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Big win for Swan on tax as Wilkie blinks

Agenda-free Fairfaxia reports on the government’s big win on the mining tax: “After being lobbied extensively by the smaller miners, Mr Wilkie forced the government to lift the profit threshold at which the tax will apply from $50 million to $75 million and eventually $125 million. This will cost $100 million, or $20 million a year, over the next five years.”

That’s a fair old saving that WA Nats MP Andrew Crook and concerted lobbying from the industry has delivered although not as much as the government feared it would have to agree with.

The VEXNEWS story on Wilkie’s much-rumoured intention to vote the tax down in return for a massive donation is believed to have played a role in his about-face.

One insider told us: “Exposing the heavy-duty lobbying of Wilkie did flush him it out and maybe kept the Persian carpet-salesman honest, or perhaps just slightly less dishonest.”

While the industry will be grateful for the $100M worth of changes it’s secured, billionaire Andrew Forrest, a key backer of WA Nats MP Tony Crook, is thought to be unhappy with the result and may not now be forthcoming with generous support for Wilkie in his possible Senate run at the next election. We’ll have to watch for that one.

Forrest is thought to be likely to challenge the mining tax in the High Court on the basis it is beyond Commonwealth power. The same lawyers advising the government on the Malaysian Solution reckon he doesn’t have a leg to stand on, so that should be interesting.

It’s been quite the juggling act for Treasurer Wayne Swan, and it’s not over yet, with the Greens MP Adam Bandt still not agreeing to vote up the measure with the Wilkie amendments. Government adviserati think it highly unlikely the Greens would vote the whole tax down, especially given the low-point their own poll-numbers have reached.


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