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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5544

Mr HOCKEY (3:24 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister’s earlier answer, in which he compared a new earthquake tax in Chile with his own great big new tax on mining. Can the Prime Minister confirm that not only is the new earthquake tax in Chile optional but in fact it is temporary and by the end of 2012 will be phased out? Prime Minister, doesn’t this just prove yet again that when it comes to tax policy you have no idea?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I always welcome questions from the member for North Sydney, because volume and substance are always in inverse proportions. The member for North Sydney enters this debate pretending that somehow he stands on the side of the angels when it comes to tax reform. The reality around the world is very simple: whether in Chile, Brazil, Canada, South Africa or anywhere else in the world, mining companies do not wish to pay more tax. Guess what? In this country the Australian government wants mining companies to pay more tax. The reason that we want them to pay more tax is to fund better super for all those Australian families who are listening into this debate today. Those Australian families are worried about whether their nine per cent is going to give them enough to retire upon when they get to the age of 65. That is standing up for working families.

We are also standing up for 2.4 million Australian small businesses, who deserve a tax break.

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

The SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is warned!

Mr RUDD —They need the support of this government. Then we go to the broader needs of the economy and the need to support Australian corporates—all 770,000—who would benefit, I am advised, from a two per cent cut in the company tax rate, a rate which the Leader of the Opposition plans to increase by two percentage points.

Mr Hockey interjecting

Mr RUDD —The member for North Sydney seeks to intervene to suggest that somehow it is unique to this country that there is a debate about the future of tax change. It is not. The underpinning point put by the member for Curtin before was that somehow our mining industry was suffering in relation to that of other countries. To the extent that the stock exchanges are measurements of this, I draw her and his attention again to what is happening in Canada, Brazil and around the world in terms of the performance of our mining stocks relative to the rest.

I go back to the core point, which is that those opposite stand in this place as defenders of the interests of Clive Palmer. Clive Palmer says that there should be no change to the existing tax regime for the Australian mining industry. This government stands for reform of the tax system in Australia. This government stands for bringing in a profits based tax for the mining industry in Australia.

In this country, we have the mining industry, its peak body and the heads of most of the major mining companies saying that that is the sort of reform—a profits based regime—that we need for the future. Those opposite, led by the Leader of the Opposition and Clive Palmer, say that it is all fine and dandy. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition goes further and says that they are already paying too much tax. Nobody in this country believes that. No-one in this country accepts the view that the poor old miners cannot fork out an extra dollar to help working families. It does not matter where they are in this country, people see this fear campaign for what it is. We stand for facts in this debate; those opposite stand for fear.