One person who greeted the repeal of the mining tax with trademark ebullience was Clive Palmer. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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It was the tax that dared not speak its name, mostly because, well, it didn't actually raise any real money.
It is hard to hold your head high when your sole mission in life is to tithe, and instead you end up de-magnetising revenue like a pile of confused iron filings. When you are more laughing stock than levy. When you are unable to support the government spending measures you are supposed to fund, and when even your own father (former treasury boss Ken Henry) wonders publicly if there is any point to your existence at all.
And so, when the mining tax had its blighted life ended on Tuesday in the Senate, few people mourned it. Perhaps its architect, the former treasurer Wayne Swan did – unlike the present treasurer, Mr Swan's facial expressions are inscrutable and it is impossible to know on any given day if he is deeply depressed, mildly annoyed or simply trying to remember the last item on the shopping list he left at home.
One person who greeted the repeal of the mining tax with trademark ebullience was Clive Palmer, the member for Fairfax and leader of the Palmer United Party voting bloc, without whose assistance the government would have been unable to repeal the tax. Mr Palmer, whose concern for pensioners and single mothers is well known, also happens to be a mining magnate, one of the very men Mr Swan used to invoke as a fat-cat billionaire who would be cut down to size by his clever mining tax.
Like a pantomime villain, Palmer has since been personally elected to Parliament in order (inter alia) to help personally repeal the tax he was once targeted by. On Tuesday he insisted he had no conflict of interest, as his mining entities (like so many other supposed targets of the tax) never paid it anyway.
"First of all, I don't pay the mining tax. BHP doesn't pay the mining tax. Rio Tinto don't ... This is a tax that costs more money to administer than it raises but gives a perception [to] overseas markets that people are handicapped," he said.
As an employer, Palmer does, of course, pay superannuation contributions, and on Tuesday his voting bloc did a deal with the government to postpone a promised boost to workers' compulsory superannuation contributions, in order to pass the tax repeal.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of breaking his election promise of "no adverse changes" to superannuation. But that was during the election campaign, and this is now. As Treasurer Joe Hockey said, channelling former prime minister Julia Gillard, a government works with the circumstances it is dealt.
In question time, Mr Abbott reminded the opposition he was simply delivering on an election promise, and told incredulous Labor MPs it was important to be "constructive" in opposition.
From taxes to Tony, everything comes full circle eventually.