Contributed from Queensland
It seems that the majority in the Senate are supporting changing the law to block tax evasion by multinational gas companies.
One Nation, the Nick Xenophon Team and senators Jacqui Lambie and Derryn Hinch are calling for ensuring they pay a reasonable amount of tax for their exports. With the support of Labor and the Greens, the numbers are there.
There is strong public support for action to take on multinational tax avoiders.
At present, the Petroleum and Resources Tax (PRRT) allows these companies to pay no tax. The crossbenchers argue for a flat 10 percent tax. This would seem to many Australians far more reasonable than the present situation. The tax does not apply to projects that are located on Australian waters. This covers most existing gas reserves.
So far, the federal government has rejected any change and it is possible that some carrots may be offered to counter opposition from One Nation Xenophon and Hinch. It has worked before and it might do so again. Labor may also back off., given its low-key reaction. This is clearly not considered a key issue.
However, when it is claimed that Australia faces a serious gas shortage, it does not make sense of encourage nearly all the supply to be exported overseas. Allowing the companies not to pay tax certainly does this.
If anything, the tax on exporters should be high enough to ensure that the supply needed for domestic consumption is guaranteed. The effect of this is would be to keep the price down for consumers. No change guarantees huge price hikes that the gas companies, will be in a good position to take advantage of. It is already happening at it will get worse.
Tax avoidance on a large scale also means that the government will continue to cut services in other areas. Those who do pay taxes will be made to pay the price.
Other countries are not so generous, including Qatar, which is the world’s biggest LNG exporter.