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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 3235

Senator EGGLESTON (3:13 PM) —Last week, the Western Australian people showed their anger towards the Rudd government’s proposed resource super profits tax at a huge demonstration in Langley Park across from the Hyatt hotel, where Kevin Rudd was speaking at the Perth Press Club.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Refer to the Prime Minister by his proper title.

Senator EGGLESTON —Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, if that is needed.

Senator Cormann —Or Mr Rudd!

Senator EGGLESTON —Or Mr Rudd. Prime Minister Mr Kevin Rudd. He will never be Sir Kevin. Resentment towards this flawed tax is no doubt more palpable in Western Australia than anywhere else in the country because we in the west have a greater understanding of the link between a healthy mining sector and a healthy economy for the wider population. Although Senator Farrell, after what he has just said, may not agree with that, I think he would find that a healthy mining sector means healthier superannuation and bigger benefits for the average man in the street.

The Labor government maintains the line that they are looking to negotiate with industry to obtain a mutually beneficial outcome. However, after listening to Labor ministers referring to those in the mining sector as arrogant liars, it leaves me wondering what exactly consultation and cooperation mean to this Labor government. It is much more likely, it seems to me, that the time for negotiation has passed and Australians are left with no other option than to flatly reject this tax proposal to protect the economic health of our nation.

Since being announced on 2 May, the Rudd government’s proposed resource super profits tax has faced considerable criticism, but it has not come just from the resources sector. In fact, condemnation of the RSPT has come from many different interest groups in our country. Mum and dad investors who have had their superannuation accounts decimated, international investors who now see Australia’s sovereign risk as higher than that of Indonesia—as someone said quite recently at an Indonesian Australian Business Council breakfast which I attended—small and medium businesses who rely on the mining industry, not to mention workers from all over Australia who are dependent on the resource industry both directly and indirectly for continued employment are condemning this tax.

Some of the wider effects of the new tax include: a loss of jobs in the resource industry as well as occupations reliant on the mining sector; decreased value of superannuation; higher electricity prices, which will have a flow-on effect of increasing the price of supermarket items; and higher material prices, which will similarly be passed on in the form of higher costs of construction.

Unfortunately, already as a result of the proposed tax we have witnessed mines restricting investment. For example, Xstrata immediately suspended a $568 million investment in coal and copper mines in Queensland. BHP is reviewing the expansion of the massive $20 billion Olympic Dam mine in South Australia. International agreement between financiers that the Australian resources sector has become a much less attractive place in which to invest is now acknowledged around the world. This tax will destroy the Australian economy. The only way to stop this tax is to change the government, and that is what I think the Australian people will be doing when the next election occurs.