House debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Bills

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; Consideration in Detail

Photo of Tony CrookTony Crook (O'Connor, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I move amendments (1), (2), (4) and (6):

(1) Clause 10-1, page7 (line 12), omit "A", insert "substitute "Subject to section 10-30, a".

(2) Page 9 (after line 17), at the end of Division 10, add:

10-30 No liability unless mature miner pays tax

(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, a miner other than a *mature miner has no liability to pay *MRRT for any *MRRT year that commences before the *MRRT year in which a *mature miner has its first *MRRT liability.

(2) A mature miner is a miner whose*group production of taxable resources for an MRRT year has exceeded 40 million tonnes.

(4) Clause 300-1, page 261 (after line 27), after the definition of general interest charge, insert:

group production of taxable resources has the meaning given by section 175-15.

(6) Clause 300-1, page 263 (after line 8), after the definition of market value, insert:

mature miner has the meaning given by subsection 10-30(2).

These amendments ensure that smaller miners will have no MRRT liability until such time as one of the mature miners pays the tax. Industry modelling has suggested that, due to large starting-base allowances, the three mature miners who negotiated this tax may not actually pay the MRRT for several years.

Amendment (1) seeks to protect the smaller members of the mining industry by ensuring that no miner pays the tax before one of the mature miners. Amendment (2) creates a new section 10-30, which ensures that notwithstanding any other provision of the act, a miner has no MRRT liability for any MRRT year that commences before the year in which the mature miner first pays the tax. This amendment includes a definition of a mature miner as a miner whose group production of taxable resource for the MRRT year has exceeded 40 million tonnes. These amendments will provide a safeguard for the smaller miners as they will not pay the tax before the biggest miners that negotiated the design of this tax. Question put:

That the amendments (Mr Crook's) be agreed to.

The House divided.   [00:28]

(The Speaker—Mr Harry Jenkins)

Question negatived.

Photo of Tony CrookTony Crook (O'Connor, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I move amendments (3) and (5) as circulated in my name together:

(3) Page 16 (after line 4), at the end of Division 20, add:

(5) Clause 300-1, page 263 (after line 6), after the definition of long term bond rate, insert:

magnetite ore has the meaning given by subsection 20-5(5).

Amendments (3) and (5) seek to exclude magnetite from the operation of the mining tax. Magnetite ore, unlike hematite ore, has very low iron ore content and is therefore of very little value in its raw state. As such, magnetite companies have to heavily process their ore before it is of significant value. As a result, the government has indicated that the magnetite industry is unlikely to pay the mining tax. Despite this, these companies continue to be burdened with compliance costs and plagued with investment uncertainty over the application of the mining tax. The amendments will mean greater investment certainty for a new value-adding industry that promises more than 12,000 jobs in Western Australia alone.

Question put.

The House divided. [00:37]

(The Speaker—Mr Harry Jenkins)

Question negatived.

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Denison, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I move amendments (1) to (5) standing in my name:

(1) Clause 2-1, page 3 (line 25), omit "$50 million", substitute "$75 million".

(2) Clause 2-1, page 3 (line 27), omit "$50 million and $100 million", substitute "$75 million and $125 million".

(3) Division 45, clauses 45-1 to 45-10, page 43 (line 2) to page 45 (line 14), omit the Division, substitute:

Division 45—Low profit offsets

Guide to Division 45

45-1 What this Division is about

A miner is entitled to an offset for an MRRT year if the miner's group mining profit for the year is less than $125 million.

If that profit is less than or equal to $75 million, an offset reduces the amount of MRRT the miner must pay for the year to nil.

An offset phases out between profits of $75 million and $125 million, so that the miner is not immediately subjected to a full MRRT liability when the miner's group profit exceeds $75 million.

Table of sections

Operative provisions

45-5 Low profit offset—profits not greater than $75 million

45-10 Low profit offset—profits greater than $75 million and less than $125 million

Operative provisions

45-5 Low profit offset—profits not greater than $75 million

(1) A miner has an offset for an *MRRT year if the sum of the *mining profits (the miner's group mining profit) for the year of each mining project interest of the following *entities is less than or equal to $75 million:

  (a) the miner;

  (b) an entity *connected with the miner;

  (c) an *affiliate of the miner;

  (d) an entity of which the miner is an affiliate;

  (e) an affiliate of an entity covered by paragraph (b);

  (f) an entity connected with an entity covered by paragraph (b), (c) or (d).

  Note 1: An offset under this section reduces the amount of MRRT that a miner must pay for an MRRT year: see section 10-15.

  Note 2: If the MRRT year is not a 12-month period, the miner's group mining profit is affected by section 190-20 (substituted accounting periods).

(2) The amount of the miner's offset for the *MRRT year is the sum of the miner's *MRRT liabilities for each of the miner's mining project interests for the year.

45-10 Low profit offset—profits greater than $75 million and less than $125 million

A miner with a group mining profit greater than $75 million and less than $125 million for an *MRRT year has an offset for that year if the amount worked out using the following formula is greater than zero:

where:

miner's group MRRT allowances is the sum of the *MRRT allowances for each mining project interest for the year that an *entity mentioned in subsection 45-5(1) has.

miner's share of group mining profit is the sum of the miner's *mining profit for each of its mining project interests for the year, divided by the miner's group mining profit for the year.

taper amount is the difference between the miner's group mining profit for the year and $50 million.

Note 1: An offset under this section reduces the amount of MRRT that a miner must pay for an MRRT year: see section 10-15.

Note 2: If the MRRT year is not a 12-month period, the miner's group MRRT allowances and the miner's share of group mining profit are affected by section 190-20 (substituted accounting periods).

(2) The amount of the miner's offset for the *MRRT year is the amount worked out using the formula in subsection (1), multiplied by the *MRRT rate.

Example: For the 2013-14 MRRT year, Pinder Mines Ltd has a total mining profit of $80 million, a group mining profit of $100 million, group MRRT allowances of $10 million and a taper amount of $50 million ($100 million—$50 million). The amount worked out using the formula in subsection (1) is $18 million: (($75 million—$50 million)—$10 million) × 4/5 × 3/2. Multiplying this amount by the MRRT rate gives Pinder Mines Ltd an offset for the year of $4.05 million.

(4) Clause 190-20, page 210 (lines 1 to 4), omit the example, substitute:

Example: A miner with a mining profit of $45 million for a transitional accounting period of 120 days will not have a low profit offset under section 45-5 or 45-10, because that profit is adjusted by multiplying it by 365/120, making the profit $136.88 million.

(5) Clause 190-20, page 210 (lines 12 to 22), omit the example, substitute:

Example: A miner has a mining profit of $30 million, and MRRT allowances of $5 million, for a transitional accounting period of 120 days. The miner has no connected entities, or affiliates, that are miners.

Under subsection (1), the mining profit is adjusted to $91.25 million, and the MRRT allowances are adjusted to $15.2 million. Under subsection 45-10(1), the amount of the miner's offset would be $6.26 million (which would exceed the miner's MRRT liability of $5.63 million, so MRRT would not be payable).

However, under subsection (2) of this section, that amount is multiplied by 120/365, making the offset $2.06 million (which would reduce the miner's MRRT liability to $3.57 million).

These amendments are designed to make the minerals resource rent tax fairer for the smallest mining companies who were cut out of the crucial industry-government negotiations which informed the design of the tax. The fact of the matter is that the MRRT was negotiated virtually in secret with just three mining companies—BHP, Rio and Xstrata. The result is a tax construct which those three companies seem to be quite happy with but which leaves numerous smaller iron ore and coal companies in this country not so much ignored as genuinely disadvantaged. For instance, the MRRT's $50 million threshold would ensure that relatively small mining companies, which have taken big risks and are carrying substantial debt, will end up paying the MRRT on top of their existing tax obligations. Moreover, the MRRT's depreciation provisions will offer little relief for small mining companies likely to have little or no depreciable starting base assets that can be written down over time. Compare that with the enormous starting base assets of the big miners, which will give them an equally enormous tax break. In other words, the MRRT as it is currently cast provides no impediment to the big cashed up mining multinationals but it does act as a disincentive to small mining companies and those investors who would become small mining companies.

I raised my concerns in some detail with the government and I am pleased to recognise its interest in supporting these amendments which would help to rectify the problem with the tax's problematic start-up point by raising the threshold to $75 million with the tax phased in to $125 million. I understand that this would reduce the number of resource companies paying the full rate of the tax to 20 or 30 and would cost about $100 million over the forward estimates. This is a significant sum in its own right, but virtually insignificant when compared with the MRRT's estimated $11 billion revenue over five years.

My interest in pursuing these amendments is to do with process and fairness. When it comes to the MRRT, I do not believe that the government followed proper process when it sat down with just three big mining companies to design the tax. Nor do I think it is fair that the end result treats those same big companies relatively better than small companies, especially when those small companies are their competitors.

My concern has nothing to do with trying to water down the MRRT for the benefit of the mining industry. Of course they should pay their fair share, and when their raw material is public property and the times are good they should pay a premium back to the community. That is exactly what the MRRT will do, and I support that. Nor is there a simplistic correlation between my support for a higher MRRT threshold and the cutting of nurse and teacher numbers, as the Greens are claiming. This is a preposterous and hurtful accusation, more to do with the Greens' political self-interest than any apparent understanding and concern for good public policy.

Taking their personal attacks on me to their logical conclusion, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Greens favour a doubling of the corporate and personal tax rates because that would allow a doubling of the numbers of nurses and teachers. Frankly, I think the Greens should reflect on their own conduct, given the situation in Tasmania right now where the Greens-Labor government is slashing frontline services, including nurses.

In the case of the MRRT it is, and it should be, all to do with getting the settings right so that the community does get a fairer share of the resources boom while at the same time creating the conditions for a prosperous and sustainable resources sector positioned to ride out the downs as well as the ups of industry cycles.

In closing, I acknowledge that I would have preferred a genuine super profits tax on all sectors of the economy, including banking. But I do see merit in returning a fairer share of the resources boom to the community, and the MRRT will, in fact, achieve that. What these amendments will do is go some small way to ensuring that the MRRT is collected more fairly.

Question agreed to.

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I am pleased to be supporting the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011 because, like the member for Denison said, although it is not perfect, it is about time that we made a start in Australia on taking a fair share from Australia's mineral resources that we all own as the Australian people and only get to sell once. But there are a couple of logical gaps in this. There is no logical reason why gold should be excluded—

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The member for Melbourne will resume his seat. The question before the chair is that the bill as amended be agreed to. The member for Melbourne is quite in order to seek the call. If people sit there quietly and listen to him they will find out what he is doing.

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

As I was saying, as we are considering this bill in detail, there are two areas where amendments are required. The original proposal suggested gold be included. There is no reason for gold to be excluded. There is also no reason for uranium to be excluded. Accordingly, I move:

That so much of standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the member for Melbourne from moving amendments to the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011 which would extend the scope of a charge to the bill to include gold and uranium.

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

If the House would come to order! This is a particularly important point that I have to try to make sense of to you all. What the member for Melbourne is attempting to do is to suspend standing order 179. This goes to the heart of the financial initiative of the House, and I believe that I am in the position to rule his motion out of order because it would lead to something that was outside a fundamental principle implicit in the Constitution. To assist members in a study of this matter I table a briefing note that has been prepared by the Clerk's office.

Question put:

That the bill, as amended, be agreed to.

The House divided. [00:50]

(The Speaker—Mr Harry Jenkins)

Question agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.