Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Matters of Public Importance
Doesn't Senator Sterle have a nerve coming in here and talking about truth? You have to be kidding! Here is a member of a government whose Prime Minister went to the last election promising, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' He then comes in here talking about truth. Give us a break! 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead'—that would have to be one of the biggest lies that I have ever heard in my parliamentary career, and Senator Sterle comes in here trying to convince us that we ought to be talking about the truth.
So let's go to the truths around the mining tax. The mining tax: one of the mechanisms that Prime Minister Gillard used to knife Kevin Rudd and take the prime ministership off him—there is a truth. Another truth: a deal negotiated by Prime Minister Gillard with the big three and announced before the election as one of her fixes, to the exclusion of the rest of the mining industry regardless of size. This is a deal negotiated by Prime Minister Gillard with the big mining companies—just three of them—in the lead-up to the election, after it was used as one of the reasons to knife then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Another truth: the government will not release all the details of the spending measures in the out years. Senator Sterle wants to talk about truth; that is another truth. They will not release all of the information around the mining tax—another truth—which is the point of this motion here today. Senator Sterle wants to talk to us about the truth, yet they are the perpetrators of the greatest lie in recent political history: 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' They had better get used to hearing that because it is going to come back and back and they are going to hear it over and over right up to the next election.
The government want us to trust them with the information and the facts around the mining tax, yet they cannot be trusted to tell the truth. It was the very thing that Senator Sterle wanted to talk about in his contribution—the truth around the mining tax—yet Senator Sterle neglected to let us know that this is a deal that Prime Minister Gillard did with three big mining companies before the election, after using it to assist her to knife her leader Kevin Rudd and then move on to the election.
Senator Carol Brown interjecting—
Senator Carol Brown might like to tell us what she has done to assist the Savage River mine, where magnetite is mined on the west coast of Tasmania. They still do not know their status under the mining tax—whether they are in or whether they are out. Mr Wilkie came out yesterday quite flamboyantly saying that he had worked with the government to raise the threshold on the mining tax for Tasmania, but he has done absolutely nothing to assist this company mining magnetite on the north-west coast of Tasmania. They still do not know whether they are in or out. That is a truth of this particular piece of legislation. Here is a company which is in the iron ore game, but they are actually mining a product which, when it comes out of the ground, has very little value. They do not know at what point they are going to be taxed.
Senator Carol Brown quite rightly sits quietly because she has done nothing to help that business. Mr Wilkie did nothing to assist that business—and he is one of the people who had the whip hand in the negotiations. He is one of the people who had the opportunity to decide whether this tax got passed. He came out triumphantly yesterday to tell the Tasmanian people that he had had the threshold raised from $50 million to $75 million. That might be an achievement, but one of the major mines in Tasmania still does not know its status. Had Mr Wilkie been aware of some of the issues going on around the state and had he not been focused just on Hobart, he might have been able to make a difference. That is one of the truths of this mining tax.
Another truth of the mining tax is that the government tried to give the impression to small businesses across the country that they are going to get a tax rebate. Small businesses which are companies will get a tax rebate under this legislation, but 65 per cent to 70 per cent of them are not companies and they miss out on the tax rebate. So there is nothing in it. That is another truth of this piece of legislation.