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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13613


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:37): I second the motion. I am glad the Treasurer is staying here for this debate because I think every comedian that cracks a joke should be entitled to hear whether or not the audience laughs. When the Treasurer said a little earlier today that this is a tax that will withstand the test of time, we all had a giggle. When the mining tax was originally announced it was not five months before they had to negotiate a new secret agreement with BHP, Rio and Xstrata. It did not withstand the test of time.

Then, of course, after the election there was a transitional working group, and it was revealed that the royalties were going to have to be refunded in full out of a secret deal. So the new mining tax did not withstand the test of time. Then, of course, the draft of the legislation came out, and that changed again before the legislation was introduced. That did not withstand the test of time. Then a deal was done with the members for Lyne and New England, and the tax did not withstand the test of time. A separate deal was done with the member for Denison, and the tax did not withstand the test of time. Now, a $140 million deal has been done with the member for Melbourne, and the tax did not withstand the test of time.

After all of those compromises, totalling in excess of $13½ billion in deals, arrangements and secret negotiations, this Treasurer has the audacity to say: 'We are in it forever. This is a tax that will withstand the test of time.' I read the member for Melbourne's comments from last night very carefully. He said:

I'm very pleased that we have reached agreement with the government on a set of arrangements that will allow us to support the passage of the mining tax through the House of Representatives tonight ….

We will be reserving our position in the Senate.

So the tax that is meant to withstand the test of time is not going to make it from the House of Reps to the Senate. They have spent $140 million buying off the member for Melbourne and they are going to have to spend more money with the Greens in the Senate. What a joke. This government has seen more deals than a Las Vegas croupier. This is the way they are behaving. They do deals. They do whatever it takes.

We had to drag the Labor Party to the table to reveal the overnight deal. They were not going to reveal the deal because the Greens in here—and it is light Green in here and dark Green in the Senate—said they had entered into a secret negotiation with the government and could not reveal the details. One of the reasons for that is that it was the Treasurer who said that the interest withholding tax on financial institutions was being introduced by the government so that major banks would have access to cheaper funding so they could offer cheaper loans to Australian households and businesses. The government expects this reform will allow such bank branches to continue their active lending to Australian businesses, including infrastructure investors, at even more competitive interest rates.

The Treasurer said that the deal with the Greens—the light Greens—to get the of the mining tax passed through this place was at a cost to lower interest rates, in his view. He sent out the Assistant Treasurer to give the bad news, to say that this is the way they are going to pay for the Greens deal to get it through the House of Representatives. So we have good cop here, bad cop there, but the police commissioner in the Senate. The police commissioner is calling the shots in the Senate—the guy that is wagging the dog. It comes back to the fundamental point: the Greens are asking for more.

We know the Greens set budget policy, because on fringe benefits tax they came up with a $970 million change to fringe benefits on cars. Now I can reveal to the House that there is a report from the Treasury that states that Senator Brown has requested costings on increasing petrol prices by CPI, amounting to over $4 billion. The last time we saw this costing by the Greens from the Treasury, it came through in budget policy. Now we know that the Greens have requested from the Treasury costings on increasing the cost of petrol for everyday Australians with a higher excise. Stop wagging the dog. Get rid of the Greens— (Time expired)

Mr Laming interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Bowman will leave the chamber for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Bowman then left the chamber.