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Friday, June 25, 2010

Fair Pricing for Australia's Resources

As our brand-new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard sat at her first Cabinet meeting today, she undertook to "review" the so-called "Resources Super Profits Tax" on mineral resources.

Well, clearly it was part of a deal to stop the Mineral Council's advertising against the "Resources Super Profits Tax". They have their own "Keep Mining Strong" website. Clearly all this advertising (and money) had the ALP back-room people "scared shitless" (Australian vernacular - check the "physiological reaction to stress" section of that link).

Well, the Miners may well be cheering Julia Gillard, but I am not.

I live in an area on the edge of the Illawarra Escarpment. This is Water Catchment Country, and I know that the Sydney Catchment Authority has warned the NSW Government that some 93% of the Southern Catchment will be undermined by coal industry interests in the next 30 years.

Today I heard (ABC Radio World Today) that the Department of Planning has approved undermining the Woronora Reservoir, despite the fact that cracking of the bed of the reservoir will occur. The media worry about cracking of the Dam wall. Neither the Dept of Planning or nor the Miners are so stupid as to contemplate risking that. But they do not mind draining the rivers and creeks which feed these dams.

It is a "moot point" which is worse: an empty dam or a broken one? Neither would achieve its stated objective to capture water to supply the city of Sydney.

SIMON SANTOW (Interviewer): So that's the argument, the argument from green groups is you ought not to allow it to possibly happen. There ought to be no risk.

DAVID KITTO (Dept of Planning): Well I guess um... if there was... I mean what we're saying now is that the risk if so low that it's acceptable.

The Bureaucrats really have no idea what is at risk here. The water supply for Sydney is at risk, from this project and the other longwall mining projects in the Southern Catchment.
Waratah Rivulet - cracked bed of river.
Previously with water in it - now dry
(Photo: Julie Sheppard)

The particular Mining company which has drained this Waratah Rivulet is Peabody (trading as Metropolitan Colliery). Peabody is a huge American coal mining company, made famous in a song "Paradise" (by John Prine) - in which the singer went back to visit his home town to be told:
  • Well I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in askin'
  • Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away
(Check the linked posting for the fully transcribed words of the song). I am sure you get the point.

So, I am coming at this argument from an environmental point of view - namely that the damage these companies are doing is never going to be repaired, and they are destroying priceless water resources, and the environment which no amount of "royalties" to the Government can ever hope to repay.
So why let them get away with it?

Then the Henry Review suggested the Resource Super Profits Tax. That's when the "shit hit the fan" (another vernacular phrase: A slang expression for a chaotic or otherwise unfavourable outcome. (SHTF)

All else is history. Our former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has evaporated. He has been replaced, and Julia Gillard looks like watering down the proposal. That is likely to be a back-down of monumental proportions. No wonder the Mining Companies are cheering her.

Do you really believe that these hugely profitable companies cannot afford to pay a fair price for the Mineral Resources they are taking? Their publicity refers to it as a "Super Mining Tax". It is not. It was designed to be a "Tax on Super Profits of mining". Profits firstly. Then a tax on the Super part of their Profits. Clearly it was not intended to just be a huge tax slug on mining, exploration, etc. Just once a project is really raking in the profits, then the Tax would kick in. Sounds fair enough to me.

My friend David Young has sent me a Link to a Facebook site which I support. It states:
  • "This community page is dedicated to raising awareness that we, in Australia, are giving away our resources for prices unfair to us.
    Foreign companies are raping the country and stealing our future economic stability.
    We have want it...we will sell it...for a FAIR PRICE."
If you agree with us, please sign up and send the link on to your friends. The full URL address is:!/pages/FAIR-PRICING-FOR-AUSTRALIAN-RESOURCES/128094130564911


Gouldiae said...

I share your rage Denis.
Interesting links - how in hell did you find that 'fight or flight response' wikipedia page?

Le Loup said...

What is the saying? Money is the root of all evil. I never have understood why people can do this sort of thing. How can people sit back and make money out people killing themselves slowly with cigarettes? How can anyone risk, even think of risking a community water supply? How can BP risk drilling when they knew what could happen? And even now that the well is pumping oil into the sea and killing the life that lives there, what are we doing about it?
What will Sydney people do if they lose their water? Odds are nothing at all. It will take a real major disaster to stir anyone to say finally "No, enough is enough".
But what is happening are a series of disasters, things that do not ammediatly effect ones quality of living, and so it goes on until one day it all comes together, and that day will be too late to do anything about it.
Sorry for rambling, but this stuff really gets my goat.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gouldiae and Le Loup
Thanks to you both.
Gouldiae, it is the wonder of "search engines" that they pick up on items, such as that phrase I used (nicety prevents me re-using it). But it was in Wikipedia as a sub-heading in the "fight or flight response" article. Technically correct, too.
Le Loup - we have often thouight that Sydney people have no idea where their water comes from - other than out of a tap.
So, they will do nothing about it until the dams are dry. But hey, there;s the wonderful Desal Plant on line now.
So what if it costs billions of dollars, and was not necessary. The nice French company behind the proposal has a way of ensuring the decision-makers are aware of their gratitude - so everybody involved is happy!
Except you, me and the environment and the taxpayers (for the next 30 years).

Tyto Tony said...

As a race I fear we'll continue digging (our own graves).

Like the tidy new look.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Tony
A bit morbid, perhaps, but you are probably right.
I am trying to do what I can with regard to water campaigning, anyway.
Global Warming, Nuclear Warfare, etc, I will leave to others. There's only so much I can do.
Glad you like the new look.