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Carbon tax pointless, says miner

THE head of Australia's largest coal company, Tony Haggarty, has denounced Australia's carbon tax as ''pointless'' and said he is sceptical about human efforts to control climate change.

In an interview with BusinessDay, the Whitehaven Coal managing director - who this month sealed a $5.1 billion merger between Whitehaven and Nathan Tinkler's Aston Resources - said he did not accept the climate science as ''having proved anything''.

''I don't say that it's wrong, but it's the height of human arrogance to think that we understand climate and, moreover, to think we can control it, I think that's utterly ridiculous. Pollution is bad, I don't think anybody can argue with that. Whether carbon dioxide is the devil, I'm not sure. The root of it, of course, is population growth and the debate ignores that, because it is politically impossible to discuss.''

Mr Haggarty, who personally donated $20,000 to the federal Liberal Party before the 2010 poll, said the carbon tax that becomes effective on July 1 was ''pointless''.

''Global warming doesn't get solved by an Australian carbon tax. Australia emits about 1.5 per cent of global emissions and that percentage is falling because of the massive growth in China and India … how you solve a global problem by tinkering at the edges with a 1.5 per cent contributor, is utter nonsense.''

Mr Haggarty criticised the ''appalling'' federal government for targeting the resources industry, although he expected it would be some years before Whitehaven would pay the new mining tax.

''In my view, if you've got a very successful sector in the economy, you don't weight it down. It's fine to look at sharing the wealth. If there was a genuine super profits tax across all of the economy, it's hard to argue against that, if corporations are making very super profits, and if that money was to go into a sovereign wealth fund, philosophically I don't have any problem with that, I think it's sensible.

''(But) when you listen to the Treasurer talk about the mining industry, it's the enemy. I find that staggering.''