Tag Archives: MRRT

When Was Gillard’s TV Dirty Deal Really Made?

15 Feb

On July 13 2010, journalist and radio personality Michael Smith interviewed then newly-ascended prime minister Julia Gillard to discuss “her” new mining tax deal:

“Now, the debate [with the mining companies] got bogged down in a lot of, uh, you know, some name calling, some conversations that lacked respect and good will. What I did as prime minister was got the good will back into that debate by cancelling the ads on TV…”

No doubt Gillard was here referring to her (apparent) post-ascension offer to the Big 3 miners, to cancel the government’s pro-mining tax advertising. She says that she did so as a gesture of “good will”.

In your humble blogger’s opinion, this claim does not pass the sniff test.

Three weeks prior to the Michael Smith interview, the following article appeared in the Australian Financial Review; it was the very day after Rudd’s ousting -

June 25, 2010 – Rio Tinto Ltd says it has suspended its anti-resources super profits tax (RSPT) advertising campaign and is “cautiously encouraged” by Julia Gillard’s pledge to negotiate with the sector.

Ms Gillard, who ascended to the prime ministership after Kevin Rudd declined to contest a leadership ballot, told her first press conference as parliamentary leader she would throw the doors open to negotiate with the mining sector.

She also suspended the government’s pro-RSPT advertising campaign, provided the mining sector shelved its ads against the tax.

BHP Billiton Ltd, the Minerals Council of Australia, the Queensland Resources Council and the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies Inc all pledged to immediately suspend their anti-RSPT ads.

“As a sign of good faith, we have suspended our advertising,” Rio Tinto said in a statement.

“This commitment is, of course, dependent on the government’s willingness to properly engage on the threshold issues.

In other words, their “sign of good faith” was clearly conditional on Gillard playing ball, and renegotiating (ie, “properly engage”) the core elements (“threshold issues”) of the mining tax design.

There is something else quite interesting to consider here.

Apparently it is possible to suspend a multi-million dollar TV and print media advertising campaign within 24 hours.  That is the implication from Rio’s statement “we have suspended our advertising” in swift response to new PM Gillard’s supposedly impromptu “good will” gesture.

It gets more interesting when we look at how quickly BHP Billiton, the prime mover in the anti-RSPT campaign, apparently managed to pull their advertising campaign. From ABC News, first posted June 24 2010, 12:32pm AEST:

Gillard, BHP can ads in mining tax truce

Julia Gillard will can the Government’s mining tax ads as one of her first acts as prime minister, and has called on the mining lobby to do the same.

Mining giant BHP Billiton, which is among the companies leading the campaign against the tax, has responded by suspending its ads.

The second biggest, Rio Tinto, followed later in the day

Sky News is reporting that the mining industry’s main lobby group, the Minerals Council of Australia, is also suspending its advertising campaign.

Impressive.

Barely 2.5 hours prior, the ALP caucus had chosen Gillard to be the new prime minister.  BHP was very quick-off-the-mark to suspend their advertising in response to Gillard’s gesture of good will, wouldn’t you say?

There is a Big Question arising out of all of this.

Was there any discussion or deal made with any/all of the Big 3 – particularly BHP – to suspend their advertising prior to Rudd’s knifing by Gillard?

It is an important question.

Because some have claimed that Gillard was “given the nod” by the Big 3 foreign miners to topple Rudd, and have suggested that the issue (promise?) of the withdrawal of their anti-mining tax advertising was already on the table prior to the coup; that Gillard knew the miners would pull their TV advertising before she made the decision to challenge Rudd for the leadership:

JULIA Gillard was “given the nod” by the big three mining companies – Xstrata, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton—to challenge Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership, knowing the advertising campaign against the mining tax “would be pulled”.

… The revelations come from an article written by Mr Rudd’s friend and actor Rhys Muldoon, published in the latest issue of The Monthly magazine. He questions whether “the party backroom boys” could “have sought tacit approval from the miners for a change at the top to seek an end to the damaging impasse” on the tax.

Does anyone seriously believe that BHP Billiton et al only decided to hastily suspend their advertising campaign in response to new PM Gillard’s immediate gesture of “good will”?

Does anyone seriously believe that Gillard and/or the ALP “faceless men” did not come to an agreement with the Big 3 miners on the specific issue of stopping their politically damaging TV advertising, prior to the knifing of the prime minister?

If Gillard knew that BHP was prepared to pull its TV advertising campaign on the condition that the mining tax be negotiated from square 1, then why not tell PM Rudd?

If Gillard knew that BHP – a foreign-owned mining corporation – was prepared to pull its TV advertising campaign on the condition that a democratically-elected PM be removed from office, why not tell PM Rudd?

Why not help the national leader to whom you had repeatedly and publicly declared your loyalty, with devising a strategy to deal with this foreign corporate “threat to democracy”? (Swan’s words, directed at Aussie miners)

Why challenge for the leadership … other than out of sheer greed and selfish opportunism, a preparedness to sell out the best interests of the nation’s citizens (and the very concepts of representative democracy and national sovereignty) for the fulfillment of your own naked ambition?

The widely-propagated story that Julia Gillard, the loyal deputy PM, the Great Negotiator, reluctantly agreed to be elevated to the prime ministership because “a good government has lost its way”, and only then made a brilliant, impromptu gesture of good will towards the Big 3 foreign-owned mining giants by suspending the government’s TV advertising and calling on them to do the same, simply does not pass the sniff test.

More Dirt On Gillard & Swan’s Dirty Deal

14 Feb

MacroBusiness.com.au reader and commenter “Mav” draws our attention to journalist Paul Cleary’s book, “Too Much Luck”.

In it, we find more dirt on Gillard and Swan’s dirty deal with the multinational miners.  Cleary’s tome sheds new light on the collusion between ALParatchiks such as then ALP national secretary Karl Bitar and BHP Billiton, the foreign-owned miner leading the anti mining tax campaign, in overthrowing a popularly-elected prime minister:

As soon as Rudd sprang the new tax on the industry, the big three companies decided they had to kill this plan – and they decided to play dirty. When London-based Rio Tinto, Melbourne-based and London-listed BHP Billiton and Swiss-based Xstrata put their collective weight together, they are a formidable combination. Their total combined value on global sharemarkets is $450 billion, 86% of which is in foreign hands. The three companies are worth more than the size of Australia’s federal budget, about one-third the size of the entire Australian economy. Together they embarked on a savage lobbying effort to bring down the proposed tax by attacking the government and its prime minister. They began this extraordinary campaign before the proposal had even been put into legislation, and before the parliament had had the opportunity to review it.

BHP led the offensive, establishing a ‘war room’ inside its Melbourne head office. Run by senior financial executive Gerard Bond, along with senior staffers and external consultants, this team worked on the project for about seven weeks. BHP commissioned its own focus-group research, which was used to drive a $22 million TV and print-media blitz and a targeted lobbying campaign that included Geoff Walsh, a former national secretary of the ALP and former staffer to prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. BHP spared no expense on the campaign, which reported directly to CEO Marius Kloppers.  External talent included the market-research specialist Tony Mitchelmore and the corporate strategist John Connolly. Mitchelmore had been plucked from obscurity by Labor to work on the Kevin07 campaign and had stayed on doing qualitative research before working for BHP on this campaign. He organised an intensive round of sixteen focus-group sessions, which revealed that many participants believed Rudd’s proposal had come out of left field and was likely to derail the one industry that was keeping Australia’s head above water. Realising that they had a good chance of killing the tax, the miners adopted a ‘whatever it takes’ approach…

The miners’ efforts were spectacularly successful. Seven weeks and four days after unveiling the preliminary plan, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was deposed and so was his tax… Big Dirt, as the three companies were now known, executed regime change two months before the voters exercised their democratic rights at the ballot box. Having subverted a functioning democracy [TBI: aided and abetted by Gillard & Swan], mining executives were celebrating in airport lounges around the country…

Immediately after becoming prime minister on 24 June, Julia Gillard turned her attention to thrashing out a deal with the three multinational miners. Eight days later, she announced a breakthrough that cut the marginal tax rate from 40% to 22.5%, restricted its scope to coal and iron ore, and added some creative accounting concessions for the big miners… A raft of emails released under FOI shows that BHP was very much running the show. Its executives drafted the heads of agreement before emailing it to Wayne Swan’s office for approval.

Repeating her ‘moving forward’ mantra, Gillard announced the compromise like this: ‘It moves things forward whether you’re a coal miner in the Bowen basin, a contractor in Karratha, an opal miner in Coober Pedy or a young worker in Sydney’. In fact, the MRRT deal made life worse for smaller Australian-based miners by removing the resource exploration rebate and by awarding big miners a significantly lower tax rate. For iron-ore miners with mature projects, which means the big companies, their projects would be taxed at 36.4 per cent – close to or even below current levels – whereas small or medium-sized projects would pay an average rate of 48.9 per cent, according to modelling produced by Treasury and released under FOI. The big miners benefited from a concession that allows them to calculate deductions for tax purposes using the market value rather than the purchase price (or ‘book value’) of their assets, providing huge depreciation allowances. The small and medium Australian players were not represented in the negotiating room, and the new deal actually reversed the central and laudable aim of the RSPT – that is, reducing the tax burden on start-up operations, which are penalised by the state royalties because the impost is paid when production starts, rather than after the company actually begins to make a profit. The success of the multinational miners in securing these concessions, and in beating voters to the punch, reveals the perverse world order in which we live: an advanced country can possess enormous riches but lack the capacity to do what is clearly in its own long-term interest…

Not only did the miners change the prime minister and change government policy, they went on to brag about how their coup had stopped similar schemes from spreading around the world…

Exactly one week after Gillard announced the compromise, Rio Tinto’s American chief executive, Tom Albanese, told a group of mining executives in London that the Australian experience should send a salutary message to governments around the world. Governments should ‘learn a lesson’ from the episode, he declared. A few months later, Xstrata’s chief executive, Peter Freyberg, was still bragging…

BHP’s executives managed to avoid bragging, although this company did more than any other to bring down the tax and Kevin Rudd. The total cost of the campaign was $22 million. The Minerals Council of Australia, which is largely funded by the big three companies, spent $17.2 million, while BHP spent $4.2 million on its own and Rio $537,000. Cabinet ministers in the Gillard government say that Geoff Walsh delivered the Mitchelmore research directly to the then ALP national secretary, Karl Bitar. These claims are strenuously denied by Walsh. But the BHP research is understood to have panicked the Labor heavyweights, prompting them to move against Rudd even though he still had a commanding 4 percentage point lead in the national newspoll.

If it is true that former ALP national secretary Karl Bitar, in cahoots with Gillard and Swan, acted to overthrow a prime minister on the basis of private research data provided directly to him by BHP, a foreign-owned company demonstrably seeking to change government policy, then this is more evidence of treason on the part of key figures in the ALP.

Gillard, Swan, and Bitar should be in jail.

UPDATE:

Peter Martin has more, in the Age today:

Gathered on one side of the cabinet table were the newly-installed Prime Minister Julia Gillard, her Treasurer Wayne Swan and her Resources Minister Martin Ferguson. On the other were the heads of Australia’s three big mining companies: BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.

Absent were the key people from the Treasury – the ones who really understood the tax being discussed.

As the then Treasury head Ken Henry later told a Senate committee: “We were not involved in the negotiations, other than in respect of crunching the numbers if you like and in providing due diligence on design parameters that the mining companies themselves came up with.”

Gillard and Swan consciously chose not only to exclude the locally-owned miners from the negotiations. They also chose to exclude Treasury officials – folks who just might have more of a clue than a dodgy lawyer and a career political hack with an arts degree – as well.

Conclusion? Gillard and Swan did not want any intelligent outside scrutiny of the BHP-drafted deal.

Hence their persistent “commercial-in-confidence” response cited ever since, in attempted justification of their refusal to let the details come out.

Barnaby Absolutely Nails It. As Usual

13 Feb

“Well, they’re trying to work out how to pay it back [$260b Federal debt]. So they devised the mining tax; the trouble is, of course, the people who came to help them out with that were the major mining companies, and they devised a mining tax where they don’t actually pay any tax. They said we’d have a mining tax, [BHP's] Marius Kloppers said ‘You certainly will’, and then Marius Kloppers whipped out a pen and a paper and he gave them one. And it’s working very well for BHP. It’s working very well for Xstrata. And good luck to them, I mean, if a fool invites you to their office and opens the chequebook then you just start writing out your own cheques…

… So they’ve come to this conclusion: they have no money. They have to go finding money. So, first thing they do when they try to look for money is set up a class war. Or, things have to start with a moral prerogative, ‘We must find evil people'”…

They’re going to go and – obviously – just flog the money out of people’s super. Simple as that…

It’s so sneaky.” – Senator Joyce

Alas, I have long neglected to catch up on Senator Joyce’s YouTube channel.

It is the best place for you to enjoy catching up with, and hearing the latest from, one of the few politicians left in this country who might, just might, actually have a genuine devotion to interests other than his own.

Like his constituents, for example.

And the Australian people and nation as a whole.

About a week ago there were a bunch of new videos uploaded to Barnaby’s YouTube feed. The following one is particularly topical, in light of the recent media and political focus on superannuation, and the mining tax. Note in particular from the 1 minute mark, after Barnaby’s delightfully authentic, unpolished and rambling preamble:

Note independent Senator Nick Xenophon’s helpful correction towards the end. And see my recent post Your Super Screwed By The Laboral Party.

I maintain the view sent to Senator Joyce some months back.

The Nationals … and if not the Nationals in toto, then he himself … should split from their ‘senior’ Coalition partners, and go independent.

As a matter of principle, and integrity.

And participate in forming a new government with whomever they wish, according to their own principles and the views of their constituents.

Not those of the Liberal Party’s machine men.

IMO, the Liberals are no better than Labor.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

The Laboral Party.

Swan’s Tax Avoidance Scheme

13 Feb

Quelle surprise!

A stunning revelation emerges.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Miners hoard credits to avoid resources tax

Mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton have built up a combined arsenal of $1.7 billion in tax credits that can be offset against future mining tax liabilities.

Exactly as predicted here on this blog, way back in December 2011 (GilSwan Conned – Mining Tax The Greens’ Pit of Despair)

Note well how the “progressive” (ie, international socialist) SMH follows the ALP (ie, international socialist) party line, by immediately switching the focus of this awful tale of inequity away from international companies, and onto an evil billionaire “Tall Poppy”.

Local Aussie miner, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest:

And billionaire miner Andrew Forrest confirmed to Fairfax Media that his iron ore company, Fortescue Metals, would not be paying any tax under the Gillard government’s minerals resource rent tax this year.

Mr Forrest, who challenged Treasurer Wayne Swan’s claim that the tax would still raise billions in revenue for the government after being watered down during [exclusive] negotiations [by Gillard and Swan] with [foreign-owned multinational giants] Rio, BHP and Xstrata, appears to have been vindicated after Mr Swan’s admission that the tax has net a paltry $126 million in the six months to December 31.

”The record stands for itself,” Mr Forrest said.

And to make sure you do not miss the underlying propaganda message – that the real “evil” here is your fellow Aussie-made-good entrepreneur – the SMH chooses to headline the article with a photo of Mr Forrest.Not with one of the foreign-owned BHP, RIO, or Xstrata chief executives.

Wayne Swan would be pleased (The Galactic Hypocrisy of Wayne Swan ; Swan’s Anti-Australian Rant A Smokescreen For Treason).

While the focus has been on the dramatic shortfall in mining tax collections compared to original Treasury projections of more than $10 billion over four years, the most recent financial accounts of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton show the two miners have built up $1.1 billion and $637 million in tax credits respectively.

The credits did not reduce the amount of company income tax they had to pay, but can be carried forward to offset future mining tax liabilities.

Just as predicted here.

Speaking of credit, we should give credit to the SMH for devoting one (1) whole paragraph to a misleading and deceptive recognition of the fact that the vomitous Wayne Swan singled out Aussie miners like Twiggy Forrest for exclusive vilification while belching out his galactically hypocritical smokescreen for treason:

Mr Forrest’s recent MRRT brawl with the government has seen him subjected to criticism from Mr Swan – part of which was his inclusion in the ”badly behaving billionaires” club that included Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart. Sources have said that Mr Swan included Mr Forrest as a member of the billionaires in an essay in The Monthly – against the urging of his advisers.

Misleading and deceptive?

Yes.

In seeking to further the progressive (internationalist) agenda – in this case, through minimising damage to the PR image of huge multinational oligopolies, while enabling damage to the public image of successful local/national enterprises by invoking “Tall Poppy” syndrome – the SMH propagates the old revolutionary socialist strategy of “class warfare”.  And conveniently neglects to inform readers of the full picture.

You have to find that, at blogs like this.

Indeed, you have to read right down to the last two paragraphs of the SMH article to gain even an inkling of the truth – though of course, it is still not explicitly spelled out:

The major mining companies are loath to talk about the tax that they negotiated with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Mr Swan. They have kept their heads below the parapet this week as Mr Swan has been in the firing line.

The government has responded to the attack by suggesting various changes to the tax but the prospect of a big overhaul before the election is unlikely. The campaign by BHP, Rio and Xstrata that led to the super profits tax being replaced with the more benign MRRT was so potent that Ms Gillard will not take them on again over the next seven months.

Remember, the article is headlined with a generic “Miners hoard credits…” title.  And a photo of Aussie miner, Twiggy Forrest.

Only the fully alert and informed reader, one who knows that BHP, RIO, and Xstrata are majority foreign-owned multinational giants, is likely to note the above bolded words at the very end.

And possibly, just possibly, have a dawning realisation that something fishy … something against the best interests of Australians … is the real truth behind this story.

UPDATE:

Too late, Independent Andrew Wilkie wakes up and smells the coffee; says Andrew Forrest was right -

Mr Wilkie told Fairfax Media that he had been wrong to believe Treasury predictions of company liabilities under the renegotiated tax instead of the alternative arguments put forward at the time by Mr Forrest.

Mr Forrest had complained that the compromise to allow miners to write off the long-term value of assets from their mining tax liabilities had allowed the big three miners off the hook.

It is beyond argument that the government was wrong, is wrong, and Andrew Forrest is right,” he said.

For readers who have not read my earlier posts on this topic, the key point to understand from the above is this: A major reason why the redesigned mining tax favours the multinationals – unsurprising, since they designed it, in secret, with Gillard and Swan – is that the Big 3 miners have vast existing assets. Their redesigned tax allows them to write off the “market value” of their existing projects, and thus claim credits against any MRRT liabilities.

UPDATE 2:

Via Andrew Bolt’s blog:

Wayne Swan specialises on perhaps this government’s defining characteristic – to meet argument with personal abuse. And there is no fouler example than this – Swan accusing miner Twiggy Forrest in 2011 of being a tax dodger for warning of exactly the flaw that has made Swan’s mining tax a colossal flop:

Wayne Swan has accused mining magnate Andrew ‘’Twiggy’’ Forrest of trying to avoid paying tax, describing as ‘’bunkum’’ new analysis suggesting the world’s biggest miners would get a free ride under Labor’s mining tax..

Mr Forrest said new analysis by accounting firm BDO revealed Treasury forecasts of an $11 billion budget boost from the MRRT were an ‘’absolute fiction’’.

He said tax would allow the world’s biggest miners to wipe out Australia’s smallest because of the huge deductions available for the industry’s biggest players

EXACTLY what I argued back in 2011. A mining tax, designed by the Big 3 foreign-owned multinationals, behind closed doors, with the local miners locked out, in cahoots with the traitorous Gillard and Swan, one that enables the Big 3 to increase their oligopoly over the Australian mining industry, at the expense of far smaller, locally-owned competitors.

And claim tax credits and deductions for doing so.

When Frustration Over Politicians’ Deceit Spills Over

19 Apr

Regular readers know that there is far, far more to the story of the mining tax, and the knifing of popularly-elected PM Kevin Rudd, than what has been presented by politicians and the mainstream media.

[see Swan's Anti-Australian Rant A Smokescreen For Treason; also The Galactic Hypocrisy Of Wayne Swan; also What Your TV Will Leave Out Of The Clive Palmer "CIA" Sound Bites]

Indeed, it is a veritable cesspool of international intrigue, plutocratic coercion and bribery, treason, and geopolitical manipulation.

So I am confident that many readers will, as I do, closely identify with the profound sense of frustration felt by all those who are awake to the far-reaching implications of the lies and deceit at the core of Australian politics; a frustration well enunciated here by Daily Telegraph writer Joe Hildebrand (h/t readers “Kevin Moore” and Twitter follower @Prronto for the link):

Swan Lied To Parliament, Must Resign Or Be Sacked

5 Apr

From Hansard, 22 November 2011 (emphasis added):

WAYNE SWAN (Lilley, Australian Labor Party, Treasurer) -

There is no greater engine room of jobs in our economy than small businesses. We have 2.7 million small businesses in this country and they employ a lot of Australians. Putting in place the $6,500 instant asset write-off is a big job generator for small business and a big job generator for our economy. If those opposite vote against a $6,500 instant asset write-off, that will be a very dark day for those in the party of Menzies who think they stand for small business—the party that Mr Menzies described as standing for the strivers, the planners and ambitious small businesses. That is where we stand on this side of the House. We stand for the strivers, the planners and those with ambition in our economy. That is why we stand for a significant tax cut to small business. But it is a measure of how negative those opposite have become. It is a measure of how far they will go to wreck sensible policy proposals that they could oppose a tax cut for small business. We on this side of the House also stand for working Australians and a big boost to their superannuation funded by the profits of 20 or 30 superprofitable mining companies* and, by and large, supported by the mining companies.

The Leader of the Opposition gave a speech last night about economic policies. I would call it the magic pudding speech. He claimed he had fiscal discipline and then announced he was going to abolish a tax paid by the 20 most profitable companies in the country. He wants to spend more, save less and have bigger surpluses. That is a magic pudding and it shows how unqualified and unfit for office those opposite are.

So, Tony Abbott said that he would abolish “a tax paid by the 20 most profitable companies in the country”, did he?

Sound plausible to you?

It didn’t sound plausible to me.

MacroBusiness blogger “The Prince” (Twitter @ThePrinceMB) very kindly provided me with the following list of the Top 20 companies on the ASX, ranked by Return On Equity (ROE):

Source: The Prince, macrobusiness.com.au | Click to enlarge

Quite clearly, the “20 most profitable companies in Australia” are not all mining companies.

Indeed, 12 of the top 20 most profitable companies are not mining companies at all. A 13th and 14th are gold miners, thus not subject to the MRRT. A 15th is a nickel miner, thus not subject to the MRRT. A 16th and 17th are copper + gold miners, thus not subject to the MRRT. An 18th is a small mining explorer, thus not subject to the MRRT. A 19th is an oil and gas company, thus not subject to the MRRT. In fact, there is only one (1) company in the Top 20 most profitable companies in Australia that is a miner subject to the MRRT – Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group.

Wayne lied to Parliament. According to the Westminster conventions, he must resign.

If he will not resign, Gillard must sack him.

Even if we give Wayne the widest possible latitude for error, and say that he meant “the 20 biggest companies in Australia”, he still lied:

Source: The Prince, macrobusiness.com.au | Click to enlarge

That’s the Top 28 companies in Australia, ranked by market capitalisation.

There can be no plausible excuse for Wayne’s lie.

He is the nation’s Treasurer, and had been so for over 4 years at the time of making this statement to Parliament.

He is the purported architect of the mining tax, the topic upon which he was speaking.

So there can be no excuse that he “didn’t know”, that he misled the Parliament “unintentionally”.

Wayne Swan is arguably the government’s worst offender when it comes to engaging in rank sophistry. Including putting words in other people’s mouths, and then attacking what they did not say.  It is a delightful irony (or simply karma?) that he was doing precisely that, putting words in Tony Abbott’s mouth and attacking him for it, when he lied to Parliament.

Wayne Swan has a long and inglorious track record of lying and deceiving. As oft-documented on this blog.

It is long past time that his lies caught up with him.

Over to you, Mr Abbott.

* This is a second lie. The increase in compulsory superannuation is NOT being paid for by the MRRT at all. It will be paid for by employers. The largest employer in Australia is small business, a significant number of whom are not registered corporations, and so will not benefit from the tiny company tax cut that the government claims will be funded by the MRRT. According to the Hansard, many other government ministers have repeated this particular lie in Parliament – the subject of a future post ( h/t Twitter follower @Prronto ).

Too Little Too Late

30 Mar

[h/t for video to wakeup2thelies]

Great, isn’t it?

As we have seen in last week’s post on the too-high AUD, and again in today’s post on the mining tax, it seems that it is only after a problem is created, only after diabolical, and/or idiotic, and/or treasonous legislation is actually passed into law, that the legislation starts to receive any serious scrutiny and criticism from the “experts”. And, for that criticism to be prominently and neutrally reported by the mainstream media.

From AAP via Business Spectator:

Murray launches attack on ALP policy

The outgoing chairman of the Future Fund has launched a stinging attack on the Gillard government ahead of his departure next week.

David Murray described the carbon tax as the worst piece of economic reform he had seen in his life, warning it would be very bad for the economy.

It would raise costs within Australia and reduce the export competitiveness of energy-related commodities.

Speaking on ABC radio, he also fired a shot at the mining tax, saying it was “clumsily” designed and introduced.

“The timing at the top of the terms of trade was not good,” he said.

UPDATE:

Ummmm … hasn’t the government been tirelessly claiming that households will not be worse off under the CO2 derivatives scam, because of the “compensation” package?

The unions disagree:

Unions want wage increase to offset carbon tax

A group representing the Australian Services Union and Queensland Public Sector Union plans to factor in the cost of the carbon tax during bargaining negotiations with the Queensland government later this year, arguing the tax will raise the cost of living for their members, according to a report by The Australian.

The Together group, representing the two unions, were supporters of the carbon tax, but now say the $8 billion household compensation package would not cover the cost of the carbon tax for their workers.

“They are compensating 60 per cent of people for some of it,” Union secretary Alex Scott said, according to The Australian. “That’s far from full compensation. We want to make sure we don’t go backwards in terms of cost of living.”

The prospect of carbon tax costs factoring into union wage negotiations has sparked growing concerns among employers over fears the new tax will cause a ripple effect that will raise the cost of production and labour beyond expectations.

UPDATE 2:

From the Australian:

OUTGOING Future Fund chairman David Murray has condemned Labor’s carbon tax as “the worst piece of economic reform I have ever seen in my life”.

Mr Murray, who has also lashed the Gillard government’s mining tax, warned the tax would undermine the nation’s competitiveness and damage the economy.

“If you want me to tell you my view, it is the worst piece of economic reform I have ever seen in my life in Australia,” he told ABC radio this morning.

“The consequence of introducing that tax at that level in Australia today is very, very bad for this economy, particularly in terms of international competitiveness.

I Was Right – Mining Tax The Greens’ Pit Of Despair

30 Mar

Back in December, a mining industry executive walked your humble blogger through the details of the GilSwan mining tax. He helped us all to see that Julia and Wayne have done it again. The mining tax is a high farce. One that will produce the opposite result of what the Government – and especially the Greens – have proclaimed.

Far from “spreading the wealth” of the mining boom, we saw that the MRRT will help the Big 3 foreign miners to increase their oligopoly, at the expense of local miners. And, it will smash another yawning chasm in the government’s budget. Making us all poorer (see GilSwan Conned – Mining Tax The Greens’ Pit Of Despair).

Now … 3 months later … after the legislation has passed into law … “expert” analysts have come to a very similar conclusion.

From The Australian (emphasis added):

BHP, Rio tax take forecasts ‘too high’

THE Gillard government’s forecast of $10.6 billion in revenue from the mining tax over the next three years is looking increasingly shaky, after expert modelling by three investment banks found the nation’s biggest miners would pay much less than expected from July 1.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs estimate that the world’s biggest mining company, BHP Billiton, would pay just $443 million under the minerals resource rent tax in the next financial year.

Modelling by UBS suggests rival miner Rio Tinto would pay a minimum of $US472m ($454m) on its dominant Hamersley iron ore unit in Western Australia, which would fall to zero after three years.

Meanwhile, analysts at investment bank Credit Suisse said their modelling had shown that Fortescue Metals Group, the nation’s other big iron ore producer, would have a maximum potential MRRT liability of $US200m in 2014 but this would fall away in later years.

The Gillard government has said previously that the three big miners who helped design the MRRT – BHP, Rio and Xstrata – were expected to account for 90 per cent of the revenue.

It is counting on raising $3.7bn from the MRRT next year but analysts doubt whether this is possible given the massive deductions available to the big miners that recognise the tens of billions of dollars they have spent on their operations over decades.

Revenue is also likely to be affected by falling commodity prices, a higher Australian dollar and rising costs since Treasury released its latest MRRT projections in May last year.

Any shortfall in MRRT revenue poses a significant risk to the government’s budget position because Wayne Swan has committed the $10.6bn over three years to superannuation reforms, company tax cuts, small business instant asset writeoffs and regional infrastructure funding.

*shakes head sorrowfully*

[ Insert perjorative of reader's choice here ]

The Simple Way To Tell That The Mining Tax And Carbon Tax Are Unconstitutional

22 Mar

“By their words you shall know them.”

What is the biggest red flag alerting you to the likelihood that a government bill is unconstitutional?

When the wording of a government bill repeatedly insists that it is in compliance with a section of the Constitution.

Or, when the bill repeatedly insists that it does not do something, or is not something, that would constitute a breach of the Constitution.

Because if it were in keeping with the Constitution, then there would be no need whatsoever to say anything.

This is not just the rational surmising of your humble blogger.

A constitutional law expert agrees.

From Yahoo!7 News (emphasis added):

Government facing mining tax revolt

… [Macquarie University's] Dr [Margaret] Kelly not only thinks Fortescue will get a hearing but that it has a decent shot at winning the case.

“Given the shortness of the Act, the lack of definitions in the Act, and the very general nature of the Act, then I, if I were the Commonwealth, wouldn’t be as hopeful as apparently the Prime Minister currently is,” she said.

She says challenges made under section 114 of the Constitution would attract serious consideration by the High Court.

The fact that each of these acts purports to say the Act does not impose a tax on the property of the states, I think, quite clearly raises that question unambiguously.

“The acts in their various forms also raise the question of, is this really a tax as opposed to being, as I say, a pecuniary penalty or some kind of fee?

“That too is a constitutional question.”

Dr Kelly is right.

In the 425 page (!?!) Explanatory Memorandum to the 288 page Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011, we find the following (emphasis added):

Imposing the MRRT

3.31    The MRRT is imposed by three different imposition Bills. One imposes MRRT to the extent that it is a duty of customs [section 3, MRRT customs imposition Bill]; one imposes MRRT to the extent that it is a duty of excise [section 3, MRRT excise imposition Bill]; and one imposes MRRT to the extent that it is neither a duty of customs nor one of excise [section 3, MRRT general imposition Bill]. This reflects the constitutional requirement that laws imposing duties of customs shall deal only with duties of customs and that laws imposing duties of excise shall deal only with duties of excise (see section 55 of the Constitution). However, there is only one assessment Act.

“This reflects the constitutional requirement” does it?  Utter bollocks!  What it “reflects”, is Australian governments’ now standard method of circumventing the clear wording and plainly obvious intent of the authors of the Constitution. I for one have no doubt whatsoever that when the authors of our Constitution wrote section 55, they certainly did NOT do so with the intent that every new tax, customs duty, or excise duty, should require the separate drafting and passage through both houses of Parliament of multiple, interdependent but at the same time, mutually-contradictory bills defining the new impost as being (1) not a tax, (2) a duty of customs, (3) a duty of excise, and (4) neither a duty of customs nor a duty of excise. To suggest otherwise is risible, and would be to assume that the authors of the Constitution wanted to make it as complicated and difficult as possible for government to impose genuine taxes, customs duties, and excise duties. No dear reader – the true reason why Australian governments (both “sides”) use this multiple interdependent but mutually-contradictory bills technique, is plainly obvious: their new imposts are not taxes, customs duties, or excise duties. They are unconstitutional money grabs … and they know it.

3.33    MRRT is not imposed on property belonging to a State. That ensures that the MRRT complies with section 114 of the Constitution, which prohibits the Commonwealth from imposing a tax on any kind of property of a State. In practice, this will only have an effect to the extent that a State mines its own taxable resources. In that case, the State will not be subject to MRRT.

Sorry BrownGilSwan.

Sorry Big Three multinational mining oligopoly PM-removers and tax-dodge designers.

Your saying so, does not make it so.

Indeed, the opposite is true.

Your saying so, almost certainly makes it not so.

Previously, we have seen exactly the same blatant Constitution-sidestepping ruse used in the 19 different bills and 1,000+ pages of the Clean Energy Future 2011 legislation:

Charge payable

(10) If a carbon unit is issued to a person in accordance with this section, the person is liable to pay a charge for the issue of the unit.

(11) Subsection (10) has effect only so far as it is not a law imposing taxation within the meaning of section 55 of the Constitution.

Note: See also:
(a) Part 2 of the Clean Energy (Charges—Excise) Act 2011; and
(b) the Clean Energy (Unit Issue Charge—General) Act 2011.

Compare …

Clean Energy (Charges – Excise) Act 2011

A Bill for an Act to impose charges associated with the Clean Energy Act 2011, so far as those charges are duties of excise

And compare …

Clean Energy (Unit Issue Charge – General) Act 2011

A Bill for an Act to impose charges associated with the Clean Energy Act 2011, so far as those charges are not duties of excise

The government’s bills for the mining tax, and the carbon tax, are not unlike a spoilt domineering child trying to get its own way.

Fingers inserted in ears.

Eyes screwed tightly shut.

And insisting, “It IS it IS it IS it IS it IS!”

Or, “It’s NOT it’s NOT it’s NOT it’s NOT it’s NOT!”

Basic rule of life, dear reader.

Listen very, very carefully to a government’s words.

Then ask yourself, “What is the opposite of what they have said?”

The opposite, is far more likely to be the truth.

Conversations With The Constitution

21 Mar

Sometime in 2004, your humble blogger was waiting for a flight at Melbourne airport and went in search of something interesting to read.

Leading constitutional law expert Professor Greg Craven‘s cleverly written “Conversations With The Constitution: Not Just A Piece Of Paper” made a long wait for a short flight highly entertaining, frequently amusing, and genuinely enlightening.

Professor Craven has now added his voice to that of constitutional barrister Bryan Pape, and the legal counsels of self-made Aussie miners Clive Palmer and Andrew Forrest, in publicly stating that the Green-Labor government’s mining tax, and carbon tax, are indeed open to challenge as being in breach of the Australian Constitution.

Interestingly, Professor Craven indirectly refers to the very same sections of the Constitution that your humble blogger has long cited as having been deliberately circumvented by the government in legislating their new “taxes” (emphasis added):

Constitutional law expert Greg Craven said it was also likely the MRRT would face twin legal challenges by states and mining companies.

The Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor said the states could challenge the new laws on the grounds that they interfered with resources rights.

A mining company could argue the tax interfered with its property without just terms, he said.

There are a lot of arguments that could be raised,” he said.

“It’s a little bit like the carbon tax, there are some laws that are born to be challenged because they are so complicated.”

It is very likely it will end up in court but what will happen there is much more unpredictable.”

Professor Craven said such a legal challenge could potentially take years to resolve.

As we have seen previously (“GilSwan Conned – Mining Tax The Greens’ Pit Of Despair”), the mining tax is a farcical Trojan Horse, designed by the Big 3 multinational miners, for the Big 3 multinational miners, in a secret and corrupt exclusive deal with Gillard and Swan, to increase the Big 3 foreigners’ oligopoly in Australia at the expense of their much smaller, locally-owned competitors.

And of course, regular readers know only too well that the carbon “tax” is nothing of the sort, but is in plain matter of fact another Trojan Horse; it is a CO2 derivatives scam, designed by bankers, for bankers.

Now that both “taxes” have been railroaded into law by the Greens and Labor, it has fallen to Mr Palmer and Mr Forrest to take up the legal fight against these laws, in the national interest:

Billionaire miner Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest says he is close to mounting a legal challenge to the Gillard government’s mining tax.

Mr Forrest said his listed company, Fortescue Metals, was not opposed to paying tax, but the minerals resource rent tax was “poorly designed” and biased against smaller miners.

“The minerals resource rent tax is unfair, narrowly based, complex, inefficient and will reduce investment and future jobs in the Australian mining industry,” a spokesman for Mr Forrest told The Australian Online.

“As Fortescue has previously advised, the company has engaged senior counsel and will commence legal proceedings after the legislation has been enacted and legal opinion has been finalised.”

The Australian Online understands Mr Forrest will urge smaller miners from the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies to join the proceedings.

Mining magnate Clive Palmer, who has vowed a High Court challenge against the government’s carbon tax, is yet to decide whether he wants become involved.

“One person can only do so much at one time,” he told The Australian Online.

“If I thought the mining tax bill was unconstitutional, I would mount a challenge.”

Finance Minister Penny Wong said she believed the mining tax would survive the challenge.

“We have sought legal advice and I am confident the minerals resource rent tax will withstand any challenge,” Senator Wong said.

However, Liberal Senator Mathias Cormann said the tax was likely to be scuttled.

“I have no doubt that Labor’s dodgy mining tax will be thrown out by the High Court just as their dodgy Malaysia people swap deal was thrown out by the High Court,” he said.

We shall see.

I for one have little faith in the wisdom, impartiality, or integrity, of the befrocked, high and mighty, “progressive” “intellectual” lawyers (need I say more?) who have risen above the ranks of their parasitic, ambulance-chasing brethren to preside over Australia’s so-called “justice” system. Like those special turds, that always float to the top.

Nevertheless, we live in hope. It would be very pleasing to see motions of injunction successfully filed against both “taxes”, prohibiting the government from handing out “compensation” payments etc, until after the legal challenge/s have been decided.

Indeed, it would be a sweet, sweet irony if a legal injunction stayed the executioner’s sword being brandished by this government over the economy … just as their 4-years-and-counting delay in the FWA investigation into Labor MP Craig Thomson has stayed the executioner’s sword being brandished by the Australian public over this government.

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