Inequality and Mainstream Economics
Class Acts in Political Economy

Joseph Collins, ‘Possession vis-à-vis power: Toward a socially significant theory of mineral-rent in Australia’

by Adam David Morton on September 15, 2016

Joseph Collins (Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney) - 'Possession vis-à-vis power: Toward a socially significant theory of mineral-rent in Australia'

The mining tax in Australia was a short-lived and impotent affair. Its second coming portends a contentious fate for the elections in Western Australia scheduled for March 2017. Brendon Grylls’ proposal to raise the production rental fee on iron ore to $5 per tonne from its current level of $0.25 has focused the minds of the politicians involved while stoking the ire of BHPB and Rio Tinto. Will this initiative fail as did the last attempt to claw back resource revenues from the mining giants? Probably. This episode does, however, present an opportunity to reflect critically upon why resource rent taxation seems to be a quagmire of ineffective policy and inept economics. Perhaps the problem with debates on this issue is the narrow scope of rent theory which underpins parliamentary-political machinations and public discussion. This seminar paper brings rent theory in for a critical reappraisal. It contends that orthodox rent theory is deficient in its refusal to accept the active role of modern landed property in conditioning the rent relation. Beginning with the Physiocrats and going through Ricardo and the Marginalists, this analysis concludes that rent theory today must integrate a historically specific theory of property in land to begin to understand the social relations which constrain subsequent policy debates around resource rent taxation.

Organised by the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney.

Date and Location:

Thursday 22 September 2016, Darlington Centre Boardroom, 4:00pm – 5.30pm.

All welcome!


Adam David Morton
Adam David Morton is Professor of Political Economy in the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney. He is author of Unravelling Gramsci: Hegemony and Passive Revolution in the Global Political Economy (2007); Revolution and State in Modern Mexico: The Political Economy of Uneven Development (2011), recipient of the 2012 Book Prize of the British International Studies Association (BISA) International Political Economy Group (IPEG); and co-author of Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis (2018) with Andreas Bieler. He co-edits Progress in Political Economy (PPE) with Gareth Bryant that was the recipient of the 2017 International Studies Association (ISA) Online Media Caucus Award for the Best Blog (Group) and the 2018 International Studies Association (ISA) Online Media Caucus Award for Special Achievement in International Studies Online Media.

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