Canberra is "really hopeless": Walsh

Tuesday, 8 June, 2010 - 13:35

WA industry leaders Richard Goyder, Sam Walsh and Andrew Forrest lined up today to criticise deputy prime minister Julia Gillard and the federal government's tax and economic policies.

Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive, Mr Walsh, was unusually blunt in his description of the federal government's consultation process for the resoure super profits tax.

"Quite frankly it has been dysfunctional and really hopeless," Mr Walsh told a Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA lunch in Perth today.

Ms Gillard responded by likening the current tax debate to the discussions she held over workplace relations reform a few years ago.

Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Andrew Forrest continued his attack on the proposed tax, saying the 40 per cent tax credit for failed projects was worthless and therefore undermined the rationale for the tax. Hence, he likened the proposal to "the emperor with no clothes".

Ms Gillard ducked the issue, saying "its not my job today to talk through the details of the tax".

Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder focused his criticism on the government's strategy for dealing with a two-speed economy.

He said Canberra was "hobbling the mining sector" and also argued for lower taxes.

"I'll back the directors and shareholders of Wesfarmers to spend our money more wisely than any government, past or present," Mr Goyder saud.

Ms Gillard claimed the government wanted to lift slow-moving sectors of the economy rather than slowing fast-growth sectors.

Meanwhile, mining companies have issued a call to arms for miners and their families to rally outside a Perth hotel Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is due to appear tomorrow..

Mr Rudd will be in Perth ahead of a community cabinet meeting, where he is expected to attend a Press Club lunch.

In an email forwarded to mining companies and workers, Atlas Iron managing director David Flanagan said West Australians need to stand up and express their opposition to the government's resource super profits tax.

"This mining tax will hurt you, it will hurt your family, your friends and all Australians," Mr Flanagan said in the email.

"It is not just a mining tax, it's a tax on everyone. It will cost thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in individual superannuation.

"Housing prices will be hit and so will your quality of life."

Mr Flanagan said the RSPT will cause "economic disaster of enormous proportions".

"It has damaged Australia's reputations. It makes our mining industry less competitive and it must be stopped.

"You need to be there for your kids, the people who can't be there and for our future generations."

The rally is expected to start at 11.30am.