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Australia is famous for the generous deals it cuts the fossil fuel industry. The lack of taxation derived from miners and gas companies making huge profits extracting and selling our resources is becoming infamous globally. I think it is time to investigate politicians dealing with the fossil fuel industry. Have any of our investigative journalists really dug deep into the financial affairs of the state and federal ministers involved in cutting these generous deals. Is it incompetence or something more sinister? Why would sane members of parliament responsible for Australia’s resources fail to capitalise on their worth for their constituents?

Is this a dirty business at its core?

a group of people walking down a sidewalk next to a body of water

Australian Media Beholden To Corporate Interests

Investigative journalism has been a rare commodity over the last couple of decades in Australia. Media ownership is concentrated in the hands of just a few key corporate players. The Murdoch family, that bastion of right wing diatribes has directly pushed the op/ed over real news gathering – opinion over facts. Advertising revenue from the fossil fuel sector would greatly outweigh anything like journalistic independence in their numerous newspapers and media channels. Nine Fairfax is another corporate media behemoth privy to the same fiscal inclinations. Seven West Media has even closer ties to the mining industry through its owner Kerry Stokes and his other financial interests. I do not see journalism from this source having the gumption or funding to properly investigate the relationship between Australian politicians and the fossil fuel sector.

photography of excavators at mining area

Who Will Investigate The Pollies & The Fossil Fuel Sector?

Who will stand up and investigate the reasons for the grossly unrealised tax revenue from the fossil fuel industry in this country? The politicians making these huge financial decisions effecting the nation for decades have undersold our national interests. What has been in it for them? Kickbacks in the form of well paid lobbying jobs upon retirement from the political fray are obvious.

Are there further inducements to be revealed if an investigative journalist was to dig down into the layers beneath the surface? Would they find the gold or precious minerals filling the Christmas stockings of our political class downunder?

Why do the Norwegians and Qataris manage to extract so much more from their fossil fuel industry?

“If Australia taxed oil and gas exporters in a similar way to Norway, we could add billions of dollars to the budget each year and it would benefit us all,” she said in a statement.

“Nearly 30 years ago, Norway implemented a simple 55 per cent special tax on their resource profits on top of the corporate tax.

“They also tightened up their laws on transfer pricing. As a result Norway now has a sovereign wealth worth over two trillion dollars for the benefit of future generations. In contrast, Australia is leaving future generations a massive debt of nearly $1 trillion.”

In 2023 alone, Norwegians’ share of the country’s oil and gas sector will amount to $209 billion, a 63 per cent cut of the industry’s revenue.”

“In the latest Budget Papers the PRRT is forecast to raise $2.6bn in 2022-23, $2.45bn in 2023-24 and then just $2.1bn in 2024-25 and $2.0bn in 2025-26. That would mean in 2025-26 PRRT revenue would be worth just 0.08% of GDP – around half the level that was raised from the PRRT during the early to mid 2000s.

This is happening while exports of LNG are hitting record heights. Unfortunately, the PRRT is so poorly structured that gas companies are able to avoid having to pay any of the tax through write-downs and profit shifting.

In 2016-17 every $7.30 of exports in the petroleum resources sector equalled $1 of PRRT. In this current financial year, just $1 of PRRT is raised for every $13.60 of petroleum sector exports. If the ratio had remained steady, the PRRT would raise around $1.4bn extra than is currently estimated.

Australians are missing out on revenue that could be used to fund vital services and benefits and crucially help invest in the transition to a zero-emissions economy. The gas sector is massively increasing Australia’s emissions, it should be paying its fair share to help reduce them.”

It is time to investigate politicians dealing with the fossil fuel industry and make them accountable. I see a great opportunity for a keen independent journalist and an organisation to back him or her. Let’s get to the underbelly of what has really been going on. Surely, it is not mere stupidity and incompetence by these politicians on both sides of the aisle! Is this a dirty business at its core?

Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom. 

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