Look, I don’t mean to sound like Wayne Swan did anything wrong when he released the mining tax four years to this day. Because clearly history will show the mining tax was great for Australia. And especially this week, after the release of the Tea-Party-like Commission of Audit, we have seen exactly why the mining tax was an important policy. The upcoming repeal of the mining tax is a turning point in Australia’s history, and one that I’m not sure we’ll ever recover from. I just wish that when Swan released the policy, he communicated it better. Because perhaps then the mining tax would have survived an Abbott scare campaign and the $22 million dollar mining PR campaign funded by the richest of the richest 1%. Perhaps if the public understood why the mining tax was in their best interest, and repealing it is in no one’s best interest except the likes of Gina Rinehart, Abbott wouldn’t have successfully used the policy as a stick to beat Labor with, and it wouldn’t have contributed to the downfall of the Labor government. Perhaps. And perhaps if voters understood that the government revenue given up in gross super-profits that the likes of Gina Rinehart will now keep, will be made up for tenfold by cuts to government services and increases in consumer taxes through the outrageously cruel Commission of Audit inspired budget, they would have defended the mining tax in the election instead of voting against it. Perhaps.
So in celebration / commiseration of the four year anniversary of Wayne Swan and Kevin Rudd’s release of the Resources Super Profits Tax, I have re-written their original press release using the argument I think Labor should have gone with, which may have had a very different outcome for all of us.
Mining dividends for resource owners
The long term tax plan we release today will provide Australians with long overdue dividends from the resources that we all own. Every man, women and child in Australia – all twenty two million of us – own shares in Australia’s natural resource wealth. But for a long time, we have not been receiving our share of the huge profits a few companies are reaping from digging up the resources we own. And worse than this, many mining companies are not even Australian owned, so this wealth that belongs to all of us is, in many cases, not even staying in our country. So we need to change this. We need to make sure the wealth from the resources we all own is better distributed amongst Australian shareholders. All of us are shareholders.
Now, let’s be clear. This mining tax is not designed as a disincentive to investment in Australia. Just because we want everyone to have their fair share, does not mean we don’t encourage investment by mining companies. And of course profit is needed to ensure investment takes place. But, as recommended in the Henry Tax Review, the best way to tax mining companies without harming investment, and without harming jobs, is to tax super profits. No job was ever lost from a super profits tax, because we know that while the resources are in the ground, and while profit can be made digging them out, there are plenty of companies lining up to do just that. And we know that these companies can’t take this business elsewhere, because the resources are here, in our country. We all own these resources, they belong to us, and we should be receiving our fair share of dividends to share this wealth more successfully amongst our whole community. Not just those rich enough to part-own, or in some cases, solely own mining companies.
There is no doubt that this announcement today will ruffle some feathers. The big mining companies have got used to making billions and billions of dollars profit and they won’t appreciate being reminded that the resources aren’t theirs in the first place. But this government doesn’t make policy based on the priorities of a wealthy few. We represent all Australians and it would be wrong of us to continue to stand by and let our wealth drain away, without making sure we all receive our dividend. Once we start collecting your fair share, we will be distributing it fairly across the community, where it is needed most to:
- generate more superannuation savings for working families;
- lower tax for all companies, especially small businesses; and
- invest in our future infrastructure needs, particularly for mining states.
This is a monumental day in Australia’s history, when we will start the process of reversing the inequitable distribution of wealth from our resources. We will finally do what is right by our community, our children and all our futures by ensuring we all reap the benefits of our share in the natural resources we all own. This is a proud day to be Australian Treasurer.
Thank you to LOVO whose comment on my last post inspired this press release re-write, and to Luke Mansillo who provided further inspiration with this article comparing Australian’s attitude to the mining tax, with Norway’s successful future fund.