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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3216

Mr BRIGGS (Mayo) (11:15): I rise to speak against this motion of the importance of the minerals resource rent tax. It disappoints me that the Chief Government Whip continues down the negative path that the Labor Party takes in this place, using all his time to talk about negative things—to talk down certain sectors of the Australian economy, rather than being positive about what is a truly magnificent performance by the Australian minerals industry at the moment with such wonderful opportunities for them due to growth in Asia. We talk much about it and we hear the Labor Party occasionally refer to it. The Labor Party's approach to that growth is to knock down the minerals industry, to go after the resources sector, to complain about entrepreneurs who do well, to complain that this industry is doing so well that 'we need to find a new way to tax it'. They are pretending that the industry is not taxed already.

The mining industry already pays a 41 per cent tax rate, which is a combination of company tax and royalties paid at the state level. Under the Australian Constitution, mining companies and resources have always been a matter which state governments have taxed outside of the company tax regime, through the royalties regime. The Labor Party feigns concern about the operation of the royalties system, but what this is really all about is another tax grab to cover over their massive budget blow-outs and expenditures, which have seen Australia with a record debt. It is a record deficit which our future generations will be trying to pay back at a time when we will be challenged by an ageing population and all the challenges that were outlined so well by the best treasurer this country has ever had, Peter Costello, in the Intergenerational reports during the 2000s.

This process has highlighted the inability of the Labor Party to govern at the federal level. Thankfully, this Saturday we will get rid of one of this nation's Labor Party governments when Queenslanders toss out a terrible 20-year government, a government that has caused so much pain in Queensland—a state that should be performing better than it is in the current environment, with such opportunities in the resource sector and Queensland such a resource-rich state. What it needs is a can-do person as the Premier of Queensland to ensure that the opportunities of the resource sector are not talked down, as the member for Hunter did for so long in his speech on this motion, and as so many people in the Australian Labor Party tend to do. What we need in Queensland is to take advantage of historic opportunities, not tax them into submission.

This government would have you believe that to make industry more successful you need to tax it more; you need to apply higher taxes to it and the industry will just adapt to that! It believes more taxes will not impact on investment decisions at all, that it will not increase the sovereign risk of investing in mining and resources exploration, which is already a risky proposition. My colleague at the table, the member for Canning, knows better than most that the great state of Western Australia—where the resources sector has gone through ups and downs throughout its history—is now taking advantage, with a very good Liberal government, of the opportunities which present in our region.

I would say to the member for Hunter: start talking positively about the resources sector. Start talking positively about the opportunities it creates for our country. Stop being so negative. Stop the campaign of personal denigration that we see day in, day out in the Queensland campaign and which we see the member for Hunter engaging in. It is really disappointing from that member in particular. I thought he was better than that.

We know the resources sector has a trickle-down effect through the economy that the Labor Party refuses to recognise. There is no better example than the one which was outlined by the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Philip Lowe, who is an outstanding thinker in this area. He said in a recent speech:

The indirect effects come through a variety of channels. Day to day, they can be hard to see but they percolate through the economy. In effect, there is a chain that links the investment boom in the Pilbara and in Queensland to the increase in spending at cafes and restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney.

The member for Moreton and the member for Hunter would have us believe otherwise. They would pretend that there is no benefit from this mining boom which is having such great consequences for other industries. They would have you forget that the mining industry pays more tax. The industry already pays $23.8 billion in taxes and royalties, and it is going to be paying an extra tax with the introduction of the carbon tax this year. This government is 'tax and spend Labor'. It is taxing more to cover its massive record deficits, as it tries to engage in social engineering in the tradition of the Labor Party. This motion is a further negative complaint about a great performing sector—a sector we should encourage and not talk down as Labor Party is intent on doing. (Time expired)