The government planned to lift the gold royalty rates from 2.5 per cent to 3.75 per cent from January, raising $392 million over four years to help plug the state’s massive debt expected to hit around $43.8 billion by 2020.
The McGowan government, which had been voted in because of the state’s finances, had been counting on Liberal support for the gold tax with the Nationals and cross-benchers opposing it.
But the Liberal party yesterday unanimously voted against the proposed royalties hike with the state Liberal leader Mike Nahan said the planned tax was not about budget repair but to pay for Labor’s $5 billion of election promises.
He said the decision was also made because of concerns about its impact on jobs.
“It was our view that Mr McGowan did not seek or have a mandate to raise the gold royalty rate,” Dr Nahan said.
“It was a tough decision because we take our role very seriously.
“We took [the decision] reluctantly, but jobs, broken promises and failure to meet reductions in debt and deficit trumped the issue.”
The party room meeting came after gold industry representatives staged an angry protest on the steps of Parliament House.
The Treasurer Ben Wyatt attacked the Liberal Party in Question Time, saying they would be responsible if ratings agencies downgraded Western Australia.
“If there’s any credit rating downgrade, Leader of the Opposition, I’ll be coming to you and wrapping that around your neck,” Mr Wyatt said.
“Because you are responsible for any downgrade, your leadership has been found wanting and you are responsible for the mess that we’ve been left.”