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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Page: 6099

Mr GEORGANAS (2:53 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the consultation process that is currently working through the details of the new profits based tax on resources?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I do thank the member for Hindmarsh for his very important question, because there was extensive consultation with the mining industry prior to the report from the independent tax committee and, of course, there has been extensive consultation since that time. Indeed, it was the Mining Council of Australia that made a submission to that committee arguing for a profits based tax. This is something that is not accepted by those opposite. They do not think that there should be a replacement of mining royalties with a profits based tax. That is not even a position which is held by the mining industry itself. So we can see that those opposite simply do not have a clue about what they are saying and that has been demonstrated in the House today.

We saw the appalling ignorance of the Leader of the Opposition getting up and comparing mining companies to all other corporates in Australia in terms of the charges that they have to pay. No other company in Australia gets access to a free public resource. No other company in Australia has access to something which is owned 100 per cent by the Australian people.

Mr Simpkins interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Cowan is warned.

Mr SWAN —That is why for over 100 years mining companies in this country have paid a mining royalty to recognise it is a non-renewable resource which can only be dug up once. It is to the very great fortune of Australia that the price of this non-renewable resource is getting higher and is likely to be higher for some time to come. It is a fair thing that the Australian people should share in that prosperity. But the Australian people have been getting short-changed for some time. Of course, that is why the Henry report recommended a profits based tax to replace royalties. The Australian people have been getting short-changed and the consequence of that is that we have not had the resources that we need to invest and to strengthen our economy more broadly.

I know those on that side of the House do not recognise the fact that Australia has been getting short-changed, but there is one Liberal who does—the Premier of Western Australia. The Premier of Western Australia thinks that we have been getting short-changed by a royalty regime. This is what he had to say yesterday:

Had we not done what has been done today, Western Australia would have been essentially selling its iron ore for decades to come at half price. That’s not acceptable.

Australia is being short-changed. Australia deserves a fairer share of its mineral resources. We deserve a fairer share of our mineral resources so we can do something for all of our companies—for small business, for corporates—to make our economy more competitive, to deal with the capacity constraints in the economy, to invest in infrastructure and to boost superannuation to boost our national savings to strengthen and broaden our economy.

What is the reaction of those of opposite? Nothing should be done. Let the windfall walk out the door or let the state governments occasionally jack up their royalties a little bit, have different regimes in every state, have a ramshackle regime that does not provide fair value to the Australian people and let that go on forever. That just shows how unqualified those opposite are to run this country and what little understanding they have of what we must do to prosper as a nation in the Asian century.

We on this side of the House have a fundamental economic reform program which will create jobs, which will encourage investment and which will make our companies more competitive. What we seek through consultation, which has been extensive with the industry, is a sensible and balanced outcome for the country. We seek a profits based tax at a 40 per cent rate applying to existing projects and producing the revenue that can strengthen and broaden our economy. We will not shirk our responsibility to the nation. We understand the importance of long-term reform.

The Leader of the Opposition was in here before talking about jobs and there were questions from the backbench about jobs and about people working at Woolies. Many people in this country would not have jobs if this government did not step up to the plate and stimulate the economy and support employment. And we will do it again because we understand the importance of long-term reform, and those opposite do not.