Min­ing roy­alty hikes backed

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today -

THE Fed­eral Op­po­si­tion is back­ing the right of state gov­ern­ments to in­crease the roy­al­ties they col­lect from min­ing com­pa­nies, even if the hikes are ‘‘ in­ju­di­cious’’.

It has also warned that lofty ex­pec­ta­tions of a rev­enue bonanza from the Gil­lard gov­ern­ment’s planned min­er­als re­source rent tax ( MRRT) could lead to a struc­tural bud­get deficit.

The Gov­ern­ment ap­pears to have set­tled on a frame­work for the tax af­ter ac­cept­ing all 98 rec­om­men­da­tions of a pol­icy tran­si­tion group.

But leg­is­la­tion set­ting up the tax won’t be drafted un­til later in the year, prompt­ing scorn f rom Op­po­si­tion t rea­sury spokesman Joe Hockey.

‘‘ This is ver­sion four of the min­ing tax and it hasn’t even got to par­lia­ment,’’ he said yes­ter­day.

The lat­est ver­sion, based on a pre-elec­tion agree­ment be­tween the Gov­ern­ment and three of the nation’s big­gest min­ers – BHP Bil­li­ton, Rio Tinto and Xs­trata – in­cluded a ‘‘ blank cheque’’ for the state gov­ern­ments to raise min­ing roy­al­ties. The Gov­ern­ment pro­poses to credit the roy­al­ties coal and iron ore min­ers pay to the states against their MRRT li­a­bil­i­ties to the com­mon­wealth.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Tony Ab­bott said roy­al­ties were ef­fec­tively a re­sources rent tax.

‘‘ Let the com­mon­wealth get com­pany tax ( on prof­its) and the states take roy­al­ties,’’ he said, adding it was a form of op­pres­sion to take from peo­ple in the good times and not give it back in the bad times.

Mr Ab­bott backed the right of state gov­ern­ments to in­crease roy­al­ties, even though the Gil­lard gov­ern­ment had made threats to dis­suade them from do­ing so.

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