Senate debates

Thursday, 20 March 2014


Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2013; Second Reading

1:38 pm

Photo of Mehmet TillemMehmet Tillem (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

No, I am not, Senator. MRRT revenue was being put to use in establishing the regional infrastructure investment fund and the Regional Development Australia Fund. The Labor government was taking revenue raised by the mining boom and putting it back into rural and regional communities. This ensured that, when these mining projects wound down, such communities were not being left out in the cold. These investments totalled more than $2.6 billion over the next decade. By anyone's measure, this is a substantial amount of investment in rural infrastructure that has been flushed down the drain by the coalition.

The National Party, the alleged party of rural communities, were complicit in this decision. It is a shameful act that shows little regard for the needs and desires of their constituents. Because of their subservience to the Liberal Party, clearly the arrogant big brother of the coalition, the National Party are throwing countless rural communities onto the economic scrap heap, depriving them of the infrastructure they need to develop both their communities and their economies. That the National Party can be so narrowly focused on the big end of town rather than their own backyard proves how irrelevant they have become when it comes to making the big calls that will have a genuine widespread and positive effect on their constituencies.

Though the National Party is guilty of holding its constituents in contempt, so too is the Liberal Party, the supposed guardian of small business. The MRRT permitted a $5,000 instant asset write-off for small business. It meant that the government was there, well and truly supporting the needs of small business to reinvest in their enterprises. The Liberal Party's desire to scrap the MRRT will reduce the instant asset write-off from $5,000 to $1,000. This means that small business is now five times worse off under the coalition.

Overall, it is projected that the abolition of the MRRT will suck almost $14 billion worth of investment from our economy across a range of areas, including small business, working families, infrastructure developments, social welfare and superannuation. We had in place a mining tax policy that distributed wealth across a wide range of economic sectors; it did not favour one over another. It is equitable; it is fair; it is intelligent. This is why it is so baffling that the Liberal-National coalition wishes to rip all of this up. It is baffling that the coalition is prepared to preserve a similar tax, the petroleum resources rent tax, but not the MRRT. This is a dubious double standard—


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