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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 2668


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (18:43): I am pleased to rise and enter the debate on the Commonwealth Grants Commission Report on GST revenue sharing relativities: 2012 update, especially following Senator Back, who raises the very important issue of horizontal fiscal equalisa­tion. It is not horizontal fiscal anything else; it is equalisation. I think he said 'integration'. We certainly do have what has been over a number of years an economy that we are trying to integrate to make the economy work effectively for everyone. Horizontal fiscal equalisation is about making sure that the GST grants are shared equally and effectively and fairly across the country.

I can understand why ordinary people in Western Australia look around and say, 'We've got a significant problem in Western Australia because of the stresses and strains that the mining industry and the boom in Western Australia have put on the Western Australian economy.' Fellow senators like Senator Sterle have raised these issues consistently and eloquently on the floor of this chamber. What Senator Sterle and others from Western Australia understand is that royalties are the second-best way to deal with the mining boom.

Even the Minerals Council of Australia, with the major miners and the smaller miners involved in it, have said clearly that a minerals resource rent tax is the way to go. They have said that it is the way to go and that it is the most effective way of dealing fairly and equitably with the miners. But, again, it comes back to this fundamental problem for the coalition: they are addicted to the income from Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart and 'Twiggy' Forrest for their electoral war chest. As long as the coalition are addicted and reliant on the war chest of Gina Rinehart, 'Twiggy' Forrest and Clive Palmer, they will act in the interests of these multibillionaire miners and not in the interests of this nation. We see them stand up and defend the multibillionaire miners day in and day out on the floor of this Senate and in the other place.

The coalition say that these miners should not be forced to pay one extra cent for the good of the nation. Why are they doing that? There is only one logical reason, and that is that the coalition are addicted to the electoral funds that are flowing into them from these multibillionaires. They do not care about the national interest. They do not care about what that $10.8 billion over three years can do for this nation. They do not care about small business and reducing the tax for small business. They do not care about making sure that ordinary workers out there get an extra $100,000 when they retire because of the increase in the superannuation levy that this tax will fund. They do not care about the extra infrastructure it will fund. The mining companies have not cared about infrastructure in this country for decades.

All the coalition want to do is be the puppies of Clive Palmer. They want to do the bidding of the mining industry magnates and put the national interest behind their own electoral interests. This is an absolute disgrace. Not only are they illiterate when it comes to what is in the best interests of the country; they are economic incompetents when it comes to knowing what is the best way to deal with the mining boom. They are absolute economic incompetents. Every economist of any standing who has looked at this issue, including even the economists who advise the mining industry itself, the Minerals Council, says that the MRRT, a tax on profits, is better than a tax on royalties. A tax on royalties is an inefficient, unfair way of trying to get a share out of the mining industry. Yet the economic incompetents on the other side follow in the footsteps of that economic incompetent, Peter Costello, and do not understand these issues.