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The coal miner’s election wish list

World Coal,

Australian’s go to the polls on Saturday 7 September with the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, currently the favourite to unseat Kevin Rudd as prime minister. After seeing government interference in the mining sector increase dramatically over the past six years of Labour government, here are three things the industry will be hoping for under a new Conservative government.

1. Scrap the super tax on coal and iron ore profits

The Minerals Rent Resource Tax was introduced in 2012 and levies a 30% charge on so-called super profits in the iron ore and coal mining industries. Although originally expected to raise AU$ 3 billion the for financial year to June 2013, tax revenues have been hit by the slump in commodity prices, making only AU$ 126 million in the first six months of operation.

2. Scrap the carbon tax

Introduced by Julia Gillard, the then prime minister, after the last general election, the carbon tax has been unpopular with industry and voters – with some blaming it for Labor’s slide in popularity. "Whoever gets rid of it will get my vote," said Mark Keene, a 54-year-old maintenance worker from Sydney quoted by the AP press wire, while Tony Abbott has the declared the election a “referendum on the carbon tax.”

3. Cut red (and green) tape

The World Economic Forum recently put Australia 129th out of 148 for government regulations – 25 places lower than India. According to Reuters, Australian mining companies are sitting on 100 million tpa of potential coal production but are increasingly frustrated by a permitting system that can take years to work through. “My expectation is that if Australia is going to stay competitive, they’ll have no choice but to streamline the approval process”, said Paul Mulder, managing director of GVK Hancock Coal.

The increase in green tape – the process of gaining environmental permits – is an increasing problem as environmental campaigners try to bog down new coal projects in the courts. “Green tape in Australia really has become very stifling for business, to the point now where it's difficult to tell the difference between green and red tape, it's so embedded," Whitehaven Coal CEO, Paul Flynn, told Reuters.

Written by Jonathan Rowland

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