Bumping up taxes won’t close mines: Greens

Lifting mining taxes won’t lead to mine closures, Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson claims.

Outlining the case for the Greens’ policy to raise mining taxes, the Tasmanian senator hit back at industry claims that increasing taxes would force mine closures and result in the diversion of investment were “simply not true”.

The comments were made partly in response to The Advocate’s BUCKS column titled "Aim to make miners minor".

"No one likes paying tax, but as I learnt at university a proper and fair tax system can reduce taxes on the 'goods', like our personal income, and increases taxes on the 'bads', like pollution or harmful substances, and on 'commonly owned resources', like our country's minerals and fisheries," Senator Whish- Wilson wrote.

"This is so we all get a fair share of the pie and a healthy life."

Whish-Wilson congratulated Labor’s attempted resource-related tax reform, but said it didn’t go far enough.

"It seems they didn't have the ticker to do as (former Treasury head) Ken Henry suggested, instead changing the original tax proposal after cutting deals and caving in to pressure from the big mining companies," Whish-Wilson said.

"The original mining tax as conceived by Ken Henry was not a tax on a company's income, rather on their `super profits', because he felt Australia's `resource charging arrangements fail to collect an appropriate return for the community'.”

In February the Greens called for loop holes in the mining tax to be fixed following the revelation it had only raised $126 million in its first six months.

A figure well below the full-year forecast of $2 billion.

The Greens introduced a bill into parliament that would stop the Federal Government having to refund increases in state royalties to miners through the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT).

"The Greens have been arguing strongly for the mining tax to be amended so it is closer to the one envisaged by Ken Henry.

"This includes increasing the current tax rate back to 40 per cent, in line with the Henry Review."

Increasing mining taxes and creating a less-than-desirable economical environment has already seen miners shelve projects including BHP Billiton’s $20 billion Olympic Dam expansion project.

As the mining boom slows, companies are continuing to reassess expenditure, both Rio and BHP are highlighting cost cutting agendas and moving to put underperforming assets up for sale.

Both have also cut exploration and capital expenditure budgetsputting major projects on hold in favour of working existing assets harder.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott last month said the Coalition would scrap the mining tax if it wins the September election.

“We will abolish the mining tax – because that’s the quickest way to support investment and jobs,” he said.

“By cutting tax and regulation, we will boost productivity.”

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