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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5539


Mr IAN MACFARLANE (2:57 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to this letter from Wesfarmers, Australia’s largest private sector employer with more than 200,000 staff and in excess of 500,000 shareholders. The letter warns ‘the proposed new superprofits tax would not only make Australia less competitive in the global resources industry but also have significant flow-on effects for the broader economy and society’ and ‘is clearly a threat to the level of dividend we’—that is, Wesfarmers—‘can pay’. When will the Prime Minister back down from this bad tax policy that will damage the income of 8½ million superannuation holders in Australia?


Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Groom for his question. He refers in particular to correspondence from Wesfarmers. As I have already indicated in today’s debate in the House on the future of tax reform in Australia, there will be claim and counterclaim by a whole range of Australian corporates, many of whom have come out in strong support of the government’s tax reform proposals.


Mr Abbott interjecting


Mr RUDD —The Leader of the Opposition asks us to name some. I draw his attention to the range of financial services companies in Sydney. I also suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that he reflect upon the contributions to this debate by a whole range of corporates, particularly those associated with the financial services sector, who understand one of the impacts of these reforms—namely, that the flowthrough impact on super is to boost the overall supply of national savings for the Australian economy.

Furthermore, can I also say to the member for Groom that the letter he refers to goes on to the question of the impact on earnings for superannuants. Can I draw attention to the fact that the performance of the Australian Stock Exchange, which is one of the principal sources of earnings for superannuants, has outperformed most other bourses across the world. Furthermore, could I say this in response to a debate which has much claim and counterclaim associated with it: before, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in making her very cogent point to this place referred to the Chilean mining minister, Laurence Golborne. It always pays to do your research, because we have a report from Bloomberg today, which is that they are having a debate on mining tax in Chile as well. It said that Chile’s mining minister, Laurence Golborne, urged the congress of Chile to approve the proposed changes in the mining laws of his country. It also said that the government of President Pinera, which took office in March, is seeking to introduce an optional sliding tax rate on profit and to deliver $700 million in additional revenue next year and in 2012. The bill says that it is very good for the country because it does not hurt investment and allows the government to cash in when economic cycles are benefiting miners. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition—


Mr Ian Macfarlane —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This question is about the income of 8½ million shareholders and superannuation holders in Australia.


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Groom will resume his seat.


Mr RUDD —Therefore, when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition interjects in this debate that mining companies around the world are somehow immune to tax changes in other jurisdictions, she is wrong. Furthermore, in the country that she specifically refers to, there is a debate right now in the Chilean congress to introduce a profits based tax, and the question of optionality goes to the rate of such a tax. Can I say to those opposite, therefore, that when they engage in—


The SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.


Mr Pyne —Yes, Mr Speaker, and I am trying to help the House and the Prime Minister. He is answering a question about the RSPT and talking about the Chilean earthquake tax. I think you might want to stop him from doing so.


The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt will resume his seat, and he is warned.


Mr RUDD —Furthermore, the report says that, in Chile, mining companies will likely reject the tax increase. This debate is universal. Mining companies around the world do not want to pay more tax. In this country we believe that mining companies should pay more tax when prices are high for a resource owned by the Australian people. We believe the Australian people deserve a fairer share. We believe they deserve a fairer share for better super for working families, a fairer share for small businesses and their tax concerns and a fairer share for the regions that need infrastructure invested in them. This is a debate between those who support the reform and those who oppose the reform. Those who support the reform believe a profits based regime for the future is the right way to go.

The Leader of the Opposition stands with his new best friend, the pin-up boy of the Liberal-National Party, Clive Palmer, as the two voices out there opposed to any profits based reform in the mining industry. There will be a range of claims and counterclaims. You will have people right across the industry commenting on it. You will have people like Roger Corbett who came out quite rightly and said as a director of Fairfax Media and Wal-Mart—and he is also on the Reserve Bank—that these are resources owned by Australians and that Australians should extract from those resources the best possible advantage that they can. In principle, he supports a resources tax.

Therefore, those opposite will simply take a position in this debate which is subservient to the likes of Clive Palmer in pursuit of a sectional interest and in pursuit of an individual who bankrolls the Liberal-National Party in Queensland to the tune of nearly $1 million. They do not stand for the national interest; they stand for a partial interest; they stand for an individual corporate interest. We are about the business of tax reform for the nation. We stand on one side of the debate prosecuting a hard debate on tax reform. Those opposite have evidenced no spine for tax reform whatsoever.


Mr Hockey interjecting


Mr Robert interjecting


The SPEAKER —The members for North Sydney and Fadden are warned!