House debates

Monday, 18 March 2024


Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Accountability and Fairness) Bill 2023; Consideration in Detail

1:48 pm

Photo of Zoe DanielZoe Daniel (Goldstein, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to support the amendment proposed by the member for Wentworth. This legislation is simply not good enough. It's not good enough for the government to bundle together a couple of random items and to expect a pat on the back from the parliament—in effect, a tick and flick. Put simply, this is an abuse of process and less than the voters expect from our parliament and its elected representatives. At best it's lazy, and at worst it's a deliberate attempt to underplay the significance of these two issues—one issue being imposing adequate taxes on our resources and the other issue being critically needed oversights on consulting companies, who've recently been exposed for their poor behaviour.

To be abundantly clear, I would prefer to see the bill split as proposed by the member for Indi in her second reading amendment. However, this amendment from the member for Wentworth would go some way to imposing some oversight on the proposed changes to the PRRT. There would be a review of the effectiveness of the changes to the act in line with recommendations from the Callaghan review instituted by the previous government. We would then know just how much is being returned to the taxpayer for exploitation of an asset owned by all of us: the fossil fuels deep underground and underwater. This is critical, and I remain deeply concerned that, at a time of cost-of-living pressure and a critical energy transition, when we need the revenue, we are way underdone on tax on export gas.

We also know that in the lead-up to the last budget the Treasurer had three options in front of him on the PRRT, and we discovered, courtesy of the AustralianFinancial Review, that he chose the option that the gas producers wanted. Four vulnerable seats in Western Australia may have had something to do with it, and also the fact that Woodside appears to have a stranglehold on public opinion in WA and that its media are the most concentrated in the country and enablers of the fossil fuel lobby. This is not the way to make policy affecting the whole nation. At budget time, the government estimated that its new approach would raise no more than $2.4 billion over the next four years, and it now turns out that it won't even do that, as, in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Treasury revised the estimates, revealing that it will be much less than originally predicted. The AFR also calculated that at current prices the second option that was offered to the Treasurer would have brought in $21.9 billion in 2023-24 alone, but, instead, as the paper put it back at budget time:

The big gas producers can go back to what they do best—exporting huge amounts of Australian gas and printing money …

This bill is not a good illustration of the government's supposed aims to restore public confidence in the way that policy and legislation is done. I have had this conversation with the Assistant Treasurer. I have made very clear that I think the bundling together of these two entirely disparate matters is not good process. I think the bill should have been split. Given that the government will not tolerate that and does not find it palatable, much as I think the vast majority of the Australian people would, I definitely support the member for Wentworth's amendments.


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