News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: Macdonald wanted coal deal handled ‘in house’; Treasury unsure on mining tax outlook; and coal exports down after February floods.

Staff Reporter

Macdonald wanted coal deal handled ‘in house’

Former NSW Labor mining minister Ian Macdonald wanted a $100 million coal licence for a company chaired by former union official John Maitland to be prepared “in-house” by his office because his department opposed the plan, a corruption inquiry has heard, the Australian Financial Review reports.

Jamie Gibson, who was deputy chief of staff in Macdonald’s office at the time, told the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Wednesday that the paperwork for the exploration licence at Doyles Creek near Newcastle should have been “rightly prepared by the department”

“[The minister] wanted it done quickly and he wanted it done in-house,” Gibson said.

He agreed this was an “extraordinary direction” and said it was “the first of its kind that I’ve heard of”

Treasury unsure on mining tax outlook

Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson admits it could be well after the end of the current financial year before his department is able to confidently forecast expected revenue from the troubled minerals resource rent tax (MRRT), according to the Australian Financial Review.

Dr Parkinson faced a fresh round of questioning by senators in Canberra yesterday over the Treasury department’s failure to anticipate a huge shortfall in MRRT revenue, which had been expected to bring in $2 billion in 2012-13.

The government in February conceded the tax had brought in just $126 million in its first six months of operations – wounding the government’s credibility and helping upend Treasurer Wayne Swan’s strategy of returning the budget to surplus this year.

Coal exports down after February floods

Coal exports from Australia continued to decline in February as damage to infrastructure caused by heavy rains disrupted shipments of the fuel, largely destined for Asian customers, according to The Australian.

Exports from major Australian coal terminals fell 11.5% during the month, from about 28.2 million tonnes in January to 24.9Mt, figures compiled by The Wall Street Journal showed.