Thursday 27 May 2010

Sovereignty risk?

Miners are worried about Australia’s sovereign risk. I’m worried Australia’s sovereignty. While the Government stumbles in its efforts to provide some clarity about the amount of tax paid by miners, one thing is clear - they pay nowhere near enough. And the best evidence of this is the scale of the campaign they are mounting against our elected officials.

The big miners have been accessing Australia’s mineral wealth at bargain basement prices while pushing the resale price of those assets to unprecedented levels. And now they are using the excessive profits obtained from that lucrative exercise to bombard us with dubious propaganda about a tax that is far more intelligent both than the case the government has made in its favour and the distortions of the mining industry’s generously rewarded spokespeople.

We’re told the miners are flooding the Liberal Party coffers in the countdown to the election. Imagine if this industry - irrevocably founded on the short term exploitation of non-renewable assets - was able to determine the outcome of our next election?

Rio Tinto’s Tom Albanese’s performance on Lateline on Wednesday was that of a man incapable of containing his sense of self importance. While he was persuasive in his case that Rio’s profit line and Australia’s national interest were one and the same, he couldn’t resist the threat that Rio would be looking to invest elsewhere should the elected government of Australia enforce a tax that trims his profits - a claim that is widely doubted.

Mr Albanese may shrink in the company of unelected Chinese officials but he feels no compulsion to show regard for Australia’s elected leaders and their policies. His Chairman told the AGM that he was “personally offended” by our government’s actions.  He and his cohorts show contempt not just for our government, but for us. All Australians. They are too big and they are too powerful. Let’s hope they continue to overplay their hand and the Australian people see them for who they are.

Note: I wonder why Tony Jones didn’t use the opportunity to ask Tom Albanese about the Stern Hu case? 

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