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BHP boss calls for tax, workplace reform

Business

Mining giant BHP Billiton has called for tax and workplace reforms in Australia, wading into the ongoing political debate ahead of the federal election later this year.

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The global miner’s chief executive Andrew Mackenzie has told a conference in Melbourne that a higher tax rate is making it harder for Australian businesses to compete globally, and making it harder to employ and promote Australian talent.

“BHP Billiton believes it’s in the national interest to simplify workplace agreements so that our teams have the flexibility to succeed in the global market,” Mackenzie said in a speech at the AFR Business summit on Wednesday.

“Taxation reform is another area that needs further debate.”

He said that tax is an important factor when determining how and where a global company like BHP spends capital, pointing out that Australia has a higher company tax rate than the average of 25 per cent for OECD countries.

There are demands for the corporate sector to pay even higher corporate tax, despite dealing with inefficient state taxes like stamp duty, he said.

On Tuesday, lobby group Business Council of Australia also said the nation’s company tax rate of 30 per cent had resulted in Australia’s global competitiveness ranking falling from tenth a decade ago to position 21 today.

The group last week released a discussion paper calling for lower personal and company income tax rates to boost the economy by billions of dollars, even as the federal government considers a raft of possible tax reforms ahead of the federal election.

“We need a debate on both the revenue challenges facing governments and the growth opportunities that tax reform could provide,” Mackenzie said.

“Reform is never easy but it has never been more necessary than now.”

BHP, along with rival Rio Tinto and other multinationals including Apple and Google, came under investigation last year by the Australian Taxation Office over the use of Singapore marketing hubs to allegedly reduce their tax bills.

The company has defended the structure and previously said it has fully disclosed and explained to the authorities its reasons for the Singapore operations.

AAP

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