Two leading Chinese companies have said they will continue to invest in Australia, despite the proposed new 40% mining tax (more in Business as Usual). One miner who should bowl up to the Chinese and make an offer is Haoma. Chairman Gary Morgan was upset at the super tax Tuesday’s special meeting of shareholders in Melbourne, and let the meeting know his feelings.

Unfortunately, the retiring folk at the ASX refused to release his address on the company news platform because it contained political matter: chairman Gary Morgan doesn’t like the proposed 40% resources super tax, and said so — quite forcefully.

Why that’s not permissible is only known to the delicate souls who inhabit the word of the ASX.

It seems the ASX won’t let company chairman and CEOs make political comments and release the text because it breaches paragraph 49 of Guidance Note 8. That is:

“Information to be disclosed should be in a form that is suitable for release to the market. The information contained in a market release or announcement should be factual and relevant and expressed in an objective and clear manner. The use of emotive or intemperate language should be avoided. CAP should not be used for promotional purposes or as a forum for subjective debates (e.g. with journalists where an entity takes issue with opinions expressed in the media, or between the target and offeror in a hostile takeover). Announcements must be balanced and truthful.”

Morgan has put the address up on the company website. Here’s a flavour of what he said yesterday:

The Rudd Government’s proposed Mining ‘Super Profits’ Tax will be disastrous for most mining companies that anticipate establishing a new mine in Australia.

We believe Australian Banks will be hesitant to provide funds for most new projects. Unfortunately, the damage is done and it will take generations of prudent Government to reverse this damage to the status of Australia’s sovereign risk. As I said last week:

“The full impact of increasing taxes on mining projects has not been fully understood. (Not being fully understood is more obvious today as there has over the last few days been masses of complete nonsense reported and attributed in the media – TV, Radio, Internet and Print).

From last week the Australian share market has dropped significantly as Australia’s sovereign state status has been badly damaged and it’s anticipated many new mining projects will be deferred.

As 80% of electors have money invested in superannuation funds the Mining ‘Super Profits’ Tax affects everyone.

There is little doubt the Federal Election will be as bitter as 1975. This time mining companies will be financially supporting the Coalition, indeed Australian electors can expect corporate involvement in the next Federal Election as strong as when Chifley tried to ‘Nationalise the Banks’ in 1949.

For the first time the Rudd Government is no longer a ‘certainty’ to be re- elected. Too many ‘things’ over ‘too many fronts’ are going wrong!”

Just why the ASX would find this objectionable is beyond me. There’s the element of free speech of course, but the ASX has allowed greater atrocities through in the form of company profit statements and accounts that have proved to be wrong. Take Babcock and Brown and Allco Financial Group — their reports and statements were works of fiction that proved to be far more damaging to the national good than any of Mr Morgan’s spray.

And then there’s the little market rorts that the ASX gets on to every now and then and issues what’s nicely known as a ‘speeding ticket’ in the form of a query about suspicious share price rises or falls. He is entitled to his views and to be able to express them in every format.

You can bet that the ASX would come down on Morgan and his company like a tonne of bricks if he put out a statement on the website about trading and not on the ASX.

The ASX told Haoma that it would issue the chairman’s address, without the super profits comments. That’s censorship.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey