Miners reject Rudd’s $6Bn olive branch


“Perhaps if there had been negotiations earlier it would have been different, but now the damage to Australia has gone on for too long,” she said.

But the Prime Minister has shown no signs of backing away from his planned reforms.

During his press club address Mr Rudd invoked the name of Sir John Forrest, the former premier of Western Australia and a long-distant relative of mining magnate Andrew Forrest.

Mr Rudd says Sir John also started a program of infrastructure building during the gold rush boom and in the face of protests at the time.

The Prime Minister promised billions from the controversial tax would go to the regions responsible for the mining boom.

But the announcement sank like a stone, with one journalist claiming Mr Rudd had shot himself in the foot with the tax and his policy on asylum seekers.

He was blasted for allegedly failing to genuinely consult the industry on the tax changes.

Mr Forrest rose to his feet to challenge the Prime Minister.

“Would you now be consulting with your cabinet colleagues… about how you’ve taken your government from their great chance at the next election to no great chance at all now?” Mr Forrest asked.

Mr Rudd, well versed in the art of diplomacy, trod carefully.

“As I say to other companies here in the room today, the reason we are here in the west is to consult,” he said.

“The reason we are here in the west is to listen… [and] to make sure we have heard clearly how the proposed tax change effects your individual company’s circumstances.”

Under pressure

The Prime Minister no doubt will face similar tough questions at the community cabinet hearing in south Perth this evening and it is believed he will sit down with Mr Forrest tomorrow to discuss his concerns.

Mr Rudd is under pressure from mining companies to compromise on the tax proposal, with a strong push for him to change the definition of a “super profit”.

But before his entrance to the press club, he indicated the tax rate was not going to change.

“I’ve said we’re consulting with industry on implementation, on detail and on generous transitional arrangements. And that’s precisely what the treasury consultation panel is doing with companies right across Australia,” he said.

Mr Rudd also revealed for the first time that his talks with BHP Billiton chief Marius Kloppers were as well as expected.

“We had a cordial and frank discussion and I’m sure we’ll continue to do that in the future,” he said.

He says the Federal Government has got the tax rate correct and will help mining companies with generous transition arrangements.

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says it is hard to see what compromises the Government can make.

Mr Abbott says the tax needs to be dropped before it causes more damage.

“The problem with this tax is that he can’t change it without destroying his budget strategy and he can’t keep it without destroying the resources sector’s expansion in this country,” he said.

“He’s in a very difficult position.”

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