'Axe the tax' says rally of thousands

THOUSANDS of protesters turned out at a rally against the federal government’s planned resources super-profits tax in Perth yesterday afternoon, outside a luncheon meeting where Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was due to speak.

Nick Evans

The well-heeled crowd of 2000-3000 people broke into raucous chants of “axe the tax” as a who’s who of the local mining industry railed against the proposed 40% profit tax on mining operations.

Atlas Iron chief executive David Flanagan, one of the speakers at the rally organised by the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, told the crowd the flow-on effect of the tax’s impost would hit workers in virtually every industry around the country.

“When you are threatening to rip off working families by slugging a massive new tax on the engine room of the economy, a tax which will cost thousands of jobs around the country in virtually every industry and every corner of the community imaginable, you can hardly be surprised when people turn around in their millions and say ‘no more’,” he said.

Other speakers were Fortescue Metals Group’s Andrew Forrest, BC Iron’s Mike Young, Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO James Pearson and mining magnate Gina Rinehart, in a rare public appearance.

Forrest accused the prime minister of edging towards communism, looking to lump the local mining industry with a massive new tax as communist China looked for ways to lower taxes to encourage new mining activity.

“In China right now there’s a fierce debate about how to lower their resources tax to encourage the mining industry,” he said.

“I ask you, which communist is turning capitalist and which capitalist is turning communist?”

Rinehart told a media pack after her speech that the “time for negotiation is over”

If the government had been genuinely committed to consultation early, she said, there may have been some room for compromises on both sides.

“But as it is, the only way forward is for the tax to be scrapped,” Rinehart said.

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