The mining companies’ hysterics are about maintaining their massive profits. This is an issue of class—with the rich defending their wealth from being taken to fund public spending.
And they are peddling a whole raft of lies to do this. One is that all Australians will lose out from the tax because it will hurt superannuation, through damaging mining share prices. But the bulk of mining shares are held by the wealthy. The richest 10 per cent of Australians own at least 70 per cent of shares. Andrew Forrest holds $3.9 billion in shares in his company—how many working people have a nest egg like that?
But the central mining company claim is that the tax will hurt the economy and jobs by deterring mining investment. Yet they have been caught out again and again lying about closing down projects because of the tax.
Clive Palmer (personal wealth $3.92 billion) claimed he had cancelled two projects in the Pilbara, but later told Four Corners this was untrue.
Mining giant Xstrata also claimed the tax put two new projects at risk. It emerged that Xstrata is still buying up land for one, a coal mine, it says will never go ahead. At the other—a proposed copper mine expansion—Xstrata just signed a $3.4 million contract for another company to provide services to the mine.
The truth is that Australia has numerous advantages compared to other places where miners could invest—many of which are in unstable areas in the third world like Indonesia or Africa. Mark Pervan, head commodities analyst for ANZ told the Financial Review “it’s a little bit difficult to find alternatives [for investment] when you go through the whats and ifs”. And Australia is not the only country likely to increase tax on mining companies given their current super-profits. Chile has just increased royalties on copper and Brazil, a major iron ore exporter, is also about to raise mining tax.