Rio Tinto slams carbon tax

Rio Tinto has hit out at the carbon tax, labelling it unfair and say it will put Australia at an investment disadvantage.

Across the industry, concerns have been raised as to its effect on employment.

In a statement today, the miner has voiced its disappointment with the proposed carbon tax and warned it will harm investment and jobs growth in Australia.

Rio’s managing director Australia, David Peever, said it is “deeply concerned the proposed carbon tax fails to shield Australia’s export sector and leaves it at a disadvantage compared to international competitors”.

“It is crucial that Australia’s contribution to the global effort is in proportion to action being taken by overseas trading rivals so as not to disadvantage important trade-exposed industries.”

These comments were supported by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).

MCA CEO Mitch Hooks stated that the “carbon tax package announced today is a very poor investment in our environmental and economic future. It is an exercise in revenue-churn futility, not a credible or effective climate change policy".

He went on to say that it would damage the “competitiveness of Australia’s export and import competing sectors without environmental benefit”.

Peever said “the proposed scheme places an arbitrary cost on Australian exporters that is not aligned with the cost being borne by competitors. It is an unfair impost on Australian exporters, not just the minerals industry, but the whole Australian export sector”.

“With no other nation implementing an economy-wide carbon tax, this is a dangerous experiment with the Australian economy,” Hooke said.

“The Government and Greens are imposing costs that none of our international competitors face, and cannot be justified in transitioning the Australian industry to a low carbon future. It will simply export investment, jobs, global market share and emissions offshore.”

Anglo American head Cynthia Carroll had previously warned of the potential danger to investment this tax may have.

“Governments tempted to move in this direction convince themselves that necessary mining investments in their countries will continue unabated, despite the imposition of such arbitrary changes,” she said.

“They are wrong. International businesses have choices to make between investment opportunities in different jurisdictions.”

Investors would instead be looking to countries with “stable and fair fiscal regimes”.

She stated that it would place “unacceptable burdens” on the mining industry and harm the country’s image as an investment haven.

Peever also voiced his disappointment that suggestions for alternative policies and concerns raised in the Government’s climate change business roundtable  had not been addressed, and that the reduction in the diesel fuel excise rebate is an extra taxed forced on the industry with out consultation.

“Introducing a six cents per litre diesel fuel tax imposes a double charge on the minerals and other industries and further underscores the fact that this scheme is a revenue grab rather than an environmental initiative,” Hooke explained.

“We have to be careful about imposing policy experiments on the Australian economy. Australia’s minerals sector now faces significant additional costs not faced by competitors. This will inevitably reduce potential investment and jobs growth in Australia, without reducing global emissions.”

Hookes added that “the design of this new tax scheme is wrong”.

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