Sunday, February 24, 2013

Time to target the rapacious mining monopolies!

Vanguard March 2013 p. 5
Max O.

After enormous public pressure to reveal how much revenue the Federal Government has managed to raise from its Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT), Treasurer Swan finally conceded and released the fact that the MRRT collected a measly $126 million in the first 6 months.

The Minerals Resource Rent Tax has been exposed as a miserable flop.

Previously, the Government, to avoid embarrassment over the pitiful amount its MRRT has collected, insisted it couldn't separate out mining tax revenue from its other resource rent tax receipts, such as the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax, arguing that the Tax Office would breach taxpayer confidentiality.

Swan blamed external factors, "... the huge drop in commodity prices and the higher Australian dollar had a huge impact on all of our profits-based taxes." He conveniently ignored the tax deductions that the mining monopolies wrote-up for themselves in the MRRT; writing-off exploration and investment costs, refunding State mining royalties and that the MRRT only applies to iron ore and coal mining.

Obviously the Liberal opposition wants to scrap it; fortunately the Greens want to ramp it up. The Liberals gloated over the latest desperate attempt by the Government to cover up the massive failure that is Labor's mining tax, and shamefully declared they will carry out the mining industry's bidding to end the MRRT.

On the other hand, the Greens described the revenue collection as "shockingly low" and demanded the Labor Government make substantial changes to the tax.

They contend that state royalty increases should not be refunded by the Federal Government, that the tax rate should be increased to 40%, and that the coverage of the tax be broadened to include other minerals.

Green's leader, Senator Milne stated the awful truth: "This is a Government that said it was prepared to take on the mining industry, but now what we've seen is that the miners once again had a big win over Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan in the negotiation of this tax."

Campaign to share benefits of mining - “Let’s Spread it Around”

The Queensland and Western Australia branches of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) launched a national advertising campaign, in Brisbane and Perth on January 28th, to demand a greater share of the mining boom. The campaign focuses on maintaining jobs for Australian workers, more investment in mining communities and improved management of the impacts on manufacturing and construction.

The campaign is called, “Let’s Spread it Around” and focuses on the stories of four Australians and how the mining boom has impacted on them. The CFMEU launched a dedicated website to provided facts about what is really happening in the mining industry and what the mining monopolies are up to. 

The “Let’s Spread it Around” campaign points out that the mining boom might have created opportunities for some Australians, but it has left many more behind, badly hurting job-rich sectors such as manufacturing, tourism and education.

It states that while thousands of Queenslanders are losing their jobs, and unemployment has leapt to 6.2%, big mining companies want to bring in temporary overseas workers to build and operate their mines. The clear intention of this action is to reduce labour costs and conditions.
The same applies for Western Australia, where unemployment has climbed to 4.3%, despite the boom, and youth unemployment continues to be a major issue, while the big mining companies use claims of a skills shortage to bring in temporary workers.

The CFMEU believes many mining communities are also missing out on the community resources they deserve. The union argues that people from mining communities suffer from the high cost of living, and that the lack of amenities put a strain on local infrastructure.

Mining companies rely heavily on Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) and Drive-in Drive-Out (DIDO) workers. These workers report high levels of stress and there is a high level of turnover; one out of three FIFO workers do not last 12 months in the job.

The mining boom has also led to a historically-high Australian dollar, which is hurting manufacturing industries. The high Australian dollar has seen our exports fall and imports of cheap and often inferior products coming into the country on the increase. This is why the CFMEU is demanding the Federal Government make sure that local projects, in particular mining operations, use local products.

There is also a community petition to raise the tax on the mining corporations’ super profits to 40%. See

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