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Broader mine tax to 'stop cuts in PS'

Dr Richard Denniss believes the MRRT would be a boon for public services.

Dr Richard Denniss believes the MRRT would be a boon for public services. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Broadening the base of the minerals resource rent tax could be exactly what the public service needs to ensure its numbers are not slashed after this year's federal election.

During a Senate hearing into the MRRT on Wednesday, the Australia Institute's executive director, Richard Denniss, argued there was no good economic reason not to broaden the tax's base to include the super profits from more minerals than just coal and iron ore.

After his committee appearance, Dr Denniss told The Canberra Times that if the government went down that path with the MRRT it would be a boon for the public service.

"One of the only advantages of limiting the base of the tax is that it is easier to collect if it is small," he said.

"It would obviously take more public servants to collect and administer a broader minerals tax, but every extra public servant employed would more than pay for themselves by a long shot.

"If the argument is that it would take more people to collect a broader tax then why wouldn't the government do exactly that and employ more public servants?

"More people collecting means far more revenue."

Dr Denniss said public service numbers could be significantly boosted in Treasury proportionate to the number of mining companies paying the tax and the number of minerals included in the scheme.

He said contrary to the current political debate, more public servants did not have to translate into more economic pain. "This highlights the absurdity of [Opposition Leader] Tony Abbott's argument that the way to save the budget is to slash the public service," Dr Denniss said.

"That attitude does not recognise the role public servants perform in actually raising revenue."

Greens ACT senate candidate Simon Sheikh, who is basing his campaign on protecting public service jobs, agreed with Dr Denniss.

"There are some occasions where spending more money on the public service can deliver more not less for the budget bottom line," Mr Sheikh said.

"Expanding the mining tax and hiring the workforce necessary to collect this revenue will help us fund important things like investing in a real education revolution."

Dr Denniss said it was inevitable the tax would be broadened but the "bitter politics" of this election year might not allow it to happen in the near future.

32 comments

  • Do you really think Australians will buy this; more tax and more public servants? There are plenty of public servants already. How about we utilise the existing pool first before employing more.

    Commenter
    Wing Nut
    Date and time
    April 04, 2013, 9:00AM
    • Europe, in particular Norway and the Netherlands, fund great education systems with minerals and resources income.

      Commenter
      sarajane
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      April 04, 2013, 12:11PM
    • I've heard it all now - increase a tax to employ public servants. No wonder we don't trust Canberra

      Commenter
      Gaz
      Location
      Yarrawonga
      Date and time
      April 04, 2013, 2:45PM
    • They do not, aspiring students in Norway can hardly get a place, they go and study in places like Hungary. The Norway oil-boom money is hoarded in a future fund. In Norway nothing is any better than here except perhaps the self-promotion.

      Commenter
      bg
      Date and time
      April 04, 2013, 3:43PM
    • Well Abbott intends to slash, where do you propose these workers look for employment?
      They could alway relinquish their citizenship and come back as a 457 I guess and work for a couple of $ an hour.
      The long held fallacy these workers are slack needs to be revised. Sure they get enticing benefits, but without a public service we would be in dire trouble.
      Disclaimer, I am not a public servant, only govt job I've ever held was years ago and on short term contracts.
      Artist in residence at a few schools, so no super, holidays etc.

      Commenter
      A country gal
      Date and time
      April 04, 2013, 8:08PM
  • So, another tax on the mining sector which will probably result in private sector job losses in order to save (as well as generate new jobs) public service jobs?

    We don't need more public servants, we need less of them!

    Commenter
    Adzz
    Location
    Canberra, Australia
    Date and time
    April 04, 2013, 10:23AM
    • Everyone seems to relate public servants to pencil pushers who sit around doing nothing all day.

      Police are public servants, teachers, judges, nurses, doctors, anyone paid by the public purse is a public servant.

      Commenter
      sarajane
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      April 04, 2013, 3:59PM
  • It's an astonishing concept that somehow we need more public servants.

    Probably understandable in Canberra, but in the real world small government is better, less costly and more productive. How about focussing on how we can make government administration more efficient, rather than pandering to PS unions.

    Good grief.

    Commenter
    Tenez LeDroit
    Location
    Nelly Bay
    Date and time
    April 04, 2013, 10:37AM
    • Canberra keeps getting bigger and richer, send your kids to ANU if you want them to have a future. Soon everyone will be trying to live there, but I'm sure they will find surreptitious ways to keep the hobos out.

      Commenter
      bg
      Date and time
      April 04, 2013, 3:46PM
  • "More people collecting means far more revenue."

    Fantastic! All the problems are solved. All we need to do is emply everyone to collect revenue, and we will be right forever. How come Swan hasn't thought of that?

    Commenter
    Really?
    Date and time
    April 04, 2013, 10:54AM

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