Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Clive Palmer - billionaire liar

(Resources billionaire Clive Palmer, above, on a sit-down strike against the proposed resource super profits tax has been exposed as a liar.)

The attempts by mining billionaires to scuttle the proposed resources super profits tax (RSPT) are the equivalent of a capital "strike".
This tactic was infamously used to create an economic crisis during the late phase of the Whitlam government which had aroused the anti-imperialist sentiments of the people with the mild proposal of Minister Rex Connor to "buy back the farm" from the multinationals.

The Whitlam government was subsequently removed from office by the representative of the British Queen, her Governor-General, in a coup stage-managed by the CIA.

The current capital strike was predicted on May 6 by business commentator Robert Gottliebsen. He wrote:

"At this stage it's just private words to selected journalists and few decisions have been made, but Australia is on the brink of the greatest capital strike in its history and one of the largest ever seen in the world.

"In the vicinity $100 billion of resource projects that were almost certain to go ahead are now headed for mothballing until the resources tax is either abandoned or severely modified. If the private words to me and other journalists are converted to action and a new mining project capital strike is launched, then almost certainly Kevin Rudd will not win the next election. The economies of Queensland, WA and South Australia would be decimated. I have never seen an industry so angry...

"Yesterday I had the chance to talk with a number of people who will play a key role in whether there is a capital strike or the miners roll-over. The people I spoke to have no doubt that there will be a strike" (see http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/BHP-RIO-TINO-capital-strike-resource-rent-tax-pd20100506-56SMK?OpenDocument )

On May 24, Gottliebsen announced the start of the strike:

"The greatest capital strike in Australia's history officially started at 10am on May 24, 2010. Australia's second largest minerals company Rio Tinto announced that all its expansion projects would be put on hold and that delay could extend for years if not indefinitely. Moreover, it plans to curb early stage development in Australia and has expressed grave concerns about the sovereign risk implications of parts of the mining tax...

"As I understand it, in the coming months, Rio Tinto will have some $10 billion of expansion projects coming before the board. It plans to allocate only $5 billion and until the mining tax, Australia was at the top of the list and would have received the bulk of that $5 billion dollars. It will now only receive the money required to maintain existing mines....

"Rio Tinto's stance will be studied closely by BHP Billiton who almost certainly will put all of its capital projects on hold. It is likely that this will be followed by the Curtis Island coal-seam gas developments, though that is less certain" (see http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Rio-Tinto-BHP-Billiton-resource-rent-tax-RSPT-capi-pd20100524-5R335?OpenDocument&src=srch ).

The Achilles heel of capital strikes is that capital, unlike workers, cannot hold out. Workers can be supported by other workers and have nothing much to lose, and everything to gain, by sticking to their guns. Capital on the other hand cannot be kept idle. The logic of capitalism requires capital to continuously seek to reproduce its own value over and over again in the relentless pursuit of profit.

So the first significant crack in the unity of the resource billionaires was the announcement by Minerology Pty Ltd boss Clive Palmer, that he had "admitted he exaggerated the possible consequences" of the RSPT (see http://www.news.com.au/business/resource-super-profits-tax-critic-clive-palmer-exaggerated-threat-to-projects/story-e6frfm1i-1225876508564) .

The Mining and Energy Division of the CFMEU commented:

"The hysterical scare campaign of the billionaire mining bosses and their rich multinational mates is being increasingly exposed for the lie it is as the truth emerges on the effects of the Federal Government’s resources super-profits tax.

"One of the chief head kickers, resources billionaire Clive Palmer has retreated from his earlier claim that he had scrapped mining projects because of the Federal Government's proposed resource super profits tax. Palmer owns one of the largest deposits of iron ore in the world, carved out in five separate projects.

"A big Liberal National Party donor, Palmer told the ABC Lateline TV programme last month he had canned two projects in Western Australia's Pilbara region because of the tax.

"He said one of those projects would employ about 3,000 people and generate about $2 billion a year in exports. But now Palmer has told last night's Four Corners programme that he was probably exaggerating. “Probably, it should have been, 'I am slowing them down’”, he said."

Len Cooper, Victorian Branch Secretary of the CEPU Communications Division, released a statement saying:

"We condemn the dishonest and hysterical campaign by the large, foreign owned mining companies, led mainly by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, over the Labor Government's mining tax proposal...

"These same corporations led the campaign to implement and save the hated WorkChoices legislation of the Howard government, they led the campaign to prevent Australia starting to clean up its environment and contribute to the prevention of global warming, and now they want to deny the Australian people their right to properly benefit from the mining assets belonging to the Australian people.

"How long do we put up with the disgraceful anti-people behaviour of these foreign owned corporations before we begin to demand that the Australian government take them over in the interests of the people?"

The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) echoed these sentiments, saying:

"The tax on the super profits is an immediate and a small step in securing even a token of national resources wealth for the people. In the longer term, nationalising the mining industry can provide the only guarantee that the wealth from Australia’s natural resources will benefit the national interests of Australia’s people and the whole country."

The full statement of the CPA (M-L) can be accessed here: http://vanguard.net.au/2008/latestnews.php?subaction=showfull&id=1275296442&archive=&start_from=&ucat=1&

The only response to threats of capital strikes is nationalisation of the corporations concerned!

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