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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13605


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:00): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister of the words of her pledge to pull the curtains back and 'let the sun shine in'. Why did she not give the parliament all the facts before trying to ram her mining tax through this parliament in the dead of night? When will she end the special arrangements and the secret deals which make Bob Brown the real Prime Minister of this country?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:01): After a night of saying no, no, no, no to a minerals resource rent tax to ensure that all Australians can share in the opportunities that come with this resources boom, we see the Leader of the Opposition come into this place and continue his campaign of relentless negativity. If the Leader of the Opposition had worked his way through this morning, he would have seen the following: I have verified publicly that the government has decided to action a modest savings measure which we had in contemplation in the course of preparing for the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. The details of this modest savings measure were released this morning. They were released so that we could go through a proper process of contacting stakeholders.

But the real thing that amazes me about the Leader of the Opposition's question is the suggestion that he would be interested in anything that looked like the facts—as if the facts have ever informed a decision of the Leader of the Opposition. If he cared about the facts then he would recognise that the Australian economy is in a time of transformation when our big miners, particularly, are super-profitable. Our big miners have worked to reach an agreement with the government that they will pay more tax. Those big miners are making their profits from the minerals wealth in our ground that belongs to all Australians. During this time of our nation's development it is the right thing to do and the fair thing to do for Australians around the nation to ask those big miners to pay more tax—miners who are super-profitable—so that can be used to share the opportunities from the resources boom to bring a fair share to working people.

That fair share will come in the form of backing an increase in superannuation, better retirement incomes and a better pool of national savings. It will come with better investments in mining infrastructure. Mining brings benefits to communities, but it also brings strain and consequently we need more investment in infrastructure. It will share the opportunities of the mining boom by giving special tax breaks to small business—to those hardworking Australians who use their spirit of entrepreneurship to make a living for themselves and to employ others. Those Australians will enjoy an instant asset write-off of $6,500 as they invest in their businesses. At the same time, we will cut company tax for businesses that pay company tax to spread the opportunities of the mining boom.

If the Leader of the Opposition cared at all about the facts then he would not have come into this parliament in the early hours of this morning and voted no, no, no to a fair share for working Australians from the benefits of the resources boom.

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:04): I have a supplementary question to the Prime Minister, Mr Speaker. Is the Prime Minister aware that the head of Xstrata said yesterday that her mining tax would cost investment and cost jobs? Is she still peddling the lie that the miners want to pay this tax?

Honourable members interjecting

Mr Stephen Smith: Mr Speaker, the reference in the Leader of the Opposition's question is unparliamentary. It should be withdrawn.

Mr Abbott interjecting

The SPEAKER: I checked with the Leader of the Opposition, by way of explanatory interjection, which word was used.

Mr ABBOTT: If it would help, is she still peddling the line that the miners want to pay her big new tax?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:06): I am well used to the fact that the Leader of the Opposition thinks that politics is about abusing me, not describing policies in the nation's interest. Of course, what it does is disappoint working Australians that each and every time the Leader of the Opposition is called upon to turn his mind to the national interest he just says no. As the Leader of the Opposition well knows, the government entered an agreement with Australia's biggest mining companies, through a process of consideration and work through a policy transition group involving the Minister for Resources and Energy as well as the Deputy Prime Minister. We have worked through to settle the details. We have determined that it is the right thing that super-profitable miners pay more tax. Whilst they are at this period of our nation's economic transformation and the transformation of the region in which we live where they can command superprofits, they should pay more tax so that Australians can share in the benefits of that resources boom.

I well understand that the Leader of the Opposition, if required to choose—as he was last night—between the interests of working Australians and small business entrepreneurs and businesses in other sectors outside mining and the interests of those super-profitable big miners, will tick the super-profitable big miners on every occasion. Between a working family and a big mining company, he picks the big mining company. Between the interests of a small business entrepreneur, working hard day in and day out to provide for their family and to employ other Australians, and the interests of a big mining company, he will choose the big mining company. Rather than the interests of an Australian working hard so that they can have a decent retirement, he will choose the interests of the big mining company. That is what he voted for last night; that is what every member of the coalition—with one notable absence—voted for last night. They voted for big miners who have agreed to pay more tax and to get that tax back, to the detriment of working Australians and their jobs around this nation. The Leader of the Opposition knows that they are the facts and that is where his relentless negativity has led him. He has no policies in the interests of working Australians. Whenever he is called upon he bandwagons with the big miners, as he just did in that question.