A new Eureka Rebellion?


So the government is at war with the miners over taxes. Haven’t we seen it all before? Back in 1854 the miners of the day revolted against the government imposed tax (the Miner’s Licence). The government hit back with force and over 30 people died. And the government backed down. (See here).

Today, the miners have revolted through the media and the government has hit back. See here and here for example. Sinclair Davidson has his view here. Physical death has been replaced by character assassination. But the irony is that the political left (some of whom still use the symbol of the Eureka flag) now support the tax.

We may not see Gina, Clive and Andrew manning the barricades or the army sent into the Pilbara. And we may or may not see the government back down.  But if history is anything to go by, the debate over the mining tax is not just going to fade away!


7 Responses to "A new Eureka Rebellion?"
  1. Difference is the mining magnates are being taxed but HAVE representation, unlike the “taxation without representation is tyranny” mantra of Eureka.

  2. Err, I think nine zeros put Gina, Clive, and Andrew in a different category to those miners in 1854. There’s no irony.

  3. The issue of the form of the mining tax should be distinguished from its size.

    Those who support the current output-based royalty system as opposed to a tax system based on profits or rents are not worthy of being listened to.  Those who claim that a switch to a tax system that claims a bigger share of mining’s net take have a more defensible position though one that does not seem to me to be strong.  It might be unfair the predominantly foreign investors who control the Australian mining sector or it might be part of a slippery slope towards increased future profits taxes which might have disincentive effects.  Not sure of that. 

    But the idea that a government cannot increase a tax because once a tax is set is immutably fixed does not make sense.

  4. There seems to be little relevance to the comparison, perhaps it’s somewhat desperate attempt at reframing the debate.

  5. 85% of the biggest Australian mining companies shares are owned by foreigners. And we are not talking poor Chinese, but New York and London based traders. Why we should identify with those traders or tolerate their attempt to interfere in our political processes I dont know. Media campaigns by foreign firms should be dismissed almost out of hand and not compared to prior domestic struggles.
    I see it as entirely in our own national interest to increase the tax on the natural resource extraction these companies are involved in. I would prefer a profit tax over a royalty, but in a pinch….

  6. Stephen, in the mid 19C the tax was on miners. At present the btax is on minig company profits. A strong difference.

  7. Yes, On your Marx, the comparable tax today would be licence fees for professions such as electricians, health care workers and real estate receptionists. Yes, you need a licence to be a real estate receptionist in some Australian states, and it is about to become all in an attempt to improve labour mobility.

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