Senate debates

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

2:07 pm

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Evans. Can the minister outline to the Senate the importance of ensuring the benefits of the mining boom flow to all Australians?

Photo of Chris EvansChris Evans (WA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Government in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank Senator Sterle for his question. I know he has a keen interest in the mining industry and ensuring those benefits flow to all Australians. Every Australian knows that the resources industry is booming. Current forecasts indicate industry is investing $82 billion this year alone.

Honourable Senators:

Honourable senators interjecting

Photo of John HoggJohn Hogg (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Evans, you might resume your seat because the noise that is going across the chamber is disorderly. Order!

Senator Cormann interjecting

Senator Cormann, when there is silence we will proceed.

Photo of Chris EvansChris Evans (WA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Government in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr President, I do not know why the Liberal Party are not interested in spreading the benefits of the resources boom to all Australians, but the Gillard government is. We are very focused on making sure this record investment in the mining industry results in benefits to all Australians—not just benefits to the companies, not just benefits to those who work for the companies, not just benefits to those who supply the companies, but benefits to all Australians—because we are talking about resources that belong to all Australians. A lot of people in my home state of Western Australia, and people elsewhere, believe that they failed to get a really tangible legacy from the last mining boom. They believe that many of them saw only increased cost-of-living pressures.

This government is absolutely committed to making sure that we share the benefits of the boom and that the benefits that flow flow to all Australians. That is why this government, in implementing the minerals resource rent tax, is making sure those proceeds flow to ordinary people in the community, making sure that the superannuation guarantee goes up from nine per cent to 12 per cent for working Australians, making sure that 8.4 million workers increase their retirement savings by about $500 billion by 2035. The proceeds of the minerals resource rent tax will be used to cut company tax, build infrastructure and deliver tax cuts for 2.7 million small businesses. This Labor government is going to use the benefits of the resources boom to benefit all Australians, to make sure everyone shares in the benefits of the use of their resources.

2:10 pm

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr President, I thank the minister for that answer and I ask a supplementary question. With the benefits of the mining boom be restricted to Western Australia and Queensland or will all states benefit?

Photo of Chris EvansChris Evans (WA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Government in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

The government is committed to delivering the benefits of the mining boom to all Australians, regardless of where they live. Without a new resources tax Australians would miss out on the share of the superprofits being generated from the development of resources right across the country. Australians deserve a fairer share of the benefits of the use of their resources.

As I said earlier, we want to make sure that those benefits go to all working Australians, to small businesses and into investment in infrastructure in this country that will support communities—to roads, to bridges, to ports: things that will support the economy but also support the quality of life of all Australians. So, while we are making specific investments in states like Western Australia and Queensland in the Regional Infrastructure Fund, we are making sure that all working families benefit from this tax and from the superprofits being enjoyed by the resources companies.

2:11 pm

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Minister, are you aware of any risk to ensuring Australians obtain the maximum benefit from the exploitation of Australia's mineral wealth?

Honourable Senators:

Honourable senators interjecting

Photo of John HoggJohn Hogg (President) Share this | | Hansard source

When there is silence we will proceed. If you want to chew up question time calling across the chamber—

Senator Heffernan interjecting

You are chewing up time, Senator Heffernan.

Photo of Chris EvansChris Evans (WA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Government in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

It seems that the opposition do not like hearing about how this measure will benefit all Australians because, we know, they want to oppose the minerals resource rent tax. They do not think that these superprofits ought to be taxed. They believe that the resources companies ought to make those superprofits without paying any benefit to the owners of those resources, the Australian people. They are a risk to the future success of the Australian economy.

If we do not benefit from this resources boom by investing in our future, we will have wasted a huge opportunity. We are not going to waste that opportunity. We are going to invest the proceeds from the superprofits of these companies in the superannuation of working people and in tax cuts and write-downs for all the small businesses in this country. We actually want to make sure we invest in the future of this country by using the resources boom, using the Australian people's resources, to benefit us all. (Time expired)