Forrest slams Swan over mining tax ‘war’

Forrest slams Swan over mining tax ‘war’

Updated March 23, 2012 09:26:57

Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) chairman Andrew Forrest has hit back at Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan’s description of him as “greedy and irresponsible”.

It is the first time Mr Forrest has publicly commented on the issue since Mr Swan’s article in The Monthly, which attacked him for his campaigns against the mining and carbon taxes.

Mr Swan criticised mining magnates Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer and Mr Forrest, saying they were working against good public policy.

Speaking at a Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry dinner in Perth, the FMG boss criticised the amount the Government has spent promoting the mining tax, likening it to warfare.

He maintained his opposition to the tax, saying it would see BHP, Rio Tinto and Xstrata paying very little, and queried Mr Swan’s abilities.

“That is the theme of course which our venerable Treasurer has continued, where we seem to be at war with each other,” he said.

“If you happen to disagree with the Treasurer then you’re un-Australian, un-democratic, probably Communist.

“Oh for a Treasurer who can add up and subtract, as easily as he can deceive the Australian worker.

“To add up that if you impose a tax, 23 per cent on so-called super profits, but then you subtract a huge deduction against that – like a company’s market value for its coal and iron ore assets – then you could probably see they’re not going to really pay a lot of that tax.

“But you can rant and rave about how the MRRT is going to spread the boom for all Australians.”

Mr Forrest did not confirm if FMG was definitely going ahead with a High Court challenge to the tax.

This morning, Mr Swan responded to Mr Forrest’s attack.

He says FMG last year admitted to having never paid a single cent of company tax, yet it will now try to prevent millions of small businesses getting a tax cut themselves.

“I’ll go into bat for the Australian community any day of the week and twice on Sundays to ensure the community gets a fair go from the mining boom, while Mr Forrest goes into bat for his own self-interest,” he told the ABC.

FMG has been looking at its legal options since the Minerals Resource Rent Tax passed the Senate this week.

The tax will take effect from the middle of the year, but FMG says it has engaged senior counsel and will commence proceedings once legal opinion has been finalised.

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says his government will not initiate its own legal challenge to the tax but will join any challenge that is mounted.

The Senate has called on the Federal Government to release a summary of its legal advice to deal with concerns that the tax is unconstitutional.

Labor says it will respond to the request, but is confident in its legal position.

Topics:mining-industry, industry, business-economics-and-finance, federal-government, government-and-politics, tax, perth-6000, wa, australia

First posted March 23, 2012 07:20:47

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