Gillard takes on mining bosses
Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has left Australia's mining bosses with no doubt her government will not be backing away from the controversial minerals resource rent tax, due to kick in from July.
Delivering the keynote address at the Minerals Industry dinner in Parliament House last night, Ms Gillard made it clear that her intention was to ensure all Australians shared in the wealth of the resources boom.
After praising mining companies for their hard work and contribution to the Australian economy, she brazenly reminded them that they did not own the minerals they dug up.
''Now, I know you're not all in love with the language of 'spreading the benefits of the boom'… Australians don't begrudge hard work and we admire your success,'' the Prime Minister said.
''But I know this too - they work pretty hard in car factories and at panel beaters and in police stations and hospitals too.
''And here's the rub. You don't own the minerals. I don't own the minerals. Governments only sell you the right to mine the resource - a resource we hold in trust for a sovereign people.
''They own it and they deserve their share.''
Ms Gillard said her government had been ''crystal clear'' since delivering the budget that it wanted growth in the economy and for the benefits of growth to spread to all.
She said Australians were rightly proud of the nation's mining industry and that a big part of the work her government does is to ensure the success of the resources sector.
The Prime Minister insisted that mining companies would benefit for years to come from much of what the government is now doing.
And she promised to keep up her ''fight for Australia''.
But she left the miners in the room with a clear understanding that the new tax regime would be implemented and the extra revenue used to help small business, improve retirements and build infrastructure. ''Our economy is the envy of the world. Our mining industry is the envy of the world. There's nowhere in the world you'd be better off investing,'' she said.
''And there's nowhere in the world where mining has a stronger future.
''And this is Australia, and it has a Labor Government.''
Earlier in the day, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott addressed a Minerals Council of Australia luncheon and admitted that some elements of the new mining tax as well as the incoming carbon tax would be hard to change if the Coalition wins the next election.
He said the 30 per cent tax on big iron ore and coal production profits, as well as the $23 per tonne carbon emissions tax, would be removed under a government he led. But it wouldn't be easy to repeal everything Labor has put in place.
''Let me assure you that a tax that's been put in place by legislation can be removed by legislation,'' Mr Abbott said, before adding: ''There is no doubt that there are measures associated with both the mining tax and the carbon tax that will be difficult to undo.''
Industry opposition to the tax was an element that led to the downfall in 2010 of former prime minister Kevin Rudd.