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Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Page: 13248

Ms HALL (ShortlandGovernment Whip) (12:23): The member for Mayo continues in the tradition of the opposition leader in saying no, no, no—no to any reforms that are going to deliver to Australian people. He is on the side of big businesses that are making superprofits and not on the side of the average Australian. He is arguing in favour of large mining companies making superprofits from the sale of Australian minerals whilst at the same time not returning anything to our country.

I think that is really the line in the sand, the difference between the government and the opposition. We believe that all companies should have a responsibility and that, if they are making superprofits, then they should give something back to the community that they are operating in, and that community is Australia. As Australians, we deserve to have some of those profits returned. These bills will implement the minerals resource rent tax, the MRRT, and extend the petroleum resource rent tax regime as part of a stronger, fairer, simpler package of reforms to obtain a fairer return on our non-resources. Once non-renewable resources are dug up and sold, they are gone. We cannot sell them again.

The legislation provides for the taxation of above-normal profits from mining ore and coal. It is a tax on the superprofits of the really big companies. It is a tax on the realised profits, from the selling of the ore or coal, that are attributable to the condition and location of the iron ore or coal just after it has been extracted. The MRRT regime will apply to mining for iron ore and coal in Australia from July 2012. The extension of the existing PRRT regime to include onshore oil and gas projects and offshore projects will also apply from 1 July next year. The design of the MRRT and the PRRT extension aims to strike an effective balance between the government's policy objective of ensuring that all Australians receive a fair return for the use of our valuable mineral and petroleum resources and provide an efficient, internationally competitive and sustainable tax framework that supports continued investment in these industries.

I come from an area that has a rich history in coalmining. Shortland electorate comprises three state electorates, and one of those state electorates is the Swansea electorate. In the 1980s Swansea electorate was the electorate that had the most coalmines in New South Wales. That has changed. Now there is only one coalmine remaining. BHP and Rio Tinto were lead companies in mining in that area. BHP and Rio have both gone. What did they leave behind: denuded land. They had no obligation to return anything to the community. Instead, they walked away and the community is left to clean up their mess. This is about ensuring that during the time of operation and extraction, those large companies will be required to pay their way on the profit they make.

The MRRT and PRRT revenue will be used to fund important tax and superannuation reform that is giving back to Australians. There is a company tax cut for all companies to 29 per cent on the 1 July 2013. There is a new tax break for up to 2.7 million small businesses from July 2012. There will be investment in our regions through a regional infrastructure fund and a regional development fund, and simplified personal tax for 6.4 million Australians with a $500 standard deduction from July 2012 and a $1,000 deduction from July 2013. So the mining companies pay the tax and the Australian people benefit from that.

Over five million Australians will receive a 50 per cent tax discount on up to $500 of interest income from 1 July 2012, increasing to $1,000 of interest income from 1 July 2013—once again, rewarding Australians. There will be a boost to superannuation for 8.4 million Australians, with the first increase on 1 July 2013. And superannuation concessions will expand for 3.5 million low-income earners and about 275,000 people over 50 from 2012. These are big changes.

In the electorate of Shortland, which I represent in this parliament, that means that 41,007 people will benefit from stronger superannuation; superannuation guarantee beneficiaries will number 40,200; and 11,100 small businesses will be beneficiaries of the $6,500 instant asset write-off. This is delivering real saving and benefit to the community I represent in this parliament. This is as opposed to allowing mining companies to mine and take the wealth of our country out without paying their rightful contribution.

In the Hunter, you only have to go to the coal loader at Newcastle port and see that there was once one coal loader but there are now three coal loaders, and that they work overtime. That is coal coming out of our country and it is the big mining companies that are taking this coal out and not contributing to our society. We need them to pay their way just as every other Australian does.

This government is committed to spreading the benefits of the mining boom to all Australians. I hear members on the other side talking about how we should not impose any liability on these mining companies. But it happens in other countries: we have heard this week about China and how they are putting a resource tax on the companies over in their country. They recognise, just as we do on this side of the parliament, that mining companies need to contribute just as every other Australian does.

I listen to the rhetoric from the other side of this House, I listen to the words of the Leader of the Opposition and I hear what the member for Mayo says about fiscal responsibility. I hear how the Leader of the Opposition is going to repeal this legislation and how he is going to repeal the carbon pricing legislation. I also hear from the other side about how he is going to continue all the payments. I noticed that the member for Mayo was strongly opposed to the superannuation guarantee increase, but his leader has agreed to it. I say: where is he going to get the money from?

Where is the money coming from? We have already seen the opposition's accounting ability with the $70 billion black hole that has shown up in their policies in the past. I urge this parliament to support this legislation, even those on the other side of this House. It is good legislation, and the message from my electorate is that they strongly support that mining companies pay their way.

I am mindful of the fact that there are a number of members who wish to speak in this debate and so I will end my contribution here. In doing so, I urge the members on the other side of this House who do have some doubts about the direction the opposition is going in to actually have a bit of internal fortitude, to come over to this side of the House and to vote with us on this legislation.