There will be no changes to mineral royalty rates in this year's West Australian state budget, and questions are now being raised about cash already booked for the revenue source.
After a review of the state’s royalty system, mines and petroleum minister Bill Marmion said on Wednesday that 18 recommendations had been “noted” but none would be adopted in 2015/16.
Opposition treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt then asked Treasurer Mike Nahan in parliament where $560 million in revenue booked in the 2014/15 economic and fiscal outlook for the next three financial years would come from.
Mr Wyatt asked if the hole would be filled with debt, spending cuts or tax increases, and was told it would be revealed “in the budget … on the 14th of May”.
The gold industry, which has campaigned hard against any increases to the sector’s rate, welcomed the news that there would be no royalty hikes for now.
“This is a huge relief,” Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive Simon Bennison said.
The review had recommended a new royalty rate for gold of 3.75 per cent, up from 2.5 per cent, “in order to make a return to the community comparable with contributions from other mineral sectors”.
Gold Royalties Response Group spokesman Allan Kelly said the sector was delighted.
“Today’s decision demonstrates the government understands that the gold industry plays a critical role in keeping our economy and our community strong,” Mr Kelly said.
“It is also clear the government knows that our industry is doing it tough in a highly competitive global market.”
Mr Marmion said the state government remained “totally committed to consultation” should there be any future discussion of royalty rates.
Workers who feared any rise would put their jobs at risk still plan to present a petition to Liberal MPs on the steps of Parliament House.