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Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Page: 735


Mr SIMPKINS (Cowan) (20:54): I welcome the opportunity tonight to speak, or to at least commence my comments, on the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2013. It was very clear when we went to the last election—in fact the last two elections—that we were opposed to the mining tax. It was in policy statements and there was a very clear understanding. The then government, now opposition, threw everything at us. They talked about the loss of the schoolkids bonus. There is no doubt they had a go at the politics, and in the end they were comprehensively rejected by the Australian people. So it is with a very clear conscience that we come here and present this bill to do exactly as we said we would do: repeal a tax that was ineffective and poorly placed.

I spoke in the last parliament about the mining tax. It was very clear that the former government was basically saying to the Australian people that what is in the ground in Western Australia, for instance, belongs to the Australian people. And yet, throughout history, the reality of the system of royalties has been that what is in the ground belongs to the state and the people—of Western Australia if it is in Western Australia, or of Queensland if it is in Queensland.

We must remember that to bring these resources out of the ground requires money, resources and risk. People actually have to make the effort. It is not like a bag of money buried under the surface and you just brush away the dirt. The former government used to say, 'It's very easy to make the money, so everyone should have their cut of it.' But the reality is that every dollar that is made out of the resources sector requires risk and requires people to put their livelihoods on the line.

What we stand for on this side is, if someone wants to put in the effort—it may be the ordinary person in the street, the small miners, the middle sized miners et cetera—if they want to take the risk, if they want to put the hours in, they should get the benefit of it. Yet this tax represents the Labor Party saying to the people of Australia: 'You don't have to take any risks. You don't have to put any sweat in. You don't have to be away from your families. You're entitled to a cut.' It is typical of that side of politics that it is all about entitlement. If there is something going wrong in your life, what the other side say is: 'Let's look at society first. Let's look at who's ripping you off. You don't need to look in a mirror. You don't need to actually go out there and put some effort in. It's society that is against you.' In the case of this tax, the former government said to the people: 'You don't need to take the risks. You don't need to sweat. You don't need the blood, the sweat, the tears. You don't need to be away from your families. We'll just give you a cut.' Unfortunately it was not just like that. It was a bad concept right from the start. That is the point I am trying to make.

The former government, the Labor Party, as we fought the 2010 election in Western Australia, were using states like Western Australia and Queensland as cash cows. They were just trying to rip the money out. Former Prime Minister Rudd, in his 2007 election campaign, promised an infrastructure fund for Western Australia, but of course, as everyone could have predicted, it never eventuated. Rather than giving that fair deal to Western Australia that he promised, Mr Rudd was behind nothing more than a rip-off. And the subsequent government, the Gillard government, was involved in nothing more than a rip-off of the resources of Western Australia and Queensland—all without justification and all to build an unfortunate sense of entitlement around this country.

Unfortunately, when you look at the detail of this tax and the resource revenues that have been generated out of it, you see that the former government decided to spend money that they thought they were going to make but they never actually made it. This is one of the greatest tragedies of it all and, when I get the opportunity to continue, I will talk some more about this.

Debate interrupted.