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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13607

Mining


Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (14:09): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House the importance of spreading the opportunities of the mining boom to create jobs right across our country?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:09): I thank the member for Robertson for her very important question. In the House last night we passed legislation that will stand the test of time, against the rabid objections of everyone on that side of the House. We had the foresight to seize the national interest, and the courage to act. That is what is required of government given the challenges that we face in this country and in our region.

We have seen mining profits jump something like 250 per cent in the last decade. That demands a resource rent based tax. These resources are non-renewable; they can only be sold once. Because of the mining boom and because of what is happening in the Asian century, we know that our economy is facing profound structural changes. Not everybody is in the fast lane of the mining boom. Many people in small business are being left behind. What we must do is spread the benefit of this boom to every corner of our country. That is what the government has had the foresight to do.

Over 18 months ago we moved to put in place a resource rent tax, the MRRT, so we could give a boost to small business and boost the superannuation savings of Australian workers, and so that the benefits could be spread right across our country by ensuring that the superprofits are taxed on 20 to 30 of our largest mining companies and distributed around our country. This will give small businesses that $6,500 instant asset write-off, so important to get cash flow and business investment. There is all of that, plus the need to invest in infrastructure, particularly in our mining regions and places like Mackay, Rockhampton and right up the Queensland coast, and in Western Australia, particularly up in the north-west, and of course in places like the Hunter. Investing in infrastructure in those great mining regions is very important.

But, most importantly, we are boosting the superannuation savings of 8.4 million workers. Those ships which are heading over the horizon will be contributing to the retirement savings of eight million Australian workers. We know that we have to build a national savings pool to build our nation. We know that, as a capital-hungry country, we do need to lift our national savings. What better way to build sovereign wealth funds—eight million of them—than to boost the superannuation savings of eight million workers?

We know that these two measures are opposed by those opposite. They have been captured by special interests and by vested interests—by a few large mining companies—and they are dancing to their tune. They have sold Australia short. But last night in this parliament we took the hard decisions for the future. We have a leader who is capable of taking the hard decisions. We have a leader who has foresight about what we have to do for future generations, unlike those opposite, where there is no leadership—it is all opposition. All we get from this Leader of the Opposition is aggression, but there is no substance—none at all.