Caucus tells Australian PM to fix mining tax issues quickly

14:17, June 15, 2010      

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Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Tuesday has been urged by his colleagues to find a quick resolution to the impasse over the resource super profit tax.

During a caucus meeting on Tuesday, a handful of Members of Parliament (MPs) pressed the importance of getting a quick resolution to the issue that has seen Labor hammered in the opinion polls.

According to Australian Associated Press, New South Wales backbencher Steve Hutchins was understood to have told Rudd "a number of us want this resolved as soon as possible".

West Australia senators Mark Bishop and Glenn Sterle were also believed to have spoken of the need to settle the matter, which has seen Labor's stocks in the West take a battering.

However, the issue of leadership, which has been the subject of much speculation, was understood to have received only a peripheral mention when one MP urged his colleagues to resist entering into discussions on the subject.

There has been growing chatter about the prospect of a leadership takeover by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard following Labor's continuing decline in the opinion polls.

Labor MPs in marginal seats were concerned the issue will affect their chances at an election likely later this year.

The latest Nielsen poll, published last week, had the coalition with an election-winning 53 percent to Labor's 47 percent following the distribution of preferences.

Rudd had told the caucus it needed to hold its nerve in the face of the continuing opposition to the tax.

He later repeated that call in front of the media during an unexpected appearance at Parliament House.

"Reform is a tough business, reform is a hard business, reform is a controversial business," Rudd told reporters.

"And the key thing in the reform process is for governments to maintain their nerve and for governments to maintain their unity.

"This government is doing both and will get on with it. We intend ... the same discipline as when we negotiated our way through the financial crisis.

"We'll work our way through this challenge."

Rudd has been under pressure from colleagues to reach an agreement with mining companies on his government's 40 percent resource super profits tax.

The controversial measure was responsible for a sharp slump in support for Labor in resources-rich states, Western Australia and Queensland.

Source: Xinhua


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