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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12815


Ms O'DWYER (Higgins) (15:01): My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to the heads of agreement with the three big mining companies in July 2010, which states that 'any royalties paid and not claimed as a credit will be carried forward at the long-term bond rate plus seven per cent'. That would currently equate to over 10 per cent per year. Does the Treasurer believe it is fair that the individual taxpayer receive a delayed interest refund at 4.37 per cent per year from the tax office when big miners receive credits of over 10 per cent against any future liability, double that of a typical taxpayer? (Time expired)

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (15:01): Well, I am surprised they are now supporting a resource rent tax in the House—isn't that a turnaround! The fact is that unused royalties are not transferrable, nor are they creditable. We had statements to the contrary in the House today by the shadow Treasurer. But I do welcome the opportunity to put a few facts on the table about the MRRT, because those opposite will go to great lengths to distort any fact, to tell any untruth, about this tax, and it is very important that we understand what is going on.

The MRRT is an important mechanism to spread the benefits of the mining boom right around our country. And the fact is that the opposition have been making assertions which are simply untrue. The first fact is that we have forecast $9 billion over the forward estimates. Yes, that is a write-down of revenue of $4 billion over the forward estimates. But why has that happened? That has happened because, between the budget and September, iron ore prices crashed 38 per cent. When prices are down and when profits are down, resource rent taxes are down. If you were to take the logic of those opposite, they would be repealing the PRRT, which supplies some billion dollars of revenue to governments each year. The fact is that they have not been telling the truth about what we put in MYEFO and about what is going on with the MRRT. The final numbers will come to us when the tax office have complied with all of their legal obligations and completed their analysis, paying due regard to the privacy conditions that they operate under. And for the opposition to go around and make all sorts of outrageous claims about revenue just proves how dishonest they are.

The fact is that we will be publishing, on a monthly basis, the outlook for MRRT revenues, consistent with the advice that we receive from the tax office, particularly when it comes to privacy. And we are not supplied with any estimates when it comes to individual companies at all. But the fact is that they want to come in here and cry crocodile tears over a tax that they want to abolish, because they want to kneel at the feet of the mining billionaires and vested interests. That is why we are getting all of the crocodile tears.

The first thing they could do when we announced a resource rent tax was to run out the door, get on bended knees to the mining billionaires and vested interests and say, 'We'll give you a tax cut.' That was the very first thing that they did.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will return to the question.

Mr SWAN: We have put in place a tax which will ensure that, over time, the Australian people will get fair value for the mineral resources they own 100 per cent.

Mr Buchholz: He's a genius!

The SPEAKER: The member for Wright is a genius too and will be leaving the chamber under 94(a).

The member for Wright then left the chamber.