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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 9358

Mining


Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (14:06): My question is to the Minister for Small Business and the Minister representing the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Sherry. Can the minister inform the Senate how the Gillard government will use the revenue from the minerals resource rent tax to spread the benefits of the mining boom to small businesses? How will the government's tax reform package, funded by the MRRT, also benefit ordinary taxpayers?


Senator SHERRY (TasmaniaMinister Assisting on Deregulation and Public Sector Superannuation, Minister for Small Business and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) (14:06): As we now know, the minerals resource rent tax passed the House of Representatives early this morning. This government is very proud of that reform. There is a tax package of which the $11 billion mining tax is an important component, but there are other important components to this tax reform package. Firstly, I would make the point that the package is designed to strengthen and broaden the Australian economy, to assist small business, to assist superannuation retirement incomes and, I might say, to assist in creating jobs through a stronger economy. I note this government has seen more than 700,000 jobs created over the four years it has been in office.

I turn to specific measures. Small business will be a significant beneficiary from the tax package specifically funded by the mining tax. Currently for each asset write-off small business receives $1,000. We intend to significantly increase the asset write-off for small business claims to $6,500. That is a very significant increase in asset write-offs for small business for each asset invested in. Secondly, we intend to make the rules around the depreciation claim far simpler. That will be a second benefit. This will represent more than $1 billion in additional assistance to small business, funded in part from the mining tax. I note that the Liberal-National Party refuses to support this $1 billion package of tax improvements for small business. (Time expired)


Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (14:09): Mr President, I thank the minister for his answer and ask a supplementary question. Can the minister outline to the Senate how Australians will receive better retirement incomes through the government's tax reforms funded by the minerals resource rent tax?


Senator SHERRY (TasmaniaMinister Assisting on Deregulation and Public Sector Superannuation, Minister for Small Business and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) (14:09): There are two main measures: one is to increase the super¬≠annuation guarantee and the other is to effectively remove the contributions tax from more than 3½ million Australians. We know that the Liberal-National Party now support compulsory superannuation. They have taken a fairly monumental step I have got to concede: they accept compulsion. Interestingly, the Liberal Party, in accepting the increase in the superannuation guarantee, do not have any money to pay for it because they are going to reverse the mining tax. They say they support the measure. I notice Senator Mathias Cormann says, 'We do not agree with it but we are still going to leave it there if we are ever elected to government.' That is hedging your bets. Of particular concern is that they have no money to pay for it. In addition to the $70 billion financial black hole they have, they have got to find more money, having decided to reverse the mining tax, to pay for the superannuation guarantee. (Time expired)


Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (14:10): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Is the minister aware of any alternative policies to the government's tax package, and how would these alternative policies affect the government's plan for all Australians to share in the benefits of the mining boom?


Senator SHERRY (TasmaniaMinister Assisting on Deregulation and Public Sector Superannuation, Minister for Small Business and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) (14:10): I have referred to what is I think quite a monumental decision for the Liberal Party to support compulsory superannuation. However, it was not without controversy. I notice the shadow finance spokesman, Mr Robb, was reportedly furious at the decision. There has been an ongoing debate about this amongst those opposite. He was asked why he was not consulted and he said, 'It was just one of those things. There was a conference call and my name fell off the bottom.' He was not consulted because he claims his name fell off the bottom of the list. If they have got a shadow finance minister who is attempting to find $70 billion in savings and he cannot press the redial button, what hope have they got? He cannot even hook himself up to discuss a major superannuation measure and they have got to find $70 billion in savings. It gets worse. The member for Higgins got a lecture from Mr Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition— (Time expired)