House debates

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — General) Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Customs) Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Excise) Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax Assessment Amendment Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — General) Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Customs) Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Excise) Bill 2011, Tax Laws Amendment (Stronger, Fairer, Simpler and Other Measures) Bill 2011, Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Amendment Bill 2011; Second Reading

12:31 pm

Photo of Nick ChampionNick Champion (Wakefield, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Listening to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who never misses a chance to talk Australia and our economic performance down, you would think things were pretty grim. But in my state of South Australia we have just announced progress on a new mine opening with $1.2 billion set aside to expand Olympic Dam into the biggest copper and uranium mine in the world. I am a bit perplexed by some of her rhetoric on how grim it is, given that mining is expanding at a rate of knots in my state—not just exploration and the development of Olympic Dam but many other mineral developments in that area.

This is self-serving rhetoric which covers the fact that the Liberal Party and the coalition have always opposed taxation measures on resources. They opposed the petroleum resource rent tax when it came through in the 1980s. They said that would bring an end to investment and the sky was going to fall. They made the same speeches on the PRRT then as they are doing now—it was going to be the end of the world and it would end economic growth. Instead, we know the PRRT provided valuable revenue which the Howard government later relied on to fund its great budget surpluses.

Labor in government have always been concerned with both the growth of the economy and the distribution of wealth. We have always endeavoured to marry those two things in a manner that is consistent with ongoing prosperity and fairness in the economy. It is important that when we have economic growth not only a small group of people gain the benefits of that growth. It is important to spread that growth throughout the middle-class and working families all over this country. The economic reforms of the 1980s—the floating of the dollar and the reduction in tariffs—were underpinned by social reforms. These included reforms in Medicare, superannuation and family payments which were all about supporting families and making sure middle-class and working-class families had a good standard of living and that health care, retirement incomes and family payments were not left to the market. These payments are needed when kids are growing up.

The Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill and related legislation represent a continuation of that tradition. We are endeavouring to marry great growth in our resources sector—which is ever present and ongoing despite the claims of the opposition—with the need to properly share that wealth with the majority of Australians. Most importantly, it will be shared not just with this generation but with future generations. For that to happen, we need to have something left when all of this is done.

I heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the member for Curtin, talking about how the Howard government had put money away in the Future Fund, and indeed they did. But I remember reading in Peter Hartcher's book that the Howard government in the 2004-07 budget cycle received some $320-odd billion in extra revenue during that period. A portion of that was put away in the Future Fund, but a great amount of it was spent—and we all know spending in the later years of the Howard government galloped out of control.


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