1% News: Tony Abbott worries for BHP Billiton’s profits

Tony Abbott.

Abbott concerned for BHP Billiton’s profits

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has asked Prime Minister Julia Gillard to promise to never apply its new mining tax to gold, copper and uranium. The June 13 International Business Times said Abbott sought the assurance “on behalf of BHP Billiton”, the world’s third biggest company.

Abbott said he wanted to clear the way for BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam gold, copper and uranium mine expansion in South Australia. He said: “I want to do everything I humanly can to help this expansion to go ahead.”

IBT said BHP Billiton has warned the expansion may not go ahead because of the “future danger of profit erosion due to expanded taxes or more new taxes”.

In February, the company posted a half-year profit of $9.2 billion: about seven times Tasmania’s 2012/13 health budget.

Most oppose mining company tax breaks

An April poll showed 91% of Australians think the mining company tax breaks should be instead spent on health and education. Seventy seven percent of those polled said the federal government should scrap the tax fuel rebate, which gives big mining companies tax credit handouts of about $2 billion a year.

Australian Conservation Foundation’s Don Henry said: “The $2 billion that mining companies get every year in fuel tax credits handouts is more than double the federal budget allocation for environmental protection and more than six times the funding for national parks.”

Bank interest rate delays rake in millions

Australia’s big banks make millions for each day they delay passing on Reserve Bank interest rate cuts, said the June 14 Age.

Since May last year, The Age said the big banks have taken, on average, 6.8 days to pass on interest rate rises, but have spun out rate cuts to 10.6 days.

The Australia Institute’s David Richardson said: “There's a big financial incentive for the banks to delay cuts and be fairly hasty on the increases. From our estimates, every day they delay … the big four banks save $6.2 million.”

German finance minister cannot spare Greek poor

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on June 13 that although he “really had huge sympathy for the man on the street in Greece” he could not “spare” them a minimum wage cut, the BBC reported.

He said: “In a crisis... the little man suffers and the rich feather their own nests. It is not easy to cut the minimum wage in Greece, when you think of the many people who own a yacht.”

Despite this, he said the Greek minimum wage “must fall” still further. In February, an unelected Greek government cut the minimum wage by 22%, or 32% for those under 25.

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