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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12489

Mining


Mr FITZGIBBON (HunterChief Government Whip) (14:04): My question is to the Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism. Will the minister update the House on the pipeline of investment in the resources sector and how the government plans to spread the benefits of this investment across the Australian community?


Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (BatmanMinister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) (14:05): I thank the member for Hunter for this very important question. It goes to major taxation reform in Australia. It goes to our capacity as a nation to spread the benefits of the resources boom across all sections of the Australian community at this very important point in time. It maintains our nation's international attractiveness from an investment point of view. It ensures that we share the benefits of the record commodity prices and, I might say, the record profits that are being earned by the resource and energy investors in Australia.

Let us go to the opposition, yet again, by the coalition led by Tony Abbott to this major reform. Let us think about the accusations he made just on 12 months ago about this proposed spreading of the benefits to all Australians in terms of killing investment in Australia. We have an investment pipeline of $430 billion. In LNG alone, we have $140 billion committed and more coming. This is about jobs and training opportunities for Australians, often in regional and remote communities. It also goes to the fact that we have record commodity prices at the moment.

But just think about this in terms of mining investment. When the tax was announced in 2009-10, investment skyrocketed from $35 billion to $47 billion in 2010-11 and is expected to be around $80 billion in 2011-12. I also indicate that we are seeing the benefit of this in terms of the achievements with respect to the record sales of Australian resource and energy exports—an increase from 2009-10 of 27 per cent to $175 billion in 2010-11 and a projected increase of a further 21 per cent to $215 billion to 2011-12. Then we go to the question of the profits. This is what the Leader of the Opposition has to think about: why shouldn't the whole Australian community get a fair share, for example, of the increase of 76 per cent in FMG's latest profit to $985 billion? Why shouldn't they get a share of Rio's profits—a record US$14.32 billion; a record that it will break this year? Why shouldn't it get a share of BHP Billiton's $22.48 billion in profits—an 86 per cent increase on the previous year?

We are very fortunate as a nation and are well placed in terms of the great opportunities in Asia. We are rich in commodities and we are rich in terms of energy opportunities. Our responsibility as a government, with a strong dollar and pressure on other sections of the economy, is to spread these benefits to all Australians. That is not just about ordinary workers in terms of an increase in superannuation; it is also about assistance to business at large. It is about cutting business taxation, it is about giving support to small business for new capital investment and it is about investment in productivity initiatives and infrastructure in places such as Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.

It is time the Leader of the Opposition took his head out of the sand. He was wrong when he said in the West Australian op-ed of 20 August 2010 that this decision would threaten thousands of jobs in WA and threaten investment. Wake up to the fact that Australians are entitled to a share of the one-off opportunity to develop their resources. Share the benefits and stop being so pigheaded in opposition to any major reform in Australia.