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Tuesday, 16 October 1984
Page: 1782

Senator JACK EVANS(8.25) —On behalf of the Australian Democrats, as an amendment to the Opposition's amendment in regard to the Customs Tariff (Coal Export Duty) Amendment Bill I move:

Leave out all words after 'immediate', insert 'investigation into the application of an alternative tax, including a ''pit head'' tax'.

The original amendment of the Opposition read to the effect that there be an immediate and total removal of the duty as proposed by the policy of the Liberal -National coalition. I think that the case has been made by Senator Button that that may well be part of the Liberal-National coalition policy, as it has been since 1976; but whilst in government, the coalition did nothing to remove that tax completely, and it is fascinating that the courage suddenly surges when a party is in opposition and can remove taxes for which it has no responsibility.

Rather than take such a peremptory step and impose the will of the Opposition on the Government in terms of its tax policy, the Democrats prefer that the Government consider alternative taxes, and that amongst those alternatives it includes a pit-head tax which, I understand, was an alternative preferred by the industry. A pit-head tax is a form of resource rental tax which would have the attraction of providing a flexible tax based on the profitability of the mine rather than being a broad-based tax which is universally applied. We would therefore prefer that type of investigation to take place rather than the peremptory demand of the Opposition to be granted.