Thursday, 21 October 2010
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the words of the head of Rio Tinto last night: ‘If you can’t trust the government, who can you trust?’ I ask the Prime Minister: why has she reneged on the government’s pre-election deal with the mining industry?
Government members interjecting—
My colleagues are assisting me by reminding me how extraordinary it is to get this question from the Leader of the Opposition, given his statements on accuracy and truthfulness during the lead-up to the election campaign. Putting that to one side, the answer to the member’s question is this—and it is exactly the same answer as I gave yesterday: the government is working through with its policy transition group. Don Argus, of course, is leading that. The minister is working alongside Don Argus. On the issue that the Leader of the Opposition is referring to, about the treatment of state royalties, the implementation of the arrangements is being worked through in the policy transition group. We will keep working through to deliver the legislation as promised to this parliament.
Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question for the Prime Minister. Is she insisting on an interpretation of the agreement clearly at odds with that of the mining industry, clearly at odds with the statement of the heads of agreement, because she knows that it is necessary to have her interpretation to protect the return to surplus by 2012-13?
Once again I would refer the Leader of the Opposition to what I said in the parliament yesterday and what I said at a press conference yesterday, which is that it obviously is not the government’s intention to have state governments able to change royalty arrangements in a way which means the federal government foots the bill. We are working through in the policy transition group on implementation. We will work through with Australian mining companies. I know that it is the Leader of the Opposition’s stock in trade to overstate everything, to be constantly claiming crisis and carry on. There is no need for that. We are methodically working through.