Senate debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Matters of Public Importance


4:36 pm

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I am not talking about the size of the man. He is a major mining identity who is, I believe—and I will be corrected if I am wrong—a major donor to the National Party. For crying out loud!

Let us get back to what this mining tax is really all about. This is a tax on companies that mine iron ore and coal once the companies have made a $75 million profit. It does not kick in until they get to $75 million in profit. The language that is being used in this discussion by Senators Eggleston and Cormann is nothing short of misleading. We hear that this mining tax is going to kill the mining industry, kill the goose that laid the golden egg, absolutely jeopardise Australia's mining industry, send mining offshore. That is complete and utter nonsense. We are talking about putting a fair and just tax on these companies once they have got to $75 million in profit.

I only have five minutes but I could talk for an hour underwater with a gob full of marbles on this because I am so passionate about it, coming from WA. But I want to have an argument based on truths. I want to have an argument based on realities. I do not want to have an argument that is being misled by the rubbish coming out of the mouths of billionaires like Andrew Forrest. It is absolutely incredible to think that in evidence given to a parliamentary committee, I think as late as last week, one of Andrew Forrest's representatives actually told the committee that FMG had not paid any company tax, and that when Andrew Forrest addressed a meeting of his shareholders he said FMG expected to pay 'less than $20 million a year'. It was so small as to equate to a 'rounding error' for a company forecasting $4 billion in earnings. This is the same fella who prides himself on being on the front page of every newspaper saying, 'The Prime Minister won't return my call. It is going to send me broke.'

I am going to share a little secret with senators opposite, as long as they promise not to tell anyone else out there. I met with Mr Forrest. I met with him at his request last year, not long after he and that other small-business person Miss Gina Rinehart, with the big pearls, were waving signs saying 'Stop the tax'. Mr Forrest—promise you will not tell anyone—'hinted' to me in no uncertain terms that if the mining tax were to go ahead it could jeopardise his Solomon Hub project. What a load of absolute nonsense!

The truth is starting to come out now. I just hope that every Australian actually hears the truth about Mr Forrest, this Robin Hood of the iron ore industry and the small miners. What the hell is a small miner? I have spent a lot of time in the Pilbara and a lot of time in the Kimberley and the goldfields. Please tell me what a small miner is. Is their Mercedes-Benz any smaller than that of the miners from BHP or Rio Tinto?

And what nonsense from Senator Cormann—of all people to suggest that Labor is in the pockets of BHP and Rio Tinto. I think they are the words that were used. Senator Eggleston, you are nodding in agreement. That is what he did say? Okay. Senator Cormann, if you are listening out there, take 30 steps outside and say it out there on the steps tomorrow morning. Do a doorstop and accuse us of being in the pockets of the big miners.

Madam Acting Deputy President Adams, I say to you, as a good Western Australian and a colleague I have great respect for: I just want an argument based on truth—not on falsities, not on lies and not on complete deception from Western Australian billionaires who will absolutely not be impacted unless they earn $75 million in profit. Wouldn't you like to earn $75 million in profit before you had to pay tax? I know I would. (Time expired)


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