Greens push for tougher mining tax

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The Greens say they will be pushing for changes to Labor’s mining tax to make it a better deal for small businesses and even worse for mining companies.

Under Labor’s current plan revenue from the 30 per cent minerals resource rent tax will fund a reduction in company tax from 30 per cent to 29 per cent, as well as an increase in compulsory superannuation contributions and infastructure spending.

But Greens leader Bob Brown said keeping the company tax rate at 30 per cent would free up $2 billion for small businesses.

He said about half the workforce was employed by small business compared to two per cent in the mining industry.

"We think small business, not the big banks and the big mining corporations should be getting the break," he said.

"This will also keep billions of dollars in Australia which might otherwise go as profits offshore."

The Greens said they will be pushing for the change at the Government’s tax forum in October.

It is likely the summit will focus on how to improve taxes relating to the housing market, but the Government said other areas of tax may be considered.

Earlier in the month key independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor threatened to hold their own rival tax forum alongside the Government’s to discuss "banned" reforms to the carbon tax, MRRT, and GST.

After releasing the MRRT second draft yesterday Treasurer Wayne Swan said in a statement the tax would support all Australian businesses, including those that weren’t "in the fast lane of the mining boom".

"It will also support the Regional Infrastructure Fund that will build roads, rail and other critical infrastructure," he said.

Swan said the second draft of the legislation had taken into account comments received during the initial consultation process.

Minerals Council of Australia CEO Mitch Hooke said in a statement yesterday the release of the second draft would be a focal point for further industry consultation on the tax.

“The MCA is committed to ensuring this complex legislation accurately reflects what has been agreed previously with industry, as developed further by the recommendations of the Argus-Ferguson Policy Transition Group,” he said.

The Greens have been pushing for a return to the 40 per cent super-profits tax initially proposed by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Brown said previously that research by the Greens showed 83 per cent of the Australian mining industry is foreign owned.

Labor will need the support of the Greens to win parliamentary approval for its plan which is opposed by the Coalition, but if approved by parliament the MRRT will take effect from 1 July 2012.

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