Shire President Lynne Craigie OAM met with Senator Smith to convey how detrimental the changes could be for people and businesses in the East Pilbara and urged him to put pressure on the Federal Government’s Productivity Commission to reconsider their recommendations.
“The changes proposed by the Productivity Commission are absolutely dreadful. The Shire of East Pilbara has advocated hard for many years for mining companies to choose community based housing. Yet these tax cuts will give companies every reason to throw their support behind a FIFO workforce instead,” said President Craigie.
The draft report was released last month by the Productivity Commission and includes sweeping changes to Australia’s remote area tax concessions and payments. Some of the proposed changes directly affecting people and businesses of the East Pilbara include a proposal to abolish the zone tax offset for those living in regional communities as well as tightening the tax treatment of employer provided housing. Importantly, the report indicates that FIFO employees would remain exempt from these changes.
“We are also opposed to the recommendation to remove the remote area tax benefits from the hard working people of the Pilbara. Living in an East Pilbara town is not the same as living in a metropolitan town or city as the cost of day to day living is exponentially higher. To strip this entitlement away is simply wrong and will also discourage others from choosing to live in remote regions.
“If the Government has a heart for the people of the East Pilbara and for the future of our community and economy, it will realise that these changes are completely unfair to the people who live and work here and consider alternative measures. Our meeting with the Senator has been fruitful and we are hopeful he will consider the views of the inland Pilbara,” she added.
The Shire will also be making a formal submission to the Productivity Commission opposing the changes to the report.
The Productivity Commission was tasked by the Government to assess the effectiveness of remote area tax concessions and payments. It is estimated that the Federal Government will raise additional revenue of around $40m from the Pilbara with these changes, and $5.4m from Newman and its residents.
The final report is expected to be handed to the Australian Government by February 2020.