CANBERRA – (Reuters) – Australia’s conservative opposition said its top priority if it wins elections in September will be to repeal taxes on mining profits and carbon, blaming both policies for stopping fresh investment in the vital resources sector.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor government introduced a fixed carbon price about a year ago in a country with one of the world’s highest per capita levels of carbon emissions, with plans to transition to emissions trading from 2015.
The carbon scheme, along with a 30 percent tax on iron ore and coal mining profits, have been criticised by miners, who say it damages competitiveness and employment as Australia’s AAA-rated economy slows and China’s demand for minerals cools.
“Both the carbon tax and the mining tax are a drag on Australia’s energy and resources sector and make investments less attractive than investments in other countries,” opposition resources spokesman Ian Macfarlane told a mining conference.
Australian government data published last month said that A$150 billion ($139 billion) in planned resource projects had been delayed or cancelled since April 2012, as China’s economic slowdown weighs on decade-long mining boom.
But a new government forecast on Wednesday predicted the world’s biggest producer of iron ore would see a 14 percent rise in exports in the 2013/14 fiscal year as the country’s big miners press ahead with multi-billion dollar expansions.
“There can be no return to Australians on minerals and energy assets that remain locked in the ground. That is why the (opposition) coalition believes the carbon tax and the mining tax should be repealed as a priority,” Macfarlane said.
At the same mining conference in Canberra, Anglo American Chief Executive Mark Cutifani said that Australia had “wasted its mining boom” with ill-thought out taxes.
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