Metgasco praises Coalition policy

THE company behind a coal seam gas project tipped to transform Casino has spoken out in praise of a Coalition policy it says will allow local mum and dad investors to claim company expenses on their personal tax.

Metgasco chief financial officer Glenda McLoughlin said the Coalition policy would make the small company more attractive to investors, while Labor’s mining policy would make it less attractive, particularly compared to similar projects being run by big Queensland companies.

Ms McLoughlin said the Coalition policy would allow Metgasco to pass on tax write-offs to investors, providing an incentive for them to continue investing, even though the company was not yet generating revenue.

However, concessions from Labor on its mining tax, which the Coalition wants to scrap, would have the opposite effect – locally at least. Ms McLoughlin said the mining tax would be bad for Metgasco generally, saying it applied to any profits the company generated – not just any ‘super’ profits it might make in the future.

What was even worse though was Labor’s decision to allow mining companies to mark up their assets to market value, effectively providing big tax breaks to big companies, such as Metgasco’s competitors in Queensland, that had a lot of assets. That would make it harder for Metgasco to attract investors, because the tax breaks received by the Queensland companies would mean they could offer higher returns on investment dollars.

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, who was visiting Lismore yesterday, said Metgasco would have been better off if Labor had been able to pass its emissions trading scheme, which would have created a market advantage for companies creating clean energy.

Mr Ferguson said Labor was committed to a ‘level playing field’ for companies and suggested Metgasco prepare a submission for the Government’s Argus-Ferguson Committee, which is looking at issues around the tax.

However, Ms McLoughlin said Metgasco’s experiences in dealing with the Government had so far been less than promising and attempts to speak with the Government at the ministerial level had failed. The Prime Minister’s office and NSW Premier’s office had both failed to respond to letters sent to them by Metgasco in May.

Page Nationals candidate Kevin Hogan said it was important to support companies like Metgasco. “Metgasco is good for infrastructure in the area and it’s a clean energy project as well,” he said.

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