The Mining Tax: It lives! [opinion]

In wholly unsurprising news the Mineral Resources Rent Tax repeal bill was defeated in the Senate.

The unpopular tax’s repeal was voted down in extremely close margins, by 35 to 32 votes.

So for now this ineffectual tax remains.

The repeal was expected to receive heavy opposition, particularly from the Greens and Labor, but some of the factions where support for its repeal was lacking were surprising – i.e. Clive Palmer.

Its failure to be repealed – a key promise from the Abbott Government – mirrored the Coalition’s defeat in attempting to pass through the Carbon Tax repeal bill.

So that’s two from two.

Now anyone can see that the mining tax, in the shape of the MRRT, is a completely broken piece of legislation.

Firstly, where ever they pulled the forecast figures for the revenue it would generate (anyone remember a prediction of $10 billion?) is anyone’s guess.

That it only managed to bring in around the $400 million mark, a figure similar to what BHP claimed in tax offsets and credits to avoid paying the tax itself, labels it not just ineffectual but a complete and utter joke.

Secondly, focusing only on coal and iron ore effectively ignored the wider industry and well performing commodities, or at least commodities that were performing well at the time of the tax’s implementation.

At the time, in a strange twist of fate, I was aligned with former Greens leader Bob Brown in asking why gold wasn’t included, why copper didn’t make the grade, and why uranium was ignored?

Even the Greens agree that the tax is not working.

Senator Larissa Waters suggested that although the tax has problems, these could be fixed.

“The mining tax clearly has its problems, but these problems should be solved by strengthening it, not by ripping it up,” she said.

“When something is broken, you fix it; you do not throw it out."

Although her statement that “it is a wonder that this government does not just abolish the parliament entirely and put Xstrata, BHP and Rio overtly in control of the country, rather than just covertly in control” is a bit out of line, considering that the actual tax Rio Tinto paid (such as company tax, normal taxes, and royalties) was close to the $2 billion mark.

It seems everyone thinks that this tax will finally ‘get’ BHP, Rio Tinto, and GlencoreXstrata, Fortescue, and Gina Rinehart and the simple fact is that it won’t. Ever.

Who the tax will hurt is the junior miners and exploration companies, those that have much tighter margins.

It also continues to hurt the states, and the former Gillard/Rudd Government’s attempt to make the tax work at the expense of state and territory royalties, hitting miners twice in the process and showing  a disregard for the mining regions which more often than not profited in terms of the royalties being funnelled back into these regions.

Now the money’s whereabouts is being obfuscated and it appears as those the regions affected the most by mining aren’t receiving their dues.

The mining tax was built by the top of end of town, to hit those miners at the top end of town, and keep the money at the top end of town.

Its lack of repeal, or presentation of a better designed tax, is just hurting the development of Australian industry and our mining regions.

Our industry, our nation, our regions, deserve better than a poorly formed tax that only serves to harm those already hurting.

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