serious doubts that instead of targeting just big mining companies this gold royalty will eventually be paid for by hardworking families. I have visited the Ballarat goldmine and have met the people working there, and I welcome some of them to the chamber here today. They are certainly not suit-wearing investors or multinationals; they are incredibly hardworking members of the community, including mums and dads, who rely on an already small industry for a full-time income. I note that Mr Melhem quoted a mining magnate in saying that this tax is no big deal. Maybe ask those in the gallery here that will be directly affected by this tax if it is no big deal; you may get a different answer. The Ballarat goldmine currently operates at a financial balance and employs around 161 people and 76 contractors, reinvesting around $69 million back into the domestic economy annually. After touring the Ballarat goldmine I requested a meeting with the Minister for Resources to further discuss how a figure of 2.75 per cent was decided by the government and who was consulted in the consideration of this levy. However, this meeting never eventuated so I questioned the minister on the floor about the gold levy. Through my question I asked the minister if there was any possibility of the gold royalty being progressively indexed in line with the profits of mining companies instead of the annual threshold on ounces mined, which is around 2500. However, the government remained committed to not altering the royalty until it had been fully implemented and eventually reviewed. This delay could come at the cost of hundreds of jobs in the meantime. Other proposals that the mining community have taken to the government include tax offsets for local investment in exploration, mining holidays in which miners are exempt from paying the flat royalty and even a gradual phasing-in period for the royalty. While the government did have a brief period of formal consultation with the sector, each of these ideas was also rejected. Finally, I note that this motion only has to pass one house of Parliament. It is not the job of a crossbencher to agitate the government’s agenda, particularly when this government has a clear mandate to govern. However, it is our job as members of this place to ensure that this chamber remains the house of review. No-one argues that mining companies should not pay additional taxes given their reliance on our shared natural resources. However, the inflexible and sudden announcement of this gold royalty makes supporting this particular tax very difficult. I implore my metropolitan crossbench colleagues to seriously consider their position when voting on this tax. Your decision will potentially affect the employment of rural and regional workers. Those sitting in the gallery and all other mine workers in those mines operating at a financial balance may have their employment terminated. Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party supports rural and regional workers, and we fully support this motion.


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