The Australian federal government on Wednesday introduced its controversial mining tax legislation to the parliament, despite yet to secure enough support from cross- benchers to get the bills pass through.
Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten, who introduce the draft laws of Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT), said the mining boom will not last forever and the government has to make the most of the opportunity "while the sun is shining".
He said the tax will apply to the most highly-profitable mines after extraction, but will allow new investment to be written off.
"This is the right reform at the right time, this is a proud day for all Australians," Shorten told the parliament in Canberra. "This landmark legislation is part of a reform package that will build and strengthen our economy."
The federal government currently lacks the support to get the bills through the parliament, as the minority government needs support from four non-Labor MPs to secure 75 votes against the Coalition's 74 votes.
While key Independent Andrew Wilkie is yet to come to a decision on the tax, Tony Windsor said he will support the tax only if the government agrees to provide hundreds of millions of dollars to fund scientific studies of coal seam gas projects' impact on sensitive farm land. Another key independent, Rob Oakeshott, is making similar demands.
Draft laws to extend the Petroleum Resources Rent Tax to all oil and gas projects were also introduced to the lower house on Wednesday.
Debate on the MRRT and the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax Assessment Amendment, along with nine other related bills, is continuing, and the government is hoping the bills will pass the lower house by the end of the year.
The MRRT, which will apply only to iron ore and coal, is due to begin on July 1, 2012, and is budgeted to make about 11.4 billion U.S. dollars in its first three years.