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Transcript of interview with Lyndal Curtis: The World Today, ABC Radio: 10 June 2010: Resource Super Profits Tax.



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INTERVIEW WITH LYNDAL CURTIS

THE WORLD TODAY, ABC RADIO

10 JUNE 2010

SUBJECTS: Resource Super Profits Tax

ELEANOR HALL:

The Treasurer spoke a short time ago to chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis.

TREASURER:

Well this is a very encouraging figure for Australia, something like 280,000 additional jobs in the year through to May. It's a strong figure but I think it's consistent with the outlook the Government put forward in our recent budget and underscores the need for us to continue to reform our economy, to make the investments in infrastructure, to make businesses more competitive through a cut in the corporate tax rate. These things are all important. And I think it also underscores the need to lift national savings.

CURTIS:

Of course anything in economics, the silver lining always comes with a cloud. If unemployment keeps falling then of course that raises the question of more pressure on interest rates and skills shortages. Can those downsides be managed?

TREASURER:

Well that's why we said in the budget we would put in place a very significant fiscal consolidation to bring the budget back to surplus in three years, three years early. We forecast above trend growth. That is coming through and you can see this in these figures today.

CURTIS:

You've been in Perth. Have you been holding consultations with mining industry leaders today?

TREASURER:

Well I've been talking not only to mining industry leaders but also to the broader community about the importance of reforming the economy so that we can maximise the opportunities that will flow from mining boom mark two - the need to invest in infrastructure, the need to build up national savings through boosting superannuation and the need to make our company rate more competitive. They're all important reforms as we go forward.

CURTIS:

But none of that happens if you don't get the mining tax in place. Consultations with the industry are crucial to this. Are you sensing any movement from those industry figures you've been speaking to?

TREASURER:

Look there's a range of opinions out there. You'll find some people are very vocal in their opposition. Others will concede that there is a case to pay more. But we are listening to what the mining community and the broader community has to say as we move around the country.

CURTIS:

Many people in the mining industry say they do want reform. Why don't you start this process from scratch? You've got a long timeline for consultations. The last consultations don't start until mid next year. Why not take it apart and rebuild it from the ground up?

TREASURER:

Well we've been out there talking to the industry intently over the past four or five weeks. We believe that these consultations are valuable. The Government is simply doing what it said it would do when we launched our response to the independent tax review.

CURTIS:

But don't you have time to unpick it and put it back together? Simon Crean has told Perth Radio you didn't consult beforehand as you should have. Don't you have time to step back, continue the consultation with industry, and build a tax that both sides can agree on?

TREASURER:

Well firstly the independent tax review did consult with the industry. And indeed the industry made a representation to the independent tax review

calling for the replacement of royalties with a profits based tax. Following the announcement of our support for the proposal put forward by the independent review the Government has been consulting closely with industry and the tax panel has also been talking to industry, particularly about all of the technical detail. Those are processes that were outlined when we announced our response to the independent review, and they're ongoing.

CURTIS:

Talking to mining companies over the last few days many mining companies say both publicly and privately that they don't believe the negotiations with the Treasury consultation panel are going anywhere and there needs to be a political solution. In the end will it be up to you and the Prime Minister to negotiate this through with the mining industry?

TREASURER:

Well the Prime Minister, myself, and Minister Ferguson have been meeting and discussing these issues with representatives from the mining industry for some weeks. They are an important part of the consultation and that will continue as well. And that's part of the reason both the Prime Minister and I are in Perth as we speak.

CURTIS:

Do you need to spend all the time you've got to come up with a deal or can you come up with some sort of an agreed framework before the election to take the heat out of the issue but allow the detailed work to go on?

TREASURER:

Well economic reform of this significance is never easy. In the past when major reforms such as this have been introduced there's been a lot of discussion. I think it's no different on this occasion. The Government is genuine in its consultations with industry and we will proceed as we have indicated we would.

CURTIS:

Even if it hurts your electoral fortunes?

TREASURER:

The most important thing here is to get it right and to act in the national interest and that's what the Government is doing.

CURTIS:

Wayne Swan, thank you very much for your time.

TREASURER:

Thank you.