Foreign owned interests dominate mining lobby groups: Australia Institute

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Australia Coal Mining
A stacker/reclaimer places coal in stockpiles at the coal port in Newcastle June 6, 2012. Reuters/Daniel Munoz

A recent study by the Australia Institute has found that the nation’s mining industry is dominated by foreign corporate interests. They are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence Australia’s political process.

According to the research, the total revenue of mining lobby groups for the past 10 years is $524,150,431. The Minerals Council of Australia is believed to be accounting for $203,132,666 of this.

Foreign owned interests dominate the mining lobby groups. Foreign companies hold 7 out of 12 on the Queensland Resources Council board and holding 5 out of 10 positions on the Minerals Council board.

Over the past ten years, mining industry spending on lobbying has cost taxpayers up to $157.2 million. The research shows that revenue of mining lobby group is rising over time, peaking in 2011-12 at $90.4 million. It comes amid the Minerals Resource Rent Tax debate.

Executive Director of The Australia Institute Ben Oquist revealed that individual companies spend hundreds of millions more. “The mining industry is spending hundreds of millions of dollars influence to our political process through its peak lobby groups,” he revealed.

Oquist explained that 83 percent of the mining industry is foreign owned. It means foreign interests hold the majority of board positions in the mining lobby.

The purpose of these foreign corporate mining interests in their attempt to influence the government is to help increase their profits, Oquist said according to a media release published at tai.org.au. He warned that they do not act in the public interest, but twist sound economic decision making instead. He added that the mining industry spend on lobbying has cost taxpayers over $150 million this decade.

Reuters reports that the country will commit $100 million to secure private investment in greenfield mineral exploration. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced new tax incentives for junior exploration companies at a Western Australian Liberal Party conference.

The Australian leader said the move would encourage investment and “risk taking.” “These tax incentives will encourage junior explorers to take risks and to have a go at discovering the next large-scale mineral deposit,” Turnbull said. Australian resident investors of junior explorer companies will receive a tax credit under the scheme.

Resource Minister Barnaby Joyce believes the credit would make it more financially attractive for mineral explorers to find resources in untapped regions. He noted that the nation has not had a world-class mineral discovery in more than two decades. 

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