KEVIN RUDD was advised by one senator to use a live televised address to the nation to explain his mining tax as an anxious caucus urged the Prime Minister to settle the matter quickly while not giving in to the demands of the big miners.The government acknowledged there was no one-size-fits-all approach to its proposed 40 per cent resources super profits tax, saying it would negotiate arrangements with the miners, company by company or sector by sector.Mr Rudd told his caucus that unity and holding its nerve were essential if the government were to prevail and that talks with the miners had moved from ”consultation to negotiation”.As flagged by the Herald yesterday, the government is targeting the smaller operators, such as the coal-seam gas, and sand and gravel industries, for agreement to take some of the heat out of the anti-tax campaign.Yesterday, the cameras were invited to film Mr Rudd, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and the Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, meeting the British Gas executive, Catherine Tanna, in the Prime Minister’s office.The government lauded a statement by Ms Tanna saying the talks had been ”productive”.But a source said there was not much hope of shutting down the campaign by the minerals giants such as BHP Billiton or Rio Tinto before the election because the conditions they were demanding were unacceptable.Caucus sources said Mr Rudd criticised the agendas of the big miners by pointing out they also helped fund a campaign against Labor in the lead-up to the 2007 election in support of the Howard government’s Work Choices.Sources said Mr Ferguson, in describing the ferocity of the miners’ campaign, said some companies regarded themselves as ”bigger, stronger and more important” than sovereign governments. About 12 MPs and senators spoke out in a meeting, the mood of which was described as defiant.The NSW senator, Steve Hutchins, urged Mr Rudd to shut down the debate by the end of next week when Parliament rises for what could be the last time before an election is called.Outside caucus, the WA frontbencher, Gary Gray, said it needed to be resolved by August. Most concerns regarded the lack of understanding among voters of the benefits of the tax which included funding a 2 per cent cut to the company tax rate, new infrastructure, and boosting superannuation.The Northern Territory senator, Trish Crossin, urged Mr Rudd to consider a five-minute televised address this Sunday night.Rio Tinto again complained there had been no proper consultation since the tax was announced on May 2, prompting an angry rebuke from the Treasurer’s office.”This is not true. There have been numerous discussions with the company and they should not be pretending otherwise,” a spokesman said.One MP, Damian Hale, suggested Mr Rudd make light of his predicament by swimming in a crocodile tank in Darwin.Letters – Page 14
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