You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Joyce cool on WA Nationals mining tax plan

AAP logoAAP 22/09/2016

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has given his strongest indication yet he opposes Brendon Grylls' plan to slug BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto with higher iron ore charges, saying more taxes discourage investment.

Mr Grylls, the WA Nationals' newly reinstalled leader, proposes increasing the iron ore production rental charge the mining giants pay from 25 cents to $5 per tonne to help fix the state's ailing finances.

The WA Liberals and state opposition are both against the proposal.

Mr Joyce has previously avoided weighing in to the state-based argument, saying earlier this month it was "a discussion for Western Australia".

But on Thursday, he joined Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in saying it could damage investment.

"I don't think putting more taxes on something is ever a good idea," Mr Joyce told Sky News.

"It ultimately doesn't encourage further investment - in fact, it discourages investment."

He maintained the proposal was a "discussion piece" and a matter for WA politicians to decide.

Mr Grylls defended the proposal after BHP Billiton president of Australian minerals operations, Mike Henry, urged against focusing on a small portion of the company's overall payments to the state government, saying it paid its fair share.

Mr Henry said the plan would add 20 per cent to costs, making the miner "wholly uncompetitive" among international peers.

He was responding to a ReachTell poll released on Tuesday that showed 45.4 per cent of more than 1700 WA voters supported the plan.

Mr Grylls said it was entirely fair the Nationals were combing over old state agreements, labelling the 25 cent rate "arcane".

"The 25 cent fee set in the 1960s ... that's never been adjusted and I think that's unfair," he told 6PR radio.

Mr Grylls said it was wrong BHP Billiton was telling staff the plan put their jobs at risk at a time of record iron ore production in the Pilbara.

"The state of Western Australia facilitated a massive expansion of their industry," he said.

"I am asking them to pay a little more to help bring the budget back to surplus.

"I expect and respect their right to go hard on me as a member of parliament - I don't expect them to send untoward emails to their staff threatening their staff's job security."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon