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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Canberra watch: the mining tax "disaster" « Previous | |Next »
June 17, 2010

As Peter Brent at Mumble says the media's judgements about how a political party is “travelling” rest almost solely on the latest published opinion polls. The polls (Newspoll, ACNielsen, etc) are saying that Rudd Labor is in a bad way and that Abbott's Coalition has the rising momentum. The media are full of leadership speculation.

I watched Question Time all this week (whilst listening to some interesting music ) to assess the state of play amongst the parties in the context of the polls, and my judgement is that the Coalition did not do that well. The attack on the Resources Super Profits Tax looked oomph by the end of the week ---it run out of ammo---and the questions that increasingly replaced those on the RSPT were all over the place and lacked discipline.

The momentum in Question Time slowly turned the government's way. That leaves the noisy, outraged miners:

MoirAMinerscampaign .jpg

The consensus in the media is that the Rudd Government is being hammered, if not on the ropes, and it needs to cut a deal quick to save its political skin. It has already lost WA--to all intents and purposes--- and the Queensland marginals look decidedly shaky.

Is this the case?

The leaks from the negotiations indicate that the points at issue are to do with the transitional arrangements rather than dumping the tax. That has been the Rudd Government's position from day 1 and Big Mining, in spite of all the sound and fury of their media campaign, has not been able to shift that. So much for 'trash the tax'.

So it comes down to the issues at play in the negotiations---what BHP Billiton calls the three fundamental areas of concern with the Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT):

1. the tax should not apply to existing projects
2. the effective tax rate should be one that ''retains Australia's international competitiveness''.
3. Stability arrangements for taxes and royalties for existing and new projects.

The royalty regime is to be replaced by the tax on super profits. The issue of Australia's international competitiveness is a furphy since the miners will stay here as long as there is a big demand for the iron ore and coal from China and other countries will shift to tax on profits regime.

So that leaves the first issue to be worked through. Big mining are demanding that Rudd and Swan give substantial ground on the retrospective elements of the tax. All the threats and hysteria--eg., in South Australia Whyalla will close down + Olympic Dam won't go ahead etc ---are directed at forcing the government to give substantial ground. All the leaks suggest that the transitional arrangements will be modified to get the tax regime right, not to roll over for the miners.

The miners, who are doing very well in the resources boom, are currently reduced to arguing that "uncertainity" is damaging their economic interests. Of course, they continue to equate their interest with Australia's national economic interest. Many others do not make that equation.

Update
Laurie Oaks in the Herald Sun says that he thinks that people have switched off, and if that is the case, nothing Rudd does will help. He adds:

We are now well past the point of acknowledging that there's a chance Labor could lose what not so long ago looked like an unloseable election.If next week's Newspoll confirms the depth of Labor's slump, the brutal truth is that the Rudd Government is very likely gone.

He adds that Labor is preparing itself for defeat and some of the more seasoned warriors believe it is unavoidable.

Rudd, to me, looks more and more like one of the hollowmen.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:35 PM | | Comments (4)
Comments

Comments

If BHPB close down Whyalla...again...[cos I was there the last time they did it and damn near halved the population of what had previously been the largest urban centre in SA outside Adelaide] it won't have anything to do with the Resource SUPER PROFIT [just a bit of emphasis there] Rental but for other reasons.
Same sort of reasons that have caused them to cut down or entirely eliminate mining and manufacturing activities in the region recently eg closing down Iron Monarch some years ago and several other such.
They've got history.

I take any political information [sic] from the Business Spectator with a huge chunk of salt itself insignificant in size compared to the truckload I require when listening to the emanations from BHPB.
I've worked for that mob and simply don't trust them.
Experience.

fred,
re your comment : "I take any political information [sic] from the Business Spectator with a huge chunk of salt "

Business Spectator has been pretty bad on the whole RSTP issue.
Stephen Bartholomeusz and Robert Gottliebsen (particularly) have written way over the top commentary in support of the members that often reads like propaganda.

Gottliebsen has even called for a capital strike to bring the Rudd Government down. He's no friend of democracy.

"The polls (Newspoll, ACNielsen, etc) are saying that Rudd Labor is in a bad way and... Abbott's Coalition has the rising momentum."

The Labor machine is well-funded and well-prepared, and it will run tightly targeted campaigns in marginal seats focusing on local issues.

That is the SA model that got Mike Rann re-elected when the ALP in SA was on the nose. Will it work for Rudd?

"The Labor machine is well-funded and well-prepared, and it will run tightly targeted campaigns in marginal seats focusing on local issues."

My gut feeling is that the Big Miners want to get rid of the Rudd Government in favour of a compliant Liberal Government under Abbott.

The Big Miners must be very concerned about the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate.

The Big Miners have deep pockets and they have the Murdoch press on side.

The Big Miners don't want compromise on the RSPT