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BHP's billions re-ignite tax debate -

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TONY JONES, PRESENTER: BHP shareholders are celebrating after the company posted the biggest
interim profit in Australian corporate history today.

The thumping $10.6 billion half-year result is fanning new debate about the Government's resource
tax and whether it's collecting enough from the big miners.

Political correspondent Tom Iggulden reports.

TOM IGGULDEN, REPORTER: Today's result is a whopping 72 per cent bigger than last year's
half-yearly profit.

MARIUS KLOPPERS, CEO, BHP: We are very proud of a record set of results. The company is extremely
well-configured around enormous resource base to continue to grow.

TOM IGGULDEN: And it was revealed today just how much of that growth the Federal Government will
miss out on after backing down on its original mining tax proposal. Treasury figures show Kevin
Rudd's version would have taken in close to $100 billion. Now it's closer to $40 billion, a huge
return for the mining industry, say critics, for a comparatively cheap advertising campaign.

BOB BROWN, GREENS LEADER: We saw BHP and its fellow companies, through a $22 million investment,
save themselves from a $60 billion tax and the politicians went to water. It's called buying
democracy. It's called buying influence, and it works.

And we've got to do a lot more to see that there's redress for that, because otherwise BHP and the
other companies who are extracting Australia's natural resources are not contributing properly to
this nation's future.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Greens want the original tax reinstated. Liberal Western Australian Premier Colin
Barnett wants it dropped altogether.

COLIN BARNETT, WA PREMIER: Indeed, it may well be that some of the major mining companies actually
pay less tax under this than they paid before. This thing is a complete shambles.

TOM IGGULDEN: But the Prime Minister's standing her ground.

JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: We will deliver, through the Australian Parliament, the tax as I
agreed it with Australia's biggest mining companies. We will not be compromising that agreement in
order to secure the legislation through.

TOM IGGULDEN: Wayne Swan says the Government was upfront about collecting less tax from mining
companies and says the $60 billion giveback is only an estimate.

WAYNE SWAN, TREASURER: A 10-year projection is not one that you can necessarily say is holy writ.
It's highly variable, highly subject to change.

TOM IGGULDEN: At Villawood Detention Centre tonight some inmates are hoping the Federal Government
will be just as flexible with them. After a highly emotional funeral for victims of the Christmas
Island boat tragedy, relatives of the dead don't want to go back to Christmas Island. Instead, they
want to stay in Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre while their cases are being processed.

RELATIVE: She goes, "I can't go back there at all." That island reminds her of her sister.

TOM IGGULDEN: Family members say they'll physically resist removal from Villawood Detention Centre
tomorrow morning and protesters backing the asylum seekers confronted Immigration Minister Chris
Bowen tonight at an event at the Sydney Institute.

At the centre of the issue, eight-year-old Sinan Khaliq, who was orphaned by the boat tragedy.

CHRIS BOWEN, IMMIGRATION MINISTER: He was brought to Sydney for the funeral of his family, and
quite separate to that, sensitively and appropriately, he will be moved into the community.

TOM IGGULDEN: Opposition Immigration minister Scott Morrison has backed down from his comments made
yesterday about the cost of bringing the relatives to Sydney from Christmas Island for the funeral.
But the issue hasn't ended there. Joe Hockey publicly disagreed with Mr Morrison's stance before
his backdown and is now defending further questions about a split in senior Liberal ranks.

JOE HOCKEY, SHADOW TREASURER: No, no, no. No split. We all love each other.

WAYNE SWAN: They're at each other's throats. You see it in the Parliament all the time and you see
it in public now.

TOM IGGULDEN: And there's some evidence that there might be some truth to that claim. A senior
anonymous Liberal Party staffer posted a scathing criticism of Mr Hockey's comments about asylum
seekers on a conservative website.

His comments were seen as the final straw. "Our parliamentary team is furious," it says, "after a
string of gaffes and failures by Mr Hockey." The post was soon taken down.

Tom Iggulden, Lateline.