Mining bosses take campaign to streets

Up to 1000 protesters have been mobilised to vent their anger at Prime Minister Kevin Rudd when he addresses the Perth Press Club tomorrow.

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Mining magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest will join demonstrators as they confront the PM over the government's controversial resources tax.

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The prime minister is scheduled to address The Perth Press Club at noon (WST) on Wednesday in the same Hyatt Centre complex that houses Mr Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group.

Rally organiser and Atlas Iron managing director David Flanagan said Mr Forrest had promised to stand with him on the back of a flatbed truck.

Up to 1000 demonstrators are expected outside the Hyatt Regency, following Mr Flanagan's email to 200 mining workers on Tuesday about the 40 per cent super profits mining tax.

While Mr Forrest is Australia's fourth richest person, Mr Flanagan said most of the demonstrators worked for smaller mining companies.

"This is not about the big, rich fat cats, this is about Aussie battlers having a go," he told AAP, adding the Minerals Council of Australia had no involvement in organising the rally.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard faced a frosty reception from mining executives on Tuesday as she addressed a business luncheon attended by Mr Forrest.

She brushed aside his suggestions the proposed 40 per cent tax credit guarantee in the event of bankruptcy was an "emperor with no clothes" by saying the Fortescue boss appeared quite elegant "so I don't know why you're not attracted to this elegant tax".

Ms Gillard also rejected suggestions from Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Sam Walsh that negotiations with industry on the planned tax had been "a hopeless process".

On the eve of his visit, Mr Rudd has insisted he is open to meeting with mining executives.

"We'll continue to talk as is necessary, I'm sure I'm going to run into a few over there as well," the prime minister told reporters in Sydney before flying to Perth.

But Fortescue Metals said the federal government had rebuffed its overtures to meet with cabinet ministers during their stay in Perth.

"On several occasions, we have offered to meet them when they're here - we're surprised no government minister seems interested in meeting with the mining sector," Mr Morse said.

Mr Flanagan said he had also unsuccessfully approached the government for a Perth meeting, following an aborted session with Resources Minister Martin Ferguson in Canberra last week.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia, whose members include BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, told AAP that no government minister had offered to meet with mining executives.

Mr Rudd's office said details of meeting with mining executives were yet to be scheduled while a spokeswoman for Resources Minister Martin Ferguson described his calendar as "a private matter".

Ms Gillard tried to ease concerns about Labor's proposed tax.

"I am concerned that as the debate rages, there is fear being generated in some parts of the Western Australian community," she told the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"Today, I want to reassure that there is no need for fear." Hours after Mr Rudd braves planned protests, he is sure to face more grassroots opposition to the tax as he chairs a public community cabinet in the Perth suburb of Como on Wednesday night. Ahead of that meeting, the Minerals Council of Australia has released a new television advertisement capitalising on Treasurer Wayne Swan's admission on Monday night's Four Corners program that some miners could be paying up to 58 per cent tax under the government's proposal.


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4 min read
Published 8 June 2010 at 7:46pm
Source: AAP