Rudd’s mining tax sinkhole
IT looks like the Federal Government has dug itself into a hole over the resources super profits tax. The more it tries to justify the proposed tax the more costly it is proving electorally and the harder it will be to dredge a way out of the minefield it has created.
Framing a Budget forecast back in the black based on syphoning the rich profits of the big miners to fill a deep deficit must have seemed like a good idea at the time.
However, the Rudd Government underestimated the protests from the powerful resources lobby. The Prime Minister says the Government’s latest $38.5 million advertising campaign on the RSPT will counter a “scare campaign funded by some very, very big vested interests”.
But gauging from opinion forums on online news sites in the past week it will be hard to sell as Australians are increasingly confused about the resources super tax and its merits.
The Government has to convince not just the mining companies, but also the electorate that this is a fair tax – or at least that it won’t have a negative effect on the nation’s resources-dependent economy.
Many online comments have criticised the Government for targeting a sector of the economy considered the country’s “golden goose” during the recent global financial crisis.
Paul Champness commented on The Courier-Mail site: “(Most people) are opposed to the tax because of the massive contribution made to our wellbeing by the mining boom we are enjoying. No one wants to kill that golden goose, except maybe the Government.”
Thatmosis of Isis Central added: “Here we have a Government who for some reason known only to themselves is determined to destroy maybe the most significant export entity that exists in this country by introducing a tax that is grossly unfair and is putting Australian jobs and the future of some towns in jeopardy.”
But Tim Swinden of Perth commented on Perth Now: “The mining companies have been picking the pockets of the Australian taxpayer for years. China needs our rocks. The mining companies have no choice but to invest, dig and sell them to China. The rest of the world cannot supply the complete demand. The rocks belong to every Australian citizen. Do not let the mining companies bluff us out of our due.”
Basically that has been the message the Government has been trying to sell since the Budget earlier this month. But spending millions of dollars to promote the proposed tax is not proving popular.
Ben of Adelaide said on Adelaide Now: “This is an outrage! I am used to the Government wasting my taxpayer money. But using it for a political propaganda campaign is completely wrong.”
Matt of the Gold Coast said on news.com.au: “Funny that Rudd was unable to put the facts on the table the first time around. So now we have to pay for it. In a word, pitiful.”
On the other hand, Hayden wrote on ABC Online: “The mining companies are funding a misinformation campaign using profits that belong to the people. I thank the Government for funding adverts that present a counter argument in the hope the proposed tax change survives. It’s worth a small up-front investment to reap the reward of getting a fair price for our minerals into the future.”
The problem is that the Government is struggling to convince the electorate that it is on the right track with this tax. Worse than a bigger black hole in its budgetary planning, what it needs less is another bungled policy that will hurt its re-election chances.
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