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Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Page: 4559

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:23): We have said we will credit royalties in terms of the MRRT—that is what we have said we will do. But that is not what the debate is about. The debate, as it has been framed by those opposite, is somehow that the Western Australian government consulted with us about their plans to increase the fines royalty. Of course, they in no way consulted with us whatsoever. This has been the subject of an incredible degree of misrepresentation from those opposite so I do not know whether I can take that statement on its face value. I would not even know whether it had been put forward correctly, because there were so many statements in this House which were misrepresented yesterday. What I said last week was that the Western Australian government did not communicate with us about their decision to increase the royalty on fines in this budget. I went on to say that we did not give it the tick, they did not discuss it with us and they were playing a political game.

What we are seeing, with that statement from the Western Australian parliament and its use by the shadow Treasurer today, is that the political game continues to be played. And the political game is very simply this: they are acutely embarrassed that the Western Australian Premier has increased royalties given they were in this House last year claiming any increase in mining taxation would stifle jobs and investment. They are acutely embarrassed by that record; they are absolutely embarrassed by that record. But they are also embarrassed by the fact that the Western Premier, on no fewer than eight occasions between September last year and now, had ruled out increasing the royalties on fines. So on eight occasions he ruled them out. But what they are really embarrassed about is this—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, on a point of order, the Treasurer was asked a question that did not contain any argument or any debate. He is returning to the old policies of the slag and bag of the opposition. I ask you to draw him back to the question.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business slightly ruins a reasonable point of order. The Treasurer will make his material directly relevant to the question that was asked.

Mr SWAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was asked about the increase in royalties for fines. I was asked about a statement in the Western Australian parliament—from whom I do not know and the context I do not know so I do not know if it is correct or not. But we are talking about the increase in royalties which was imposed on the people of Western Australia, the mining community of Western Australia, by the Western Australian government in their last budget and they did that despite the fact that there had been eight statements from the Premier of Western Australia that he would not do that. The conclusive one, the one that those opposite are so embarrassed about, is that, in their submission to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, they said they would not increase the royalties on fines. This is a submission they made to the Grants Commission in November last year and it does relate to the point that was in the question. This is what the Western Australian government submission to the Grants Commission says: 'The Premier recently indicated the state has no intention of increasing royalties'—no intention of increasing royalties in November last year. But it then went on to say the reason that he was not going to do it was that it would invoke a 'sovereign risk'. That was the submission from the government of Western Australia to the Grants Commission in November this year. So let us have no more of this nonsense that we have heard in the House and outside the House in the last 24 hours.

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will bring his remarks to a conclusion.

Mr SWAN: The Premier of Western Australia opposed the increase in public. He may have been telling them in private he was going to do it but in public he was opposing an increase in the royalties that he has imposed on the mining industry, and those opposite are absolutely embarrassed by his abject performance and their misrepresentations.

Mr Hockey: Firstly, Mr Speaker, I would ask the Treasurer to table that submission that he was reading from.

Mr SWAN: Get it off the website.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: I will deal with your first request when your colleagues behind you come to order because again a bit of overextending has been going on. Was the Treasurer quoting from a document?

Mr SWAN: Yes.

The SPEAKER: Is the document confidential?

Mr SWAN: Yes.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for North Sydney will resume his place.

Mr Albanese: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I ask that the member for Indi be asked to withdraw the same comment that she withdrew yesterday.

The SPEAKER: The member for Indi will withdraw.

Mrs Mirabella: The Leader of the House is mistaken. Yesterday I withdrew the comment 'bagman'. Today I did not use that word. Today I called the Treasurer a pathetic liar. Which one do you want me to withdraw?

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Indi will resume her seat.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! I have a fair degree of patience and I can wait, but I just say that the chamber is eating into the time that it has decided that it will allot to questions. The member for Indi is warned. Now she is invited to approach the dispatch box and simply withdraw.

Mrs Mirabella: I withdraw.