BHP boss Andrew Mackenzie says corporate-focused tax changes like those planned by the Trump Administration in the US would create jobs in Australia.
Speaking to roughly 600 at Melbourne’s Town Hall this week, Mackenzie said the West had suffered by attempting to be too fair, and China had taken advantage.
“Right now there is a perception in the West that too few have benefited from globalisation and too many have been left behind,” he said. “This has distracted the West and created opportunities for China and the East, which they are seizing.
“The ambition of China’s Belt and Road initiative is astounding.”
Mackenzie urged governments like Australia’s to act now to preserve the domestic value of its resources into the future.
“Too many people in the West take a too-short-term approach and fail to look to the long-term future. This is especially dangerous for resources with their decade-plus cycles.
“Incentives are necessary to get our arms around and get into action the long-term investment that will ultimately create jobs and the growth of the future. I don’t know if this is happening, particularly in the Western world, where we have to do something about the incentives to invest in capital.”
He said he hoped Trump’s tax manoeuvres would spur similar moves in Australia.
“If it does [pass in the US], it will make me a lot more optimistic about … jobs and the demand in the future, so I hop Australia takes notice,” he said.
He also defended BHP’s tax record, in a week the ATO made noise about potential legal action over BHP and Rio Tinto’s Singapore marketing hubs, which help reduce the companies’ tax burden in their iron ore trade.
“We paid $66 billion in tax in the last 10 years in Australia,” Mackenzie argued. “That’s an effective tax rate of 34%; if you include royalties, its 44%. We pay our fair share.”