Mackay paying miners' tax

IT’S what we all knew – if you live in Mackay or a nearby mining community you are paying the price of the resources boom.

Everything from groceries to alcohol to the roof over your head has a “miners’ tax”, figures in a survey comparing the cost of living in Brisbane to 43 regional centres show.

The survey revealed Moranbah was the most expensive place to live in Queensland with housing costs a whopping 65.4% more than in Brisbane.

But Mackay is also expensive with rent and the cost of food, alcohol and tobacco more than 6% higher than in the state’s capital.

The release of the Office of Economic and Statistical Survey came just ahead of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s visit to Moranbah where she met yesterday with a group concerned about the affordability crisis in the state’s mining regions.

Queensland Mining Communities president Kelly Vea Vea said the group expressed its concerns about housing in mining towns, particularly the lack of suitable family accommodation.

“We emphasised that we do support expansion of the industry but we feel strongly about our community growing sustainably,” she said.

Ms Vea Vea said the group also stressed that with high proportions of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) miners and too few housing options, Moranbah and other mining communities would be headed for disaster.

“We were pushing the fact we don’t want our region to end up like Western Australia where a lot of communities have become unviable,” she said.

Ms Vea Vea said Moranbah’s affordability crisis was the result of a comprehensive failure of regulation.

“Moranbah is land locked by mining leases, they literally come right up to the doorstep of the town; constraining growth, and putting enormous pressure on prices,” she said.

Ms Vea Vea said Ms Gillard had promised to discuss the issues raised with Premier Anna Bligh, who the group met with on Thursday.

In response to the survey, Treasurer Andrew Fraser said housing costs drove the results in the mining towns while low housing costs balanced out expensive groceries in remote towns.

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