The controversial mining tax remains poised to deliver Australia's surplus target, Treasurer Wayne Swan insisted on Thursday, despite reports of zero revenue following the program's roll out on July 1 this year.
Mr Swan pointed to the minerals resource rent tax's (MRRT) basic design of coming into full play when market prices of commodities are at high levels and profits generated by mining giants are shooting up.
Unfortunately for the September quarter, which also covered the first three months of the Labor-introduced MRRT, "we have had a real crash in commodity prices, which has affected not only resource rent taxes, but company taxes as well."
The hardest hit, Mr Swan said were iron ore and coal shipments, which make up the bulk of resources exports coming from Australia.
"When they go down it doesn't necessarily deliver the same amount of money," the treasurer was quoted by Fairfax as saying.
In spite of the dismal Q1 for the 30 per cent tax, geared mainly on iron ore and coal mining operations in Australia, the forecast gains for the MRRT presented during the Monday budget review will be maintained, the government said.
That should mean, Mr Swan asserted, that the federal government would collect revenues of up to $2 billion via the mining tax by the end of financial year 2012-13, which would be pushed further to around $9 billion over the next four years.
He reiterated that the tax remains effective and clarified "you can't take one particular quarter and claim that as representative of the whole year."
Despite claims by the Coalition, the government remains focus to realise a surplus on 2013, Mr Swan, which has been downgraded to $1.1 billion following Labor's budget review on Monday.
But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is convinced all the more that the mining tax is detrimental to the domestic economy, noting that "only the Labor Party could introduce a confidence-destroying, investment-destroying tax and then not raise any money."
Speaking to reporters in Sydney, Mr Abbott pinned the blame on the Gillard Government for it "can introduce a new tax which does massive damage to our reputation overseas, which does massive damage to investor perceptions of Australia and so botch it."
His shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, urged Mr Swan to accept the glaring reality that "the surplus is gone ... let's stop the charade."
With its hand empty-handed after a quarter of the MRRT in effect, Mr Hockey said the tax is doomed and "this is a new benchmark in public policy."
More worrisome, he added, is the soured relationship between the government the country's business community because of Labor's insistence to push for the mining tax's implementation.
"I have never seen such a failed relationship as that between this government and the business community in Australia," Mr Hockey told ABC.
Also, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) was under the impression that the federal government has encountered ill-timing on its efforts to nudge the MRRT into action, its worst enemy turning out to be the early peak of the mining boom.
"I think timing hasn't been in favour of the government on this one," ACCI's Greg Evans told ABC today.
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