Senate debates

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Business

Consideration of Legislation

12:32 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Minister for Finance) Share this | Hansard source

I seek leave to move a motion relating to the consideration of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2014.

Leave not granted.

Pursuant to contingent notice standing in the name of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Abetz, I move:

That so much of standing orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion relating to the consideration of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2014.

The parliament has now debated the mining tax repeal legislation for longer than it debated the original mining tax package and related measures putting this failed tax in place. So far, we have spent nearly 32½ hours all up debating the mining tax repeal package, compared to 30 hours and 40 minutes to introduce the original tax and associated measures. If this motion is successful, after this debate, we will have spent nearly 34 hours debating the mining tax repeal package. The suggestion that we have not spent enough time and that we do not know what our respective positions are in relation to this bill would not be a fair characterisation.

The government's position has been very clear in relation to this bill for a very long time. We are committed to repeal Labor's failed mining tax because it is bad for our economy, bad for investment and bad for jobs. We also campaigned and were elected on a platform to repeal the unfunded promises Labor attached to their failed tax. However, when we put this legislation to the Senate for a second time back in July, the Senate voted to support the repeal of the mining tax but also to keep three of the measures the previous government attached to it in place. The government have listened to the Senate and, since that vote in July, engaged positively and constructively with party leaders and senators who were prepared to work with us on a way forward to ensure we could repeal the mining tax in a way which accommodated the support in the Senate for those three measures while not detracting from our important efforts to repair the budget.

I would like to thank in particular Mr Palmer, the Leader of the Palmer United Party, the Palmer United Party senators, Senator Muir, for the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, Senator David Leyonhjelm, for the Liberal Democrats, and Senator Bob Day, for the Family First Party, for their very positive and constructive engagement in the pursuit of common ground on this important bill in the national interest. I am pleased to announce that the government has received indications from a majority of senators in this chamber that they will support our mining tax repeal package subject to amendments which are currently being circulated in the chamber. Those amendments implement an agreement between the government and the Palmer United Party and the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party reflected in a letter to the Leader of the Palmer United Party, which I table now.

Those amendments are very straightforward and easily dealt with. They will ensure that the low-income super contribution remains in place until 30 June 2017, well and truly after the next election. The income support bonus remains in place until 31 December 2016, after the election. The schoolkids bonus, means-tested so that only families earning up to $100,000 per year will qualify, will remain in place until 31 December 2016, also after the election. Compulsory super will not be increased again from where it is now until 1 July 2021, when it will increase to 10 per cent, increasing by further 0.5 per cent increments every year from 1 July 2022 onwards until it reaches 12 per cent. If the government's amendments to the mining tax repeal package today are passed, those increases will be specified and locked into the legislation.

This is not an adverse unexpected change as it will leave Australian workers with more of their own money pre-retirement, which they can spend on paying down their mortgage, spend on other matters or save for their retirement through superannuation as they see fit. It will also reduce the cost of doing business, helping business employ more Australians.

We have also agreed to support the establishment of two parliamentary joint select committees—one to investigate the establishment of an Australia fund to more effectively deal with and respond to natural disasters, and a second to investigate measures to further boost Australia's trade and investment performance.

If this bill is supported by the Senate, it means that the mining tax will be gone, as promised. It will mean that the three measures the Senate indicated in July it wanted to keep are secure—until 31 December 2016 for the income support bonus and the means tested schoolkids bonus, and until 30 June 2017 for the low-income super contribution. It will then be up to the next parliament and the government elected at the next election to determine how it wishes to proceed with those measures after the next election.

The passage of this bill secures just over $10 billion in budget bottom line improvements over the current forward estimates, with that growing in the period beyond the forward estimates. It also achieves savings in the period beyond the forward estimates as a result of the proposed changes to the implementation of the phased increase in compulsory super. The cost of the amendments over the forward estimates is just over $6.5 billion, leaving a net saving of just over $10 billion over the current forward estimates. That additional cost over the forward estimates will, in effect, be offset by additional savings beyond the forward estimates with the effect that, by the end of 2023, the effect of all of the amendments before the Senate today is, broadly, budget-neutral. I commend this motion, the mining tax repeal bill and the amendments to the Senate. (Time expired)

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