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Towns vie for mine royalties

Tuesday, 3rd June, 2008

By Branko Licul

Broken Hill is supporting a proposal that mining towns get a percentage of the royalties paid to the State Government by mining companies.
Councils could use the money to help fund infrastructure works being affected by mining operations, the NSW Shires Association Conference has been told.

Narrabri and Bogan Shire councils have urged the Association to press the NSW Government to legislate that a percentage of total mining royalties be returned to councils and communities where the mining occurred.

Narrabri suggested the levy be three per cent, whilst Bogan Shire went for 25 per cent. The idea is not about putting another tax burden on the mining industry, according to the Narrabri motion.

It instead aims for communities impacted by mining to get funding to undertake the necessary infrastructure to meet those demands.Narrabri said in 2006/07 NSW mineral production was valued at $12.3 billion (coal $8.16 billion), with royalties totalling $503 million (coal $447 million) paid to State Treasury.

BH City Council will support the motions, said General Manager Frank Zaknich, who is attending the conference in Sydney with Administrator Ken Boyle.

"It's of interest to us and we support it on the basis, obviously, that there are impacts both in and outside the city (from mining)," he told BDT yesterday.

"There are impacts on the city maintaining and developing infrastructure and this could help us.

"Twenty-five per cent is a bit steep, however," he said.

He said tapping into royalties might also alleviate the need to change the city's boundaries to take in new mining ventures for rate revenue.

"Instead of extending the boundary to take in those mining ventures, and impacting on pastoral considerations, we could have a royalty provision."

Mr Zaknich said the royalties motion was also important considering the government's draft amendments to the S94 development contributions legislation.

"They are being amended so we can't levy those sort of developments (mining). For the broader community, they need to be targeted."

He said the S94 amendments will mean less funds for council infrastructure maintenance and renewal.

"Normally, we would get one per cent funding for our Community Infrastructure Fund but it's still unclear what the amendments will mean and we have sought clarification."

A motion to the conference from Snowy River Council has called on the NSW Government to delay implementation of the new rules until all the impacts on communities have been assessed.

Broken Hill doesn't have any motions specific to the conference but Council is taking advantage of the opportunity to meet government ministers and their advisers, said Mr Zaknich.

"This is also about building stronger partnerships with the state and federal governments...I think Local Government is left out of the loop to some extent."

He said the recommendations from the NSW Rural and Regional Taskforce showed that, and that it has resulted in some positive outcomes.

However, he said Local Government still had to deal with a "drip-feed" funding arrangement that could be unproductive.

Mr Zaknich said it was important that Broken Hill continued to be represented at events such as the NSW Shires Association Conference.

"There is an important advocacy role for Council to continue and we hope to see some positive outcomes."

The conference ends tomorrow.

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