Parliament's little games so taxing for the PM

Pope Benedict XVI's decision to step away from the Popemobile was met with surprise as well as understanding around the world. If one can't retire at 85, how could there possibly be a God?

In Canberra, the waves of shock washed up on the shore of awkward disbelief.

Here, the concept of people resigning from high-powered positions of their own accord … well, it's a touchy subject.

Parliament House is full of touchy subjects these days. The mining tax has become something of a cross between an elephant and a rampaging rhino in the room.

Labor doesn't want to talk about it because it has made only $126 million over two quarters. But the Greens and the independents want to discuss the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) at length, because they want to toughen it up. The Coalition also wants to talk tax because it embarrasses the government.

On Tuesday, as Labor tried to hold the line that there were "no plans" to change the tax (nothing to see here), they probably didn't count on Kevin Rudd trotting out his take on it.

Officially, Mr Rudd did a morning television interview to mark the fifth anniversary of his apology to the Stolen Generations. During the lengthy chat, he also found time to discuss the mining tax.

With the kind of piety that you usually find only in Vatican City, Mr Rudd told Sky News that after he was dumped as PM, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan made "some significant changes to the structure of the tax," adding "it has not collected any real revenue of any significance so far".

As for whether the two had given away too much to the miners? "History will be the judge of that," came Mr Rudd's damnatory reply.

Then, when it came to the inevitable question - can Labor win the election - Mr Rudd was both emphatic and interpretable in multiple ways: "Of course the Australian Labor government can win and can win under the Prime Minister's leadership."

In question time, as the Opposition pursued Labor on the mining tax with question after question (including the suggestion Ms Gillard had verballed businessman Don Argus), the Prime Minister accused them of playing a "little game".

But one Coalition frontbencher reckoned they knew where the real sport was. "Do you want to know who's messing with your head?" came the call. "Kevin's messing with your head!"

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The story Parliament's little games so taxing for the PM first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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