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Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Page: 1507

Economy


Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (14:08): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Evans. Can the minister advise the Senate how the Gillard government is ensuring that all Australians will see a long-term benefit from the resources boom?


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:08): I thank the senator for his question. This government is absolutely determined to ensure that all Australians will see a long-term benefit from the current resources boom. We believe that every Australian should benefit from the mineral resources which we all own. That is why the Gillard government will make the necessary investments today to ensure we deliver long-term benefits which will support our future economic prosperity. We believe all Australians, not just a select few, should share in the prosperity which flows from the growth in our mining sector.

We know that those living in resource-rich states like my own were left questioning the legacy delivered as a result of the last resources boom. This government is absolutely determined to deliver a substantial legacy this time around. By making critical investments in superannuation, small business tax cuts and company tax reform, both businesses and employees will see tangible benefits. The Gillard government reform agenda will include tax cuts for 2.7 million small businesses and an increase in the retirement savings for each one of our 8.4 million working Australians—bigger retirement savings for working Australians. An increase in the super guarantee from nine to 12 per cent means that a 30-year-old worker on average earnings will retire with an extra $108,000 in superannuation savings—real benefits from the mining resources boom. Those concessions for low-income workers will also be implemented.

We are investing in regional infrastructure, trying to make sure that the communities supporting the boom have their infrastructure improved and upgraded. So all of these things are about investing in the future prosperity of our nation and making sure that all Australians, businesses and employers benefit from the mining boom, that the wealth generated from our resources is shared among the whole population, that we all benefit from that boom.


Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (14:10): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister explain to the Senate how the Gillard government is making transformative investments into education?


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:11): The Gillard government has transformed education at all levels in Australia. Labor understands that to continue our prosperity in the future we need to invest in education. That is why we have invested in everything from childcare centres to primary schools to trade training centres to universities. We have doubled funding for schools and built new facilities all across the nation.

We know that that record of investment will be stopped in its tracks if the coalition is to be elected at the next election. In its desperate scramble to find $70 billion worth of savings to fill the black hole, the coalition would have to take the scalpel to our childcare centres, our schools, our universities and our training centres. They have form in seeking to cut education. What we know is that if they are to make sense of their terrible economic policies—if they are going to pay back the millionaires the mining tax—they are going to have to cut education to the bone, removing services to ordinary Australian working families. (Time expired)


Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (14:12): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Is the minister aware of any alternative economic policies that put at risk the critical investments required to secure Australia's future economic prosperity?


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:12): As I was saying, I am aware of an alternative policy: that of the coalition, which seeks to spread the benefits of the boom to a very few—to those making the money out of our resources—and not to share them among the nation. We know the opposition have a $70 billion funding black hole, but put that in context. That amount of money buys a lot of things that Australian families depend on. It would pay for Australia's entire higher education budget for more than five years. That is the size of the cuts the coalition will have to make. Now they try to hide behind an audit, but they know and Australians know that, to fund the black hole, to fund the generosity to the large mining companies and billionaires in Australia, they are going to have to cut services to ordinary families. They will be things like the education tax refund, which allows families to claim the cost of school stationery and uniforms. They cannot fund the billionaires and fund those sorts of services, and Australians know that. (Time expired)