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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 3834


Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (19:46): Last Monday the Senate approved and passed the government's minerals resource rent tax. It, together with the petroleum resource rent tax, will be assisting Australia's businesses and workers by funding national taxation and superannuation reforms, including a cut to company tax to 29 per cent, a new break for small business from 1 July 2012 and, most importantly, incredible superannuation savings for 8.4 million Australians. The opposition oppose that tax relief for 2.7 million small businesses. They oppose that superannuation reform that will allow a 30-year-old worker on an average income to retire with an extra $100,000 in savings. Amazingly, they oppose our investment in much-needed upgrades to infrastructure across both rural and urban Australia. The Liberals do this because they are being squeezed by some of the iron and coal plutocrats. That was very clear today. Why?

Mr Robert: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Standing order 90 is about reflections on members. The member for Melbourne Ports is imputing an improper motive—

The SPEAKER: In future the honourable member will not abuse the process of the House; otherwise, I will deal with him.

Mr DANBY: I am making a political criticism, not of individuals but of the political decisions of the Liberal Party to accept such extravagant support from people like Mr Clive Palmer—the $4 million man—whose donations to the Liberal Party are obviously changing their policies. There is a brutal Polish saying that says, 'You pay and you get.' As we have heard from the Special Minister of State, Clive Palmer has donated $4 million to the coalition—you pay and you get. Nothing shows the opposition are more interested in protecting their iron and coal plutocrat mates than their relationship with Mr Twiggy Forrest.

Mr Forrest has contributed much to this country and he has certainly done well out of Australia. He claimed, when he came to Canberra, that he is standing up for the little Aussie battler. Presumably, they all have private jets. This MRRT, as it affects him, is much more like the Wall Street executive complaining about obscene bonuses while being reduced to merely outrageous bonuses. Mr Forrest came to Canberra to speak of the suffering the government will place on his company. Laura Tingle, in her article in the Financial Review on 17 June 2011 entitled 'Taxpayer Twiggy goes out on a limb', explained that the concerns he had raised with the government—the retrospective nature of tax doubling the value of spent capital, an immediate write-off in new capital and the full transferability of super mining viability across projects—were all addressed by the government. Mr Forrest came here in his private jet to modify the tax and we met his concerns. Mr Forrest admitted that on Lateline. He said:

I can assure all of Australia this: under this new tax regime Fortescue will pay much less tax.

However, as Laura Tingle points out, according to his own records he will be paying less than nothing because Fortescue has not paid any tax as a company so far. So he comes to Canberra to rail against a tax he has helped modify to meet his concerns, and he wants to pay less tax. Does he want to pay less than nothing? That is the question that I have to ask him.

The Treasurer rightly pointed out in his article in the Monthly:

Despite the howling of a small minority … The vast majority of our miners accept that they have a social obligation to pay their fair share of tax on the resources Australians own.

What is even more confusing is that Mr Forrest remained quite silent when the Premier of New South Wales and the Western Australian Premier, who wail about the ruination of the MRRT, introduced increased state royalties. When the Western Australian Liberal Premier, Colin Barnett, announced he would lift royalties on iron ore production, Mr Forrest and other Liberals claimed that the money raised by the royalties would fund hospitals and nurses. Funny, I thought the opposition would, along with the rest of Australia, be all for investment on roads, bridges and infrastructure in mining regions, which is precisely what the minerals resource rent tax will do along with the other good that it will achieve. So the coalition is joined by a man who has professed his business will pay less tax under the MRRT and a man who launched the most extraordinary attack, as the Attorney-General pointed out, on the CIA. I was there on the grassy knoll with him. I must confess, we both— (Time expired)