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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Page: 6098

Ms JULIE BISHOP (2:50 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the statement of Indigenous leader and Melbourne university professor, Marcia Langton, who said:

If this super resource tax goes ahead, this could fundamentally change the policies of the socially responsible mining and energy corporations who negotiate impact benefit agreements with local Indigenous groups because I think it is even perhaps a triple tax.

Will the Prime Minister take the concerns of Professor Langton and other Indigenous leaders seriously and scrap his new tax on mining? If not, will he guarantee that no Indigenous community will be worse off as a result of his tax?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —The first thing I will say in response to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s question is in terms of the impact of the proposed RSPT. Under the proposal the costs of employment, training and support for Indigenous employees, provided they are legitimate operating costs, are deductible prior to the RSPT being calculated. That is the first point of fact. Secondly, I say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the government’s overall tax proposal is designed and reinforced by Treasury modelling to boost the overall level of employment in the mining industry. Furthermore the Deputy Leader of the Opposition refers to the employment impact of the mining industry itself. I would draw attention to Treasury testimony at Senate estimates on Thursday, 27 May. It is worthwhile putting this into context. It says:

In the first six months of 2009, in the immediate aftermath of the shock waves occasioned by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Australian mining industry shed 15.2 per cent of its employees—

that was last year—

Had every industry in Australia behaved in the same way, our unemployment rate would have increased from 4.6 per cent to 19 per cent in six months.

I think it is very important to put the overall employment performance of the mining sector in relation to Australia’s overall workforce size into context, and I would simply suggest to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that she does so as well in terms of the aggregate impact of the tax reform proposal, including us bringing down the company tax rate by two points and those opposite bringing it up by two percentage points.