In a bold move to transform housing affordability and ease the cost of living in Australia’s regional mining communities, a consortium of Local Government Authorities has called for reform to Fringe Benefits Tax policy.

Long term advocate for regional Australian and former leader of the WA National Party, Brendon Grylls, announced the consortium’s campaign during a keynote address on day one of the Developing Northern Australia Conference in Darwin.

Mr Grylls said the More Than Mining campaign was about normalising tax benefits to allow those living in mining towns to pay for housing costs using pre-tax dollars, thereby solving the problems of population churn, staff retention and lack of community engagement resultant from transient workforces.

He called for an end to the lack of confidence in the housing market due to the boom-bust cycle and growth of regional residential workforces.

“The future prosperity of our nation depends on stabilising our regional workforces, normalising the cost of living and transforming mining communities,” Mr Grylls said.

“There is so much to love about these places – beyond the jobs that are on offer here. They are great places to live, explore and raise a family.

“Our campaign to change tax policy will even the playing field and enable people living in regional mining towns and cities to be independent of resource-sector employers for housing and liveability.”

Brendon Grylls.

Regional mining towns are the engine-room of the Australian economy, with the mining industry contributing 11% to our national economy – that’s $199b each year.

But the boom-bust cycle makes property investment in these communities a gamble that risks financial ruin. People hesitate to buy property and relocate, creating a real barrier to a developing a local residential workforce and vibrant and thriving communities.

“The impacts of the bust cycle on our mining towns are all too familiar – mining operations contract, workers leave, property prices plummet. A housing affordability and unemployment crisis unfolds,” Mr Grylls said.

More Than Mining reform to Fringe Benefit Tax concessions will unlock sustainable, stable and inclusive regional  communities that are home to skilled and diverse workforces, who continue to drive our national economic prosperity.”

Many different solutions have been put on the table over the years in an attempt to address these issues, but they have been reactive and failed to improve the situation for people living in the regions.

More Than Mining cuts straight to the core – by providing targeted housing affordability support to individuals, this policy change incentivises regional relocation, stabilises population churn, normalises living costs and supports local small business prosperity.