I may not be the first to notice this, but the Rudd Government’s ‘Resource Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Profit Tax’ (PDF) has been subjected to some rather harsh criticism since its announcement in early May (Miners reject the Resource Super Profits tax grab, Mathew Murphy, The Age, May 3, 2010). Much of this criticism appears to be emanating from
The Rich Working-Families-With-An-Above-Average-Income. In fact, some were so upset that a few weeks ago they staged a riot rally (Thousands attend protest rally over tax, ABC, June 9, 2010):
The organiser of the rally, David Flanagan from Atlas Iron, says dozens of mining companies and their workers will be protesting as the Prime Minister arrives to address the Perth Press Club… “We employ a lot of working families and we’re not being listened to. So, this is our best chance of getting our voice heard.”
But what about the effect of the new tax upon The Poor? And The Indigenous Poor?
According to the ABS, in 2006 approximately 45% of all Indigenous people were in the lowest income quintile (“an associated equivalised gross household income of less than $315 per week”), the unemployment rate was 16%, while just 6% of Indigenous people aged 18-24 years are attending university, technical or further education (compared to 25% of non-Indigenous people).
Statistics such as these give reason for despair.
Up in the sky!
It’s a bird!
It’s a plane!
It’s Twiggy Forrest!
AUSTRALIA’S richest man will attempt to create 50,000 jobs for indigenous people under an ambitious scheme that will shift the emphasis of Aboriginal job creation from government to business.
Mining magnate Andrew Forrest, chief executive of Fortescue Metals Group, has announced that the Australian Employment Covenant will sign up hundreds of companies to employ a total of 50,000 indigenous people within the next two years…
And for the benefit of those of you coming in late: “The Australian Employment Covenant (AEC) is a national industry-led initiative which will bring Australians together to break the vicious cycle of unemployment and poverty amongst Indigenous Australians.” Forrest thus threw down a diamond-encrusted gauntlet at the feet of Australian business: declare your preparedness to break this vicious cycle, and to give unemployed Indigenous Australians a job — or don’t.
This was truly a revolutionary breakthrough, and as such naturally attracted the support of a range of Very Important Persons, including Marcia Langton, Sue Gordon, Sir Rod Eddington, Noel Pearson, Warren Mundine and David Bussau. It also gained the support of Uncle Rupert and his appointed KRudd, who formally launched the scheme in October 2008.
Even more remarkably, perhaps — given the (Other) Idea’s etymology — KRudd declared in his speech launching the jobs revolution that Twiggy had not only brought VIPs together, he had also ended a long-standing philosophical dispute, saying: “The death of ideology lies in the fact that we are all here together as Australians, indigenous and non-indigenous, all sides of politics, about one objective, and that’s how to fix this thing.”
Sadly, there hasn’t been much news from the Australian Employment Covenant of late. In fact, the last piece of Good News to emanate from the “good people seeking to do good things” was the fact that Business Leaders enjoyed a nice breakfast in Brisbane in February. Be that as it may, Twiggy’s attempts to end poverty have obviously been overtaken by other concerns, and he might be excused for temporarily taking his eye off the ball. In this case, that unfair distraction takes the form of former comrade KRudd’s attempt to destroy the mining industry. Even more sadly, the fact that KRudd’s mindless vandalism is shattering the hopes and dreams of thousands of Indigenous Australians of obtaining employment has been ignored in this debate.
Thankfully, Twiggy is not the only keen employer, or party to the Australian Employment Covenant, to have spoken out against the tax: so too has Sir Rod “I’m not a spy!” Eddington. But of course the keenest, and most amusing, critic of the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Tax is billionaire and amateur Marxologist Clive Palmer: “I think it comes from Das Kapital in 1868 [sic]. The super tax comes about by Marx and Engels and their famous work which inspired the Russian Revolution.”
For his part, Noel Pearson has registered alarm at the Wilderness Society’s ability to dictate the Queensland government’s land management policy, and thereby put an end to a bauxite mining project in Cape York (Aborigines need to turn radical, Noel Pearson, The Australian, June 5, 2010). The developer, Matilda Zircon, cited “environmental sensitivity surrounding the Queensland government’s Wild Rivers legislation” as reason for its withdrawal from the project. Undeterred, the Cape York Land Council has launched a High Court challenge to The Wild Rivers Act (Aborigines fighting waterways law, Christopher Adams and Kathy Marks, The New Zealand Herald, June 12, 2010). (Note: “Few will know that the Prime Minister was [Pearson’s] first official employer, when [Pearson] was invited by him to join his cabinet office in Queensland so many years ago.”)
As for Mr. Mundine, he has divided loyalties. On the one hand, he’s a former ALP President; on the other, he’s currently the CEO of NTSCORP, and has a long-standing commitment to the mining industry as a source of employment, royalties and hence (economic) self-determination for Aboriginal peoples. Qualified criticism is expressed in Rudd mishandled mining tax: Mundine (AAP, June 22, 2010).
In conclusion: this tax is Bad, not only because it robs Good men like Twiggy and Clive (and fair dinkum Aussie blokes like Ross and Todd) of their hard-earned wealth, but because it distracts from attempts to break the vicious cycle of unemployment and poverty amongst Indigenous Australians. Donations to the Minerals Council of Australia may be made by visiting its website.
¡La lucha continúa!
See also : The resource curse, Marcia Langton, Griffith REVIEW, No.28 | Is Mining Truly Good For Indigenous People?, Sarah Burnside, New Matilda, June 22, 2010 | Wanted: a real super-profits tax, Bob Briton, The Guardian, No.1459, June 16, 2010 | Power Trip. David Marr talks to Robert Manne about Rudd’s political journey, Slow TV, June 2010 | Saying No To The Evidence, Again, Eva Cox, New Matilda, June 22, 2010.