Queensland government defends coal royalties after Japan’s ambassador raises concerns

Queensland’s resources minister Scott Stewart has downplayed concerns raised by Japan’s ambassador about the increased coal royalties and its impact on investments in the state.

Miners began paying a higher proportion of tax for all coal that is sold for more than $175 a tonne on 1 July.

On Wednesday Japanese ambassador Shingo Yamagami used a speech at the University of Queensland to say companies were now uncertain about investing in Queensland as a result of the increases.

Stewart downplayed the diplomat’s comments on Thursday and said the introduction of the new royalties system was in the interests of Queenslanders.

“They’re his comments, and he’s obviously looking after the companies from Japan, and he’s welcome to those comments,” Stewart told reporters.

“But we need to make sure that we look at those multinational companies, looking at those super profits they’re making, and some of that money that’s owned by every single Queenslander – bringing that back to our communities to provide for our schools and our hospitals.”

The treasurer, Cameron Dick, said Queensland would maintain close ties with Japan that were based on “more than coal”.

“Our relationship with Japan is one that’s strong – it’s valuable and it’s important,” Dick said.

However, Dick said the coal tax increase would ensure a slice of mining profits were returned to the people of Queensland.

“It’s only fair that we look to get $1.2bn over four years back to our people so we can invest in hospitals across Queensland, particularly in regional Queensland, where this money will go.”

Yamagami said some Japanese companies were questioning whether Queensland was still the safe and predictable place to invest, as it had been for decades.

He said the coal tax hike could have widespread impacts beyond Japan’s coal industry, in sectors such as hydrogen and infrastructure.

Queensland’s opposition leader, David Crisafulli, said he will meet the ambassador on Friday to try to repair ties with the state’s biggest trading partner.

Crisafulli said Yamagami’s comments reflected the feelings of the state’s international trading partners toward the government’s unpredictable policies.

“One of the foundations of our economy has been built on a lack of sovereign risk,” he told reporters.

“These actions undo that, and while we can’t change the betrayal, our partners feel we can prevent it from ever happening again in the future.”

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