Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Matters of Public Importance
The minerals resource rent tax is sound economic and social policy—a recommendation of the Henry tax review and a reform supported by the overwhelming majority of economists in our nation. It is a reform that will ensure that the benefits of the mining boom that are being enjoyed by a few multinational, large miners—the majority being overseas owned—are shared by all Australians and that the revenue is directed to occupational superannuation, to tax breaks for small businesses and to investments in regional infrastructure.
I often wonder what Australian families think of the debates that occur in this place. The average Australian worker would be just getting home from work at the moment after a hard day's work, facing the prospect of paying the mortgage, school fees and bills, and getting by from week to week. What would they think about the approach that is being taken by the coalition to this major, important economic reform that will redirect some of the benefits of the mining boom and place it in the hands and the pockets of Australians through increased retirement incomes and tax breaks for small businesses?
The most profitable miners in this country are doing well. At its last AGM, Fortescue Metals announced a $1 billion profit—its largest so far. BHP, our largest miner, announced a $22.5 billion profit—and a majority of that was generated from the minerals boom that is occurring in Australia. Rio Tinto announced a 30 per cent increase in their first half figures for this year. This reform is aimed at ensuring that these big miners pay their fair share—and it is the big miners that will pay this tax—and at putting back into the Australian economy some of the benefits that they get from extracting a non-renewable resource, a resource that is owned by the Commonwealth, by the people of Australia, and selling it on the open market for a very big profit.
The opposition have sought to criticise the consultation process. I think Senator Cormann's words were that some of these people were 'in the back pocket of the government'. Well, the Policy Transition Group was established and they have undertaken a 12-month process, and there have been two rounds of public consultations. A Resource Tax Implementation Group has been established and it is made up of industry representatives—