BHP gouging WA, says former Treasurer

Shane Wright, Economic EditorThe West Australian
VideoWA's share of the GST pie will be just 34 cents for every dollar raised.

The former Barnett government and WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls have won an unusual ally, with former Federal Labor treasurer Wayne Swan saying both are victims of a “commodities Kremlin” led by BHP Billiton.

Mr Swan, who had a battle with the Barnett government over Labor’s plan for a mining super profits tax, used parliamentary privilege to accuse BHP of being the “dishonest Australian” for the way it was failing to pay its fair share of tax and royalties. He said BHP had “fleeced” revenue from the WA and Queensland governments through its use of a Singapore tax hub.

This had been backed up with “unprecedented political interference and thuggery” which had been on display in the WA election and the battle over Mr Grylls’ seat in the Pilbara, which he lost.

“The governments of WA and Queensland have been treated very poorly,” Mr Swan said. “When companies are rorting the system, both at the State and Federal level, they give a green light to everybody else to get in there and do the same.”

Mr Swan said while there was nothing wrong with companies defending their economic interests but the activities of some mining companies and a “Commodities Kremlin” was now beyond the pale.

“They are fleecing from Federal and State treasuries billions of dollars of essential revenue which needs to be there to fund health and education, among other things,” he said.

But a BHP Billiton spokesperson said the company was paying its way, at the Federal and State level.

“For every $1 of pre-tax profit we made in Australia last financial year, 57 cents is payable in taxes and royalties to Governments in Australia,” they said.

“We have paid about $65 billion in taxes, royalties and other payments to Australian governments over the last decade, as part of $US85 billion we paid globally,” the spokesperson said.

“That Australian tax and royalty contribution over the last decade would build the NBN twice over, or pay for three years of Medicare for the country.”

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