A senior Labor minister has reaffirmed the government does not intend to redesign its mining tax as it continues negotiations to stop the states jacking up their mining royalties.
Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean on Friday clarified comments he made earlier in the day that there was a design flaw in the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT) that needed changing.
"No, the tax is not being redesigned," the one-time Labor leader later told reporters in Canberra.
Under the 30 per cent MRRT on the super profits of coal and iron ore miners, companies' state royalties are credited back to them if they are liable for MRRT, including any increases in royalty rates imposed by the states.
Treasurer Wayne Swan blames increased state royalties and a slump in commodity prices for the fact MRRT revenue came to a paltry $126 million in its first six months of operation, when it was forecast to bring in $2 billion over 2012/13.
The opposition were quick to jump on Mr Crean's initial comments, saying he had come clean on "secret plans" to redesign the tax that was handcrafted by Mr Swan and Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
"Now that Simon Crean has told the truth about the government's secret plans, Australian businesses deserve to know what changes Labor are planning to the mining tax, and how they will affect business," shadow treasurer Joe Hockey and shadow assistant treasurer Mathias Cormann said in a joint statement.
A spokeswoman for Mr Swan, who is in Moscow for the G20 Finance Ministers meeting, reiterated that the GST distribution review panel concluded that the current treatment of royalties under the MRRT was "unsustainable and undesirable".
She said Mr Crean was restating comments made repeatedly by the treasurer and prime minister this week.
"Just as it was with putting a price on carbon pollution, the coalition will stop at absolutely nothing to peddle baseless misinformation campaigns," she said.
Meanwhile, two business groups have traded blows over interest rates.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has launched a national push to get the major banks to reduce their interest rates by 25 basis points.
It argues that the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) most recent board decision pointed to easing global conditions that have narrowed lending risks and caused more favourable wholesale funding costs.
"Keeping a portion of a customer's interest rate cut on an ongoing basis when the problem is not ongoing is highway robbery," the chamber's chief executive Peter Anderson says.
"As the global situation has changed so should the price they now charge."
But Australian Bankers' Association chief executive Steven Munchenberg said ACCI's claims were incorrect and that the RBA in last Friday's statement on monetary policy estimated that funding costs had been broadly unchanged over the past three months.
"ACCI's call is based on both false claims and a profound lack of understanding of how monetary policy works," Mr Munchenberg said in a statement.
"This is very disappointing."