State governments have spent almost $18 billion propping up the mining industry over the past six years, a new report says.

State governments have spent $17.6 billion supporting the mining industry since 2008, according to a new report that calls for fresh debate about the funding provided to other industries and services.

The Queensland government has provided $9.5 billion in subsidies to miners over the past six years, while WA has handed over $6.2 billion, according to The Australia Institute (AI) report, which was reportedly compiled using treasury data.

Executive director of the think tank Richard Denniss argues some of that money could have been better spent on frontline services such as hospitals, teachers and firefighters – or helping other industries.

“The Queensland mining industry received more support than was spent building capital and hospitals for health,” Mr Denniss told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

“The West Australian state government spent more money supporting the mining industry than it spent on police.”

He said parliaments were perfectly entitled to pay the money but the public was entitled to know the reasons behind the decisions.

“The mining industry should make a case for why it and not manufacturing, not the car industry, not food processing should be the largest recipient of state government industry assistance,” he added.

NSW has spent $873 million on mining subsidies since 2008, the Northern Territory spent $407 million, South Australia spent $316 million, Victoria spent $206 million and Tasmania spent $54 million, according to the AI data.

The NSW Minerals Council slammed the report, calling it “dodgy research”.

“Even if The Australia Institute’s findings were accurate, the taxpayers of NSW are receiving mining royalties valued at over $1.3 billion each year – around 10 times the amount The Australia Institute claims the industry receives in ‘subsidies’,” it said.

Greens mining spokesman, Senator Larissa Waters, argued that Queensland’s subsidies could be better directed to schools, hospitals and the tourism industry.