World leaders stumped by mining tax decision according to former PM John Howard

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Sunday, 10 October 2010 22:07

1.jpgOctober 10, 2010. TOP-LEVEL strategic, business and energy leaders from around the world are amazed that Australia would introduce a mining tax, John Howard has said.

These leaders believe Australia would be "very foolish" to damage its healthy economy and attraction as an investment destination with the new tax, according to the former prime minister.

Freshly returned from an extended international tour where he mixed with the elites of several countries, Mr Howard said the word doing the rounds in Singapore, Washington and Kazakhstan was not, as expressed by Treasurer Wayne Swan, that the investor community had no concerns about the tax. "There was a different point of view," Mr Howard said of his discussions. In Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, Mr Howard delivered a keynote address on the global outlook to a conference organised by the country's industry group KAZENERGYand attended by top energy figures from many countries. "There was amazement that a country which had been so successful would be so very foolish as to fiddle around with a resources super-profits tax," Mr Howard told The Australian yesterday. While not naming names, Mr Howard said Kazakh energy magnates, a Canadian representative to a world petroleum body and some delegates from Britain had expressed surprise that Australia would introduce a tax "which would potentially damage our competitiveness". Mr Howard said he felt the same vibes at a top-level economic and strategic conference in Singapore, where he rubbed shoulders with, among others, Paul Wolfowitz, a former US deputy secretary of defence and former president of the World Bank.

On his 17-day trip, Mr Howard also toured the US, and, along with his wife Janette, had dinner with former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura.