News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: Overhaul of rules on port access crucial, says Xstrata; Carbon tax budget hole; and no plans to change MRRT, says Gillard

Lou Caruana

Overhaul of rules on port access crucial, says Xstrata

Mining giant Xstrata is demanding an overhaul of the rules governing access to vital export ports and rail, reports The Australian.

It says easing infrastructure constraints has never been more critical as the high cost of doing business and stronger competition from developing nations makes Australia less competitive.

Xstrata argues the changes are needed because asset owners such as rail operators have the power and incentive to raise prices unreasonably and restrict the access to their facilities – saying actions by coal carrier Aurizon (formerly QR National) are proof of this.

Carbon tax budget hole

Modelling for the federal government’s key climate change adviser acknowledges carbon prices may slump in 2015-16, probably creating a $4 billion revenue hole in the already stretched budget, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The government’s carbon pricing scheme was based on forecasts that the market-based carbon price would continue to rise steadily after a $25.40 a tonne fixed price in 2015 converts to a floating price.

But unreported modelling for the Climate Change Authority reveals a central case used to calculate the economic impact of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) assumes the carbon price will fall from July 2015 to $10.72 a tonne. European carbon prices are currently trading at $5 to $6, making a fall in the Australian price more likely.

No plans to change MRRT, says Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has declined to rule out changes to the mining tax, saying the commonwealth and state treasurers are discussing the treatment of royalties under the contentious plan, according to the Australian Financial Review.

“We’ve got no plans to change the MRRT,” Gillard told question time in federal parliament after being asked several times to rule changes in or out. “We have got a process that has been underway for quite some time.”

The tax, which was supposed to raise $2 billion this year but collected just $126 million in its first six months, dominated question time after former prime minister Kevin Rudd took a veiled swipe at Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan for watering down the mining tax in the face of a $22 million advertising campaign by the miners.