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Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Page: 2258

Mining


Senator MARK BISHOP (Western Australia) (14:09): My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Wong. Can the minister outline to the Senate the importance of spreading the benefits of the mining boom to all corners of the economy? How is the government acting to ensure the mining boom benefits all Australians?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:09): The government are acting to ensure that the Australian people get a fair share of our resources and we are acting to ensure we spread the benefits of the boom across Australia to all corners of this nation. Last night, we saw the Senate, in what was a historic vote, vote to support the minerals resource rent tax—a great Labor reform and a reform where we really saw what the values were of those opposite. Labor senators and the Greens on this side voted to ensure that Australians got a fair share of the benefits of our resources. Those opposite voted to increase the profits of wealthy miners. We on this side voted to ensure we could give tax breaks to small business. Those over there said no and voted against it. We on this side voted to ensure we could give a company tax cut with a head start for small business. Those over there voted no. We on this side voted to ensure we can fund more superannuation for working Aust­ralians and also better benefits for low-income Australians, particularly women. Those opposite, again, voted no.

All they can say, in the face of these sorts of reforms, is, 'No, no, no, no.' The only thing they say yes to is higher profits for already profitable miners. I look forward to the senators on that side going back to their electorates, going back to their constituencies, and telling every small business owner in their state: 'I am voting against a tax cut for you. I'm voting against a tax break for small business. I know I'm from the party of Howard and Menzies, but I am going to vote against a tax cut for small business.' That is the new Liberal Party—the Liberal Party turning its back on small— (Time expired)


Senator MARK BISHOP (Western Australia) (14:11): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question to Minister Wong. Can the minister advise: what is the role of tax cuts for small and large businesses in spreading the benefits of the mining boom to all corners of the economy?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:12): The minerals resource rent tax ensures that Australia's largest and most profitable mining companies will pay their fair share of tax. Consider what it is—

Senator Abetz: They always have!

Senator WONG: I will take that interjection, Senator Abetz. 'They always have,' he says, because all he is interested in doing is standing up for the interests of a fortunate few—standing up for higher profits for already profitable miners. What he is not interested in standing up for is things such as the $6,500 instant asset write-off for small businesses, something that all small businesses could be entitled to whether they are incorporated or not. This is a tax break for small business that those opposite are opposing.

As you know, Mr President, we on this side are also committed to cutting the company tax rate and we have released a draft of the legislation to reduce the company tax rate to 29 per cent, which includes a head start for small business with a tax cut— (Time expired)




Senator MARK BISHOP (Western Australia) (14:13): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister advise if the government remains committed to using cuts to the company tax rate to spread the benefits of the mining boom to all corners of the economy? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:14): This government is committed to delivering tax cuts for small business and for the broader economy. We have been consistent about that. We have released legislation which reflects that commitment to help Australian businesses right across the economy—to help Australian businesses not in the mining boom fast lane that are struggling with challenges such as the higher dollar. A company tax rate cut is good policy. But I just say this: the contrast could not be clearer. Those opposite have moved on a number of occasions when it comes to company tax cuts. First, Mr Abbott said last year, when he told the West Australian that they would support company tax cuts, 'We support company tax cuts.' Subsequently, Mr Abbott has not only announced that coalition MPs will be whipped to vote against tax cuts but also refused to recommit to the 1.5 per cent business tax that he promised at the last election, so he has changed position yet again. (Time expired)