Forrest stands his ground after losing mining tax challenge

Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest yesterday expressed disappointment over the High Court‘s unanimous decision to dismiss claims the mining tax is unconstitutional.

Forrest first announced plans to take the mining tax to court in November 2012 on the ground that it is ‘unconstitutional'.

Forrest and his Fortescue Metals Group argued that the tax discriminated between states and interfered with the rights of states to control their own resources.

However the challenge was unanimously dismissed by the High Court.  

''The treatment of state mining royalties by the MRRT Act . . . did not discriminate between states and that the Acts did not give preference to one state over another,'' the court ruled.

Standing his ground Forrest said the mining tax was brought in under “shocking circumstances of governance”.

“We gave it a great shot, we went in, we believed on strong constitutional grounds and am happy that we won’t die wondering,” Forrest said.

Forrest said FMG will accept the verdict and “feels comfortable that justice has seen its day”.

“We gave it a very good constitutional shot, the high court didn’t agree with us but that’s their perfect right, that’s what they’re there for,” he said.

FMG was ordered to pay the costs of the legal action.

The company is yet to make any mining tax payment and has previously said it is unlikely it ever will.

The controversial tax only raised $126 million in its first six months: a figure well below the full-year forecast of $2 billion.

In announcing the decreased revenue figure former Treasurer Wayne Swan blamed lower commodity prices, however others say loopholes in the tax allows major miners to dodge full payments as companies are allowed to offset their liability against State royalty payments.

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

''The mining tax will be gone as of July 1 next year if you vote for the Coalition,'' he said.

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