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Thursday, 17 June 2010
Page: 5822

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) (10:32 AM) —It is appropriate that the shadow minister ask questions but, as a former member of cabinet, he would know that it is not the practice of either side of politics to detail the confidential nature of cabinet processes. He did not do it in the past and nor will I now. I must say that, unlike the former Treasurer, the member for Higgins—and I can recall the tough GST debate when he was going around bagging the then Prime Minister, saying that he had got the GST wrong and that the government should walk away from it—I am not going to dodge it and walk away from a tough debate. This is about Australia’s future. The Minerals Council of Australia argued to the Henry tax review over a period of two years that Australia actually should reform the taxation system and put in place a long-overdue profits based system. The industry argued that the system of state royalties was inappropriate. It also thought it was inappropriate, as state and territory governments had done over a long period, to adjust royalties on a regular basis to suit their short-term budgetary considerations. It also thought it was inappropriate that when times were bad it would have to go and ask state premiers and treasurers for royalty relief or holidays from the payment of royalties so as to enable workers to continue to be employed during the down times. For those reasons we are committed to putting in place a profit based tax system. But I go back to where I started: the member for Groom, as a former member of cabinet of longstanding nature and respect, understands—as do I—that you do not breach cabinet solidarity.