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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 3218

Senator ABETZ (2:01 PM) —My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Wong. Why did the government deliberately reject the Henry review’s recommendation not to impose the so-called resource super profits tax on small local quarries?

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —As the opposition well knows, there were a range of recommendations in the Henry review, and the Treasurer has outlined the government’s response on some of those and has made clear that some of those recommendations are matters which need to be considered more broadly and over a period of time by the nation. The fact is that the RSPT that the government is proposing is tax reform that is about strengthening the Australian economy. It is about building Australia’s prosperity, something those opposite may have forgotten about. But we on this side understand the importance of ensuring a stronger economy that delivers for Australian working families. I would remind those opposite that this tax reform does a range of things which they may like to gloss over, including reducing taxation rates for small business, reducing red tape for small business and cutting tax for other sectors of the economy through reductions in the corporate tax rate. I would have thought there was—

Senator Brandis —Mr President, I rise on a point of order. The minister is more than halfway through her answer. She was asked specifically why a particular recommendation was rejected. She has not gone anywhere near the question that was asked of her. No part of her answer is directly relevant to the question. You should bring her to the question.

The PRESIDENT —I draw the minister’s attention to the question. There are 53 seconds remaining to address the question.

Senator WONG —The opposition are asking about the RSPT. That is the nature of the question. That is the tax reform that they are responding to. I can understand why the opposition are embarrassed about being reminded of their opposition to a reduction in the company tax rate and their opposition to increased superannuation for working Australians. We know that side have always had an issue with the fact that superannuation reforms put in place by Labor governments ensured that working Australians for the first time could share in the retirement savings which had previously been the preserve of wealthy Australians. This is a tax reform that is about a stronger economy and a fairer share for working Australians. We have also made clear in relation to the detail of the superprofits tax— (Time expired)

Senator ABETZ —Mr President, my supplementary question is: what is the anticipated revenue this new tax will raise from the small local quarry sector over the forward estimates, and was the impact of this considered before the announcement?

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —The government has released a range of figures in relation to the impact of the tax. The reality is those figures are a far cry from the sorts of exaggerated claims championed by those opposite. In fact the government has released figures by Econtech which demonstrate that the introduction of this tax reform will increase long-run GDP by 0.7 per cent, increase long-run investment by 2.1 per cent, increase real wages by 1.1 per cent and expand the resources sector.

Senator Brandis —Mr President, I rise on a point of order. Once again, more than halfway through the answer the minister has not come close to the question. She was asked whether one particular matter was considered and she was asked what the figure was across the forward estimates. She has addressed neither of those things. No part of her answer is directly relevant to the question asked.

Senator Ludwig —Mr President, on the point of order: the minister has been responding directly to the question. The minister was asked about—

Senator Ian Macdonald —She was asked for a figure.

Senator Ludwig —Excuse me! The minister was asked about the resource super profits tax and its effect. The minister has been responding to that in the answer that she has provided, and she continues that with another 28 seconds to go. At this point in time I submit that there is no point of order.

The PRESIDENT —Minister, I draw your attention to the question and the fact that you have 28 seconds remaining to answer the question.

Senator WONG —I am again referring to the figures that the government has released across the economy: an increase in long-run GDP of 0.7 per cent, an increase in long-run investment by 2.1 per cent and an increase in real wages by 1.1 per cent. The modelling also shows that the introduction of this reform will increase mining output by some 5.5 per cent. In relation to the detail of the implementation of this tax reform, the Treasurer, the minister for resources and, most importantly, the Prime Minister have made clear— (Time expired)

Senator ABETZ —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question—we will have a third go. Is the government negotiating with the small local quarry sector in the same way as it claims to be negotiating with the big miners?

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —As I was saying, as the Prime Minister has made clear publicly, the government is engaging in consultation with the sectors affected by the government’s tax reforms in order to consider some of the implementation details. That is a matter of public record. That was the position the Treasurer outlined when this reform was announced in the budget, and that has since been consistent with subsequent statements and actions by the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for Resources and Energy.