QLD mining subsidies could build nine major hospitals: study

QUEENSLAND'S resources sector has slammed a new report suggesting the money the State Government offers the industry could build nine major hospitals.

The Queensland Resources Council says the economic analysis would embarrass the North Korean government.

Detractors, on the other hand, have leapt on the report, which suggested Queensland's taxpayer assistance to the mining industry in 2013-14 almost equated with money for disability services and capital expenditure on hospitals.

The Lock the Gate Alliance called for greater openness and public scrutiny on all handouts provided to the fossil fuels industry.

The Australia Institute report shows that over a six-year period to June, 2014, state governments in Australia spent $17.6 billion supporting the mineral and fossil fuel industries.

Queensland's assistance, the largest, totalled $9.5 billion while Western Australia followed at $6.2 billion.

QRC chief Michael Roche said the report detailed State Government business expenditure but completely ignored the other side of the balance sheet.

He said the current State Budget forecast about $15 billion in royalties from the Queensland resources sector in the next four years.

Kelly Butterworth

Mr Roche said resources sector companies spent almost $38 billion in Queensland on wages, goods and services and communities last financial year.

He said that direct spending injection was calculated to have generated $76 billion spending.

"Almost every capital project undertaken by government-owned businesses for resources sector power supply and distribution, water, rail and port capacity gets a headline," he said.

"Not only were these projects undertaken at no cost or risk to taxpayers but their commercial returns were served up as government-owned business dividends in successive state budgets."

Lock the Gate Alliance national president Drew Hutton said the subsidies were offensive when ordinary Queenslanders were being asked to tighten their belts.

"We have to question why one industry sector is given so much, particularly while householders are facing increased fiscal pressure and rising utility costs," he said.

"Next month householders will be asked to pay an extra 13.6% for their electricity, meanwhile the coal industry is getting big handouts.

"The big winner was the coal industry which received a generous $500 million a year just in transport subsidies to use the railways in Queensland.

"Imagine what an extra $500 million a year spent on improving public transport in Queensland could do.

"We could see improvements in traffic congestion and increases in public transport services that could result in cleaner air, less traffic congestion and a faster more comfortable train rides to work."


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