Cham­ber’s cam­paign ‘bul­ly­ing’

Pilbara News - - Opinion - Gary Slee Kar­ratha

The Cham­ber of Min­er­als and En­ergy of WA and its iron ore com­pany back­ers are tak­ing us for fools.

With its iron ore tax mar­ket­ing cam­paign, the CME is cross­ing the line into bul­ly­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

It is in­ter­fer­ing with ba­sic po­lit­i­cal pro­cesses us­ing fear-of-loss scare tac­tics.

In the in­ter­est of dis­clo­sure, I am not a mem­ber of a po­lit­i­cal party.

The State of Western Aus­tralia al­lowed and en­abled iron ore com­pa­nies to de­velop and run prof­itable op­er­a­tions.

The iron ore com­pa­nies are be­holden to the State, not the other way around.

I sup­port pri­vate en­ter­prise, but not when pri­vate en­ter­prise has the smell of a “ren­tier”, of want­ing more — to gain fur­ther prof­its from things like tax breaks, mo­nop­o­lis­ing ac­cess to re­sources, re­duc­ing sup­port and con­tri­bu­tions to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and the State.

The CME is not sin­cere in its mar­ket­ing claims.

The spe­cial lease levy of 25¢ per tonne and the 7.5 per cent ad val­orem roy­alty rep­re­sent the cost of the prod­uct pur­chased by the com­pa­nies from the State. These are not taxes. The com­pa­nies have dras­ti­cally cut work­force num­bers as a re­sult of global dy­nam­ics — not be­cause of lo­cal taxes or cost of prod­uct.

They have lim­ited scope for more worker cut­backs, with op­er­a­tions run­ning at full ca­pac­ity. Fever­ish in­tro­duc­tion of ro­bot­ics and ma­chine learn­ing will fur­ther de­hu­man­ise their op­er­a­tions. Over time, more jobs will go. The re­cent cut­backs and con­tin­ued de­hu­man­is­ing is sig­nif­i­cantly cut­ting em­ployee pay­roll tax paid to the State and em­ployee in­come tax paid to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

The iron ore com­pa­nies are in re­al­ity a small num­ber of se­nior man­agers and di­rec­tors.

They pri­ori­tise them­selves and prof­its for share­hold­ers — the vi­a­bil­ity of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and the State is not a pri­or­ity.

If prof­itabil­ity is a con­cern, they could, as a first step, halve their salary pack­ages.

By con­tin­u­ing to de­hu­man­ise op­er­a­tions, iron ore com­pa­nies should pay a com­pen­satory in­crease in the cost of the iron ore prod­uct.

If prof­itabil­ity is a con­cern, they could, as a first step, halve their salary pack­ages.

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