Tag Archives: resources super-profits tax

Surpluses By Sophists

13 May

Stephen Bartholomeusz at Business Spectator shines a brilliant, all-revealing light on the Rudd Labor “return to surplus”. Unsurprisingly, he shows that the government’s latest budget is really just an exercise in pure political sophistry:

Wayne Swan might claim that the Federal Budget wasn’t a political document but the lengths the government has gone to so it is able to forecast a $1 billion surplus in 2012-13 while still being able to announce some popular pre-election spending tends to contradict his stance. In fact the budget represents a very clever political strategy.

It is a strategy built on the mislabelled resource super profits tax and the increase in tobacco excise announced just ahead of the budget. Without those taxes the surplus wouldn’t have arrived three years earlier than originally forecast, assuming it does arrivethe whole budget is predicated on a massive windfall from the terms of trade generated by a continuing book in commodities.

The really clever bit is that Swan and Rudd know that the opposition can’t support the RSPT, at least in its present form.

By dedicating the revenues they say they will raise from that tax to spending on health, superannuation, cuts to company taxes et al they appear to have funded the core of their platform and will be able to go into the election with the cloak of fiscal rectitude – even though the detail of the tax and the actual revenue it will raise, if any, won’t be known until after the election.

The opposition, therefore, if it wants to match the government in terms of fiscal credibility and deliver that surplus in three year’s time, will start at least $12 billion behind it. It will either have to propose slashing spending or raising taxes, or both to fill in that gap.

The government is presumably betting that the RSPT and its attack on greedy miners and their foreign owners will play favourably in the electorate, particularly as the tax will be dedicated to probably popular measures. So, the opposition will be accused of supporting big miners and opposing worthy spending if it opposes the tax and the measures it is supposed to fund.

After the election, of course, if the Rudd government were returned, their planned protracted ‘consultation’ with the resource sector could, and almost certainly will, lead to significant changes to the detail of the tax.

However, while it might look like clever politics, the RSPT is destructive economics which is going to have a chilling effect on resource industry investment until it is finalised and certainty is restored and which will have long-term and damaging implications for perceptions of sovereign risk and Australia’s attitude towards foreign investment and investors, given the way the sector was ambushed by the nature of the tax and the language the government has used in promoting it.

Whether the tax is ultimately imposed in its current form or redesigned, it won’t raise the revenue the government is claiming it will to get to that $1 billion surplus and, in the meantime an increasingly angry resource sector is telling the world that Australia is now a less attractive and less stable destination for mining sector investment – direct or portfolio.

The RSPT might represent a clever political strategy but the way it has been unveiled and the anti-industry and xenophobic language the government has used to leverage the political mileage in it is increasingly damaging to the national interest.

Regions Lose Under Budget

12 May

Media Release – Senator Barnaby Joyce, 12 May 2010:

Senator Barnaby Joyce asked today, “What has regional Australia been given in this budget?”

“Australia is heading toward a peak debt position, so the Labor Party tells us, of $222 billion. However, they are so totally unbelievable with every other prediction they make, you can take this prediction with a grain of salt.

Their plan to pay for their stuff ups comes from another attack on the mining wealth of regional Australia. Trouble is the stuff ups seem to be continuing at break neck pace. The Labor Party has managed to avoid this absurd form of economics since the attempt to nationalise the banks in 1949.

If you tax the mining profits to 57 per cent, the mining companies will be sure to be highly motivated to do one of two things. Move their operation to somewhere else or move their profits somewhere else. With the presence of vertically integrated cross border mining companies in Australia, this will not be as hard as some think. The trick will be how you trace profits. I can see a lot of hard work and brave souls that will have to exist in the tax department if this tax ever comes in.

The only sensible thing to do is to stop the tax. Mining has provided many regional areas with a once in a lifetime chance for development and the Labor Party has once more become a  parasite on the benefits.

If the Labor Party was interested in getting a fair deal for regional Australia, they would have announced in the budget a plan to return some of these extra funds to the areas where they were generated.

This budget is yet another promise the Australian people are expected to believe even though the Labor party has never got within a bulls roar of being an economically responsible government.

This time we’re supposed to believe they will be earnest, just like when they were earnest about the ‘greatest moral challenge of our time’,” said Senator Joyce.

More Information- Jenny Swan 0438 578 402

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