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Tuesday, 12 February 2013
Page: 916

Minerals Resource Rent Tax

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (14:23): My question is to the Treasurer. To help balance the budget, Labor is taking more money off single parents this year than it has raised so far from the mining tax. Can Labor guarantee that the $2.2 billion royalties loophole in the mining tax will be fixed before the May budget, either by supporting the Greens bill or by some other means? Or will people like single parents endure another round of cuts to make up the mining tax shortfall?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:23): I reject the proposition which has been put by the member for Melbourne because, as I was saying before, this government is all about jobs and getting people who are not in work back into work, which is why something like 850,000 jobs have been created over the past five years. We have put in place some reforms in this area to increase work incentives. We have done that because we are all about jobs and making sure that people have the capacity to move off payments and into paid work. That is why we put in place more generous taper rates for single parents on Newstart.

But it is not just that: it is what we have done by tripling the tax-free threshold for the lowest paid workers in our community—a very substantial benefit to low-paid workers, something that is going to be ripped out by the Leader of the Opposition. He referred to this today. He is going to rip out that tax cut for low-paid workers in the Australian community. But it is much more than that. We are also paying the schoolkids bonus, a very significant increase in the disposable income of a lot of people in our community on the lowest incomes.

We have also dramatically increased the childcare tax rebate and so on, and also support for child care. I think we have a very good record of support for people on the lowest incomes, consistent with our belief that we need to get people into the labour market so that they can get the training to provide for their family. I think that is very important.

I was also asked about royalties. The Prime Minister has made the point very clear that we are also now in discussions with the states about this very point, which was also discussed in the Argus report, where concern was expressed about international competitiveness in terms of our mining levels of taxation. All of these things are going on right now.

There is one fundamental difference in this House and there is something that we do share in common. We both believe—we both believe—that these resources are owned 100 per cent by the Australian people, and when super profits are made super profits tax should be paid. That is a very big divide in this House between all of us over here and those on the other side of the House. They do not believe that one dollar of MRRT revenue is legitimate—not one dollar is legitimate in their belief!—so desperate are they to bend their knees to the mining billionaires. They do not believe, and will not accept, one dollar! But, of course, this is consistent with their approach, because they opposed the PRRT, another resource rent tax, which has now raised $28 billion. The point is this: prices have been volatile and we have been through a difficult period, but what we are all committed to on this side of the House is fair resource taxation for the benefit for all Australians. (Time expired)