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We won't die wondering: Forrest

FORTESCUE Metals Group founder and chairman Andrew Forrest said the High Court of Australia's verdict on the Minerals Resource Rent Tax was a disappointment, but he was glad they challenged.

Kristie Batten
We won't die wondering: Forrest

Forrest and his wife, Nicola, arrived in Kalgoorlie for the conclusion of Diggers & Dealers just hours after the High Court upheld the MRRT as legal.

“We gave it a great shot, we went in and we believed on strong constitutional grounds and happy that we won’t die wondering,” Forrest said outside the conference.

“We’re happy that we challenged, we would have wondered otherwise and the fact that companies like ours will waste millions of dollars, for no one’s benefit, in its administration, because of its complexity, just means…no, I’m glad we challenged.

“I feel comfortable that justice has seen its day, we gave it a very good constitutional shot, the High Court didn’t agree with us and that’s their perfect right.”

Forrest said FMG had special counsel advice that its challenge had a good chance of succeeding.

“We did believe that a law which was brought in such a bastardry-style fashion, where there is no real governance, which the Australian people should rely on, which is expected of its corporate citizens, but was certainly not reflected over that period by our government,” he said.

“It deserved challenge on constitutional grounds and it received challenge,” he said.

Despite the fact that FMG has never paid MRRT and does not expect to pay MRRT any time soon, Forrest maintained his strong opposition to the tax.

“The fact that we’ve wasted up to $5 million this year just on its administration, the fact that six High Court judges had to sit on it, the fact that Andrew Wilkie, the independent, apologised for bringing the law in in his pivotal role,” Forrest said.

“He’s since seen what we were saying to him, that it would be a disaster of a tax, which you would expect when it was brought in for pure political and non-governance grounds.

“It would almost be not brave to say that it’s costing the industry as much as it’s supposedly raising so therefore, it’s one big negative tax.”

Forrest said the next step for the MRRT was simply the “rolling out of history”

“History will judge this tax for what it is. It’s already done that,” he said.

“We’ve had the multibillion-dollar predictions about how much it would raise, we’ve had the multibillion disappointments about how much it would raise and how much it didn’t.

“As each year rolls on it will become more farcical and more obvious to the Australian people that this tax was a pure political fix, it came in under bad governance and the result therefore was predictable.”

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