24 June 2014 — BRIEF: Over a six-year period, Australian state governments spent $17.6 billion in mineral and fossil fuel subsidies, according to a new report from the Australia Institute.

Queensland’s assistance was the largest at $9.5 billion, followed by Western Australia’s at $6.2 billion.

“Almost $18 billion dollars has been spent over the past 6 years by state governments, supporting some of Australia’s biggest, most profitable industries, which are sending most of the profits offshore,” executive director of The Australia Institute Dr Richard Denniss said.

“That’s $18 billion dollars that could have gone to vital public services such as hospitals, schools and emergency services.”

Dr Denniss said the findings of billions in subsidies going to foreign-owned companies were alarming in the context of the recent federal budget cuts.

“These subsidies demonstrate that the economic argument for these industries is fundamentally flawed – Australian taxpayers are funding mining at the expense of crucial public services like education, health and police.”

Industry assistance in WA was comparable to that spent on police and health, while in NSW it was of the level as that going to provide accommodation for people with disabilities.

While states were getting royalties from mining, they were giving back large proportions of the funds generated.

“In 2013-14 Queensland plans to spend $1.5 billion on industry assistance, which is almost 60 per cent of what it will receive in royalties,“ Dr Denniss said.

“The argument that these projects benefit Australia is flawed. The Reserve Bank of Australia has said much of the benefits and profits of mining expansion are going offshore, with estimates suggesting foreign interests effectively own four fifths of Australian mining operations.”

Read the full report.