WA Premier may fight with Fortescue

WEST Australian Premier Colin Barnett confirmed he would consider becoming involved in the High Court challenge against the Federal Government's impending mining tax.

The state would not join the court case, brought by iron ore giant Fortescue Metals, but may make submissions or participate in the proceedings.

"This in order to try to protect the ownership of the assets of the State-owned natural resources of West Australians for Western Australians," Mr Barnett said on Friday.

"We believe there are constitutional grounds for a challenge to the Mineral Resources Rent Tax."

Mr Barnett previously told ABC he expected a High Court challenge would be unlikely to succeed.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said Andrew "Twiggy" Forest, who heads Fortescue, did not want other Australians sharing the wealth created by the resources industry.

"Mr Forrest has made it clear he is staunchly opposed to the government spreading the benefits of the mining boom to millions of households and small businesses who aren't in the fast lane, so this challenge comes as no great surprise," Mr Swan said on Friday.

"The Gillard Government believes Australia's non-renewable natural resources belong to all Australians, not just to a handful of mining billionaires, and is determined to deliver the MRRT to ensure the Australian community shares in the benefits and opportunities of the mining boom."

Fortescue announced the challenge on Friday morning through the Australian Stock Exchange.

It suggested the tax could be unconstitutional for the inconsistent way it treated different states and restricted a state's ability to encourage mining.

Chief executive officer Nev Power said legal advice given to the mining firm confirmed there was grounds for a fight.

"We believe we have a good case for challenging the MRRT on constitutional grounds," Mr Power said.

"We look forward to the resolution of these important issues by the High Court."



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