Nationalise the mining industry

The giant mining corporations make the biggest profits of all industries in Australia. BHP Billiton posted a profit of $14.7 billion last year, while Rio Tinto made a half-year profit of almost $5 billion.

In 2012, the mining industry made 21.6% of all profit in Australia, despite employing only 2.3% of the workforce.

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart is the richest person in the country, with a personal fortune of $17 billion — making her the richest woman in the world. Yet she recently called for a reduction in the minimum wage, and argued Australian workers should be willing to work for $2 a day!

The mining industry pays the lowest rate of tax on profits (13.9%) of any industry in Australia. An attempt by the former Rudd Labor government to raise taxes on mining industry super-profits results in a multi-million dollar smear and fear campaign, vicious lobbying and blackmail threats to move overseas, and literally, the overthrow of the elected leader of the country.

The big mining corporations are blatantly ripping us off, running roughshod over Aboriginal land rights and destroying the environment, with an absolute minimum of public control and oversight.

And when the world mining boom runs out of steam, as it inevitably will when the growth of China, India and other countries slows down, we will be left with nothing but a landscape littered with giant holes in the ground — and the mineral resources which rightfully belong to all the people, wasted and lost forever.

And not only does the mining industry pay little tax, it receives massive subsidies from the public purse through diesel fuel tax rebates, and accelerated depreciation on assets and exploration. These are set to total around $13 billion over the next four years.

Let’s end the big mining rip-off once and for all:

  • Nationalise the mining industry under community and workers’ control.
  • Put the country’s huge mineral resources in public hands, under popular management.

That way, all the mineral wealth can be used for good of the community and the environment. Mining can be carried out in a planned and rational way to protect the environment and recognise Aboriginal rights.

We can phase out the mining of fossil fuels, especially coal, accompanied by the redirection of funds toward retraining and creation of green jobs for displaced workers, in rapidly expanding renewable energy industries, such as solar, wind power and geothermal.

In place of a mining industry which exploits the land and the people, at the whim of “world markets,” we can create one which is subject to rational planning and strict environmental regulation, under democratic and community control.

And the mineral wealth, instead of going into the pockets of the mining billionaires, can be used to fund public health, education and transport, and to help construct a society based on human need, not corporate greed.