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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1460

Minerals Resource Rent Tax

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:31): My question is to the Treasurer. I remind the Treasurer of his statement on 20 November 2011:

The simple fact is . . . the vast majority of the tax will be paid by three companies, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.

Given reports that these three big miners have accumulated at least $1.7 billion in mining tax credits, does he stand by that statement?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:32): I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for that question. It is not unusual that there are deductions provided for in a tax such as this. It is the case that there is a starting base allowance. It is a deduction which recognises past investment.

If I am hearing her right, what she is saying is that there should not be a starting base for the MRRT. I think that would come as a very rude shock to industry right across the country, because it would be a deeply irresponsible policy position to hold. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has now referred to numbers that she says have been put in by some of the large mining companies. It may come as news to her, but these numbers were actually published last August by the companies themselves. Somehow, this is news today.

The fact is, because of confidentiality provisions of the act, I am not privy to which particular companies are paying the MRRT. But I have made it very clear, as has the Assistant Treasurer, that we do need to see greater transparency in our corporate tax system and in particular when it comes to the MRRT. The government will do everything we possibly can to ensure there is maximum transparency. But for her to try to say that on the basis of six months she can draw a conclusion about the impact of the starting base vis-a-vis the impact of the dollar, vis-a-vis the impact of commodity prices, is simply stupid.