THE Greens have launched a new bid to force the nation’s biggest miners to pay up under the mining tax, raising the pressure on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to admit the deal signed off with the three biggest miners in 2010 was botched.
The minor party, whose support is crucial to the Labor government’s survival, wants to fix the underperforming mining tax in order to fund schools, dental health and disability insurance.
Armed with fresh data from the new Parliamentary Budget Office, it will build on its existing motion to plug the royalties hole with a second amendment limiting the scope of the biggest miners, such as BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Rio Tinto, to deduct asset values from current earnings.
Along with other cross-benchers and the opposition, the Greens believe Ms Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan were outmanoeuvred by the big three when cutting the new deal following the leadership change from Kevin Rudd.
The Greens say closing the loophole that allows state governments to increase royalty charges, which must then be refunded by Canberra, would save more than $2.2 billion.
Its other change would close a loophole that allows the big miners to write-off the market value of existing assets over a number of years, rather than deducting the lower book value over just five years.
It says this would secure more than $4 billion in revenue by 2016-17 and an extra $1.8 billion a year.
”Labor is taking more money off single parents than it has collected from the mining tax,” deputy leader Adam Bandt told Fairfax Media.
Its move comes as the failure of the minerals resource rent tax, which raised just $126 million in its first six months, emerges as a potential flashpoint for the Labor leadership.
MPs loyal to the Prime Minister are fuming at public criticism of the tax this week by Kevin Rudd, chief whip Joel Fitzgibbon and others.
Mr Rudd used a Sky News interview on Tuesday to remind colleagues that his original super profits mining tax had been stronger but was replaced with the watered down version by Ms Gillard and Mr Swan after the leadership coup. He said it was never right for governments to take a backward step when pursuing the national interest.
Amid the tension, an email from an ALP supporter to Mr Rudd on Wednesday was distributed widely among Labor MPs, reviving memories of the bitter personal campaign against the former prime minister’s character last year.
”Mr Rudd, your disloyalty to your leader and party is shameful,” wrote retired school teacher, Sue Martin, of Avalon Beach, New South Wales.
”It appears that childishly, you feel that if you can’t be PM then no other Labor politician should be.”
The 63 year-old said she had always supported Labor, and was tired of Mr Rudd’s approach, which she characterised as delighting in ”half smiles and non-committal responses”.
Ms Gillard has ruled out changes to the mining tax but wants to renegotiate terms with the states to cap royalty rises.
But that appears doomed, with the conservative-run resource states of Queensland, Western Australia and NSW all dismissing any suggestion of placing limits on their own revenue streams.
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