Greens leader Christine Milne has slammed the Mineral Resources Rent Tax repeal in the Senate this morning, saying the “super profits” earned by miners ought to be taxed and paid back into the community.
With the carbon tax repeal rejected by the Senate last week, this week’s debate over the mining tax will continue to demonstrate the control ALP and the Greens currently hold over the Upper House.
Senator Milne said that as the mining boom continues, “the problems it creates are intense… the people who are not employed in the industry are suffering, from high rent and high cost of living”.
“Profits are taken by companies concerned and funnelled to shareholders overseas, and have not been funnelled into Australia to create jobs,” she said.
“In order to generate jobs in Australia, profits needs to be spent in Australia.
“Mining is worth 10% of our GDP, but is only responsible for two per cent of total employment.”
“Government needs to ensure it gets a fair whack of the resource rents… Tony abbot will reward the foreign miners by abolishing this tax.
“This is fiscal vandalism, at a time when we have… a revenue crisis, we need to be raising money in Australia so we can spent it on things that will set up the community and economy for the future.”
Trade Minister Andrew Robb has said Labor ought to get out of the government's way on the mining tax issue.
“Bill Shorten has big responsibilities, he's starting to look like the Bob Brown of the new parliament – walking sovereign risk,” he told Sky News on Sunday.
The Abbott government says the tax is anti-Western Australian but WA Labor frontbencher Alannah MacTiernan dismissed the proposition.
“The mining tax has not been a jobs killer,” she told ABC TV on Sunday.
MacTiernan admitted there have been times when it has not been a popular tax.
“I think people are pretty smart … they understand that where you've got those companies paying the tax still investing, still recording record … profits, that quite clearly the mining tax hasn't been the problem.”
MacTiernan said the ALP supports the concept of a profits-based mining tax and will consult with the mining industry and states over the issue ahead of the next election.
Liberal senator Sean Edwards blamed the shelving of the Olympic Dam uranium mine expansion on the mining tax, and said that poor government policy was to be blamed as it made Australia a more expensive place to do business for international miners.
"The loss was a huge blow to the South Australian economy as the expansion was expected to create 8000 new construction jobs and 4000 permanent jobs," Edwards said.
"Mining expenditure in SA has been in decline for seven consecutive years."
Western Australian senator Glenn Sterle launched a scathing attack after senator Edwards.
"It’s all about the big miners, whinging about having to pay a profit based tax," he said.
"I struggle to see what is wrong with a profit based tax.
"There are workers who pay tax every week, and they may grumble about taxes paid during the week, how maybe it wasn’t worth doing an extra four hours of overtime, but to have billionaires taking out full page ads crying about it… because they may have to contribute something back from a resource that is not renewable…
"Once you’ve made 75 million dollars, what is wrong with paying taxes?"
ALP senator Doug Cameron addressed the issue using the mining tax to reinvest back into the Australian community.
"The profits of the mining companies should be shared by the community in a range of areas… the Australian public should get their fair share of the super profits that magnates make out of the resources that belong to the Australian community," he said.
Senator Cameron comapared treatment of the automotive and wider manufacturing industry to the apparent favourtism given to the mining industry by the Liberal government, saying that the governement ought to be more concerned with keeping jobs in Australia than protecting foreign-owned mining companies.
"I take the view that you must not listen to this rhetoric about tribilism and class warefare and marxist rhetoric," he said.
"They say it is tribalism to get a share of the mining profits.
"If this is what the Coalition describes… then let the mining companies claw every cent back for their shareholders."
"The tax has raised $400 million, and I would rather have $400 million spent in the community than have the mining companies keep even more profit.
"The Coalition says that we should cut our cloth to fit the tax system… this sounds like code for cutting investment in the community," Cameron said.
Image: The Australian