Malcolm Roberts warns against viewing tax reforms through ideological lenses

A statement made by APPEA chief executive, Dr Malcolm Roberts, has used the Australian oil and gas industry to defend corporate Australia’s contribution to the country’s budget as it faces increased scrutiny.

Dr Roberts warned that the questions being asked should be viewed on a factual basis, not through an ideological lens. He added that “while commodity prices will rise and fall, it is essential that debates around tax contributions and tax reform recognise the successes of the past that have been based on sound tax policy settings that respond to the objectives of the community and investors.”

The statement, released on 17 November 2015, used the oil and gas industry’s success for more than 50 years – in which he estimates the involved companies have paid more than AU$250 billion dollars in today’s money – as an example of what a successful relationship between government and businesses can achieve.

He reasoned: “There are several ways to measure the industry’s overall tax contribution; one approach is by examining the amount of tax paid as a percentage of pre-tax profit. Over the last decade, the level of tax payments on average made by the industry (resource charges and company tax) has been around 50 per cent of pre-tax profit per year. This has been a consistent figure, indicating that the taxes are operating as intended.”

Looking at markets current activity, Dr Roberts said “The industry is in the midst of an exciting growth phase. Australia will shortly become a world leader in the supply of natural gas to many nations around the world, while at the same time ensuring Australian users and households have reliable supplies of energy.

“This growth has seen hundreds of billions invested in new projects. Indeed, the industry has invested more than twice the amount it has made in profits over the last three decades. Many of these projects will require extended periods before they become profitable, but they demonstrate the industry’s commitment to investing in Australia.”

Dr Roberts was appointed chief executive in May of this year and immediately stated his support for the industry, saying at the time: “Our oil and gas sector is a world-class industry with huge potential to deliver even more prosperity for Australia. I am excited by the role APPEA can play to realise this potential.”

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