The Australian Senate has passed a motion ordering the tax commissioner to reveal the total revenues the government has generated from the Mineral Resources Rent Tax (MRRT) since it was introduced in July 2012.
The opposition demanded transparency over tax earnings in January after it was revealed by The Australian newspaper that the MRRT has failed to raise any revenue.
In the 2012-13 budget, the government forecast that MRRT would raise $3bn but this figure was later brought down to $2bn.
So far the big miners – Rio Tinto, Xstrata and BHP Billiton – appear not to have paid any tax and the government has refused to divulge details of the money raised, citing privacy provisions in the tax laws.
But the new motion, which was introduced by Greens leader Christine Milne, notes that revealing the revenue details promotes public confidence and shows whether the tax system is working appropriately.
The motion has compelled the Commissioner of Taxation to provide the Senate Economics References Committee with MRRT revenue details by 15 February 2013.
According to the motion, the disclosure refers to companies and does not breach the confidentiality of individuals.
Image: The Australian Senate ordered the tax commissioner to disclose the mining tax revenues on the grounds of public interest. Photo: Elliot k.