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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5532

Mr BRIGGS (2:29 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the respected economic analyst Morgan Stanley’s latest research report, released this morning, which finds that under the Prime Minister’s proposed great big new tax on mining the Olympic Dam expansion has no economic value and now is unlikely to proceed. Given the importance of the Olympic Dam expansion for the economic future of my state of South Australia and for the nation, will the Prime Minister stop dismissing concerns about this project as exaggerations, concede that the concerns about the future of this project are real and dump this tax that is putting this project at risk?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I thank very much the member for Mayo for his question. He raises in particular the Olympic Dam project in South Australia. The member for Mayo will be aware of the fact that the Leader of the Opposition said only a few weeks ago that this new tax proposal of the government’s ‘is already threatening multi-billion dollar investments, most of all the $22 billion expansion of Olympic Dam in South Australia’. The shadow finance minister has chipped in to say:

Olympic Dam could well be put off for ten or twenty years.

When asked about Olympic Dam, BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers said on 26 May:

… it is not frozen. We are carrying on. We are spending money, there are 200 engineers working on it. Otherwise we would have made a statement to the contrary.

Mr Hockey —Today! What about Morgan Stanley today?

Mr RUDD —The honourable member for North Sydney bellows an interjection. I always know with the member for North Sydney that volume is disproportionate to logic. That is the nature of his interjections.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. The Prime Minister was asked about a report today from Morgan Stanley. It is a very serious issue for South Australia—

The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt will resume his seat. He would acknowledge that, the way the questioner paraphrased the report from Morgan Stanley, it went on to talk about a project, which is what the Prime Minister is talking about.

Mr RUDD —I thank again the member for Mayo for his question, because once again he is forced to confront facts as opposed to the fear campaign which those opposite are mounting. The member for North Sydney says, ‘What about Morgan Stanley?’ Can I say in response to that that I thought the CEO of BHP spoke for BHP, rather than the representative of Morgan Stanley. But I will leave it with those opposite, as they claim to have better connections with corporate Australia than this side of the House.

This also forms part of a pattern of what has been suggested by those opposite in terms of the impact of tax reform on individual projects. Remember, of course, that particular claim in relation to Clive Palmer. Two of Clive’s projects were going to be torpedoed in South Australia. It is about four weeks on, and we are still trying to find those projects. Maybe the member for Mayo could help us; we are still searching for them. I simply conclude by making a point about projects and companies like Clive Palmer’s. It is important that the member for Mayo listen to this because I am told his illustrious predecessor, a very good friend of mine, Alexander Downer, is in fact on the board of a company called Resourcehouse, of which Clive Palmer is owner and chairman. So I know there is a good and strong connection between the seat of Mayo and Clive Palmer’s company and this broader campaign of fear concerning companies and associated tax reform.

Mr Hockey —Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER —Order! Has the Prime Minister concluded? The Prime Minister has concluded.

Mr Briggs —Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table the report from Morgan Stanley which puts the future of Olympic Dam in doubt.

Leave not granted.