Green Left fighting fund: Tax the rich, welfare for the needy!

May 8, 2010

Much of the public discussion on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s proposed tax reforms — made in response to the Henry tax review — has centred on the projected 40% tax on “super-profits” in the mining industry. Most people probably agree that the big mining multinationals could afford to contribute a lot more to the public purse.

The mining bosses, however, don't agree and have declared war on the tax. Indeed, mining magnate Clive Palmer has stated he will spend “the rest of his life” campaigning against the tax because he “wants to create jobs”. Treasurer Wayne Swan responded: “Clive Palmer acts in the interests of his own fat profits, he doesn’t act in the interest of the Australian people.”

It’s bizarre when you find yourself nodding in agreement with pro-capitalist politicians.

The mining industry’s fear campaign about the tax is, of course, a complete crock. The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union said the tax “doesn't stop any current mine or proposed mine being profitable for their investors”. So really Clive, there’s no need to worry.

Less public discussion has centred on what the Henry tax review exposes about the existing Australian tax system.

Professor Julian Disney, director of the Social Justice Project at the University of New South Wales and convenor of TaxWatch, wrote on May 4: “The Henry tax review acknowledges, albeit without fanfare, the rampant ‘welfare for the wealthy’ which lurks within the Australian tax system.

“Superannuation tax concessions cost the federal budget about as much as age pensions. Housing tax breaks cost at least five times as much as public housing and rent assistance.

“If these tax concessions were paid as cash, like social security, their size and damaging impacts would be better understood.

“This under-cover, upside-down welfare system hugely boosts the wealth of people who are already wealthy, while depriving public revenue of billions of dollars for investment in hospitals, schools, transport etc to benefit middle and lower-income Australians.”

Please help GLW in the fight to shift the tax burden away from working people and on to the rich. We need to struggle not only against the shameless, profits-driven approach of the mining bosses, but also the underlying injustice of the tax system that provides so much welfare for the wealthy.

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