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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 12985

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongAssistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation) (18:15): In response to the opposition's proposed amendment to remove schedule 2 of the bill related to the PRRT taxing point, the government does not support removing schedule 2 from the bill. The PRRT has been operating this way for over 20 years. We are simply making sure that the PRRT continues to operate like it has since 1990. ExxonMobil's Bass Strait project came into the PRRT regime four years after it started, so it was clear how it would operate. This actually saved ExxonMobil significant costs at the time, at the cost of $700 million of foregone revenue to the government. There was an express agreement at the time that the kinds of deductions being pursued through the courts now, more than 20 years later, would not be deductible. They did not start legal proceedings until 2004, but they want tax they have paid since 1990 repaid to them. I can assure you from my dealings with ExxonMobile that it would not necessarily notice all of the money it got back because it is a very successful company all around the world.

This legislation will provide clarity to taxpayers and avoid potential time-consuming court cases in the future. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics found:

… the committee believes that it is appropriate for the Parliament to affirm the policy intent of legislation as implemented in the Bills.

Leaving this to the courts would create risk and uncertainty for taxpayers. Thus, this schedule should not be removed.

Question put:

That the amendments (Mr Hockey’s) be agreed to.

The House divided. [18:21]

(The Speaker—Mr Harry Jenkins)

Question negatived

The SPEAKER: The question now is that this bill, as amended, be agreed to.

Question put.

The House divided. [18:26]

(The Speaker—Mr Harry Jenkins)

Question agreed to.