Australian news, and some related international items

Billionaire corporate miners now running Australia’s ship of state

Like the wealth that comes from iron ore and coal, the answer takes some digging but it appears to be corporate, not union, power that steers the ship of state.

Gillard Caves In To Miners, The Age , DAVID MCKNIGHT, July 6, 2010 Corporate, not union, power can frequently drive politicians’ priorities. The struggle to define the victor and vanquished over the new mining tax will continue until the election, but we are left with a larger question, one once scornfully directed at trade unions: who is running the country?

Like the wealth that comes from iron ore and coal, the answer takes some digging but it appears to be corporate, not union, power that steers the ship of state.

Look at the evidence. The miners’ million-dollar advertising campaign destabilised one prime minister and precipitated his political execution. The suspension of the campaign was effectively a gun at the head of his replacement while she negotiated a deal acceptable to the big miners.

Yet the miners’ campaign was full of holes (as well as being tax deductible as a business expense). The overriding fact rarely spelt out in the conflict was the windfall profits for mining companies. Between the year 2000 and the past financial year, mining profits increased by $80 billion – but the government’s tax take only rose $9 billion, according to Treasury.

When the income of ordinary taxpayers rises, so does the tax rate. Not for miners. Moreover, much of the fabulous wealth is repatriated overseas since most of the big players, including BHP – once the ”Big Australian” – are foreign owned.

Neither is this win for the miners an isolated example. The recent tax scare follows concerted action by the mining lobby against action on climate change that would have reduced the burning of oil and coal. It scored a victory in that battle too, with the destruction of a ”green” opposition leader as a fringe benefit.

Over a longer period it has been the resources companies that have funded a small but vocal group of sceptics who claim that climate science is faulty, exaggerated or some kind of left-wing conspiracy. This is hardly surprising since the sector includes the coal and oil companies that stand to lose if we decarbonise the economy……..

Then there was the claim from Andrew ”Twiggy” Forrest that 30,000 jobs would be lost. A few days later, he revised this to 20,000. Then it became clear that these were for projects that were barely on the drawing boards. Such claims multiplied in the hothouse atmosphere.

Mining is a capital-intensive industry and actually accounts for only a small number of jobs in Australia. In the Bureau of Statistics’ top 20 industries in order of employment, mining is No. 19. More people work in arts and recreation.

The miners’ campaign also had its bizarre side. When the federal cabinet met in Perth, it met an angry protest. Leading this demonstration were Gina Rinehart and Forrest, both demanding justice for humble taxpayers. According to the current BRW Rich List, Rinehart is worth $4.75 billion and Forrest a mere $4.24 billion.

Gillard Caves In To Miners

July 6, 2010 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics, uranium | , , , , ,

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