House debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Questions without Notice


2:56 pm

Photo of Jill HallJill Hall (Shortland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism. Minister, how will the government's reforms to resource tax help working people and small businesses to benefit from the mining boom?

Photo of Martin FergusonMartin Ferguson (Batman, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Resources and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Shortland for her question. In the next 24 hours, the House will get a chance to vote on a major piece of taxation reform in Australia. It actually goes to our capacity as a nation to spread the benefits of the resources boom that is occurring in Australia. Hopefully, despite the normal carping and negativity of the Leader of the Opposition, and his campaign to undermine the integrity of this tax, the House will support this key piece of legislation. I have reminded the House on numerous occasions that, yes, the coalition sought to talk down Australia as an attractive place for foreign investment.

There is no sovereign risk. Mining industry investment is expected to be around $80 billion in 2011-12 alone. Importantly, this investment is creating real jobs for Australians, with demand for new workers by 2016 expected, in the construction and mining sector alone, to reach 131,900 jobs. It is also enabling us to actually invest in the training of young Australians. The Banana Engineering Skills Training Centre at Biloela is a prime example of that. With a Commonwealth contribution of $2.5 million, it will give local young men and women apprenticeship opportunities which they would otherwise have been denied. These are real outcomes on the ground to the benefit of the local community—and, I might say, to the pleasure of their parents.

We are also about trying to assist the forgotten people in the mind of the coalition. Small business is the engine room of job growth in Australia. When the coalition votes against this key piece of taxation reform sometime in the next 24 hours, they will want to remember that this is what they are voting against. Many small businesses in their electorates will get the opportunity to put in place an instant write-off of small business opportunities for new capital equipment of up to $6,500. Importantly, this instant write-off is not capped. It applies to as many assets as a business wants to buy, where each is under $6,500. It also means that around 720,000 incorporated small businesses will have a cut in company taxation a year ahead of the rest of Australian companies. This is what is at stake when the opposition determines to continue to vote against this legislation.

They are also saying to small businesses that, when it comes to the key resource companies—such as BHP, with a record profit of $22.48 billion for 2011, an increase of 86 per cent—they should not be allowed to spread the benefits by paying higher taxation to the whole Australian community. Fortescue Metals had an increase in profits of 76 per cent. Rio Tinto had a record $7.8 billion profit in the first six months of 2011, an increase of 35 per cent. Xstrata had a half-year profit in 2011 up 25 per cent—in essence, up 23 per cent in terms of the $16.7 billion in revenue.

So I remind the House that the coalition once prided itself in the mind of its founding father for standing up for small business. I quote from his foundation speech:

It is on the protection of small business that the growth of general business and employment largely depends.

We are seeking to assist the forgotten people: small business people who create jobs in Australia. The coalition should reassess its position and stand up for taxation reform and supporting working people and small businesses. (Time expired)