The billionaires and their corporate courtiers had a sneer and snigger fest when BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Rio Tinto informed the Tax Office they would pay zero mining tax for the first quarter of this financial year.
The federal Labor government's mid-year budget update downgraded the tax's forecast revenue from $13.4 billion over four years to $9.1 billion. But these mining giants told the media it was not clear how much, if anything, they would pay over the rest of the financial year.
What a sorry end to the mining super-tax profits saga.
The original proposal under Kevin Rudd's ALP government was for a "Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) from July 1, 2012 at a rate of 40% on profits made from the exploitation of Australia’s non‐renewable resources”. The RSPT was to replace the crude oil excise and offered credits to companies for royalties paid to state governments.
It was a proposal for a modest impost on mining, recommended in the pro-business Henry Tax Review, made as mining industry profits had soared while resource taxes and royalties as a proportion of mining profits had fallen.
There is a spectacular graph of this in the 2010 government paper The Resource Super Profits Tax: A Fairer return To The Nation, which said the “effective resource charge (charges as a percentage of super profits earned) has halved from an average of around 34% over the first half of this decade to less than 14% in 2008-09”.
What happened after that is well known. The mining companies launched a $22 million propaganda blitzkrieg and the mining billionaires went on their first street protest. PM Julia Gillard and the ALP hacks launched the coup against Rudd and promptly did a deal with the mining companies.
The shadow of a mining tax that came out of this would be only a 30% tax on "super profits" from the mining of iron ore and coal in Australia. Many conditions and rebates were introduced.
The mining companies exploited these loopholes to avoid paying a single cent.
The Liberal-National governments in WA, NSW and Queensland helped skewer Gillard's fake mining tax by bumping up their royalties.
Even with lower commodity prices, BHP Billiton announced a $14.7 billion profit this year. Even as iron ore prices begin to rise again, BHP Billiton boss Marius Kloppers has still put his hand out for more tax and regulation exemptions.
The rest of the corporate thieves are demanding a further company tax cut (already reduced since the 1980s from 49% to 30%) that was supposed to be funded by the proceeds from the mining tax.
This sorry saga demonstrates once again that we live in a corporate kleptocracy with governments doing the bidding of the billionaires.
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