Green economist Pavan Sukhdev

Green economist Pavan Sukhdev. Photo: Steven Siewert

AUSTRALIA should revisit its ''failed experiment'' with the mining tax and lift the rate as part of a wider overhaul of its economy, according to a former investment banker turned green economist.

Pavan Sukhdev, formerly with Deutsche Bank and now a consultant, said Australia should follow the lead of Norway, which slapped a 79 per cent tax on oil and gas, and continued to attract investment to the industry.

Mr Sukhdev said Norway's former Environment Minister, Erik Solheim, had told him energy companies ''have been complaining for the last 20 years but still they haven't gone''.

''Resource taxation is the future and there's no point obstructing the future,'' said Mr Sukhdev, who is in Australia to give talks and promote his latest book, Corporation 2020: Transforming Business for Tomorrow's World.

Julia Gillard's Labor government diluted the mining tax proposed by her predecessor Kevin Rudd under intense pressure from the resources sector. The new tax was supposed to generate about $2 billion this financial year, but slumping commodity prices meant that the government collected no revenue during its first three months.

Nations looking to transform their economies to a more sustainable platform had no choice but to tackle companies, particularly those with the largest ''externalities'' on society and nature, such as miners.

''How are you going to achieve economic transition without changing the agent that's delivering today's economy?'' he asked, adding that companies accounted for about 60 per cent of global output and 70 per cent of jobs.

Mr Sukhdev singled out firms such as Puma, which produces annual environmental profit-and-loss accounts. The so-called ''360-degree reporting'' takes in Puma's greenhouse gas emissions, water extraction and other impacts on nature.

Externalities do not have to be negative. Indian software giant Infosys graduates 30,000 students from its Mysore Global Education Centre, with as many as 15 per cent leaving to join other companies.

Mr Sukhdev, whose GIST Advisory provides consultancy services to Infosys, said the company delivered annual benefits to society of $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion - a contribution the Indian government should look to encourage more broadly.

Major accounting firms, including Ernst & Young, Deloitte and PwC, are backing wider disclosure, he said, adding that investors had demanded and received other information, such as executives' compensation and firms' debt risks.

''We should ask for the reporting of externalities because directors' bonuses are in the millions of dollars, contingent liabilities are in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, and we can have externalities in the tens of billions of dollars and we don't report them,'' he said. ''That's absurd.''

Mr Sukhdev will hold public lectures next week in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, supported by the Centre for Policy Development.