Senate debates

Thursday, 15 March 2012

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; Second Reading

8:58 pm

Photo of Brett MasonBrett Mason (Queensland, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Universities and Research) Share this | Hansard source

Read the article; I am not taking it out of context. He said there was far too much mythology, Senator McLucas. Senator Bob Carr knows, as we all do, that structural debt is the cancer within social democracy. He knows that; anyone with any sense knows that.

For the Australian Labor Party, it is always like 1972 and party time, and they spend our bequest. It was said of the French Bourbons that they had learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. For Labor it is even worse: they learn nothing and they forget everything. That is the problem, and it has been since World War II. For the last 4½ years Labor have been spending, borrowing and taxing. As American journalist Rush Limbaugh famously said, no country in world history has taxed itself into prosperity, particularly if it keeps taxing the most vibrant sector of the economy.

In their clearer moments, Labor correctly think that by raising taxes they can change people's behaviour. They are right; I do not disagree with that. If you tax cigarettes and alcohol, fewer people will smoke and fewer people will drink. I accept that. It is meant to change behaviour; it generally works. But somehow Labor think that by raising taxes you will not change the behaviour of miners—that you can tax them more and you will not change their behaviour. What the Labor Party believe is that, if you tax resources more, miners will keep extracting and exporting as if nothing has happened. Labor think that people, maybe even drinkers and smokers, are smart but miners are dumb and they will not change their behaviour.

Australia does not have a global monopoly on coal, it does not have a global monopoly on gas and it does not even have a global monopoly on iron ore. My colleagues know that. So when the prices of Australian resources become too high because companies have to factor in the carbon tax and the mining tax on top of all the other taxies, levies, royalties and licences and so on that they already pay, our buyers, whether from China, India or elsewhere, will go somewhere cheaper, to places that do not penalise their export industries with carbon taxes or extravagant mining taxes. That is simply a fact of business pretty much anywhere in the world.

On Monday the Australian reported:

Australia's global share of the capital raised for mining projects has sunk from 21 per cent to 15 per cent since 2008 as other countries such as Russia, India and China attracted tens of billions of dollars in additional funding.

…   …   …

But in the same period, the value of capital raisings rose strongly in Africa (up 26 per cent), Canada (up 31 per cent), South America (up 59 per cent) and the rest of the world (up 78 per cent).

Why would this be happening, I wonder. Why is everyone investing in resources projects in Africa, Canada or South America more than they are investing in Australia? Could it be because people are not stupid?

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting—

Senator Macdonald is right; people are not stupid, and they are reluctant to invest in a country whose government is hell-bent on making its resources sector less competitive—and that has only been in the past three years, just based on jitters and fears about the future. Just wait for what happens over the next few years when these fears are finally realised, when the mining industry is actually slugged by the double-whammy of the carbon tax and the mining tax.

As I said at that outset, you cannot take the mining tax in isolation; we on our side know that. The carbon tax and the mining tax together are the twin pillars of Labor's new social democratic project, and in time they will have a cumulative, devastating impact on our economy. To paraphrase the Roman historian Tacitus, Labor create desolation and call it reform.

Just as the mining tax is built on a lie that somehow our resources sector is undertaxed, the carbon tax is built on a lie that it is in our national interest to have it, even if no other major country, major emitter or any other nation on earth has a carbon tax. Let me say that again slowly: the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens are the only parties in the world that operate in an energy-rich trade-exposed economy and believe that it is in our national interest to have a price on carbon, even in circumstances where no other nation on earth has a price on carbon. That is rubbish. Over time, they will be held to account for this. That is the great lie.

My colleagues, I know, are concerned about the lie told originally by Ms Gillard, that is true, but I think the greater long-lasting lie that will really wreck Australia's national interest is this inane, pathetic belief that, even if no other country on earth does anything with respect to carbon, it is in our national interest to do something. That is the great lie. Everyone else has said no, but the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens know better than anyone else on earth. President Obama said no. The Canadians, the Indians, the Chinese and the Russians all said no. But we say yes.

What is it about Labor leaders? For God's sake!

Mr Swan wrote an essay in The Monthly three years after Mr Rudd's effort. I did not waste my money this time, I could not cope; I went to the Parliamentary Library and they faxed it to me. Clearly, Mr Swan wanted to take attention away from the dismal performance of the government, bash the rich and create some sort of class warfare. You can summarise the article pretty well: mining magnates should shut up and pay up. That is what Mr Swan is saying. It is a funny thing though; there is a certain irony in all this. It is quite ironic that Mr Swan, the Treasurer, the man who has wasted more wealth than anyone else in Australia's history, is having a go at people who have created more wealth than anyone else in Australia's history. Think of the irony of that in a piece published in The Monthly. I do not think Labor leaders should do this because it is not good for them. Mr Rudd's piece, the sepia toned piece, became a curio within three years; Mr Swan's within three weeks. I urge the Prime Minister not to indulge in an essay in The Monthly because I suspect it would not last three days.

The problem is this: these bills are just another chapter in the dismal Labor project to tax and to spend. It will not end unless the Senate stops it. (Time expired)

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