Johnston hits back at GST share versus uranium ban slur

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Stuart McKinnonThe West Australian
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WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston on the Rio tour with Michael Gollschewski, managing director of Pilbara mines Rio Tinto Iron Ore, Scott Wilkinson, general manager Brockman Region at Rio Tinto Iron Ore, and Pilbara MP Kevin Michel.
Camera IconWA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston on the Rio tour with Michael Gollschewski, managing director of Pilbara mines Rio Tinto Iron Ore, Scott Wilkinson, general manager Brockman Region at Rio Tinto Iron Ore, and Pilbara MP Kevin Michel.

WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston has hit back at comments from his Federal counterpart that the WA Government holds inconsistent positions on fracking and uranium mining versus demands for a greater share of GST revenue.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Rio Tinto site visit in the Pilbara today, Mr Johnston said Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan didn’t understand WA.

“I’m sure Matt is a great advocate of Queensland and gets a good audience there but he doesn’t understand WA,” he said.

Mr Johnston said Labor had always been behind the resources sector in WA.

“A previous Labor government supported a major gas province in an A-class reserve,” he said, referring to Chevron’s Gorgon project on Barrow Island.

WA received back just 34¢ in every dollar in GST revenue generated in the State, according to the latest allocation.

Addressing Labor’s ban on uranium mining, Mr Johnston said the party had made it clear that it did not support the activity, but had said it would not renege on the four mines approved by the Barnett government.

He also questioned the economics of uranium mining in WA, suggesting nuclear power was less efficient than gas.

Referring to suggestions the Federal Government could provide a $1 billion loan to help get the Adani coal project in Queensland off the ground, Mr Johnston also questioned why the Government would need to support a supposedly economically viable project.

“Again, Matt (Canavan) is missing the point,” he said.

“If the Government is tipping taxpayers money into viable resources projects, WA should get in the queue.”

Mr Johnston’s comments follow claims by Mr Canavan at yesterday’s annual AMEC conference in Perth that it was inconsistent for the WA Government to argue for a greater share of GST revenue while maintaining a Statewide ban on uranium mining and introducing a fracking ban across the South West.

The State Government has argued that the existing so-called horizontal fiscal equalisation system for the GST carve-up encouraged some States not to exploit their natural resources.

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