I rise this evening to speak about Labor's failed mining tax and its impact on Western Australia. This is an anti-Western-Australian tax that has not worked. It is time that this tax was abolished so that we can get on with the business of fixing the mess that the former government has left us. Today the ALP and the Greens defied the Western Australian people once again and voted against the repeal of this joke of a tax.
This tax was poorly executed and pathetically designed and has been criticised for favouring big multinational mining companies. Australian owned and operated mining companies, which are trying to expand their businesses, are being stifled by this tax. These young companies provide WA and the nation with thousands of job opportunities and billions of dollars in royalties and export revenue.
The legislation also fails to recognise that Australians do access and share in the mining resources of our nation. They do it through state royalties. That is in direct contrast to the Western Australian government's Royalties for Regions program, which is a great example of well-developed policy that is doing an excellent job of spreading the wealth of the resources boom to the wider population. As the National's WA Senate candidate Shane Van Styn says, 'This program is about ensuring some of the profits from mining go back to the communities where that wealth was created.' The program, conceived by former WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls, is now being continued by Terry Redman and the coalition government of Western Australia. The program quarantines 25 per cent of all mining and petroleum royalties, to be spent in the bush. Since 2008 it has spent over $4.2 billion on more than 3,500 individual projects. It is now bigger than anyone ever imagined. The total budget for the Royalties for Regions Fund was $334 million in 2008-09, growing to $1.4 billion this financial year. It has injected almost $1 billion into health, $1 billion into education and has reinvigorated regional communities by creating local jobs and building local communities.
It is programs like these which highlight the importance of having the Nationals to represent Western Australia in federal parliament. The Nationals want to see practical policy solutions that will benefit those living in regional Australia. Geraldton resident Shane Van Styn is a strong advocate for WA, its people and its future. He is a practising accountant, director at Yamatji Mining and Civil, and director of Sun City Security. He regularly travels throughout regional and outback WA, including Gascoyne, the Mid West and the Pilbara. He is a City of Greater Geraldton councillor and is involved in a wide range of local community groups. With experience and a solid track record in small business, local government and the political arena, Shane will provide the people of WA with a strong regional voice in federal parliament, if elected. He is passionate about Western Australia and would make a fantastic contribution to this place and, indeed, to the National Party and the coalition as a whole.
On 5 April Western Australians have very clear choice: vote for a candidate who supports strong economic growth, who supports regional Australia and who wants to get this country back on track, by getting the MRRT off Western Australia's back.