Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Foreign mining corporations bare their teeth in the WA elections

Max O.

Vanguard holds little or no confidence in whichever political party holds seats in Australia's parliaments. Marx commented 165 years ago that there is no hope of anything useful, let alone liberation or socialism, coming through parliament. He called the institution, parliamentary cretinism. 

Friedrich Engels succinctly put it as follows: 'Parliamentary cretinism' is an incurable disease, an ailment whose unfortunate victims are permeated by the lofty conviction that the whole world, its history and its future are directed and determined by a majority of votes of just that very representative institution that has the honour of having them in the capacity of its members.'

Under the capitalist mode of production and its accompanying class structure parliaments corrupt and debase democracy, because this institution is not there to challenge the rule of the bourgeoisie but to enforce their power over society. As Marx said:  "The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them."

The bourgeois class will crush any challenge

Consequently parliament operates to organise capital and disorganise labour/workers. However in times of crises some politicians can turn maverick and go outside the boundaries that are set for them in parliaments. 

Then the bourgeois ruling class quickly goes into action to thwart such occurrences. This happened with Brendon Grylls, leader of the Western Australian National Party. He lost his seat as a result of the mining industry that spent up to $5 million to defeat his party's proposed mining tax in the recent Western Australian state election. 

Grylls wanted to legislate that BHP and Rio Tinto pay an increase in mining royalties from 25 cents per tonne lease rental (an amount that hasn't changed since the 1960s) to $5 per tonne. His intention was to collect extra royalties of $3bn a year from the mining giants to ride down the state's debts and increase revenue for infrastructure works.

Not to the liking of the Barnett Liberal parliamentary party, Grylls had secured 25% of the state’s mining royalties for his Royalties for Regions program, a capital works scheme that was directed to rural and country Western Australia.

The Labor party won the seat off Grylls as a result of the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy running an endless advertising campaign. The incoming Labor government leader, Mark McGowan opposes raising the mining royalty because it "....would drive investment away from WA".

After the foreign-owned mining industry successfully bombarded the Rudd Federal government in 2010 with an $18bn media campaign against his Super Profit Mining Tax, which unseated him from the leadership, parliamentary parties have been intimidated not to touch this issue.

Parliamentary parties have been taught a severe lesson not to upset foreign investment and what is curiously called 'sovereign risk'. What parliament, the media and the foreign-owned mining giants conveniently ignore is the fact Australia's minerals, whether they be iron ore, bauxite, liquefied natural gas, oil etc, is a sovereign resource that belongs to the Australian people and should be paid for. These mining corporations get it virtually free.

Companies drilling for North Sea oil pay Norway a 78% tax rate on income; in contrast, Australia taxes mining companies at the rate of 28%, although much of this is avoided through profit shifting. In Norway the government receives 30% of its revenues from petroleum production.

How mining corporations exploit Australia

The mining giants bleed Australia dry in a variety of ways:

• Australia's mining sector is over 80% foreign owned, consequently most of this mining income leaks out of the country

• Nearly all of the equipment that miners buy comes from overseas

• Foreign-owned mining corporations are deeply into tax minimisation and move their profits offshore, professing to do their “business” in places like Singapore

• Through not having to pay the diesel fuel excise the mining giants receive a subsidy in the billions of dollars

• And if this isn't enough governments build infrastructure such as railways, ports etc to assist the foreign owned miners.

Once again Australians, and for that matter the former politician Brendon Grylls, have learned the salutary lesson that parliament belongs to the comprador bourgeois class who know not to tread on overseas imperialist toes.

Not only is the Liberal party a vehicle of capitalism but the Labor party as well, as both relentlessly carry out the political, economic and military commands of the world's biggest imperialist power, the United States.

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