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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 8402


Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (14:25): My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Wong. How much has it cost the government to develop and administer the minerals resource rent tax so far?

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:25): I am not sure I have full details of that. I will pause for a moment while I flick through my brief, but I suspect I do not have details. What I can indicate is that the government does budget for associated administration costs for all government policy, including tax measures, and they are fully accounted for in the bottom line.

I am advised that the Australian Taxation Office does not provide updates on the costs of administering individual measures, but I can provide on notice further details of ATO departmental costs.

Senator Ronaldson: Mr President, on a point of order on relevance. The question was the development and the administration of the tax. I asked whether the minister will be taking both aspects on notice.

The PRESIDENT: That is not really a point of order. I believe the minister's time had not expired, but the minister had sat down, indicating that the question had been answered.

Senator Ronaldson: I can make it part of my supplementary question.

The PRESIDENT: All right.

Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (14:28): Will the minister also take on notice the cost of developing the MRRT? Is the minister aware of how much relevant iron ore and coal miners have had to pay for lawyers, accountants, other consultants and additional staff in order to comply with the minerals resource rent tax's related paperwork just to prove that they remain outside the scope of the MRRT and do not have to pay any mining tax?

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:28): First, on the departmental costs, I will see what I can do, but I indicate to you that, as you will probably recall from estimates questions, it would be unusual for a department to allocate costs specifically to a measure. We could give you information about how much is appropriated to the revenue group, for example, but it would be very unusual for a department to cost against a particular policy measure. We will see what we can do.

In relation to the second question, this is something that I seem to recall Senator Cormann asking at Senate estimates. Obviously any new measure does have compliance costs involved. There are a number of simplification methods available to mining companies to work out whether they have a liability, including the simplified method that allows them to work out they are not liable using normal accounting profit. (Time expired)

Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (14:30): Why is the government imposing all this additional red tape and compliance burdens, pushing up the cost of doing business in Australia again and reducing our international competitiveness whilst not raising any revenue? Surely even this Labor government must now concede this mining tax is a monumental failure?

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:30): Again, I think this is a political statement, if I may say, rather than a question. I am happy to remind those opposite if they are concerned about red tape—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! I need those at the front of the chamber to be quiet so that I can hear the answer.

Senator WONG: I would remind those opposite if they are concerned about red tape and if they are concerned about taxation measures that their policy is currently for a levy that is an increase in the company tax rate to pay for Mr Abbott's paid parental leave scheme. The question did include red tape.

Honourable senators interjecting

Senator Ronaldson: Mr President, a point of order; I remind the minister of the question. It did not relate to any of the matters she is now talking about. I asked her whether she now concedes that this tax is a monumental failure.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. The minister has 34 seconds remaining.

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:31): I was asked if we were concerned about red tape and, yes, we are. That is why we are progressing the seamless national economy reforms and we are implementing the deregulation objectives which were recommended to the Howard government on at least two occasions. I look forward to Senator Sinodenis's task force who are actually committing the coalition to doing something about red tape.