The Minerals Council of Australia's formidable PR machine – the same one that killed off Kevin Rudd's original mining tax in 2010 – has swung into action today with an advertising blitz against mooted tax increases in next month's budget.
So will the ads influence what Wayne Swan dishes up on budget night?
There are a few things to note.
First: The campaign is a sign of weakness, as much as strength.
Yes, the ads remind politicians (as if they had forgotten) that the miners have plenty of cash and are willing to spend it to influence policy debate. As Mitch Hooke, the MCA's combative boss, told us last year: "We're not going to be shirt-fronted and bullied and belted and intimated. And we won't be silenced if we think something's not in the best interests of the industry and of the nation."
But he told us something else: you only resort to a major advertising campaign when you fear you're about to be whacked. The most effective lobbying is done quietly, behind the scenes. Going public is a sign the government has stopped listening to you. Eighteen months after the mining tax stoush, the MCA remains offside with Labor – a fact Swan made clear last October by not inviting Hooke to his tax forum.
Second: The ads themselves are sneaky and effective.
They claim that, after the imposition of the carbon and mining taxes, there are now calls for "even more new taxes". That's not true. There is talk that the government will claw back some of the $1.3 billion in concessions it hands to the mining and transport sectors each year in accelerated depreciation. The diesel rebate may also be reduced, alongside tax breaks for research and development.
Such measures would hit the mining companies' bottom lines. They may be bad policy. But new taxes they ain't.
Nevertheless, the campaign has already generated headlines such as "Mining companies muscle up for another stoush over new taxes in budget". It's these news stories – reinforcing the perception of the Gillard government as high-taxing and at war with business – that make the ads a worthwhile investment for the MCA.
Finally: Things have changed since the mining tax stoush.
The miners didn't get their way in 2010 simply because they flooded the airwaves and news pages with effective advertising. The government – led by a new leader and with an election approaching – was extremely vulnerable to industry pressure. Especially because the public didn't understand the tax and didn't like it.
Circumstances are not so kind to the miners this time around.
There's no sign of a grassroots groundswell against scaling back fossil fuel subsidies like there was with the original mining tax, pokie reform or cuts to medical research.
Most importantly, Gillard and Swan have committed to taking the budget from a $37 billion deficit to a surplus. Pissing off the miners would be a small price to pay to achieve this Herculean task – and Swan's recent bout of billionaire bashing suggests he's up for it.
So, A+ for effort for the MCA. But if Swan has the miners in his sights, it's unlikely a cleverly-designed ad campaign will convince him to back down.