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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 4326


Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (1:05 PM) —by leave—I move amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 6128:

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendments:

(1)    Page 12 (after line 13), after clause 15, insert:

15A  Tax reform communication

         (1)    No amount appropriated by this Act is to be spent on any advertising campaign or public information project in relation to proposed ‘resources super profit tax’ announced by the Treasurer on 2 May 2010.

(2)    Schedule 1, page 152, Treasury portfolio—Department of the Treasury (Administered):

                  Reduce the vote by $30.61 million, the amount appropriated for tax reform communication.


Statement pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000

These amendments are framed as requests because they are to a bill which appropriates money for the ordinary annual services of the government.

Statement by the Clerk of the Senate pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000

As this is a bill appropriating money for the ordinary annual services of the government, the amendments are moved as requests. This is in accordance with the precedents of the Senate.

Whether all of the purposes of expenditure now covered by this bill are actually ordinary annual services is a matter that has been under examination by the Appropriations and Staffing Committee.

As I was outlining before in my speech in the second reading debate on the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2010-2011 and related bills, the Labor government has set aside in these bills $30.61 million for communicating the resources super profits tax. I will read out a part of the requests for amendment. It says:

No amount appropriated by this Act is to be spent on any advertising campaign or public information project in relation to the proposed ‘resources super profits tax’ announced by the Treasurer on 2 May 2010.

So the heart of these requests for amendments is to make sure we hold the Labor government to account and to their word. The Prime Minister has come out today and said that they would stop spending recklessly on advertising for the resource super profits tax. It is nice to have that commitment, but this just puts it in writing to make sure that taxpayers’ money is not being used to advertise Labor Party policy—this tax is not even into law yet—and that taxpayers’ money is not part of their re-election campaign. Why should mums and dads foot the bill? This is a way of holding the government and the new Prime Minister to account to make sure that they cannot slip out of having said one day that they will stop it and then all of a sudden, in desperation, in a few weeks time start to draw on the money again to start spinning the resource super profits tax.

I listened carefully to the opposition’s argument, and Senator Joyce may want to stay and listen to this. He was saying that he basically supports the intent of what we are doing here. He may like to know that in the middle of the Keating years the opposition had a lot more guts and was able to stand up and pass a request for amendment to the appropriation bills regarding Carmen Lawrence’s legal fees, reducing the appropriations by that amount. So you can do this. It has been done. The opposition has been part of moving such a request for amendment to appropriations bills, and if the opposition were fair dinkum then they would also pass this request in this chamber today rather than stand there and say, ‘Look, we agree with the intent but technically we can’t really do it.’ It has been done before, in the middle of the Keating years. You cannot argue that it cannot be done; it can be done and it should be done. You say you think the Rudd government—or now the Gillard government—should not be spending taxpayers’ money on advertising the mining super profits tax, but you do not want to see it written into the appropriations bills that the $38 million cannot be spent.

I think we are all happy to acknowledge that the Prime Minister has made a commitment not to spend the money on the mining super profits tax advertising, but this is a way of making sure it cannot be spent. So I urge senators to support this request for amendments.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Barnett)—The question is that the requests moved by Senator Fielding be agreed to.

Question negatived.

Bill agreed to.

Bill reported without amendments or requests; report adopted.