Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown says the government could be setting an example to the world with an efficient tax to ensure Australians get a fair share of the returns from the nation's mineral wealth, and putting aside some of the proceeds in a sovereign wealth fund for the needs of future generations.
"Australia should take this opportunity to put in place an efficient, forward-thinking resources rent tax that reaps a fair share for this and future generations," Senator Brown said today.
"A better designed mining tax could raise a lot more revenue than the proposed Minerals Resource Rent Tax- in the order of $100 billion more over the next decade. That would fund much-needed initiatives in education, dental care, clean energy technology and public transport, for example.
"The government has said that the mining tax will fund a cut in the company tax rate from 30 to 29 per cent, with small businesses receiving the cut from July 2012 and big corporations from July 2013. It is small business which drives most employment and which most needs help in Australia's two-speed economy. The government should implement the cut for small businesses but cancel a handout to big banks and big mining corporations."
Recommendations in the Australian Greens' dissenting report include:
- That the rate of MRRT be set at the 40 per cent proposed in the Henry Tax Review rather than an effective 22½ per cent;
- That MRRT coverage be extended to that proposed for the Resources Super Profits Tax, including gold, silver, diamonds, uranium, rare earths, nickel, copper, zinc and bauxite. At an absolute minimum, gold should be brought under the MRRT along with coal and iron ore;
- That if minerals other than iron ore and coal are excluded from the MRRT, this be treated as a "tax expenditure" and the cost to revenue be disclosed annually in Treasury's Tax Expenditure Statement;
- That royalties are not rebated under the MRRT, and that if royalty rebating is not totally removed from the MRRT it should at least be removed for that component of state royalties increased after 1 July 2011;
- That the starting base for existing projects be restricted to the depreciated book value of what the companies have actually spent on mining infrastructure, rather than the inflated market value;
- That a review be conducted by March 2013 of the revenue being raised by the MRRT and suggestions for redesign if it is not on track to collect the budgeted amount;
- That a sovereign wealth fund be established and a proportion of the revenue raised from the expanded mining tax be placed in the fund.