The appellants had sought to have the HCA impugn the MRRT Acts on the bases that the design of the Acts, which in effect provides a credit against MRRT liabilities for royalties paid by a miner:
- discriminate between or provide preferences to States because royalty rates differ between States, or
- limit a State’s ability to govern itself because the MRRT Acts effectively remove a State’s ability to encourage mining and associated economic activity through reducing royalty rates.
The HCA unanimously and seemingly without hesitation rejected each of these claims.
While there is much to commend the judgement, particularly for those interested in the history of the development of the revenue clauses within the Constitution and the case law that has considered them, it does not answer the question most MRRT taxpayers are now interested in – will the MRRT remain in place following the upcoming Federal Election?
Subject to some extraordinary policy changes by the parties, we will know the answer to this question once the election result and perhaps critically the Senate appointments from 1 July 2014 are determined.