News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: ATO keeps Swan in the dark on mining tax; Ambre Energy admits coal mine won't proceed; and Carr passes on BHP PNG dispute.

Lou Caruana

ATO keeps Swan in the dark on mining tax

The Gillard government has produced advice from its own bureaucrats saying it would be illegal to tell Treasurer Wayne Swan or Finance Minister Penny Wong how much revenue is being raised by the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The move has been slammed by former treasurer Peter Costello as an unprecedented attempt to hide the failure of the tax.

The Treasury minutes, dated yesterday and seen by the AFR, is based on formal advice from the Australian government solicitor that disclosing “protected information” of tax collections for the September quarter could lead to two years jail.

Ambre Energy admits coal mine won't proceed

Queensland mining start-up Ambre Energy has conceded it cannot proceed with one of the nation's most controversial proposed coal mines, writing off more than $10 million in project costs, according to The Australian.

The Brisbane-based company – which plans to mine coal in the US northwest and export it to Asia – reported a $62.8 million loss for the year to June 30 as it scrambled to raise capital.

Ambre's only planned Australian project, a coal mine and chemical plant in the prime agricultural land of the Felton Valley, about 30km west of Toowoomba in southeast Queensland, attracted fierce opposition from local farmers.

Carr passes on BHP PNG dispute

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has refused to publicly support former Ok Tedi mine chairman Professor Ross Garnaut in a dispute between Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and BHP Billiton, according to the AFR.

Carr said a travel ban on Garnaut should be dealt with at the consular level.

The federal government is reluctant to be drawn in because it hopes its relationship will improve under the relatively new PNG government.

O’Neill has accused BHP of having a colonial mentality towards PNG by not giving up full control over the fund that has majority ownership of the Ok Tedi copper mine.

He imposed a travel ban on Garnaut due to his critical comments on the issue.