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Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Page: 9058


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongAssistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation) (17:32): I would like to thank all the members who have taken part in the debate on the Excise Tariff Amendment (Condensate) Bill 2011 and the Excise Legislation Amendment (Condensate) Bill 2011. Before I come to the content of these bills I must address some of the comments made by the member for Groom in his contribution to the second reading debate. It is with some pleasure that I notice that the member for Groom is here. The member for Groom stated that the coalition will be supporting these bills. However, he then moved a second reading amendment. The member for Groom has an interesting understanding of the concept of supporting government legislation. But I am not surprised the opposition is, as we know, all opposition and insufficient leadership.

If we take their pulse on just about any issue before this parliament, there is no economic heartbeat. When we try to engage in robust policy debate in this country, all we get nowadays from the opposition is relentless negativity. The hill of inconsistencies is now slowly but surely becoming a mountain. They say they are for the workers, but at the same time they want to axe hardworking public servants. They say they want to keep a lid on inflation, but they want to dump rocket fuel on the mining sector by giving mining an effective $11 billion tax break. They say they want to stick up for cost-of-living pressures, but they will also blow the budget by $70 billion. This is something that I know every member on this side of the parliament gets.

The parliament has serious economic debates to have in the second half of this year—the mining tax, the carbon price package, the tax forum, lifting superannuation, reducing corporate taxes, investing in infrastructure, supporting 2.7 million small businesses and helping sectors to grow. But how can these national conversations occur sensibly with a federal opposition that are not taking things seriously. What is most unfortunate is that they constitute a cabal of cynicism that not only turns the country off but turns their backs on the possibility and hopes for the future. By contrast, we on this side find our purpose in optimism and energy. The Gillard government is committed to Australia's future. We have made some tough policy decisions which will ensure the future prosperity of Australia and Australians. There are big challenges on the horizon, but this government has the policy options which provide a solution to the challenges that Australia faces in the next decades. Taking into account our multispeed economy, we will be introducing the minerals resource rent tax—the MRRT package—which will take a percentage of the profits that miners make from Australia's non-renewable resources and which will fund important measures. These measures include the instant asset write-off for small businesses and a cut to the company tax rate, which, from 2013-14, will be down to 29 per cent and which will include a head start for small businesses for whom the rate cut will commence in 2012-13. Cutting the company income tax rate increases domestic productivity and domestic investment. More capital means higher productivity and economic growth and leads to more jobs and higher wages. These measures will ensure that Australia comes through the current mining boom with more prosperity and a stronger economy. The MRRT will also fund the increase in employer superannuation contributions from nine per cent to 12 per cent. This will significantly increase the future retirement incomes of many Australian workers. For example, a 30-year-old earning average full-time wages will have an additional $108,000 in retirement savings.

From their public statements to date, the opposition appears set to oppose these measures when they are introduced. I noticed that the member for Groom mentioned the energy white paper, but what he neglected to mention is the importance to the future of Australia's energy security of taking action now and setting a price on carbon pollution. A price on carbon pollution goes to the question of how to price the available energy options for Australia. Rather than saying one thing to one audience and another thing to another audience, this government is taking action by putting a price on carbon pollution. The member for Groom is right to raise the need to resolve the issue of the energy white paper, but it cannot be resolved without considering the impact of a price on carbon.

The Gillard government's response on this issue is vital to the discussion of different energy options for Australia in the decades to come. We have committed to a clean energy future through our carbon price package, and we will be supporting affected families and businesses to transition to a cleaner economy which will position Australia as a world leader in renewable energy. If given his way, the Leader of the Opposition would tax families to compensate polluters through his so-called direct action plan, which would cost each and every taxpayer some $720 a year. But the Gillard government understands that there are families are doing it tough, that the global economy is volatile, and Europe and the US are in the midst of public debt crises. Rather than ignore this, we are working on policies to spread the benefits of the mining boom and secure economic growth in other sectors of the economy.

Returning to the bills immediately at hand: the amendments contained in these bills serve to address uncertainties that have arisen following the implementation of the government's 2008-09 budget decision to remove from 13 May 2008 the crude oil excise exemption which is applied to condensate production. The amendments provide the necessary certainty by inserting a statutory definition of the prescribed Rankin Trend condensate production area as the area that includes those reservoirs or groups of reservoirs producing condensate which form part of a single field. The amendments also allow for other reservoirs to be included within the Rankin Trend condensate production area by regulation where the minister for resources is satisfied that they form part of the same field.

The Excise Legislation Amendment (Condensate) Bill makes minor technical amendments to the Petroleum Excise (Prices) Act 1987 regarding the determination of volume weighted average of realised prices—the VOLWARE price. The amendments clarify that VOLWARE price determinations, which are integral to determining excise liability, are not invalidated by failure to provide relevant petroleum producers with a written notice setting out the terms of the determination. Were this the case, no excise would be payable in circumstances where a notice was not provided. To ensure that the ability of producers to seek a review of VOLWARE price determination is not affected, the amendments also extend the review provisions to allow producers to seek a review within 28 days of receiving a formal notice of price determination.

The amendments contained in the bills will have effect from 13 May 2008, consistent with the commencement of the original 2008-09 budget measure. As the amendments serve only to clarify and confirm the application of crude oil excise to condensate production as it has been applied since 13 May 2008, they do not impose any additional impost on industry participants and have no revenue impact. Rather, they provide industry with the necessary certainty regarding the application of the crude oil excise to condensate producers in the North West Shelf area and protect the excise revenues collected to date under the original 2008-09 measure. I again thank those who have participated in this debate and commend the bills to the House. Question put.

That the amendment be agreed to

The House divided [17:44]

(The Speaker—Mr Harry Jenkins)

Question negatived. Original question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.