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Gillard bid to lock in tax numbers

Julia Gillard has met two critical crossbenchers in an effort to lock in numbers for the mining tax - as the Greens lobbed another last-minute wildcard, suggesting uranium should be part of the package.

Julia Gillard has met two critical crossbenchers in an effort to lock in numbers for the mining tax - as the Greens lobbed another last-minute wildcard, suggesting uranium should be part of the package.

JULIA Gillard has met two critical crossbenchers in an effort to lock in numbers for the mining tax - as the Greens lobbed another last-minute wildcard, suggesting uranium should be part of the package.

The Prime Minister met privately yesterday with Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott to work on their demands on coal seam gas and Ms Gillard will speak by phone this morning to Andrew Wilkie.

After the meeting, Mr Windsor told The Age future regulation of coal seam gas exploration - which he has tied to his positive vote on the mining package - was complicated, given it involved several tiers of government. ''The difficult thing is getting the process right,'' he said. ''We're working through it, but there's no resolution yet.''

There were further talks last night. Parliamentary debate on the package resumes on Monday. Next week is the final sitting week for 2011, and a committee examining the legislation will report on November 21.

Greens leader Bob Brown told reporters yesterday that uranium should be included in the tax package, not just coal and iron ore.

Lower house Greens MP Adam Bandt has signalled he will move amendments to the package next week, adding gold to the commodities included in the resources tax.

Senator Brown suggested uranium should also be added in light of the Prime Minister's expressed desire this week to permit yellowcake exports to India.

Ms Gillard has called for Labor's national conference in December to endorse the policy shift. Labor's policy currently prevents uranium sales to countries outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Ms Gillard's move has irritated Senator Brown. Yesterday he signalled uranium should be in the mining tax mix.

''We will be looking at adding that amendment in the light of the huge change that we are seeing not just in the promotion of uranium to India by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, but with the uranium prices going up,'' he said.

''It seems logical to me, in an age where healthcare and public education are short of funds right around this country, should we not be taxing the largely foreign ownership of our uranium mines?''

Negotiations between the government and Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott are progressing steadily, but Treasurer Wayne Swan is not yet calling the package a done deal.

''Look, I'm very confident that we can get this through the Parliament, but I don't assume it as being a done thing,'' Mr Swan told the ABC.

''We're continuing to talk to the independents and the minor parties as you do, and we'll continue to do that and hopefully we'll secure their support when the bill comes to the Parliament because it's a really important reform for the long term,'' he said.

''Of course, if it's not put in place, then what's endangered is that big boost to superannuation for millions and millions of Australian workers and, of course, that tax cut for small business.''


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