Greens Treasury spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, says that the Minerals Council report into the taxation paid by mining companies in Australia shows that the lobby group cannot be trusted to enter into public debate in good faith and only serves to cement the reputation of corporate Australia as self-serving charlatans.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “Claiming royalties as tax is like a café owner claiming every kilo of coffee beans they buy is a tax. A royalty is the price a company pays to access a public owned resource to on-sell for private profit.
“Other than making the category error of conflating tax with resource rents, this report also fails to account for the fact that mining companies are not paying for the costs of their climate pollution or that currently around Australia there is billions of dollars in unfunded mine rehabilitation that needs to occur.
“We heard throughout the mining boom, while mining companies were aggressively avoiding paying tax in Australia, that the streams of revenue into government coffers would come later, when the companies move from the construction to the production phase, but clearly this is not happening.
“Despite its clear propagandist purposes, this report actually does us a favour by highlighting that this supposed massive increase in the flow of taxes and royalties has not come.
“So let’s put aside the self-interest of the corporatocracy and use this report to trigger debate about how we can get these multi-national miners to pay their fair share here in Australia.
“The irony is that the mining companies can claim a deduction from their tax to pay for the production of this report which argues they pay too much tax.
“We need a root and branch review of all the taxes and royalties paid by the mining companies. We know that the oil and gas industry are getting away with extortionate levels of tax avoidance with the PRRT. Now it is time to look right across the sector to examine: the combined impact of multi-national tax avoidance, rorting of exploration write-offs, royalty holidays and discounts, unfunded future and legacy rehabilitation costs, fossil fuel rebates, the social cost of carbon, as well as the vast array of direct government funding and discounted loans.
“We know that, for instance, the cost base for Western Australian iron ore is by far the lowest in the world. Surely as a country we can get more from this short-term excavation of resources and use those funds to set ourselves up for the future.
“Let’s use this release of another dodgy report by the Minerals Council to take a genuine look at the true cost of mining in Australia and work out ways we can get these multinationals to pay their fair share,” he concluded.