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Thursday, 3 June 2010
Page: 5241


Mr TRUSS (Leader of the Nationals) (4:27 PM) —The Export Market Development Grants Amendment Bill 2010 talks about the assistance provided to Australian exports. In the couple of minutes left before the House adjourns for a week, I want to talk about the importance of mining exports to the Australian economy and in particular how important it is to encourage this industry. It is hypocritical of a government on one side to be claiming that it wants to assist industries to export through the Export Market Development Grants Scheme and on the other side to invent a great big new tax to make mining uneconomic in this country.

The Prime Minister must surely be the only person in the world who actually thinks that you make your mining industry more prosperous by taxing it more. The President of Zambia once tried this route to encourage mining in his country, and he quickly realised it did not work—there was no point, he said, in collecting a few million dollars in tax if you lost thousands of jobs in the process. Our Prime Minister has not learnt that lesson. He believes that if you put a tax on alcopops you will reduce consumption. He believes if you put a tax on cigarettes you will reduce consumption. But, if you put a tax on mining, you will have more of it—you will have more investment.

Ask Xstrata how much more investment they are going to have in Australia with this great big new tax hanging over their head. Ask the people of Whyalla what is the future of their steel works with this great big new tax hanging over their heads. Ask other investors, like British Gas, who have a proposal to open up coal seam gas harvesting in Queensland, what the future of that investment is, and the $20 billion LNG train in Gladstone. All of that, along with hundreds of other projects in Australia, is at risk, might not proceed, because of this government’s great big new tax on mining.

Last night the Prime Minister had an opportunity to explain this to the Australian mining industry. But, instead, he ran away—he went to a function for the centenary of Andrew Fisher’s government—a one-term government, I might add. But the centenary was actually three weeks ago, so this function was put on in Old Parliament House so the Prime Minister could run away, not face the mining industry but talk to a few party faithful about events of 100 years ago.

Debate interrupted.