The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s top dogs have fired a broadside at the industry which built the town, backing down on a hardline anti-gold royalty hike stance due to a perceived failure of miners to support the community.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s leaders were front and centre of lobby efforts to defeat the State Government’s proposed gold royalty hike in 2017.
Mayor John Bowler and chief executive John Walker remain opposed, but said they would now be open to a conversation.
The change of tack has angered the State’s peak mining lobby, CME WA, which said the resources sector made a significant contribution to the Goldfields.
WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt hosed down the possibility of revisiting the issue, stating it was a matter for history.
Mr Bowler said the bulk of gold players in town had given nothing back to the community since the royalty hike proposal was defeated.
“You wouldn’t class any of them as generous,” he said. “A couple of them are OK, but the bulk of them give nothing and some of them even talk proudly of the fact that they donate to Statewide sporting teams and not support local teams here in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
“This community, this shire, this City council went in to bat very strongly with the mining industry here against the proposed doubling of the gold royalty.
“I am not saying if Mark McGowan knocked on my door I would be supporting any increase to the gold royalty, but I think for the first time councillors around the council table are saying well, you know, let’s maybe talk about this rather than just a blanket ‘no’ that we did last time.
“We have saved them hundreds of millions of dollars in the past three-odd years and into the future, two or three per cent of that back would be lovely.”
Mr Walker doubled down on the Mayor’s comments, stating he would consider supporting a royalty hike if it got money flowing back into town.
“The whole issue of collecting royalties, taking them away and not putting anything back into town is why we are arguing that,” he said.
“The other option is for companies to put something directly back into town.”
Mr Wyatt said the comments were a “matter for the two gentlemen to live with”.
“It is really a rich irony that two of those people who campaigned against more money for their own communities are starting to realise the impact of their decisions,” he said.
Mr Wyatt said despite the absence of a royalty hike, the State Government had continued to pump money into the Goldfields.
He cited projects such as the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway upgrade, Kalgoorlie Health Campus MRI suite, Goldfields Art Centre funds and Exploration Incentive Scheme boost.
CME WA chief executive Paul Everingham said the suggestion that WA’s gold sector did not contribute to the region was wrong.
“In 2017-18, WA’s resources sector contributed more than $1.2 billion to the Kalgoorlie electorate,” he said.
“A sample survey of only 10 of our gold members revealed that during the same period they contributed more than $6.25 million to community organisations in health, sport and education.
Mr Everingham said the gold sector employed almost 25,000 people in WA, and aimed to recruit locally as much as possible.