Dryblower on the weird world of Julia in Wonderland

IF Lewis Carroll had not already written the story of Alice in Wonderland, <i>Dryblower</i> would not be surprised if someone else created a similar tale using Australia as the weird Wonderland while casting the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, as Alice.

Tim Treadgold
Dryblower on the weird world of Julia in Wonderland

In the original, Alice falls down a rabbit hole to discover Wonderland. In the new version Julia falls down a mine shaft to discover Australia.

Just as Alice found odd creatures in her Wonderland, such as a Mad March Hare, a Mock Turtle and a Caterpillar smoking a Hookah, Julia also discovers strange beasts.

In Julia’s underground world there are teams of contractors rolling out a national broadband cable system that has never been properly costed, thousands of workers on improper 457 visas, and miners avoiding a tax that doesn’t work, or exploiting the system with improper claims for exploration expenditure.

There’s no need to continue painting the word-picture because it’s obvious where Dryblower is coming from, and where he is heading.

Australia, for the mining industry (and perhaps for everyone in the country) has become a weird and unfriendly place where the normal rules of business and government have been turned upside-down.

The mining tax that raises no tax, or very little at best, is one of the strange aspects to Australia as Wonderland because it was supposed to be a tax that enabled the government to punish its rich enemies and reward its poor (voter) friends.

What a pity for Julia that her government spent the proceeds of the tax that never was, now facing an election with an empty cupboard and angry voters.

The same thing happened with another mad tax in Wonderland (sorry Australia).

The carbon tax, which Julia and her friend, Whine Swan, thought would also create a perfect way to rob the rich and pay the voters (sorry, the poor) also proved to be a non-starter – which added to the problem of having pre-distributed the loot.

It goes on, with the weird world of Julia’s Australia also becoming a place where unwanted school halls have been built, pink batts installed in ceilings at double the normal cost and where the mining industry has morphed into a sort of automatic teller machine (ATM) to be raided whenever spare cash is required.

For that last observation, Dryblower thanks another interesting character in Julia’s world of weird Australia, the amazingly rich Queen of Mining, Gina Rinehart.

Not everyone’s favourite person, Queen Gina is actually turning out to be one of the few people in the new book who speaks a degree of common sense, with her recent warning about why government should not treat the mining industry as an ATM one of the best recent political one-liners.

What annoyed Queen Gina, and annoys Blower just as much, is the latest attack on miners with the removal of some of the tax-deductible aspects of costs associated with mineral exploration.

If you believe Julia’s version of events, and that requires a leap down a rabbit hole and entry into the parallel universe once occupied by Alice, there are hundreds of mineral explorers claiming vast amounts of improper exploration costs as a way of dodging their tax obligations.

Perhaps there is the odd case of someone claiming something to which they are not entitled, a situation which is hardly novel in the world of tax.

But to brand an entire industry as a being guilty of wholesale tax fraud is utterly ridiculous and should be seen for what it really is; a desperate grab of tax to help fill a hole that the government has dug for itself by botching previous changes to tax law.

The logic behind the exploration tax raid is as spurious as another example of weird government in Julia’s Australia; the crackdown on 457 visas for foreign workers.

In both cases – exploration tax and 457 visas – a “straw man” argument has been concocted, with Julia claiming there are “thousands” of examples of rorted 457 visas, and that there are countless examples of explorers “rorting” the tax system.

The problem for Julia is that when asked to “name names” and give examples of the 457 racket or the exploration deduction scam she falls short, unable to say precisely who is in the country under false pretences or who has claimed a tax break on exploration costs when they should not have done so.

For most people in the mining industry, the situation in Australia has morphed from the weird into the intolerable. While Julia may imagine that the mining industry cannot escape her strange world, she will, if re-elected on September 14, discover that mining is extremely mobile.

Rather than invest in Julia’s weird world, miners will invest elsewhere, a trend that is already evident and one which will grow larger every day that she remains PM.


A growing series of reports, each focused on a key discussion point for the mining sector, brought to you by the Mining Monthly Intelligence team.

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