5 July 2010

Julia Gillard continues to mislead voters on the Australian Constitution

Julia Gillard wants voters to forget that Australia is a federation of states with rights that are enshrined in the Australian Constitution, because they don’t sit well with Labor’s agenda to further centralise power in Canberra.

One of the central themes of the Rudd-Gillard Labor government’s campaign to win votes for its proposed Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) is that the nation’s minerals are owned by all Australians. As the government realises, this statement is misleading, as talkback radio host Alan Jones pointed out in his interview with the Prime Minister on 2GB last week:

JONES: -All company tax is profit-based, Julia. All company tax is profit based.

PM: Yes, but Alan, Alan, let’s just, absolutely right, I’m agreeing with you, we’re not having an argument about that. What’s different about mining? The key resource us a resource that is owned by everyone and we’ve got to work out what that’s worth. Historically-

JONES: -That’s not quite right, either. Constitutionally, what’s under the ground is owned by the States.

PM: Well, you know, Australians, Alan - whether they’re sitting in their States or sitting in their nation, it’s owned by Australians.

Australia’s minerals are owned by the Crown in the right of the states (excepting the territories), not in the right of the Commonwealth as the government is suggesting with its spin. It is clear from Section 114 in Chapter V of the Australian Constitution that while our minerals are owned by Australians, not all Australians own all our minerals:

114. A State shall not, without the consent of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, raise or maintain any naval or military force, or impose any tax on property of any kind belonging to the Commonwealth, nor shall the Commonwealth impose any tax on property of any kind belonging to a State.

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