Twiggy Forrest

The latest saga to annoy us while we try to eat our poached eggs at breakfast is the revelation of a taxation deal that Twiggy almost made with Kevin Rudd in the dying hours of the Rudd era. For a number of reasons, we can give thanks that it did not come into being, but I can assure you that his proposal would not have been implemented even if Rudd had survived.

Forrest should be comforted by the fact that many of us had exciting conversations with Rudd about revolutionary projects that were promised to happen the following day, but were lost in the great hole that swallowed up the remnants of Rudd’s short attention span.

I experienced two such days of blood-stirring anticipation about Rudd’s promises on important Seniors matters, only to have them disappear without trace or explanation.

While I admire anyone who comes up with innovative thoughts, it would have been a disaster for Australia had Forrest’s proposal come into being. A few people would have accumulated great wealth from it, Australia would have gained some new infrastructure that, in all probability, would have been built in the wrong places, to serve the wrong priorities, and would not have followed any national plan, nor managed the vital issue of the longterm sustainability of our natural resources.

The plain and unavoidable facts of the matter are that Australia needs a single Federal tax on mining that totally  removes State Government royalties — and is used to protect our economic future through investment in carefully planned national assets.

The sooner that we accept this reality and slowly bring it into being in the right way, at the right time, for the right amount of revenue, the sooner we will secure a balanced economic and social future.

The current mining profits legislation is clearly a compromise to get the process started. The next task is to revamp it to do the job properly, meet the revenue needs of State Governments in a different manner, allow no mines of any description to be exempted from it, and give no tax breaks whatsoever to the big miners, as is occurring now, or allow them to build railways and ports solely for their exclusive use.

There is no reason to come up with gimmicks in order to create the infrastructure that this nation lacks. We simply need the political will to do it properly and thoroughly, while allocating adequate tax revenue to the task.

A step in the right direction would be (as Joe Hockey rightly said in London) to use money saved by not giving vote-buying handouts to people who can afford to pay in the first place.

Having made these observations, can I say that I admire the way that Andrew Forrest has come from nowhere to take on the mining giants and win his place at the table.