BHP was once famously called "the Big Australian"; its CEO Marius Kloppers evidently prefers "nominal Australian" for himself, at least when talking to US diplomats. As this nominal Australian smirked his way through the announcement this week of a record profit -- putting BHP-Billiton on track, according to one British newspaper, to record "the biggest profit ever made by a British company" -- he had the additional satisfaction of knowing his profit announcement would enrage those who had supported the Rudd government's RSPT.

The vast half-year profit unveiled by BHP -- the first of many to be revealed by miners this reporting season -- vindicates those who repeatedly pointed out that the mining industry -- far from facing the Armageddon predicted by the miners -- was in such rude health it could afford to pay the RSPT and more. Needless to say, that hasn't stopped their ardent propagandists -- for example, Business Spectator's Steve Bartholomeusz in Crikey yesterday -- from insisting, with not a skerrick of evidence, that agreement on the MRRT had unleashed a "wave of investment" by miners.