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Federal Government

PAYDIRT: Mining tax looks doomed with Wilkie hitting the jackpot

WilkieandrewTHE federal government’s mining resource rent tax could be doomed with swing-vote independent MP Andrew Wilkie considered by government, Coalition and industry senior sources as almost certain to vote the measure down, unless it agrees to amendments that could save the industry multi-millions of dollars.

A high-ranking insider told VEXNEWS the tax “looks like it’s a goner,” potentially a body-blow for the government and potentially blowing a massive hole in the federal budget, making achieving surplus impossible and prompting public debate about whether the government is charging miners enough for access to publicly-owned resources.

In the tightly-balanced House of Representatives, Labor(72), the Greens (1), Tony Windsor (1), Rob Oakeshott (1) are expected to support the MRRT, with the Coalition (72), Bob Katter (1), WA Nats Tony Crook (1), considered certain to vote against. Many in the Press Gallery had assumed Wilkie would end up supporting it. That now seems quite unlikely from what we hear, meaning the bill would be defeated.

The shock-move by the inner-city left-leaning famous-whistleblower MP could go off like a cluster-bomb when the vote comes up in nearly two weeks, as most had assumed he’d support the tax hike on rich miners, possibly with very minor amendments.

This is especially the case because of talk around Canberra of secret meetings involving pro-mining WA Nationals independent Tony Crook and mining industry titans including the Beijing-financed mining billionaires Andrew Forrest and Clive Palmer.

Scuttlebutt around well-informed bureaucratic circles is that Wilkie has been “duchessed” by Crook in a brilliant campaign of manipulation and, some say, temptation from sources with a financial interest in the outcome.

Wilkie is widely believed to be particularly nervous about his chances in the normally safe Labor seat of Denison, which most expect he’ll lose if he doesn’t get Liberal preferences. After his rather shabby treatment of Tony Abbott since the 2010 election, and the considered opinion of Tasmanian Liberal chieftain Eric Abetz, this seems unlikely. Wilkie has loudly remarked around Canberra about “job security” and is thought not to be keen to his previous activity as a Persian rug salesman.

Certainly, the VEXNEWS Investigations Unit has been consistently hearing Wilkie plans to ditch Denison and run for the Senate in Tasmania, using the national profile he has reasonably astutely built since first elected in 2010, with only one PR disaster after revelations of his behaviour at while doing army officer training at Duntroon.

One significant constraint on Wilkie’s Senate bid would be the cost of running an all-state campaign in the Apple Isle, which would require a significant TV spend. While not the most expensive media markets, it would certainly be vastly more expensive that his Denison effort.

It’s in that context that there has been considerable speculation in Canberra corridors of power that senior mining industry figures have made it very clear just how appreciative they would be if Wilkie went against his normal predilection to soak the rich and big companies.

There is fevered talk that a million-dollar donation – through a variety of complex channels – has been put on the table to give the independent MP an idea of how much support could be offered.

If that’s right, it’s a big number indeed – so big that Tasmanian political insiders say it would enable Wilkie to run a “Brewster’s Millions” style campaign – and certainly should these events come to pass, there’ll be some very serious questions raised about the probity implications of campaign contributions to Wilkie, which he has been reluctant to detail in the past, beyond the bare statutory minimums which continue to be easy to get around for those keen on keeping dirty secrets.


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  1. Wilkie turned down a billion dollar hospital from Abbott, he will do the same with the mining gaints.He got himself in the labor camp and he knows he and his political future is safe.

    Posted by cona | November 10, 2011, 6:44
  2. It’s a pig in a poke. A man’s gotta pay his mortgage, that’s why I plan to become a petty developer too.

    Nothing wrong with an honest man taking a dishonest industry’s money and turning it to good. This is how I justified working with Erica Beachee.

    Posted by Stefan Main | November 10, 2011, 8:34
  3. Wilkie is only pissing in their tent, the mining tax will definitely get up and he supports it 110%.

    Posted by anon | November 10, 2011, 9:49
  4. The pokies lobby should have bailed him out.
    If he will take the big miner’s money, then what is wrong with taking pokies money? or anybody’s money.
    It will all be for a good cause!

    Posted by Insider | November 10, 2011, 9:49
  5. Mr Wilkie’s impact on democracy is corrupting. Stupid Hobartians for electing him. Bring back Duncan Kerr – at least he was an ineffectual left wing MP.

    Posted by bravo | November 10, 2011, 10:15
  6. OR….the Govt could fold and do something about the pokie machines.

    Given the budget implications of the super profits tax not getting up, some sort of action (precommitment, $1 betting limits, no free goes, silent machines, etc.) seems likely.

    As for Mining $$ tempting Wilkie – his USP is integrity. If he accepts mining dosh he loses that, and all the advertising in the world won’t get him elected. He knows that. So…I suspect, do you. ??

    Posted by Zaf | November 10, 2011, 11:06
  7. What is the difference between Wilkie getting a million from the Mining companies for his support, and the Labor party getting many millions from the union movement to support them?

    Neither good, but same difference.

    Posted by Greg | November 10, 2011, 11:24
  8. He likes the position he’s in so is looking for continuity in the job. By himslef, he has no chance. Absolute power does corrupt, even for him.

    Posted by cynic | November 10, 2011, 15:12
  9. Nice try Andrew. But even Abbott knows he’s way on the wrong side of this debate – which is why he barely talks about it now. I doubt very much Wilkie’s going to follow him there.

    Posted by Anon | November 10, 2011, 19:42
  10. “…and is thought not to be keen to his previous activity as a Persian rug salesman.”
    Wilkie’s Flying Carpet Emporium never really took off.

    Posted by Gregoryno6 | November 10, 2011, 20:15
  11. Wilkie’s only salvation will be to officially join the ALP and keep his poxy seat that way.

    Posted by Bob Down | November 11, 2011, 20:11
  12. The left dominated Tassie ALP would never accept Wilkie. The Liberals will decide preferences in Denison at the very last minute. A lot depends on the expected general election result. The key issue for the Tassie Liberals is reducing the power of the Greens so as to make it possible again for them to be in power at the State level.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | November 12, 2011, 20:37
  13. Wilke is gambling with Australia’s future. If he is not prepared to support this important money bill that seeks to have the mining giants pay more into consolidated revenue then Gillard should consider calling a election as soon as a trigger can be found to hold a double dissolution. Wilke would be out on his ear and not entitled to a Parliamentary pension

    Posted by Holding that nation to ransom | November 13, 2011, 9:50
  14. Tasmania is over represented. If we truly believe we are a democracy then there should be one vote one value. Wilke is gone come the next election.

    Posted by Goodbye Wilke | November 13, 2011, 9:54
  15. If there is to be an early election it will because it is in Australia’s best interest. Gillard, contrary to the story pushed by the media, did not set out to oust Kevin Rudd. She was approached by members of caucus who were concerned about Rudd’s leadership. Rudd had lost the numbers and Julia was asked and prepared to put her name forward, but it was not a case of her plotting agsint Kevein for powers sake. It was not a premeditated power grab.

    I have known Gillard for over 25 years and it is just not part of her political makeup. Gillard is very much a team player who has mastered the art of compromise, negotiation and consultation,
    She is the best person to lead a minority Labor government. Highly capable and talented.

    If circumstances arise where she is unable to govern she will stand down and if need be call a Federal election.

    Personally, I am very supportive of her leadership and achievements.

    Julia Gillard has, under difficult circumstances, done well. She has had to endure all kinds of personal, and hurtful attacks related to her physical looks, accent, hair style and marriage status. I guess as a woman she has had to endure more than a male incumbent prime minster would.

    No matter what the future has installed she will be remembered in Australia’s history as being the first Australian female prime minster. Something she can and rightly should be proud of.

    Posted by Melbcity | November 13, 2011, 15:19
  16. Who writes this crap? Are you suggesting that Wilkie is being bribed? Have you met the man? Highly unlikely. Wilkie only seeks the truth. and the truth is simple, RIO and BHP will not be paying anywhere near the amount of tax that the government thinks they will. During the famous meeting with Julia gillard, BHP, RIO and Xstrata had their technical people in the meeting, the Government did NOT have a single person from Treasurery. Who do you think came out on top!!!!

    Posted by mmmotpm | November 14, 2011, 19:04