Monday, 17 March 2014
Questions without Notice
Minerals Resource Rent Tax
My question is to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and the minister representing the Minister for Industry, Senator Ronaldson. I refer the minister to the flawed design of the minerals resource rent tax, or the mining tax. Can the minister update the Senate on the mining tax's negative effect on resource investment? Is he aware of any opposing views and, if so, what is the government's response to those views?
I thank Senator Back for his question. I have gone from the sublimely ridiculous today, so I hope there might be a question now from Senator Farrell to finish off a really good day!
The mineral resource rent tax substantially adds to Australia's sovereign risk profile as a business investment destination. This government, as we know, is committed to repealing the carbon tax and to repealing the mining tax. If you look at what those opposite say and if you look at what Mr Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition, has said in the last week, then it actually puts this all into perspective. On no less than five occasions last week in the same interview, Mr Shorten avoided giving a direct answer as to what his position is in relation to the mining tax. There were five occasions and no answers at all.
Instead, we had weasel words from Mr Shorten. He said that the principle of the tax was a good principle, rather than giving an outright commitment. He then went onto Sky News Agenda and said:
In terms of what we do in our policies affecting the resources sector for the next election, we will engage in a dialogue with the resources sector…
Well, he does not need to engage in a dialogue with the resources sector. I can tell you what the resources sector says and that is, 'Get rid of this mining tax and get rid of this carbon tax.'
Indeed, if you would look at what AMEC, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, said:
… … …
… Australia's reputation as a safe place in which to invest has been tarnished. Industry confidence has floundered …
The repeal of the MRRT will go a long way to restoring some confidence and much needed investment back into the mining industry.
Mr Shorten does not need to spend the next two years consulting with the mining industry. He needs to do what he should have done some time ago: he should be committing to the repeal of the mining tax and the repeal of the carbon tax.
I thank Senator Back for the supplementary question. The former government locked in $16.7 billion of spending—that is on an underlying cash basis—against a tax that has raised barely $400 million, and it has cost the ATO $50 million to collect that $400 million. This tax goes against everything our country must do to be an attractive investment destination and a competitive supplier of minerals.
Mining directly employs 270,000 Australians, with another 800,000 or more relying on the mining sector for their work and income. Mining is a hugely important sector for the economy and it represents about 55 per cent of merchandising exports from Australia. I will finish in the 10 seconds left open in this supplementary question to say that Mr Shorten can do something prior to the Senate election in Western Australia and that is tell the people of Western Australia what his real view is on the mining— (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate of any programs in the portfolio that were promised on the basis of unrealised proceeds from the flawed mining tax that now cannot be delivered?
I thank Senator Back for his question. As a Western Australian, of course, he has a great deal of interest in these matters.
Now, one program that cannot be delivered is an income support bonus payment of $211 per annum, which was made available in March 2013 to 1,240 clients receiving DVA educational allowances. This, like so many promises, was premised on mining tax receipts. They are promises that no longer can be delivered on the basis of unrealised mining tax receipts. But this government is committed to supporting the children of veterans and, despite media speculation, the VCES and the MRCAETS schemes are continuing. These allowances will continue, and this decision does not affect eligibility under these schemes.
The mining tax has raised less than $20 per Australian but has over $700 per person of linked expenditure. Mr Shorten has to make up his mind in relation to this tax and, quite frankly, the ALP is using veterans and their families as pawns in its web of deceit in relation to this mining tax— (Time expired)