Senate debates

Monday, 19 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

10:27 am

Photo of Fiona NashFiona Nash (NSW, National Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education) Share this | Hansard source

Sure, it is fantastic, but I defy anybody in this chamber, anybody in the other place and anybody across the nation to define Perth Airport as regional. It so clearly is not. Yet this government says: 'Here we go, here is nearly half a billion dollars. We're going to whack this out to Perth Airport and we'll take it from the Regional Infrastructure Fund.' That is a classic example of this government not caring two hoots about regional Australia. If it did—and the proof is in the pudding here—it would have directed that $480 million to somewhere regional.

I know Senator Sterle is always telling me—and I agree with him—how absolutely fantastic Western Australia is, and I would think that Senator Sterle would hate to think that those of us over here on the east—'t'other siders'—might even possibly ever refer to Perth as regional. You would be affronted, Senator Sterle. You would be astounded. You would be absolutely appalled that we t'other siders would ever refer to Perth as regional. Yet your Labor government says Perth is regional, and has put on the table $480 million for somewhere that is clearly not regional. It just shows the absolute disconnect that this Labor government has when it comes to regional communities.

The Regional Australia Institute—again, more shambolic policy like the minerals resource rent tax—sounds regional, doesn't it? It sounds like it should have a fairly regional bent, to me. It has the word 'regional' in there. It has one office, and where is it located? Gosh, Canberra! Let us put the Regional Australia Institute in Canberra—what a fine idea! Did it never occur to anybody in the government that the place to locate the Regional Australia Institute might be in a region? Good lord, that would absolutely necessitate common sense, none of which we see from the other side of this chamber or from the other side of the chamber in the other place.

Last week we heard Senator Wong, Minister for Finance and Deregulation, saying in answer to a question:

First, this government is the greatest supporter of regional Australia this nation has seen in a very long time.

One tries not to laugh uproariously in this place but, at that particular moment in the chamber, I did, and I think it was echoed right around every single regional community in this country. For this government to say that it is the greatest supporter of regional Australia is nothing short of hilarious because it is so obviously not. When it comes to things like mismanaging and delaying water reform, the whole Murray-Darling Basin debacle and the fact is that there has been no proper scrutiny of the social and economic impacts of withdrawing water out of those communities—it just has not been done. When it comes to water there is no information about where any of the environmental water is going to go, what the benefit is going to be and how it is going to get there. It is another shambles from this Labor government.

The best one, though, has to be the carbon tax. How can the minister, Senator Penny Wong, say 'this government is the greatest supporter of regional Australia this nation has seen in a very long time,' yet at the very same time be introducing a carbon tax which is going to hit regional Australia—as my very good colleague Senator McKenzie knows probably better than anyone—and regional communities harder than anywhere else? This government hasn't a clue, and we are seeing it again with this minerals resource rent tax. It is around 100 days until this carbon tax comes in, and that is going to be a very sad day for this nation and a very sad day for regional communities in particular.

What else have we seen from this government when it comes to not being the greatest supporter of regional Australia? They will not even consider properly the impacts of foreign ownership and foreign control when it comes to our agricultural land. Indeed, we have the reverse, with the Minister for Trade, Craig Emerson, saying: 'Oh yeah, we should just be bringing money in from Asia. It's a fantastic idea! It's brilliant!' He is not even thinking about the potential impacts of that 20, 30 and 40 years down the track. He is not even considering it.

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