Super Profits Tax: Who Owns The Minerals?
Written by ACM   
Wednesday, 02 June 2010

The proposed Federal Resource Super Profit Tax to be levied on the mining and other industries invites the question who owns the minerals.

The Rudd government argues that this tax must be introduced to ensure a fair return to the people of Australia who they say own the resources.

This is not so. The minerals are vested in the Crown, but not the Crown in the right of the Commonwealth, except for the territories. The minerals are vested in the Crown in the right of the relevant State.


If we look at a typical Crown Grant, that is the first grant of a particular parcel of land, it is normal to find words like this in the document:   

“We do hereby reserve to Us Our Heirs and Successors all precious metals coals and minerals of every description including crude oil ...” 

It is signed ” Witness Our Trusty and Well Beloved.... Governor in and over the Colony .....”

The Crown Grant above comes from Fiji; grants were similar throughout the Empire. This one was chosen because it is printed and therefore more legible.

There are exceptions. In NSW coal was granted with the land. In 1981 these private coal rights were nationalised under legislation introduced by the Wran Labor government without the provisions of the just terms which are required under the Federal Constitution. A subsequent government, the Greiner government  offered fair compensation or restitution.The next government, the Car Labor government renationalised most of the coal.


In this video briefing on the proposed Federal Resource Super Profit Tax, Professor David Flint discusses the constitutional and legal issues relating to the ownership of minerals in Australia.

....other briefings....

Super Profits Tax: Massive International Law Claims Likely

Super Profits Tax: Not in a Federation

Super Profits Tax: A Nationalisation Without Compensation?          

 Super Profits Tax: Canberra or the States?

Banana Republic

Treasury head raises eyebrows

Super profits tax: Constitutional challenges likely

The Constitution and the Henry Tax Review