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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 2200


The PRESIDENT (22:04): In respect of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011 the question is that amendments numbers (1) and (2) on revised sheet 7209 circulated by the Australian Greens be agreed to.

The PRESIDENT: The amendment to the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011 circulated by the leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, is not in order. It broadens the tax base to include gold and other minerals and therefore imposes taxation within the meaning of section 53 of the Constitution. Section 53 provides:

Proposed laws … imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.

The Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011 does not itself impose tax, but, by proposing to tax substances that are not currently subject to the tax, the request for further amendment transforms the bill into a bill imposing taxation. According to a ruling of President Calvert in 2003, in similar circumstances, such an amendment may not be moved in the Senate, even as a request, because it is contrary to the Constitution. The amendment is out of order and the question therefore will not be put on it.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Bob Brown is entitled to be heard in silence.

Senator Bob Brown: Mr President, as I put to the Senate earlier in the evening, your ruling on this important amendment—

Senator Ian Macdonald: Is this a point of order or is he just having a chat?

The PRESIDENT: Order!

Senator Bob Brown: I am not going to talk over them.

The PRESIDENT: Is this a point of order?

Senator Bob Brown: It is.

An honourable senator: What standing order?

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Brown is entitled to be heard in silence.

Senator Bob Brown: This is a very important point of order. Your ruling is truncating the power—

An honourable senator: Which standing order?

The PRESIDENT: Order!

Senator Bob Brown: Mr President, your ruling is truncating the rights of this Senate under the Constitution to make requests to the House. I can do no other than object to you making this ruling, which goes against the interests of this great Senate vis-a-vis the House of Representatives. I know the numbers to support your ruling are with the old parties, and there is not much I can do about it except object.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Brown, I am not clear on your point of order. Are you—

Senator Bob Brown interjecting

The PRESIDENT: You are finished; all right.

Senator Abetz: What did he ask for a ruling on?

The PRESIDENT: Order! I have given the ruling based on former President Calvert's ruling in 2003, and that is where the matter now rests. The question now is—