There's a lot of stuff I don't know - as I'm regularly reminded in emails from readers - but one of the things that has really, really confused me for the past couple of years is the Mining Tax .
Now, correct me if I'm wrong: on one side we had a bunch of politicians who thought it might be beneficial to tax our massive, billion-dollar mining companies at a higher rate. That way, we the peeps could get our hands on some extra dosh and build stuff like schools, railways, hospitals and maybe the odd double-lane highway up the eastern seaboard (a.k.a. the bitumen graveyard).
Miners already pay royalties to state governments; the new mining tax was meant to spread the wealth. That is, just because roughly half a planet's worth of iron ore sits within the boundaries of Western Australia, it still belongs to all Aussies and everyone should share the benefits of its sale.
On the other side of the argument were the mining companies, who said if we taxed them any higher, it'd mean they'd have to sack Australian workers, close mines and the Chinese would buy their iron ore, coal and copper from someone else.
So the miners spent $20 million on an advertising campaign telling us out here in couch land how we'd be heavily screwed if they (the miners) had to pay that extra tax. It was kind of like a public service announcement, ya know, helping us all out. Kinda sweet of them, really.
Of course, since then, one of the most outspoken opponents of the tax, Gina Rinehart, has been named THE RICHEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD.
Think on that.
Three point six billion women live on this planet and not one of them has more cash than Gina Rinehart. Kids eat roadkill and women give birth under trees and Gina's spewing because she might fall from first place on the table of Unbelievably Rich Arsehats because she had to pay more tax.
Clive Palmer was another dude who groused about the tax and since then, he's decided to spend some of his spare cash on building animatronic dinosaurs and a replica of the Titanic ... cos, you know, who needs an MRI in a country hospital if you can spend a lazy couple of hundred million on a fat, rich man's version of a billy cart to impress his other fat, rich friends.
Another fabulously wealthy miner, Twiggy Forrest, even went as far as to say that the proposed extra tax on him and his mates was *EVIL*.
"In an interview on ABC Radio, Mr Forrest also said his High Court challenge against the federal government’s mining tax was about conquering evil. All it took for evil to win was for good people to do nothing, the Fortescue chairman said," according to the SMH.
So this is where I get confused. Why did we buy it?
Why did so many hard-working, honest, doing-the-best-they-can Aussies actually believe that ridiculously wealthy individuals and corporations suddenly cared about them?
Once upon a time we were a nation, filled with citizens, and I might have bought this kind of crapola from "The Big Australian" - BHP. But now? Come on.
We're an economy, not a country; filled with consumers, not individuals. That's why BHP has shut down so many of its local ops and moved offshore. It's about them, not us.
So how did some dude who tiles dunnies in Geelong manage to convince himself that Gina Rinehart paying more tax would decrease demand for shower recesses in Victoria? And then tell pollsters he would vote out Labour if they insisted on implementing the tax?
Cos that's what happened.
Thanks to an almost totalitarianly dishonest media campaign, a bunch of fabulously wealthy rich people convinced the rest of us that them paying more tax would be bad for us (please watch that ad, it's laughable). Gina even got on the back of a flatbed truck in Perth with a megaphone screaming "Axe the tax!"
The government then got scared, ditched its leader (Kevin Rudd) and watered down the tax to such a point, I reckon I paid more to the ATO this year than some "mining exploration companies".
Seriously, if you saw this in a movie, you'd throw your choctop at the screen: "How do they make up this unbelievable crap? As if any half-educated citizenry would fall for that sort of con job?"
But we did.
Yes, we have to make this country attractive for mining investors, and yes, the then-Rudd government should have done a bit more talking to, than talking at, the big miners. But the result is now one that befuddles me.
It seems the big miners have gotten all the cream, and the mid- to small-sized miners have been scared off. Whatever the case, the window we all have to benefit from the mining boom is sure to close sooner rather than later.
In that time, we could use some of the hundreds of billions of dollars being torn from our ground to retool our economy. One that's going to be less about rocks and hard hats, than it will be ideas and servicing the hundreds of millions of middle-class Chinese and Indians who are sprouting from the jobs created by the raw materials we're exporting them.
And instead of "spreading the wealth", incredible, world-beating amounts of riches are accruing to a tiny percentage of our population in an almost diabolical inversion of what is "good for the country".
And we don't see it.
For heaven's sake, even The New Yorker magazine, 18,000km away from Perth, has noted the significance of what is happening.
In a recent profile on Rinehart, William Finnegan, makes the observation:
Australia was the land of the fair go - of equal opportunity, and a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. People used to make fun, in the nineteenth century, of the "bunyip aristocracy": nouveau-riche Australians who wanted to settle themselves on top of the colonial social heap. All that is changing. Inequality is on the rise. The share of income going to the top one per cent in Australia has doubled since 1979.
Gina, Clive and Twiggy must laugh their arses off about how easily manipulated we are.
We had a term for it at high school - "Vegemite mining".
It meant being rooted up the bum.
Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.