Brown pressures govt on mining tax

Australian Green Leader Bob Brown says he will put more pressure on the government to strengthen the mining tax.

He has also launched an attack on foreign-owned mines, claiming $50 million in earnings from Australian Mining investments will go offshore.

Brown’s comments come mere days before the party will resume control of the Senate, giving it the final say on the policy.

The Greens commissioned research which found Australian mining companies are 83 per cent foreign owned.

He will argue that more mining ownership and investment should remain in Australia to create a sovereign wealth fund and fund assistance to industries suffering at the hands of the mining boom.

Amid concern about the non-mining sector, Brown will again argue that the corporate tax cut, worth $2 billion a year should be scrapped and the money put into a sovereign wealth fund.

"I think Australians simply have been left in the dark about the rapid takeover of ownership offshore of Australia’s minerals," he told the ABC.
"I don’t think Australians have any idea that Australia’s mining industry is 83 per cent foreign owned."

Brown claims images of Australian miners campaigning against the Government’s mining taxes misrepresent the truth and falsely indicate the extent of local ownership in the industry.

"A few local billionaires who’ve made a motza out of mining are covering up for the much greater profits than even they have yielded flowing overseas into the pockets of similar millionaires scattered around the world," he said.

Brown wants the new mining tax expanded beyond coal and iron ore to include gold and uranium.

But Ben Mitchell from the Minerals Council of Australia believes there are holes in the Greens’ research.

"What I can say over the last 10 years [is] that 98 per cent of cash flow generated from mining has been either paid in taxes, in royalties or reinvested back into mining," he said.

Mr Mitchell says he is not surprised by Senator Brown’s position.
"He said on Sunday that he wanted to close the coal industry down so it should come as no surprise that the Greens have produced a report geared to suit that position," he said.

Yesterday Opposition leader Tony Abbott told the Amec conference the draft mining tax currently favours bigger established companies and will result in immediate closures of more than 15 mines when it is introduced.

He accused the government and the three biggest miners – Xstrata, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton – of creating a tax that served their own purposes.

”The problem was that the government did a deal with just three big companies,” he said.

”Now, I’ve got nothing against the three companies … but if you are fair dinkum about a change of policy with respect to the mining industry, you should talk to the industry as a whole.’

The current draft legislation has been slammed by mining companies outside the big three, and Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest of Fortescue Metals has threatened to take the matter to the High Court.

The Greens leader will deliver a speech today to the National Press Club today, outlining its intentions to amend the mining tax.

Brown said he expects the government to disagree with the amendments and if it does, he will back down because the ”feeble” mining tax would be better than nothing.

On Friday the number of Greens in the Senate will increase from five to nine, providing them the sole balance of power.

Image: Herald Sun

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