Tuesday, 22 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
I rise this evening to speak on this Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011 and the associated bills, which, of course, includes an amendment moved by the member for Kennedy to the second reading motion. This is a new tax; it cannot be cast as anything else. It is another new tax that this government wants to introduce and that will not only have an impact on the competitiveness of the mining sector in Australia but also, if the government is successful in getting it through both houses, rip more wealth out of the regions. We know from the experience we have had of this government, particularly with the regional development grants that came out only recently, where the money will end up: it will not end up back in the regions.
The government is telling us also that it wants to invest in the regions, and I will touch on that a bit later, but it also wants to use the tax to increase the superannuation savings guarantee from nine per cent to 12 per cent over the next six to seven years. That is a laudable objective. We all agree on this side of the House that we need to encourage people—workers and people in business—to put money aside for their own retirement, because we know that in years to come there will be a smaller group of Australians paying tax and there will not be the capacity to meet, you might say, the pension entitlements that we have in place today. So it is important that we plan now to make sure that we have superannuation savings accumulating during workers' working lives. But the government said that it will be using this money to increase the superannuation guarantee from nine to 12 per cent. It is going to be the small businesses paying that increase from nine per cent to 9¼ per cent to 9½ per cent and progressively upwards towards 12 per cent, not the government. When the Labor government under Hawke and Keating introduced compulsory superannuation, it was offset with what would otherwise have been a tax cut through the budget process, so it was not borne by the employer. But this will be borne by the small businesses, so it will be yet another tax applied to small business—albeit we on this side of the House support the need to encourage superannuation savings over people's working lives.
The government also said that they have pledged to set up a Regional Infrastructure Fund and also Infrastructure Australia to invest in road, rail and port infrastructure. It all sounds very nice, but the money is coming from this new tax. I just remind the House: when we were in government—the member for Cowper would remember this—did we introduce a new tax to start the progressive upgrade of the Pacific Highway? We did not introduce a new tax to do it.