Mining and Heavy Industries

Grylls burned by mining lobby in election defeat

Australia's bulk commodity shippers could be challenged by international competition. Photo: Shutterstock

WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls lost his seat of Pilbara in the March 11 state election, after the mining industry spent a reported $2 million campaigning against him, and voters shunned his proposed royalty hike.

Grylls raised the ire of mining lobbyists with his proposed multi-billion-dollar mining tax, which would have seen BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto paying almost $5 per tonne more in taxes for their iron ore.

The politician argued the tax would help WA get what it deserved out of the miners, saying too many of the dollars taxed ended up in federal coffers.

But the miners argued they paid enough tax, and said the proposed royalty increase would do more harm than good to the state’s economy.

The debate saw Grylls facing strident and well-funded opposition for his Pilbara seat, which has now been won by Labor candidate Kevin Michel.

Grylls conceded defeat on Tuesday, saying it was the end of his 15-year career in politics.

His loss reflected a 13.5% swing in his seat since the 2013 election.

“I can’t come back from this,” he reportedly told AAP.

“You can never be who you aren’t. I’ve always been a risk taker.

“I’ve lived by the sword, and now I’ve died by the sword.”

Grylls took over as WA Nationals leader at the end of 2016, and the mining tax was his major contribution to the party’s campaign ahead of the state election, which saw the Liberal National alliance defeated in resounding fashion on March 11.

Outgoing Liberal premier Colin Barnett made his concession speech less than three hours after polls closed.

“Politics is a brutal, harsh business,” Barnett said.

“We ran, in my view, a great campaign, but time was probably against us.”

Victorious Labor leader Mark McGowan praised voters, saying they “voted for hope and opportunity over desperation and division”.

“Today we showed we are a state of decency and intelligence, not a state of stupidity and ignorance,” he said.


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