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New resources tax not a 'fair return' for Australians

The offshore oil and gas industry will pay tax sooner, but not necessarily more, under changes that a parliamentary review says should quickly become law.

The inquiry report released on Friday found the proposed changes to the petroleum resource rent tax (PRRT) would "strike the right balance" between bringing forward tax revenue and giving the resources sector certainty.

Most offshore LNG projects were not expected to pay significant amounts of PRRT until the 2030s under existing rules.

The changes are projected to bring forward $2.4 billion of tax receipts over a five-year period but this was not additional revenue, merely more revenue raised sooner, according to independent Senator David Pocock.


The proposed amendments also cap tax deductions from July 1, with the proportion of PRRT-assessable income that can be offset by deductions limited to 90 per cent.

The committee recommended that the bill be passed, but Senator Pocock and the Greens opposed that finding and said Australians would still not receive a fair return on their resources.

The change "amounts to little more than tinkering around the edges of a broken tax system when it comes to offshore oil and gas", Senator Pocock said.

During the inquiry, critics said the tax allowed the oil and gas industry to create loopholes, with large companies such as Exxon, Shell, Inpex and Chevron not liable for the PRRT.

Australian taxpayers may have missed out on hundreds of billions of dollars in government revenue as a result.

"Labor's PRRT changes show the danger of letting fossil fuel corporations write their own tax laws," Greens spokesman Senator Nick McKim said.

The opposition, also releasing a dissenting view, has proposed a number of measures it said would provide certainty for industry and stimulate investment.

As coal is phased out, a stable gas supply is needed for regional trading partners and to support an increased reliance on renewable energy sources, they say.

Meanwhile protesters staged rallies in Canberra and Brisbane after the release of the federal government's Future Gas Strategy that backs production beyond 2050.

Those outside Treasurer Jim Chalmers' office in Queensland were met by a large police presence.

Seven protesters, including an older woman, were arrested for failing to comply with a move-on order, but the group remained unapologetic.

"The science is clear - we need to move away from fossil fuels like gas, not lock in further exploitation for decades to come," group spokesman Malcolm Paterson said.

"The future gas strategy ... is a total betrayal by the government, caving in to gas lobby pressure."

Responding to dissent, including from his own backbenchers, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese insisted the plan would help Australia's transition.

"You can't get to net-zero through wishful thinking. We know gas has a role to play," he said.

anthony albanese
"You can't get to net-zero through wishful thinking," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

In an open letter to the Albanese government, almost 40 mayors and councillors had earlier called for major profits to be taxed at a higher rate to help cover the cost of climate-fuelled disasters.

The group included mayors from regional areas of the country that have been battered by flooding and bushfires, such as the Northern Rivers and East Gippsland.

The letter calls for changes to the tax to collect an extra $10 billion each year for local governments to pay for the impacts of climate change, as they are the least resourced to cope with the increasing costs involved.