The lies that blind, and mining suffers

Campbell Newman and Wayne Swan must come clean and confess their revenue estimates from mining were flat out wrong. Fix the mining tax madness now, or risk losing many more jobs.

When is it the duty of a state premier, or any leading minister, to tell the public the whole truth?

Queensland’s premier Campbell Newman announced his big royalty increase (via the Queensland treasurer) but did not tell the Queensland public that he had been contacted by BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers, Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese and Peabody chief Greg Boyce who warned him that if he went ahead with his royalty plans there would be mine closures.

BHP chairman Jacques Nasser yesterday went even further and declared the royalty revenues "would not eventuate” (A miner's plea for tax continuity, September 12).

In other words, with so many Queensland mines now in negative cash flow the royalty means more will have to shut. And so the cash raising estimates made by the Queensland Treasury are simply wrong.

Moreover, the Queensland premier had been warned they would be wrong. There was no hint of this warning in the royalty hike announcement.

Campbell Newman believes BHP, Rio Tinto and Peabody are bluffing and it’s the big miners who are not telling the truth.

He told The Australian that the miners were "sabre rattling” and he accused them of mismanaging their operations. In other words their bad mine management leaves them (BHP, Rio Tinto and Peabody) with lots of fat to pay the royalties and leave the mines open.

If, as is highly likely, more mines are set to shut then the retrenched workers will have lost their jobs because Campbell Newman gambled that the miners were bluffing.

If Campbell Newman was telling the whole truth he would have said that unless he was shown to be attacking miners it would not be politically possible to sack so many public servants.

Put another way, if public servants had to lose jobs it was only fair that Queensland miners should do the same thing.

Newman can point to the precedent created by the federal treasurer Wayne Swan, who announced mining tax revenue in his last budget that had no hope of being achieved. Worse still he actually spent the money.

And of course that mining tax legislation makes the Commonwealth potentially liable to repay the miners for extra royalties they pay to Newman.

That repayment is not going to happen.

The mining tax is now an iron ore tax and it will raise small amounts of money – probably around $500 million.

Both Newman and Swan announced revenue estimates that were fiction at the time of announcement.

In the case of Newman, the Queensland premier received advanced warning of the fiction. Surely Queenslanders are entitled to be told that the revenue estimates are based on Newman’s belief that the miners are bluffing (Australia is becoming a sovereign risk, September 12).

What a way to run a country.

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