A Lode of Influence

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(5 votes)

Little known fact: when the Australian economy first began to ride on the sheep’s back in the 1890s, sheep farmers used their political muscle to gain important wins that would ultimately benefit their industry and improve their profits. Indeed, Bill Abbott (no relation to Tony) was both a sheep farmer and a politician who, as president of the Pastoralists’ Federal Council, led an anti-shearer union charge that effectively brought an end to the Australian Shearers’ Strike of 1891 in favour of the farm owners.

Now that Australia rides on the miners’ back it seems history repeats as powerful miners aim to use their influence and resources to change the Australian political scene to benefit their interests. 

But the political game played between mining and government isn’t always a one-sided affair.

The Australian government in recent times has had a great deal to say about how mining companies should operate and where their profits should go.    

In 2001 mining companies were paying nearly 40% of their profits as royalties to state governments. When Julia Gillard stole into office in 2010 she determined that imposing a Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) would be her first priority. The MRRT was introduced to replace the previous Resources Super Profits Tax but was basically the same thing: another way of imposing a hefty tax on the miners to fill the coffers of the Australian government.  

But, according to www.mining-tax.com, the mining tax wasn’t just designed to bolster government spending. Modelling by Treasury revealed that the mining tax would mean an extra $450 in every Australian worker’s wallet yearly. According to the website, a super profits mining tax means the cost of food decreases by nearly 1%, clothing and footwear by 1.3%, housing by 1.1% and transportation by 1.7%.

mining-tax-dump

Yet, according to Ian Macfarlane in an interview conducted by minetalk in June this year, the previous government’s attempts to levy taxes on the big miners proved far from successful.

“The mining tax is collecting about a tenth of what [Labor] originally projected and [they] were actually looking at spending a good proportion of that money on various programs around Australia - none of which have come to fruition,” said Mr Macfarlane.

With a change in government comes a possible change in fortune for Australian miners.

Recently, CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia, Mitch Hooke, urged the new coalition government to keep its promise to scrap both the mining and carbon taxes so as to reinvigorate the Australian mining industry and instill renewed confidence in Australia as an investment destination.

“The introduction of the carbon tax was a significant policy mistake. It loaded Australia's economy with unsustainable costs,” said Mr Hooke.

“They are simply deadweight costs that none of Australia's minerals export competitors face. These costs undermine value and reduce Australia's international competitiveness at a time when all business costs are increasing,” he said.

The Minerals Council of Australia is the modern day equivalent of the Federal Pastoralists’ Council as it flexes its considerable political muscle to protect the interests of companies like BHP, Rio Tinto and Glencore Xstrata that generate most of Australia's mining output.

Indeed, it was the Minerals Council that launched a multi-billion dollar media attack on the previous incarnation of the government’s mining super profits tax.

Big business and big government have always had a love-hate relationship in Australian history.

It now seems that a twerking, dinosaur-loving mining magnate in the form of Clive Palmer will hold a considerable amount of influence over the Australian senate.

PUP (Palmer United Party) scored the last senate seat in Tasmania Wednesday morning (25/9) and its leader is awaiting a recount to be officially confirmed as a Member of Parliament.

After having a go at the Australian Electorate Commission for requiring the recount of votes because he won by less than 100, Palmer told ABC news that he looked forward to becoming Australia’s first FIFO MP. Clive says he intends to fly in to Canberra on his private jet the morning of parliamentary sitting days and then fly back out at night.

The billionaire mine owner, who was hopefull about becoming Prime Minister,  has surely held the fascination of the mainstream media of late but now it seems Mr Palmer is set to hold true political power as well.

clive-p-politics

In order to pass its legislation, the Coalition will have to court a majority of the independents in the senate. Holding two of eight independent seats in the senate gives PUP the power to shoot down policies by vetoing any proposed bill. 

Once again the Australian government could be at the behest of the owners of companies that effectively drive the Australian economy.

In a political sphere dominated by faceless men and backroom deals why don’t we just cut to the chase and promote Clive to PM or better yet install Gina as Queen?

have-your-say-button

Written By:

MINETALK TWITTER

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Minetalk Poll

Is the mining boom in Australia over?

Is the mining boom in Australia over?

No, it's just media hype.
Yes as a result of lower demand.
There will be a second boom.
Still plenty of resources.
1 Votes left

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