MRRT challenge is futile, Swan says

Treasurer Wayne Swan believes a High Court challenge to the federal government's mining tax is "futile".

The Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) government has joined the legal challenge launched last month by Fortescue Metals Group against the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT).

The action has been made on the constitutional grounds that the tax preferences one state over another and restricts a state's ability to encourage mining.

"The challenge is futile - even the premier of Western Australia has said a challenge would be unsuccessful," Mr Swan told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.

Mr Swan was "very confident" the MRRT would withstand any legal challenges.

Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the state government could not sit back and do nothing in the face of a threat to its resources industry and jobs.

"We're wanting to reduce the unemployment rate in Queensland to four per cent in six years," he told ABC Radio.

"We can't do that if the federal government keeps attacking our resource-rich mining sector."

He conceded the challenge could be difficult to win.

"But it's worth it, in that if we don't do it, then we'll regret it," he said.

In a statement to AAP, Mr Bleijie said the government was "intervening" in the Fortescue challenge, rather than mounting its own challenge.

"The government will be represented by Crown Law and the Solicitor-General. These measures will ensure Queensland taxpayers will not be out of pocket," he said.

Mr Swan said the decision showed the influence Queensland mining magnate Clive Palmer had on the LNP and Premier Campbell Newman.

"Effectively what Mr Newman wants to do is to rob the punters and pay Mr Palmer," Mr Swan said.

The 30 per cent MRRT came into operation on July 1 and taxes the super profits of coal and iron ore companies.

Revenue from the impost will fund tax initiatives for small business, increase family payments, allow for a rise in the guaranteed superannuation contribution, and boost infrastructure spending.

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