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Opposition to remote tax whack reaches fever-pitch

The Productivity Commission has come under heavy fire from all angles in the month since suggesting tax support for regional Australians was unwarranted.

Politicians, residents, miners and local businesses across regional WA have all joined the pile-on attacking the recommendations from the draft report into remote tax benefits.

The report recommended abolition of zone tax offsets, clamping down on tax treatment of company housing, and adjusting remote area allowance boundaries.

“Higher living costs or other aspects of life in remote areas do not warrant compensation from other taxpayers,” the report said.

“The current concessions are overly generous and complex, thereby creating other inequities.”

Leading State Labor and Nationals figures have savaged the report’s recommendations as potentially “devastating” for regional WA.

WA Federal Liberal representatives Dean Smith and Rick Wilson have been similarly scathing of the report, with the former saying the Commission had become an enemy of the outback.

“Not only is the (above) statement tactless, it is blissfully ignorant of the fact Australians are both relaxed and comfortable having their taxes directed to support economic development across regional, rural and remote Australia,” he said.

“(The commission) has now turned from friend to foe, leaving thousands of West Australians living remotely … outraged.”

The resources industry weighed in too, warning a clampdown on tax treatment of company housing would hit Aboriginal employment and lead to an explosion of fly-in, fly-out workers.

A submission to the commission following release of the draft said increased compliance costs would lead to big companies reducing investment in communities.

“In many remote locations the employers that currently receive the benefits of these concessions contribute directly to key public services,” the submission said.

“Merely looking at the cost-savings to the country’s bottom line will not reflect the true impact.”

Submissions to the commission’s draft report close on Friday.

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