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Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Page: 1190

Minerals Resource Rent Tax

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (14:29): My question is to the Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism. Can the minister update the House on the state on the state of Australia's mining sector following the introduction of the minerals resource rent tax?

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (BatmanMinister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) (14:29): I thank the member for Throsby for his question. He knows, as I and the broader Australian community know, that the introduction of the MRRT has not had a negative impact on investment in the Australian resources sector. The reason for that is that, in designing the MRRT, one of our primary objectives was to ensure that we remained attractive for overseas investment—and, I might say, for domestic sector investment.

The House should also be reminded of the fact that the MRRT is the type of tax the resources sector wanted—it is a profits based tax. Just like the coalition opposed the introduction of the PRRT, and we have seen Australia reap the benefits of that tax, so has it opposed the development of the MRRT. But it has been silent in the last 12 months on decisions by coalition governments in New South Wales and Queensland to increase inefficient royalty taxes, which have had a negative impact on the Australian resources sector on the east coast of Australia.

But let's go through some of the key indicators. Australia has had 21 years of consecutive economic growth, and the resources sector has been the key to that economic growth. But, perhaps more importantly, the Australian resources sector accounts for 16 to 17 per cent of Australia's GDP—and, interestingly, has expanded by around 12 per cent over the last year. Australian resources and energy export earnings reached a record high of $193 billion in 2011-12. They are projected to grow to $225 billion in 2016-17.

Let's go to the all-important question of jobs—something the coalition leader does not pay adequate attention to. In 2011-12 total employment in the Australian mining, oil and gas extraction sectors averaged around 248,000 people—20 per cent higher than in 2010-11. Let's go to the issue of investment. Committed capital investment in the resources sector in Australia today is $280 billion—$180 billion in offshore LNG, and investments in key industries such as coal and iron ore.

But my view of the Australian resources sector and the MRRT is not just the view of the government. I refer to the statement of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of 5 February this year, the most recent Reserve Bank board discussion. It says:

In Australia, most indicators available for this meeting suggest that growth was close to trend … led by very large increases in capital spending in the resources sector …

The independent Reserve Bank board also backs my analysis that the MRRT has not been a negative for resource investment in Australia. It is about time the opposition got on board and recognised that the MRRT is good for Australia. (Time expired)

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! And you might be blowing your ability to get a question if you do not allow the member for Moncrieff to take the call. The member for Moncrieff has the call.