Save Search

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 17 June 2010
Page: 3656


Senator IAN MACDONALD (2:26 PM) —My question is to Senator Wong representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the minister aware of the admission by former mining company executive, former general secretary of the Labor Party and now Parliamentary Secretary for Western and Northern Australia, Mr Gary Gray, that the great big new tax on mining had created uncertainty in the mining sector, saying, ‘We wouldn’t want to have the current degree of debate and uncertainty in play in August’? Does the minister agree with Parliamentary Secretary Gray and concede that the great big new tax on mining has created uncertainty in the mining industry?


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —I thank Senator Macdonald for the question. Mr Gray has made a range of comments over the period of time which are consistent with the fact that he is a strong supporter of the mining sector and a person who understands the need to ensure a sustained economic growth and a sensible tax reform in relation not only to the mining sector but more broadly. It is the case—

Honourable senators interjecting—


The PRESIDENT —Order! When there is silence on both sides, we will proceed.


Senator WONG —It is the case that we on this side of the chamber believe that this is necessary tax reform. We believe this is tax reform which shares more reasonably the proceeds of the mining boom and provides a profits based rather than volumetric tax, which we believe—consistent with what has been put to the Henry review by many participants—is a more economically efficient tax. Our view is that there is also merit in the other aspects of the tax reforms, which include some of those outlined by Senator Sherry today: a reduction in the company tax rate, a more generous taxation regime in relation to small business, as well as a greater share for working Australians through an increase in superannuation.

We do think this is a debate that can be progressed sensibly. We are engaged, as Mr Gray outlined, in sensible consultations with the resources sector. We will continue to do that in a measured and sensible way. We have no doubt that that will not be the approach taken by the opposition, who are determined in relation to any aspect of any policy to run a scare campaign, to run politics—


Senator Sterle —Mistruths.


Senator WONG —To run mistruths—thank you, Senator Sterle—and to put a whole range of things on the record which are not factually correct. (Time expired)


Senator IAN MACDONALD —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for telling me that Gary Gray understands the mining industry. Is that why he opposes Mr Rudd’s great big new tax on mining, and is that why his father-in-law, Peter Walsh, also opposes that? Minister, do you agree with Parliamentary Secretary Gray that the Prime Minister’s repeated refusal to put a deadline on the tax negotiations is creating even more uncertainty in the mining sector and that this uncertainty is bad for the Australian economy?


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —I would remind the Senate of the fact that Mr Gray went on in the same interview—which I think the senator is seeking to paraphrase and perhaps misquote—to say, ‘I am absolutely confident that the discussions and the way in which the matters of difficulty are being resolved will allow us to go forward in the right time frame.’ What we do know—


Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting—


Senator WONG —I am asked about what would be bad for the Australian economy. Well, Senator Macdonald, what would be bad for the Australian economy is if this government had taken the economic advice of those opposite. That is what would have been bad for the Australian economy, because we know that this nation would have fallen into recession. We know that we would have had a recession—a recession that those opposite were pleased to foist on the Australian people. We would have seen more Australians unemployed. We would have seen more small businesses going to the wall. That is what would have happened to our economy if we had taken the economic advice of those opposite.


Senator Cameron —Here’s Clive Palmer’s patsy!


The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Cameron, Senator Macdonald is entitled to be heard in silence.


Senator IAN MACDONALD —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I further ask the minister: how can families living in mining communities in Northern Australia plan for their futures with any degree of certainty when this government has now admitted that the great big new tax on mining has created uncertainty in the mining industry? Minister, what is the government going to do for the families of the 60 contractors at the Ernest Henry mine who are already suffering as a direct result of this great big new tax on mining?


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —One wonders whether or not the Liberal Party and the National Party were considering the working families that Senator Macdonald refers to when they voted against the government’s economic stimulus package, the package which ensured that this nation stayed out of recession—which ensured that we prevented this country falling into recession. We have not seen in this nation some of what has been seen in comparable economies in terms of the levels of unemployment and in terms of the growth levels or the contraction of those economies. We recognise the importance of the mining industry to Australia. These reforms are about growing and strengthening that industry as well as cutting business taxes for businesses and boosting the retirement savings—

Honourable senators interjecting—


The PRESIDENT —Senator Wong, resume your seat. Order! When there is silence, we will proceed.


Senator WONG —As I said, the reforms are about boosting the retirement incomes of Australians, reducing taxation for other companies and providing a more sensible tax regime in the mining sector.