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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 8405


Senator SMITH (Western Australia) (14:37): My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Wong. How much depreciation of relevant capital assets have miners claimed so far against any mining tax liability using the market valuation method as allowed for by the Gillard government's special mining tax deal with the biggest three miners?

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:37): I will answer the question in the same way that I have answered the questions from Senator Cormann. First, I do not discuss and the government does not discuss the individual tax affairs of companies. Second, the government has made assumptions about commodity prices and other parameters and has taken account of royalty decisions as I previously described, and those considerations have led to the write-down in MRRT revenue which I have previously outlined here, whereby we anticipate collecting some $9 billion over the forward estimates—a significant write-down of $4.3 billion over the forward estimates.

As senators would know, with each budget update, the government does update its figures and takes into account movements in key economic parameters, including things such as commodity prices, and of course makes assumptions about how taxpayers will deal with particular taxes. This is an inherent part, for example, of forecasting capital gains tax, income tax and so forth. The MRRT is no different. Those factors have been taken into account. I would again refer the opposition to the figures in the MYEFO whereby there has been an adjustment to the MRRT revenue take of some $4.3 billion over the forward estimates.

Senator SMITH (Western Australia) (14:39): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Collectively across the mining industry, how much more depreciation of capital are miners able to claim against future mining tax liabilities?

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:39): In terms of some of these questions—and that was a collective question, I think, not an individual one—I suspect the answer would be that we will not have this information until mining companies lodge a return at the end of the income year.

Senator Cormann interjecting

Senator WONG: Senator Cormann, I am very pleased to be lectured about what we should and should not be doing, but all I can say to you is that if there is any other information I can assist the Senate with I will endeavour to find it. But I suspect the advice will be that information about depreciation collectively across the mining industry, if it were to be available, would not be available until the end of the income year.

Senator SMITH (Western Australia) (14:40): Mr President, my further supplementary question is: why should anyone trust anything this government has to say about the mining tax revenue moving forward when the government is unable or unwilling to answer basic questions like these? What is the government trying to hide? We know it certainly is no any revenue from the mining tax.

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:41): Isn't the question: why should anyone believe this opposition when it comes to fiscal discipline and when it comes to economic credibility? Those opposite have never once got their costings right—never in the election campaign and never since. This opposition, should they win government, are going to inflict $17 billion worth of cuts on the Australian people—and they want to hide it. They do not want to be upfront with the Australian people about the cuts to health and education that they have planned. Those opposite have a shadow Treasurer who claims that three per cent trend growth is flatlining! You are an absolute joke when it comes to the economy—an absolute joke! Come in here and tell us what your savings measures are and we will have a debate about whose budget bottom line has credibility.