Senate debates

Monday, 20 August 2018


Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Reporting of Gas Reserves) Bill 2018; Second Reading

10:07 am

Photo of Peter GeorgiouPeter Georgiou (WA, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Reporting of Gas Reserves) Bill 2018. Australia is blessed with a huge amount of natural resources. It's even in our national anthem: 'Our land abounds in nature's gifts'. There is also 'wealth for toil' off our coast, and we have massive reserves of petroleum available.

In 2018, we will export $35 billion of liquefied natural gas. We have become the largest exporter of LNG in the world. We allow companies to explore and produce the petroleum from our offshore reserves, and rightly so. These companies have invested hundreds of billions of dollars creating thousands of jobs for our workers. But let me make this point clear, because it is important: the true owners of these petroleum resources are the Australian people, and it is only fair that the Australian people get fair compensation for their resources. The truth is that the Australian people are getting ripped off, and here today I wish to outline this rort to the chamber.

Our offshore resources are contained in various fields. The Commonwealth government carries out zoning of these fields similar to a housing estate which might zone a big piece of land for various blocks. A company could come in and claim one of these fields by getting a retention lease. A retention lease would give that company exclusive rights to further explore and develop the lease area. The problem is this: there are a lot of retention leases out there and they are held by a select few big companies. There is a lot of potential for development, and yet not much development is occurring. All the while, the competitors of these select few companies are unable to get in and develop these fields themselves.

The evidence shows that some retention leases are being held up for 15 years with no development. That's 15 years of lost revenue and lost jobs for the Australian people. However, the worst part of these retention leases is the lack of information given by petroleum companies, especially to the Australian public. We have no idea what resources these companies have underground, what the value of these resources are, nor what payments are being made to various stakeholders. We have a problem with the transparency of petroleum companies. This bill solves that problem. It will make it compulsory for a holder of a retention lease to provide a taxation transparency report to the regulator. The taxation transparency report will tell the regulator what resources are there and how much they are worth. It will also tell the regulator what payments are made and to whom. It's not just retention holders that will need to provide a taxation transparency report.

The bill keeps information coming with petroleum production licence holders also subject to the same obligations. It's about ensuring we get a clear picture of the sector and then keep that picture clear. I understand that the regulator has some limited information already. This bill would give the regulator a clear picture with more detailed information. This is because one company will have to report for each retention lease or petroleum production licence it holds and not just one broad overview. The government tells us that the petroleum companies have done enough, that they are building some infrastructure and creating jobs, that they have paid fair compensation to the Australian people, but I don't think so. The infrastructure these companies build helps them make profits; it does not help the average mum and dad pay for their kids' education.

The jobs these projects create are only temporary. I have experienced firsthand the recent mining boom in my home state of Western Australia. I have toured the state from Karratha in the north to Albany in the south. I have spoken to local communities and listened to their stories. Everyone agrees that, yes, the petroleum companies created a lot of jobs in the construction phase, but when these projects were up and running, the work dried up. Many who lost their jobs also lost their homes because they couldn't keep up with mortgage repayments.

The government believes a few pipes here and there and a few thousand temporary jobs are fair compensation for this country's resources. It's a joke. We simply can't trust the government when it says Australians are getting a fair deal. We therefore can't trust the regulator, who takes directions from the government and implements its policy. This bill also addresses that problem. A key part of the bill is about bringing the Australian people into the discussion to stop the secrecy. This bill does this by requiring the regulator to put into its register all the information received in a taxation transparency report. It is even expected that the information on the register will be made publicly available. Finally the petroleum companies can come clean to the people of Australia, who can all see for once what they are doing. With information being made public, competitors can also consider that information. One company can say to the other, 'If you're not going to develop that field, we will have a go.'

Australian people pay taxes. Australians expect businesses to pay taxes. Australians expect the government to get a fair compensation for our resources. Let me ask the chamber if they think this is fair. Australia is set to overtake Qatar as the largest exporter of gas in the world, but we will receive a fraction of that revenue—$800 million—compared to Qatar's $26.6 billion. And that $800 million is not from our direct revenue stream, the petroleum resource rent tax; it is from other payments. The very real possibility that Australia, as it becomes the world's largest exporter of LNG, may never collect any direct payments from its natural resources is just simply embarrassing. Even countries that we give foreign aid to perform better on their resource revenue management than Australia. According to one report, Australia ranks 32nd in the word. We scored lower than—wait for it—Botswana, Niger and the Ivory Coast. That same report found Australia's tax transparency is worse than—again, wait for it—Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Mongolia. And the government sits there with a straight face and says that our transparency levels are fine and they don't need changing!

To those who might think from this that we need an urgent review of our tax system: we have already had one. In April 2017, the Treasurer released a report from the Callaghan review into the petroleum resource rent tax. That review exposed the flaws in our tax system. To provide some context, we give tax credits on exploration expenditure. If you pay money to explore, you have a tax credit. We know there is about $238 billion in tax credits that have already been issued, but companies are not required to file on the petroleum resource rent tax with the ATO until after production starts. This means that on top of the $238 billion in tax credits that we know about there are potentially hundreds of billions in additional exploration credits that are yet to be reported. It's when you have a look into the detail of these credits that the really scary stuff start to appear.

Firstly, these credits are transferable. You can shift them around to benefit your tax liability as much as you like. Secondly, these credits are able to increase in value by 18 per cent compounded annually. Thirdly, companies can hang onto these credits by holding onto them. These credits can nearly double their value over four years. With this system in place, petroleum companies have milked these credits for all they are worth and are effectively giving us nothing for our resources. By passing this bill the Senate will allow us to expose the petroleum companies that are playing games with our system to avoid any tax whatsoever.

This bill is nothing new. The US, Canada, the UK and the EU have all forced multinationals to report on payments on their production levels. All Australia would be doing with this bill is bringing us in line with these countries. It's a start. If we are to reform our taxation scheme we must start small. This bill is the first step on the road to fairer compensation. It is urgent that we start now and stop multinationals pillaging Australian resources for free. We must find a balance between the interests of the public, as owners of the resources, against the interests of companies, who need to make a profit. Make no mistake, the interests of the Australia people should come first. This bill includes relatively minor, simple and reasonable reform proposals. It's a small start to the larger changes that we so desperately need. So vote wisely, senators. Who knows, we may even overtake Mongolia.

10:18 am

Photo of Linda ReynoldsLinda Reynolds (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank Senator Georgiou for the opportunity to discuss some important policy matters that are relevant to offshore resource reporting. A number of the ideas raised in the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Reporting of Gas Reserves) Bill 2018 are, I think, good and worthy of discussion—for example, increasing access to information and enabling opportunity for public scrutiny and engagement, as two examples. Senator Georgiou may be pleased to hear that the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is working on a number of initiatives that go to the heart of the matters that he raised—however, as the bill currently stands, the government is not in a position to support it.

As a fellow Western Australian senator, Senator Georgiou would appreciate that the offshore oil and gas industry has already contributed and continues to contribute greatly to the Australian and Western Australian economies, particularly in relation to thousands and thousands of jobs for Western Australians, and also billions of dollars of tax annually. As I said, this includes jobs. It's a significant contributor to national GDP, regional development, upskilling our workforce and also powering Western Australia to become an energy superpower in the global market.

The point I'd make to Senator Georgiou and this chamber is that the industry's contribution to our nation comes in so much more than taxes. In Western Australia, the first domestic gas deliveries from the North West Shelf began in 1984, which is, today, Australia's largest oil and gas resource development. Over 92 per cent of the reserves feeding Australia's multibillion dollar LNG sector are located off the coast of Western Australia. In 2016-17, sales volumes reached 28.7 billion tonnes generating sales of nearly $13 billion. LNG accounts for 66 per cent of all Western Australian petroleum sales. Austrade confirms that production from this region accounts for one per cent of Australia's GDP and contributes more than $5 billion a year to state and federal taxes and royalties. So, far from the cries that we hear from many in this country, the LNG sector is certainly paying its fair share of taxes, and it will increase. Its tax revenues will keep increasing as production is coming online.

But, of course, resources in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory are also poised to fuel a gas boom around the rest of Australia. As the Senate is well aware, the PRRT review and issues that it relates to are currently with the Treasurer for consideration. The timing of any announcement on further comment will be determined by the Treasurer. As a Western Australian, I hope it will be sooner rather than later. The Senate may also be interested to know that the PRRT has generated over $33 billion in revenue payments since payments were first made in 1989-90—that's $33 billion of direct revenue payments from that.

Low oil and gas prices, declining production, immature projects globally and recent large investments in new projects are all factors that currently influence the PRRT receipts. I think that is quite reasonable, when companies and their shareholders are investing hundreds of billions of dollars building this infrastructure. It is important and absolutely necessary that these sunk capital costs are taken into consideration in the building phase. The industry is at the bottom of a profit cycle, and this naturally reflects in a profit based tax. Australia has an outstanding reputation as an investment destination for resource sector projects, and it is important for us to not only maintain that reputation but to balance the need to ensure that the Australian community receives a fair return on this development.

This bill raises a number of important policy matters relevant to offshore resources reporting, including increasing access to information and the opportunity for public scrutiny of industry. These are, as I said up-front, good things. The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 is not the correct piece of law to advocate tax disclosure for public scrutiny; it is there to provide a legal framework to incentivise exploration and development. The National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator, NOPTA, administers titles; it doesn't administer taxes. That's why we think this is the wrong piece of legislation to deal with the issues raised by Senator Georgiou. The National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator—again, as indicated in their name, are a 'titles' administrator—does not have the policy mandate, the legislative basis, the funding nor the expertise to consider or provide protection to taxpayer information. Again, that is not to say that that is not an important issue, but this is the wrong piece of legislation and the wrong organisation to seek that from.

NOPTA would derive limited benefit from the changes proposed in this bill. It already has access to the reserve and resource information to undertake its function as the Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator. Furthermore, the passing of this bill does not necessarily guarantee the public disclosure of information, as is the intention. A number of other pieces of relevant Commonwealth and state legislation could prevent the provision of this information into the public domain. So, regardless of any changes that may or may not get through to this specific piece of legislation, there are other Commonwealth and state pieces of legislation that could well prevent the disclosure of this information into the public domain.

The bill's passing may also bring the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 into direct conflict with other Commonwealth and state legislation, and it could, unintentionally, undermine the consistency of the laws around taxation and reporting for offshore petroleum. The resource information that is subject to this bill is currently provided to NOPTA in a range of confidential submissions. The ATO has access already to this necessary information, required for them to undertake compliance actions. This bill would not enhance the ATO's ability to obtain any more information. The passing of this bill also does not necessarily guarantee the public disclosure, as I've said, of the requisite information, but it would create significant additional regulatory burden, for little or no public good. Other pieces of relevant Commonwealth and state legislation could, however, be used to prevent the provision of this information in the public domain.

Resource estimates are based on technical interpretations, and it is simply not possible to derive a single number for the value of a resource without considering the way in which that resource can be developed and the specific circumstances of the individual field. Information regarding value from retention leases means very little, because it is highly speculative and it is certainly at that stage unclearly defined. By contrast, information on the production licence value would be likely to be based on data such as concrete sales contracts. This contractual information is highly commercially sensitive and is not collected by NOPTA, because it is simply not needed for their mandate.

Entities would not pay tax on a retention lease, as they would not be producing petroleum products. This taxation would only occur under a production licence, not a retention lease. I think it's important for those in this chamber to understand the difference. This taxation would only occur under a production licence and not a retention lease. Entity-level reporting on the MRRT and PRRT and corporate taxes paid is already being publicly disclosed under the ATO's annual report of entity tax information. In addition, many firms also voluntarily disclose additional information on their tax affairs as part of the Tax Transparency Code.

The proposed bill in its current form would, in effect or actually, increase compliance costs and could involve the publication of commercially sensitive information. I certainly know that it is not the intent of Senator Georgiou to do either of those things. The public disclosure of this commercially sensitive information could well—and some would argue would—impact the viability of the industry itself. It would certainly place Australia at a strategic disadvantage to our competitors overseas. It would also likely result in difficulty in attracting and retaining any offshore petroleum investment.

In summary, the bill cannot be supported by the government, for all of those reasons I've outlined. However, I commend Senator Georgiou, because a number of the ideas raised in the bill are certainly good and worthy of further discussion. But this bill is not the right bill to amend to get those outcomes. But those on this side applaud you and agree in principle with the ideas of increasing access to information and enabling more public scrutiny of these matters. We also agree that there is some inconsistency in the public reporting of resources currently and there may also be some value in ensuring consistency in reporting requirements. A discussion of this in public is certainly a laudable and very good idea. In closing, I thank Senator Georgiou for providing the Senate with the opportunity to discuss and debate this important industry for our nation and some very important policy matters that should be aired more regularly in this chamber.

10:28 am

Photo of Kim CarrKim Carr (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) Share this | | Hansard source

I won't be quite so polite on this matter, Senator Georgiou. I think you can perhaps be ready for that proposition. Labor will be opposing the proposed amendments to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act contained in the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Reporting of Gas Reserves) Bill 2018. You have proposed these amendments without talking to the opposition about them. You may well say that you don't have to, but, if you're expecting us to support them, I think we're entitled to have these matters discussed with us. I've made further inquiries and I've discovered that you haven't actually talked to many people at all about them. It would appear that you've not consulted the industry. It seems to me that, whatever your intention, these measures are essentially a very blunt instrument and show a profound lack of understanding about how the industry actually operates. It has profound ignorance with regard to the way in which our offshore resources industry works, the way our taxation collection system works, the role of the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator and what functions they actually serve. For instance, the bill would require offshore resources companies to provide information that either does not exist or cannot be provided such as information about tax paid on a licence-by-licence basis. This requirement is, frankly, impractical. Any information provided would be, in fact, useless and totally unreliable because income tax is paid on a company level and the petroleum resources rent tax is paid at a project level. The tax is not levied at a licence level. It strikes me that these measures have been drafted for One Nation by people who are financially illiterate. It is a measure that suggests that this is designed to try to gather a headline rather than do anything in a practical way to advance the prospects of this extraordinarily important industry.

I note that the licence fees that this bill says should be made public are already published by the Commonwealth Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator. The bill also seeks information about royalties and taxes paid on revenue earned by retention leases. A retention lease is not a resource that is producing revenue. In many instances, it might never become economic to develop. It is a lease that seeks to retain an asset while doing work to make development stack up, to allow for the assessment of the viability. Companies do not pay royalties or tax on retention leases, because there is nothing to pay royalties or taxes on.

I notice that the minister has raised some issues recently with regard to a review in Victoria on the question of licences that aren't being developed and has sought to change operations of the industry. That's a perfectly legitimate question to pursue, but it won't be pursued by these types of issues. We saw last week that Senator Canavan has commissioned the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator to review the value of south-eastern petroleum titles to see if some fields not being developed could be brought into production. There are a range of questions that require further discussion by this parliament; however, the purpose of a policy development with regard to understanding is how significant these questions are to the supply of energy for the nation—important for skills formation, important to the prosperity of the whole country and important, of course, for the transparency of company taxation arrangements and to check the revenue basis for the Commonwealth of Australia which allows us to be able to provide the goods and services for the people of this country. However, what you've got here is a proposition that clearly does not relate to the actual operations of the current administrations of the titles as they exist.

This bill would force information to be provided and published by the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator that, as I say, can't be provided. It demonstrates a real failure to understand how the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator does function. It doesn't seem to appreciate what information is currently held by the Taxation Office which, I would have thought, would be a fundamental point if you are putting legislation before this parliament for consideration.

For the record, Labor supports greater transparency of our resources industry and of the payments that ought to be made to governments. I note recent media commentary in November 2015 that PRRT receipts have been declining since that time, and that despite the LNG industry's transformation from a $5 billion concern a decade ago to a $60 billion export powerhouse, according to reports in the media, we now face a situation where we are likely to exceed Qatar as the world's biggest gas exporter by 2020. However, the federal government will only receive from that industry some $800 million in revenues at that time, when of course in Qatar there's some $26.6 billion being received. I'm not saying that we should compare ourselves to Qatar in many other areas, but the point that's being made on the arrangements around the world is that there are legitimate issues to be discussed. That's why Labor's saying that we will legislate to establish a mandatory extractive industries transparency scheme and we will require large Australian extractive companies to disclose payments arising from any activity, including exploration and production. That regime will be on a project-by-project basis. The payments to be disclosed will include taxation on income and production, and profits of companies on royalties and dividends.

Labor does support improvements in the taxation transparency of extractive industries, but this bill is not the right way to go about it. We have to appreciate in relation to company tax and the petroleum resources rent tax that the ATO already publishes comprehensive taxpayer data on an annual basis. The proposals contained in the bill will add a further layer of regulatory reporting to this industry. We don't support a two-tiered system where offshore gas and oil companies are under a different obligation to disclose their payments to government than their onshore counterparts and other onshore resources companies generally. If you're going to have these sorts of changes it is only reasonable that you discuss the questions with the industry itself. After all, it is incredibly important that we are able to sustain supply and investment to this industry and to sustain the jobs, the skills formation, that we need to sustain the prosperity of the nation.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association has noted that a significant proportion of the estimated $35 billion in liquefied natural gas exports referenced in this bill are sourced from onshore projects that are not covered by the scope of the bill. These resources are developed under state legislation. Hence, the bill will adopt a distorted, two-tiered system. The association also points out that industry is nearing the end of a significant phase of the investment cycle, with all large gas projects needing many years before investors achieve a positive return. The whole issue of the profitability of the industry needs to be considered in that context.

What we have here is a very poorly considered and poorly developed proposal based on a profound ignorance of how the industry actually operates. We can't possibly support that. We won't be able to support that. There hasn't been the consultation, it would seem, that would actually render a scheme in place that would make sense economically. What we have here is a misunderstanding of the role of the Taxation Office, and of the significant powers the Taxation Office has to ensure that companies are paying the correct amount of tax.

There is not a weak taxation system operating in this country. We have to actually make sure that the powers of the Taxation Office are in fact used or enforced. There are many reasons to think that some corporations should pay more tax than they do at present, but that's an entirely separate question from these heavy-handed blunt instruments that are being deployed in the bill that is before the chamber. At the recent Senate hearings, the ATO indicated the overall level of tax compliance by the corporate sector in Australia was actually relatively high. In addition, the ATO directly engaged with all large entities in the oil and gas industry on a one-on-one basis to ensure the ATO understands the individual circumstances of each company and the likely taxpaying profiles of each of the companies.

The data presented in the second reading speech in relation to these certain companies includes non-oil and non-gas data. It either misunderstands what is represented as oil and gas revenue or deliberately overstates the amounts to make a political point. The vast majority of Origin and ExxonMobil's revenue relates to downstream or utility operations. It has nothing to do with their offshore oil and gas operations—another example of how this bill has been ill conceived. The offshore exploration in Australia is, in fact, at a two-decade low. Aspects of the bill in terms of the reporting of commercially sensitive information—of course, with the inference here being threats to tenures—will further exacerbate challenges with exploration in offshore areas. I say that in the context where the minister has just launched a review on the 'use it or lose it' principle in Bass Strait—a measure, as I say, undertaken with the Victorian government. There are other ways of actually achieving changes to the industry to secure more gas development through conventional means. This measure doesn't do that.

The retention lease provisions in the act are an integral part of the overall offshore acreage management framework, and we have to actually understand how that scheme currently operates. Making changes to the provisions will compromise an acreage management model that has, in fact, served Australia well over many decades. The public release of the reserve or resources data will place explorers and producers at a competitive disadvantage in terms of the commercial negotiations with customers. That, to me, is a matter that ought to be taken very seriously. It will also mean that entities that are unwilling to commit the funds to explore will have a further incentive to sit back and wait for the results of activities undertaken by genuine parties who are actually seeking to develop resources.

Significant amendments to the secrecy provisions pertaining to the tax information will need to be made to other parts of the legislative framework, including the income tax act, the petroleum resources rent tax legislation and various state legislation, to ensure that companies are not operating in a manner inconsistent with other tax provisions. Forecasting future revenue payments from petroleum projects or businesses is impractical, as there are numerous metrics which will need to have an impact on future revenues and cost.

The global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, for which Australia is pursuing candidacy, is seeking to address a number of the issues raised in this bill on a voluntary basis, with input from various third-party or civil-society representatives. That process seeks to ensure that information released publicly is meaningful and comprehensive and, at the same time, respects the confidentiality of genuinely commercially sensitive data. The approach adopted by this bill is a crash-through, or rather a crash and burn, approach.

The bill also requires offshore resources companies to provide the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator with estimates about the size and value of resources within varying licensing areas. Offshore resources companies already provide this information to the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator. This information is available to government. In order to develop the information, offshore resources companies have to invest a lot of money in exploration and research. This is genuinely commercially sensitive information. It is critical to raising the funds necessary to actually develop the resource. Releasing it creates an unfair advantage for competitors.

It's a very bad idea to undermine the commercial viability of our extractive industries. This bill is another example where One Nation simply fails to grasp the basic economic realities of the way in which industry and resources policy actually works. It might be the case that the petroleum industry is an easy target, but these are problems that do require a proper and comprehensive assessment by grown-ups. This government used to talk about how they were going to be the grown-ups government. You would have expected that these sorts of measures would be rejected comprehensively by this parliament.

The government has done nothing to address the problems created by the high price of gas in the domestic market. What the government tries to do is jawbone the resources sector rather than deal with the fundamental problems of market failure. I'm particularly concerned about the impact that the high cost of energy is having on manufacturers, particularly the larger manufacturers who are creating such significant numbers of manufacturing jobs. Manufacturers of heavy consumer goods are extraordinarily susceptible to gas and electricity price volatility. That's especially the case in metals, food, plastics, chemicals and cement.

Historically, Australia has had relatively high costs in manufacturing but has enjoyed the benefits of the resources sector and the supply of lower-cost energy. We're not enjoying that at the moment. Those advantages have gone. We simply can't afford to ignore these questions. On the one hand, we cannot ignore the questions of energy security, particularly on the question of dispatchable supply and affordability. That will become the single biggest policy failure in the future of manufacturing in the country. On the other hand, we simply can't have a resources industry that treats workers as badly as it does, too.

The dispute with Esso in Bass Strait has seen a lockout there going on for so long. Esso has sought to take away the entitlements and force a 30 per cent pay cut on its workers, which demonstrates that this is an industry that does need to recognise its social and economic responsibilities as well. That will not happen by adopting these ill-considered measures such as those being advanced by One Nation. This is financial illiteracy; these are measures that are politically irresponsible. These are measures that would cause great harm to the future economic welfare of this nation.

The Labor Party will not be able to support the bill. We recognise the question of the future of resources sector is a matter of political importance, is a matter this parliament should take very seriously. That's why the Labor Party will be announcing future measures in this area. That's why the Labor Party does take these matters so seriously, but we will do it on the basis of proper consultation with the industry and on the basis of ensuring that we can make sure that the prosperity of the industry is able to be sustained.

10:48 am

Photo of Lisa SinghLisa Singh (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I join with Labor in opposing this senator's proposed amendments to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act. In doing so, I join with Senator Carr in acknowledging that the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Reporting of Gas Reserves) Bill 2018 is ill conceived and does not go anywhere near addressing some of the issues that need to be addressed when we talk about the extraction industry. Looking at transparency in particular, Labor has a better way, a better plan, and one that, of course, would be wholly consulted with by industry.

The first point to address when we look at the bill before us today is it was developed without any consultation with the opposition. If I could offer any advice to the senator, it would be that, when you bring forth a private senator's bill, one thing that is worth doing is talking to the parties in this place that you wish to get support from for that bill. Whether it be the government, the opposition or some of the other crossbench senators and minor parties, you would think you would talk with all, if not at least more than half, of them if you wanted to get your bill through the Senate. However, there has been absolutely no word from the senator to the opposition regarding consulting with us on this particular bill.

Further, the senator has also not consulted with industry. If you're going to bring a bill into this parliament to change a particular industry, you would think that the party and the senator in question would pick up the phone or even write a letter or an email—anything—to inform that industry of their intentions and what it is they're trying to change in the industry to somehow make that industry better, if that is the intention. But that's not what's occurred here. The result, as Senator Carr said, is very much a blunt instrument that shows a lack of understanding of how Australia's offshore resources industry works, how our tax system collects revenue from such an industry and what the role of the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator is. These are fundamental issues that must be addressed but are simply lacking in this particular piece of legislation.

This bill would require offshore resource companies to provide information that either doesn't exist to start with or can't be provided because the tax is paid on a licence basis. What is this party trying to achieve in bringing forth amendments of this kind that require such information? Does it even understand what it's trying to achieve? It seems to me that the information it's trying to extract through this legislation is impractical, and any information provided would prove to be useless and unreliable because income tax is paid on a company level and the petroleum resource rent tax is paid on a project level. The key point that Senator Carr highlighted in his contribution was that tax is not levied at a licence level.

I also note that licence fees, which the bill seeks to make public, are already published by the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator. This bill also seeks information about royalties and tax paid on revenue earned by retention leases, but a retention lease is not a resource that is producing revenue. In many cases, the resource might never become economical to develop. A retention lease seeks to retain an asset whilst doing work to make the development stack up. Companies do not pay royalties or tax on retention leases. Again, I think this shows a lack of understanding as to how the industry operates and what its requirements are from government. Under a retention lease, there is nothing to pay royalty taxes on. On top of these awkward requirements in this strange amendment, the bill would also force this information to be provided to and published by the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator. But, again, I think this demonstrates a real failure to understand the role of the Commonwealth's Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator.

I'm not sure what the senator was trying to achieve, but if it was transparency, Labor supports tax transparency. We very much support tax transparency for our extractive industries, and we have been highlighting that for some time now. My colleagues in the other place highlighted in great detail last year—and I'll go into some of that shortly—some of the areas where Labor would propose a plan to ensure tax transparency in the extractive industry, but this is not the right way to go about achieving that. We certainly don't support this two-tiered system where offshore gas and oil companies are under a different obligation to disclose their payments to government than their onshore counterparts, for example, and other onshore resources companies generally. It's just ludicrous to have two different arrangements for the one industry.

This bill would also require offshore resources companies to provide the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator with estimates of the size and value of resources within varying licence areas. I understand this information is already provided and is available to government. We need to consider the fact that offshore resources companies have invested a lot of money in exploration and research. This is very commercially sensitive information. Releasing it would, in some senses, create an unfair advantage for their competitors and make it harder to develop resources in the future. Indeed, it could damage the industry.

Having said that, I want to go to this issue of transparency, which is something that Labor is very much a strong supporter of and has been highlighting as a way forward. I think that the senator could actually learn something from Labor's approach, because our approach, as an alternative government, is very well considered and researched and we have consulted. Our approach is based on the betterment of our country, for the industry and for those people affected.

I want to share with the Senate a contribution that was made by the member for Kingsford Smith, Matt Thistlethwaite MP, when he addressed an ACFID, Australian Council for International Development, conference, which goes to the heart of what I think is important when we talk about the extractive industry and when we talk about transparency. I'll start with what he highlighted. He talked about a town called Komo in Papua New Guinea's Hela province. In that town, there is a newly built hospital that has never been used. It has no beds, no staff and no electricity. Around the hospital is the Asia-Pacific's largest gas extraction project, a $19 billion Exxon Mobil and Oil Search joint venture LNG project. Proponents of this project promised it would improve the living standards of local communities, transform the PNG economy and boost GDP. But none of this has occurred. Just recently, the PNG project reached record productive capacity of 7.9 million barrels of oil equivalent in the period of three months up to October last year, with work to expand the project ongoing.

As we know, many of the world's poorest nations are endowed with minerals and resources of significant market value that are being developed by multinational corporations and governments. But, despite many years of extraction of these resources, the populations of many of these countries remain some of the poorest people in the world. They suffer, in that sense, from resource curse. Many of our neighbours in the region, including Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Nauru, have multibillion dollar resource projects operated by foreign multinational corporations, yet these nations are failing to meet many of the Sustainable Development Goals, and their economic growth is fairly inequitable. So the extraction and development of these resources offers an opportunity for the governments of developing nations to grow their national income and improve the living standards of their citizens. That's what needs to happen. That's why the lack of transparency around the extractive industry is an issue that has been identified not just by many in Australia but by many in the international community. Indeed, the World Bank plays a key role in implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the EITI, which promotes good governance and accountability in the use of mining revenue in resource-rich countries. This is incredibly important.

Currently, in Australia, Australian companies simply do not meet world's best practice for transparency and accountability in extractive projects. That is why Labor are determined to change this and why we have a plan, which I think the senator who brought this ill-conceived amendment into this place could learn from. What we've learned so far is that the Abbott and Turnbull governments have been proven unwilling to tackle corruption or to promote transparencies in the extractive industries. Labor has consistently been one step in front of the government on this issue of tax transparency to ensure that large Australian resource companies are good corporate citizens and maintain accounting and transparency systems which combat corruption.

A Shorten Labor government will legislate to establish a mandatory extractive industries transparency scheme. Our policy will require large Australian extractive companies to disclose payments arising from any activity involving exploration, prospection, discovery, development, or extraction. Disclosure under this regime will be on a country-by-country and project-by-project basis so that payments to be disclosed will include taxes on income; royalties; dividends; signature discovery and production bonuses; fees, including licence fees, rental fees and entry fees; and payments for infrastructure improvements and production entitlements. These are the sorts of things that we need to ensure have transparency and that we stamp out corruption in our extraction industry, not the sorts of things that have been brought forward in this amendment by the senator from the PHON party. These are the sorts of things that will make a difference to the Australian extractive industry and to those neighbouring Pacific island nations that are deemed to benefit from their resources, from Australian companies and from Australian governance.

Our policy means that payments must be disclosed if they are made to any national, regional or local authority of a country, including a department, agency, or state-owned enterprise. Disclosure under this regime should also apply to large extractive companies in Australia—so, a levelling playing field, the same rules, not two different tiered approaches like we have seen put forward in this ill-conceived amendment. A large company shall be defined as a company that meets at least two of the three following criteria: a balance sheet total exceeding $50 million, net turnover on balance sheet date exceeding $100 million and the average number of employees in the financial year to which the balance sheet relates exceeding 250. This scheme has, of course, been costed. We have done our homework. It has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office at $2.2 million over the election forward estimates and is fully offset. It is also consistent with Australia's national action plan for open government and complementary to the EITI, to which I referred earlier in my contribution, that the World Bank refers to. This mandatory reporting regime for extractive industries will increase the availability of verifiable disaggregated information from company financial reports regarding payments made to governments, and that information would build public accountability, and it would build public trust in governments and in companies.

There is more to our approach that I could go on with, but I want to use the last part of my time to highlight what Labor has done and has put forward, and compare that to not only the difference that the senator's amendment makes, which will be highlighted in this bill—which I hope I've already done—but also what we have currently under this government. What we have currently under this government is a policy vacuum. It is a policy vacuum on energy at every single level, whether we look at it from the extractive industry level, from the gas industry level or, today, from the renewable industry level. This government is in such a terrible state. It is in a complete shambles. I will highlight gas for the moment. This is a government that promised to bring down gas prices, yet the ACCC chair, Rod Sims, has described the gas market as unsustainable. When Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had the chance to take real action on tackling the gas crisis and impose export controls, he instead chose an unenforceable handshake agreement with the big gas exporters. And where has that ended up? Well, the gas crisis isn't over for the Prime Minister, nor is it over for Australian households and Australian manufacturers who are paying the cost day in, day out. Workers are also paying that price. So it is time that the Prime Minister admitted, firstly, that his handshake agreement on the gas crisis did not solve the gas crisis; it just confirmed that he's always looking after the big end of town.

On top of that, we've had the National Energy Guarantee, which, basically, is not a guarantee at all. The Prime Minister has had a second policy reset in as little as four days. This Prime Minister is all over the place. Firstly, he wants to take the Paris Agreement out of legislation and put it into regulation. That was yesterday. Today—I heard this morning—he doesn't want to have a target set at all, whether it be in legislation or regulation. Basically, Malcolm Turnbull will lie on the floor and let his backbench colleagues walk all over him. He will do anything to save his leadership. He does not care about the future of energy in this country and what it means for households. He has no plan for the future, because he continues to change his plan within 24 hours or less. Australians know what the future holds under this Turnbull government, and that is instability, policy vacuum, higher household energy prices and no way of looking to the future to ensure our children and our children's children will have a future with a reduced carbon emissions set.

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Hanson, are you rising to contribute to the debate?

11:08 am

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Acting Deputy President, I would like to move that the second reading debate be adjourned.

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Hanson, note that there are other senators in the chamber who wish to contribute to the debate. If you follow that procedure, you will shut down debate on this issue.

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the debate be adjourned.

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Collins?

Photo of Jacinta CollinsJacinta Collins (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Cabinet Secretary) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Acting Deputy President Whish-Wilson, it's unfortunate that an adjournment motion should be moved at this stage. I understand the particular difficulty for you, because you were on the speaking list following the Labor speaker but have now been called into the chair. But I understand the procedural issues involved. It's worth highlighting the point that the speakers list in this debate needs to encompass all of the parties that wish to make a contribution before a matter like this is adjourned.

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator Collins. That is noted. It's not a point of order but it is noted. Senator Georgiou.

Photo of Peter GeorgiouPeter Georgiou (WA, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

A point of order: there would have been enough time for everyone in this debate to speak. We had a gentlemen's agreement with Labor to keep the debates at 10 minutes each, which they obviously didn't follow.

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

That's not a point of order either, Senator Georgiou, but once again it's noted. A point of order, Senator Collins?

Photo of Jacinta CollinsJacinta Collins (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Cabinet Secretary) Share this | | Hansard source

I didn't want to extend this discussion, but I need to, in the strongest of terms, highlight there was no gentlemen's agreement in relation to this issue.

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Okay, so we have that on record. Senator Smith?

Photo of Dean SmithDean Smith (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Was there a gentlemen-women's agreement—a gentlewomen's agreement?

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

That's also not a point of order, but that is well noted. Thank you, Senator Smith.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the motion moved by Senator Hanson be agreed to.

11:17 am

Photo of Chris KetterChris Ketter (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise this morning to contribute to this debate on the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Reporting of Gas Reserves) Bill 2018, which has been brought on by the One Nation party. I had the opportunity to have a look at Senator Georgiou's second reading speech in relation to this matter. Senator Georgiou in his second reading speech makes reference to countries such as Canada, the UK and the EU, who have already forced multinational companies like Chevron and Exxon to report on payments to the respective governments as well as production levels, and says that Australia would be bringing ourselves into line with such countries if we were to support this legislation. If we really wanted to be fair dinkum about transparency, we should be looking at the issue of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. This particular bill before the chamber is a ham-fisted approach to deal with this issue. It deals with only a small part of the overall issue of transparency, and the One Nation party would be better advised to get on board with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in the same way that Labor has. I will talk about that in more detail later.

Another pointer to the fact that this is not a fair dinkum attempt to address the issue is the fact that the bill has been developed without proper consultation with the industry. I know Senator Georgiou has a personal interest in this issue. I've followed some of his questioning in the course of estimates proceedings and I understand his concern and I understand where he's coming from on the issue of retention leases being held and no activity. But, unfortunately, this policy is not well considered, and it could well be argued that this is yet another attempt by the One Nation party to tap into an issue which has some broad community interest and support, but they've come up with a response which just doesn't do the job. Unfortunately, this doesn't stop the government from doing deals with Senator Hanson, and I will talk about that a bit later on—preference deals that have been done at election time, and deals on legislation in this house. We know that some discussions took place on the petroleum resource rent tax in relation to deals on company tax cuts, but there's been a backflip from One Nation in relation to that.

This is a government which relies on the One Nation party to force through its ideological agenda. Given the fact that we see Senator Hanson's propensity to change her mind again and again on different issues, whether you're looking at attacks on penalty rates or other issues, is it any wonder this government is relying on One Nation, and is it any wonder that this government is in disarray and chaos as we speak? I wonder if Mr Dutton will be as eager to deal with Senator Hanson when he takes over as leader of the government. What I can say is that Labor will not be doing deals with Senator Hanson at election time, and we will not support legislation that cuts out industry consultation.

The petroleum resource rent tax and other taxes that apply to the extractive industries are highly complex. It is a legitimate matter for public interest and public concern and it deserves a well-considered policy response. Unfortunately, the bill before us is nothing like that. We will not support this type of legislation, these types of stunts. Senator Hanson likes to talk the talk when it comes to cracking down on corporate tax dodgers, and she might think of this as one way to go about it, but we know that this is a stunt.

This bill reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the way our tax system works, how revenue is collected, how the role of the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator operates and how the offshore resources industry works. NOPTA, as it's called, is a titles administrator. It is not equipped to report on these types of issues. There are a range of shortcomings in the bill, which have already been dealt with by some of my colleagues. I don't want to dwell on that or duplicate many of the arguments that have been used, but I think it is worth repeating that the bill would require offshore resources companies to provide information that either doesn't exist or can't be provided, such as information about tax paid on a licence-by-licence basis. We know that we don't have information being collected on that basis. Licence fees, which the bill seeks to make public, are already published by the Commonwealth offshore titles administrator, and the bill would seek information about royalties and tax paid on revenue earned by retention leases. As has been previously indicated, a retention lease, by definition, is not a resource that's producing revenue, and in many instances it might never become economic to develop it. It's a lease that's there to retain an asset whilst doing the work to make the development stack up, so companies don't pay royalties or tax on retention leases because there's nothing to pay royalties or tax on. This, I think, is a pretty fundamental example of the nature of the bill in that it's ill considered. Once again it demonstrates a real failure to understand the role of the offshore titles administrator. It's interesting that this bill would extend NOPTA's power beyond the powers that are currently held by the ATO. The titles administrator is not the appropriate place for this function to be located; it quite clearly should be a responsibility of the ATO. They are clearly best placed to collect and report that information. But, as I've said, we do support greater transparency, and I will talk more about that later.

Whilst this government is busy tearing itself apart, the One Nation party is taking advantage of that, and Labor is getting on with the job. Unlike the One Nation party, we listen to industry. We actively consult with industry. We are on the ground, developing policies that will work, like the extractive industries disclosure regime. We support greater tax transparency not just for the extractive industry but for all industries. But we don't support a two-tiered system, and it's another shortcoming of this bill that it seeks to treat offshore companies in a different way to onshore extractive industries. That's a distinction that we don't support. We are going to crack down on corporate tax dodging across all industries, but, again, this particular bill is not the right way to go about it. Our alternative approach is the extractive industries disclosure regime. This policy includes both large oil and gas companies—as well as mining companies—and it's a much more comprehensive approach than that which is set out in this proposed legislation.

Our approach derives from the global Publish What You Pay initiative, which was launched in 2002 in the United Kingdom by civil society organisations. Many governments, including the European Union, the UK and Canada, have all enacted legislation requiring the disclosure of payments to governments by extractive industries companies. I think that, in his way, Senator Georgiou was alluding to this in his second reading speech, but, as I've indicated earlier, the approach that this One Nation bill takes is ham-fisted, and it doesn't take a holistic approach to the issue. The extractive industries payment disclosure regime aims to encourage financial transparency in the extractive industries by placing rules and regulations on oil, gas and mining.

This is a really important initiative for many of the world's poorest nations that may well happen to be endowed with minerals and resources of significant market value which are being developed by multinational corporations and governments. Despite years of mining and development in some of these very poor nations around the world, they are not benefiting as fully as they could. Senator Singh referred to Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. These countries have multibillion dollar resource projects that are operated by multinational companies, yet these are the nations that are continuing to fall short of Millennium Development Goals and equitable economic growth.

It should also be said that this lack of transparency has the other effect of sheltering corruption. What we are trying to see is a situation where countries receive a fair return for their commodities so they can build the infrastructure and institutions that they need to support sustainable economic growth.

This is not the first foray that Labor have made into this area of tax transparency. We have also announced our tax haven transparency package and multinational tax avoidance measures, which we've indicated are going to improve our budget bottom line by $5.4 billion over the decade by ensuring big corporates no longer get a free pass to sail through the LNP government's tax loopholes. Those are the sorts of things which this particular bill says that it's trying to address and purports to address, but, unfortunately, it falls well short of doing anything meaningful about them.

Labor have always been very clear about our plans to crack down on corporate tax dodgers. In contrast to the government's inertia and inaction, as well as One Nation's misguided attempts to increase company tax and royalty transparency and to crack down on multinational tax avoidance, we on our side have a strong suite of policy alternatives. As chair of the Senate Economics References Committee, I am proud of the work that we've done on this particular issue. Across the life of our Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance, we held 12 public hearings and received 167 submissions. So, on this issue, we have a strong history, both in government and in opposition.

The Economics References Committee's work on corporate tax avoidance, including an assessment of the PRRT, provides a much better and more comprehensive policy response than what both the government and One Nation have provided. The Senate committee report, which was issued in May of this year, contains a whole suite of recommendations, going to things such as making country-by-country reporting more publicly available and free of charge, and converting our existing voluntary tax transparency code to a mandatory code for all large and medium corporations operating in Australia, including subsidiaries of multinational corporations. We called on the government to finalise and release its response to the Callaghan report into the review of the petroleum resources rent tax, and we noted that that response is yet to be provided.

I want to talk further about the committee's report. In particular, I want to dwell on recommendation 3. The committee recommended that all companies with a total income equal to or exceeding $100 million for an income year be required to release tax information of the level specified in the Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Act 2015. Let's not forget that coalition senators came out in support of this recommendation, which is in sharp contrast to the events of 2015 where the coalition disgracefully raised the threshold for private companies to $200 million, taking two-thirds of private firms out of the disclosure process. Labor voted against this measure—a vote that the coalition untruthfully misrepresent as opposing the multinational anti-avoidance law, which is not correct. This dodgy deal took two-thirds of private companies out of the spotlight and back into the darkness.

Recommendation 4 of the Senate inquiry report talked about having a public register of ultimate beneficial ownership that includes companies, trusts and other corporate structures. This is an important initiative to increase transparency and visibility in the sector. Recommendation 5 was that the government require all companies, trusts and other financial entities with income above a certain amount to lodge general purpose financial statements with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. All too often we're seeing special purpose reports being issued, which may well be within the law, but it certainly hinders the level of visibility and accountability of these companies.

I've talked about the country-by-country reporting. But, on the issue of loopholes, we have policies which go to thin capitalisation which are set out in recommendation 1 of that report. We recommend that those thin capitalisation rules be amended so that the worldwide gearing ratio is the only method by which interest-related deductions should be calculated for the purpose of tax treatment in Australia.

On the issue of transfer pricing—this is another really important area for public scrutiny—our committee recommended that the government undertake an independent review into the detriment to Australian tax revenue that arises from the current tax transfer pricing regime and explore options to modify the rules to ensure multinational enterprises make the appropriate contribution to Australian tax revenue.

We also inquired into the effectiveness of the PRRT, as I've mentioned, and we had companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil and others appear before the committee. While we're talking about those particular companies—and I know that Senator Georgiou has raised those two companies as examples—there are a range of issues that we should be looking at. Arising out of our Senate hearing in Melbourne, back in March of this year, we know that ExxonMobil has said it will not pay corporate tax in Australia until 2021. That might be the state of the law at the moment, but it certainly is an issue that the average person in the street finds very difficult to understand. It's very hard to defend a multinational company that is making a lot of revenue in this country but not contributing to the Commonwealth coffers so that we can pay for the hospitals and provide the services to ordinary Australians that are required.

At the same time, we know that within ExxonMobil we have harsh labour practices going on. I took the opportunity to visit the Longford site, where there is a long-running dispute. The workers there were put onto a substandard agreement that cut their pay by 30 per cent, reduced allowances, reduced annual leave and significantly cut loadings. Workers there are refusing to accept the 30 per cent pay cut. These are the sorts of practices that are going on. There's a need to change the rules in this regard, and these companies should be held to account.

In conclusion, it is clear this week that the government is in absolute chaos. I urge the senators left in the One Nation party to have a good look at our policy. (Time expired)

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Whish-Wilson. Sorry, Senator Whish-Wilson—on a point of order, Senator Hanson.

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

A point of order—I stood first.

Honourable senators interjecting

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I have a speakers list in front of me, Senator Hanson, and your name appears nowhere. Senator Whish-Wilson follows Senator Ketter. Senator Whish-Wilson, you have the call.

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm moving a point of order.

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

What is your point of order?

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My point of order is that I want the call to move that the second reading debate be adjourned.

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

You've already had one go at it, and your motion was defeated. Senator Whish-Wilson, you have the call.

11:38 am

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I was going to make a point of order that I thought I was on my feet first, if that helps. In rising to debate this private members' bill, Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Reporting of Gas Reserves) Bill 2018, I'd like to start by reflecting on the great work that this chamber has done on corporate tax avoidance and on tax justice and tax transparency, and I do mean that genuinely, in a 'tripartisan'—if that's the right word—spirit. Senators of all colours in here have worked very hard in recent years to try and improve corporate tax transparency.

I note with some pride and satisfaction that it was my colleague ex-Senator Milne that initiated the first Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance, back in 2014. A number of senators, including myself and others in this chamber, had been lobbied quite hard and extensively by various groups to have this Senate inquiry. Tax Justice Network was one of them. Another one was Micah Challenge, and some fantastic advocates out there for tax justice. Tax justice, tax equality and transparency are absolutely critical, not only to general economic wellbeing in this country but some of the critical issues that we debate in this place, like inequality. Getting the big corporations to pay their fair share of tax, to stop rorting the system, is not only absolutely fundamental for fairness and justice but it's exactly what the Australian people want their representatives in parliament to do. They want us to stand in here, they want us to review the laws and they want us to change the laws and make sure we crack down on dodgy tax rorts.

One of the biggest tax rorts we have in this country, which we have had numerous debates on but have failed to reach an agreement on, is the petroleum resource rent tax, the PRRT. I like to call it the petroleum 'rort' rent tax, because that's exactly what it is. Some of the biggest, most powerful, most profitable companies on the planet—and I'm talking about the big oil and gas companies, like ExxonMobil and Chevron; they're all thrown into the mix—extract resources that are owned by the Australian people and pay bugger-all for them; in fact, they pay virtually nothing for the resources. It's an input into their production. That input is owned by the Australian people, yet we get nothing back from these companies. In theory they should be paying some kind of royalty based on the value of those resources to the Australian people and they should be paying corporate tax. As we discovered in the inquiry—as Senator Ketter rightly said, he chaired the Senate Economics Committee inquiry into the petroleum resource rent tax—the Greens initiated that inquiry but Labor chaired it. We discovered that a number of these companies actually don't pay income tax either. In fact, while the committee proceedings were underway, the Australian Taxation Office took Chevron to the Supreme Court and then the High Court to make sure that they paid their fair share of tax in their crackdown on tax loops, such as transfer pricing.

Why is it important that we fix the petroleum resource rent tax? There are two fundamental reasons. One Nation are in here to represent the first reason. That is, it's just not fair that some of the wealthiest, biggest corporations on the planet aren't paying their fair share of tax, especially when the average Australian has to pay their tax and has to pay it on time, and if they don't then woe to them. As we know, the Australian Taxation Office will crack down on them. It seems fundamentally unfair. There is no justice at all in the fact that because you're powerful, because you can employ the best lawyers and have millions and billions of dollars at your disposal you can somehow rig the system—and, may I say, a totally imperfect system, a system that's too easily rigged. That's another issue we have to address. We have to change some of the laws around these things to stop corporations getting away with unethical behaviour.

The first fundamental reason is that we need justice. We need everybody to pay their fair share and we need a system of changes to our existing laws and regulations that will enable that to occur. That's bloody hard in a place like this when some vested interests that don't want the system changed are in here lobbying and donating to big political parties to make sure we don't get changes. That's also part of the rigged system. We call it the special interests effect: once again the rich and powerful have the means at their disposal to come in here and make sure they get what they want and your average punter on the street doesn't.

Let me tell you what the second fundamental reason is that we need to fix the petroleum resource rent tax. We discovered this during the inquiry, and it became really obvious to me when we heard from a number of witnesses, including Dr Craig Emerson, who was the architect of the petroleum resource rent tax. This tax enables the extraction of marginal resources. It is the tail wagging the dog in terms of oil and gas and energy in this country. We heard from a number of submitters, including directly from the horse's mouth, the big companies themselves, that, if we change the petroleum resource rent tax system, their projects would not be viable. I thought, 'Is that just corporate BS and spin?' It turns out that they actually have a point. A number of these projects are almost suboptimal, and, if it weren't for our extremely generous tax system, especially the concessions they get, they wouldn't be out there exploring for that oil and gas.

The Labor Party has made its position on this very clear this morning, and I know the Liberal-National Party have made their position very clear. They want to support oil and gas and the hydrocarbon industry, but it wouldn't surprise anyone in this chamber if I said the Greens don't. We don't want to see any more extraction under massive trillion-dollar projects that pollute our planet. It's as simple as that. We know that, with political conviction, we can move to 100 per cent renewable energy in this country. We just need to get on with it. In fact, in 2010, the Greens, working with Labor, did bring in the gold standard with the clean energy package. And, as we know, the human wrecking ball, Mr Tony Abbott, destroyed the clean energy package, just like he, sadly, destroyed marine protections that passed this Senate last week. So we're back to the drawing board.

We find today, given the current chaos within the LNP, the Liberal-National Party, that it looks like our Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Turnbull, is going to walk away from any kind of policy on energy and tackling climate change. So we've had absolutely no progress on tackling what is arguably the biggest issue and the biggest challenge of our generation, which is reducing emissions and tackling global warming. That's extremely relevant to this debate today. If we want to hold big corporations to account, if we want tax transparency, we need to understand why the government are so stuck in their position, why they've ignored the recommendations of the Callaghan review and refused to change, even at the edges, any part of the petroleum resource rent tax system. Their own independent inquiry has recommended those changes, but what they've done is just kick the can down the road. They haven't even changed some of the uplift rates.

Let me tell Australians this. If you're an offshore oil and gas company, you can claim your exploration expenditure at an uplift rate of 15 per cent per annum. If you go out and spend $5 billion exploring the Great Australian Bight, the value of those tax credits is uplifted at 15 per cent per annum indefinitely. For the expenditure on your oil and gas fields while they're operating, it's five per cent per annum plus the bond rate and 15 per cent for exploration plus the bond rate plus your decommissioning costs. And, if you spill oil while you're exploring—like, sadly, we have seen off north-west WA, and we've seen some terrible examples of it in the Gulf of Mexico—guess what? That's tax deductible too, and it's uplifted at 15 per cent. Where companies have multiple projects and can actually transfer these tax credits between projects, the Australian taxpayer, the public, are incentivising these companies. We are giving money to some of the biggest, wealthiest corporations. And it is actually what the system is designed to do. It's fundamentally set up that way. So it's not illegal. It might sound bloody unethical, but it is not illegal. It is the law, and it's been deliberately written so that big corporations, the dirtiest polluters on the planet, some of the biggest tax dodgers on the planet, some of the wealthiest companies on the planet—which, as Senator Ketter said earlier, treat their workers like crap—are being incentivised because we won't change the petroleum resource rent tax system in this country.

I don't know if senators are aware what those current tax offsets, those tax credits, are worth to these big polluters, these big wealthy companies. Last time I checked, in 2009, when we looked at their total tax offsets, they had $9 billion, and that rolled over into 2010-11. That's $9 billion of tax offsets. In other words, they don't have to pay tax. It's $279 billion in the last 10 years. That's how much tax they haven't had to pay thanks to this system that's set up to incentivise and encourage big oil and gas companies to go out and extract uneconomic hydrocarbons in risky areas like the Great Australian Bight. Deepwater Horizon comes to mind. The Great Australian Bight has some of the deepest oil exploration waters on the planet and some of the roughest oceans. Believe me, I like those oceans being rough. It means big swells in places like Tasmania and Victoria. I have seen what the Southern Ocean can dish up. It has some of the most marginal conditions on the planet for oil and gas exploration, yet we are incentivising these companies to come in and explore—because of this tax system.

If we want to tackle climate change; if we want future generations to have what we've had; if we don't want to see the planet burn, sea levels rise, oceans acidify and the Great Barrier Reef gone within our lifetimes, which is a very real proposition; if we don't want to see longer droughts and more suffering for our rural communities; if we don't want to see damage to our fishery industries like we have seen in Tasmania to rock lobster, abalone and aquaculture from warming waters in the ocean and viruses and pests that bring about the loss of jobs and export growth; if we actually care about our planet then we need to crack down on this tax rort today. But we can't do that in this bill.

This bill encourages more transparency, and so we applaud the intent of this bill. We will support anything that makes this industry more transparent. What we need to do is remove the concessions in the petroleum resource rent tax that allow these ridiculous amounts of tax offsets to build. It wouldn't surprise me if these were a trillion dollars in 10 years time. We need to put in place a royalty floor, a platform, so that we are guaranteed every year to get money back from these big polluters and big wealthy companies that aren't paying for their resources. That's why the Greens have called for a couple of things.

We want to change the uplift rates in the petroleum resource rent tax. We want to remove decommissioning costs as a deductible expense against the petroleum resource rent tax. We want a flat 10 per cent royalty rate on the wellhead value of all offshore oil and gas projects. We've had this costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office. This would be allowed to be expensed against the petroleum resource rent tax liability, so big companies could expense this. It would bring in about $1.4 billion in revenue every year to the Australian people. It would be collected from these companies, and there would be nothing they could do about it. We have submitted a number of these costings and we will be releasing them over time. This is the kind of reform that the Australian people want to see. Nobody out there believes this petroleum resource rent tax is a good thing, unless you are in the pocket of a lobbyist or unless you are taking donations from big oil and gas companies to give them what they want in this place. Nobody out there believes this is the right thing. They want to see tax justice.

I can tell you that the momentum is building across this country, as it is across this planet, to get politicians, to get the political class, to get parliamentarians, to act on climate and reducing emissions. While we speak now, plans are still underway to explore the Great Australian Bight. Companies are taking new seismic tests off Commonwealth waters around King Island in Tasmania, for example. I've been approached by the rock lobster industry and other industries to make sure that there is a proper approval process. At this stage, they feel what they're going through with NOPSEMA is a box-ticking exercise. There is a considerable amount of new science—and I've no doubt it wasn't paid for by the fishing industry, like so much fishery science is in this country—which is showing that seismic testing does have an impact on marine life and on commercial fisheries. There are a lot of things that tie back to changing the rort that is the petroleum resource rent tax. While we're there, there are many other things we actually need to do to fix our tax justice system.

The Greens went to the last federal election with a very comprehensive policy around tax justice. We've recently managed to secure, in this place, an increase in transparency through a private member's bill for tax disclosure. We've put up amendments to other tax bills to try and improve tax transparency, and we have seen the MAAL bill—which passed in this place—have some impact on clawing back billions of dollars of revenue from big corporations that haven't been paying their fair share of tax. But we need to go much further. We need to either ban shell companies altogether, as there's a push on in the US to do, or at least start with a beneficial ownership register of these shell companies, which are used so effectively to avoid paying tax. It interested me to read in an article the other day that Donald Trump has nearly 42 shell companies associated with his own business operations. We know these companies are used to dodge tax, and much, much worse. They're also used to launder money for organised crime, and so on and so forth. We need to know who owns these companies, or we need to ban them outright. While I respect there are some legitimate reasons for using tax havens, there aren't many good reasons. Mostly, they are used to avoid tax scrutiny. That's why they're called shadow jurisdictions.

The Greens would also like to see changes to transfer pricing, which we've raised in this place before, and we would like to see a comprehensive review of the system around our international treaties and obligations, and responses from the ATO working with countries or secrecy jurisdictions that won't share information.

All in all, the job's nowhere near done. There has been a lot of good work done in this chamber by a number of senators of all political colours, and I want to reflect on that today and put that on record. But it's not enough. If you actually want to make a difference then I and my party, the Greens, urge senators to consider restructuring real reform for the petroleum resource rent tax: crack down on the $279 billion of tax avoided by these companies. The system was set up in the 1980s for a totally different industry, an industry that was, essentially, petroleum and condensate; it wasn't set up for multibillion- and trillion-dollar offshore oil and gas developments. It's too complex, it doesn't work, it has no transparency, and it is fundamentally unfair that these companies can avoid paying what they owe the Australian people. Any other industry that buys inputs into its production, like things to make bricks, has to pay for that. Why is it that these resource companies don't have to pay for the resources that are owned by the Australian people?

While we're at it, we can actually do something to help the planet. We can make sure that the tax system isn't incentivising companies to go and explore marginal petroleum and gas that is not needed on this planet any more. We need to be moving away from our reliance on fossil fuels. We need to be going to a future that's 100 per cent renewable. If we don't, not only will we not meet our Paris targets, which are nowhere near good enough, but we will continue to see this planet change in our own lifetimes. It is happening right before our eyes now. It is happening in the oceans, and it is happening on land. It is changing. We have a massive moral obligation to do everything we possibly can to move to a different future for future generations. I urge senators to have a very close look at the Greens' proposal to put a 10 per cent flat royalty rate in for oil and gas.

11:59 am

Photo of Jacinta CollinsJacinta Collins (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Cabinet Secretary) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to use some of the time for this debate on the very important issues proposed by Senator Georgiou in the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Reporting of Gas Reserves) Bill 2018 to respond to concerns about how this bill is being considered during private senators' business. Senator Hanson moved an adjournment of the debate previously. People looking at the red for today will see that there were three bills listed upon the red. Senator Georgiou suggested—I would assert falsely—that there was a gentlemen's agreement as to how we would proceed today. I hope that, in managing this very important time, we will be able to move beyond what happened today. For instance, I highlight for the chamber that it looks very likely that opposition time for today won't be proceeded with either. But I think it's important that I highlight where some of the issues or problems in the consideration of this bill have occurred.

A week ago, as the opposition understands it, the first bill, the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Reporting of Gas Reserves) Bill 2018, was the matter put forward by One Nation. It was subsequently proposed mid last week that that time be shared with a bill that was either about to be introduced or had only just been introduced, the Plebiscite (Future Migration Level) Bill 2018. Let me say very clearly from the outset: Labor is opposed to that bill. Anything I indicate now in relation to the procedural management of private senators' business should not take away from the very clear and simple fact that we are opposed to that bill. Senators will see from the vote on Senator Hanson's adjournment motion that even senators such as Senator Anning were opposed to us moving on to the next bill. We have before us on our benches a list of amendments proposed by Senator Anning that I suspect senators have barely had any time to digest, with respect to what they might propose to Senator Hanson's bill.

The point I make here, which these amendments highlight, is a point that I made privately to the crossbench meeting some time ago. Procedurally, when we moved to private senators' business on a Monday, the point was highlighted that we needed to ensure party rooms, particularly major party rooms—the opposition, the government and, indeed, the Greens—had an opportunity to deal with matters before they came before the Senate on a Monday. When private senators' business was previously listed on a Thursday, you could see what a matter was, you could prepare a submission to a party room, the party room then could consider such matters and senators would then be prepared for a subsequent debate on the Thursday. On this occasion, in relation to the second matter, the Plebiscite (Future Migration Level) Bill 2018, which was introduced by Senator Hanson last Thursday—

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Collins, one moment. Senator Hanson, a point of order?

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My point of order is to draw it back to standing order 194: relevance.

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I believe that's not a point of order, Senator Hanson. I think Senator Collins explained why she was making comments about your bill and the procedures.

Photo of Jacinta CollinsJacinta Collins (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Cabinet Secretary) Share this | | Hansard source

If Senator Hanson wants me to go back again—indeed, we've spent quite a lot of private senators' time today on the first bill—I'm quite prepared to do that. But, given that she herself moved a motion which was to adjourn that bill, I'm surprised that she's making that point of order. Indeed, I'm surprised that she's seeking to limit the opposition's time to explain why her motion to adjourn that bill was opposed.

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Why don't you be up-front? Why don't you be honest with the people? You don't want discussion. You don't want debate.

Photo of Jacinta CollinsJacinta Collins (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Cabinet Secretary) Share this | | Hansard source

I know that Senator Hanson wasn't at the crossbench party room—if you could call it that—discussion when these issues were highlighted, but, if she wants to screech at the end of the chamber, let me go back to the other point, which was: had we proceeded in the way we should have, in an orderly way, we would indeed still be on the bill that she proposed and we would not have needed to deal with her subsequent proposal that we move to a very contentious bill, the Plebiscite (Future Migration Level) Bill 2018.

The opposition is opposed to that bill and is opposed to time in this debate being used to address that bill in a way that just screams slogans on this important issue. I was surprised that the government, given how things transpired last week in relation to race and migration issues, also were not opposed to adjourning debate on Senator Hanson's bill. I think the way that both the Senate and the House dealt with this issue last week was the way in which these matters should be addressed. Last week was a week where we saw this chamber and the parliament stand together against racism. We have a situation where the government now has supported a motion to bring on debate on a bill that would seek to divide our nation on the basis of race and religion.

Labor opposed that matter being brought on both because of the substantive issues and also because of the procedural issues. It was an inappropriate use of private senators' time. It takes agreement amongst all senators to manage limited time in this space. As it turns out, I suspect Labor have forgone our time today, in what was a lengthened debate, because the majority of the Senate did not want to move on to this second bill, which had been introduced to the chamber with insufficient time for senators to be satisfied with what was proceeding. That's not just Labor and that's not just the Greens; even Senator Anning, who has obviously put a lot of attention into this issue and circulated these amendments, was not happy for the debate to proceed without allowing adequate time to deal with these matters. This chamber cannot deteriorate into sloganising these important race issues.

I'm pleased that, when Senator Hanson moved that the first bill be adjourned to get to her matter, the Senate opposed it. I hope that in the future, though, in relation to private senators' time, we will by agreement amongst the various parties be able to manage better arrangements to deal with the timeslots allocated to each group. But, on this occasion, the first proposal was that the opposition not even have any time. The next proposal was that, yes, the opposition could have some time, but the Greens wouldn't have any time. It's not a surprise that the proposals to carve up time were opposed.

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Hanson, on a point of order?

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My point of order is section 194 of the standing orders. This bill that we're discussing now is about offshore petroleum. Senator Collins has not raised that for the last eight minutes whatsoever.

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I've already ruled on this. This is not a point of order. I will remind Senator Collins of the substantive matter of the debate, but she has outlined the context of why she's raising these issues.

Photo of Jacinta CollinsJacinta Collins (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Cabinet Secretary) Share this | | Hansard source

I will use this opportunity to close my remarks. As I said at the outset, the matters raised by Senator Georgiou were very important matters. Had they proceeded in the way that Senator Georgiou had originally proposed, which was that they be allocated the full amount of time allocated to One Nation, then today's program would also have proceeded in an orderly way. Unfortunately, Senator Hanson played with these understandings and procedures with a stunt around her bill, and that compromised the Senate's consideration of this very important matter. I understand that other senators would also like to contribute in relation to Senator Georgiou's bill, but I think I've made the points about the context of this debate pretty clearly.

12:08 pm

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Human Services) Share this | | Hansard source

I would also like to make a contribution to this debate on the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Reporting of Gas Reserves) Bill 2018. I don't understand what the One Nation political party are trying to achieve here. What they are arguing is that the titles administrator should take functions to do with taxation. I've had a look at the titles administrator and what the functions of the titles administrator are. The titles administrator is appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. That's done under section 695A of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.

The titles administrator is not responsible in relation to seeking to increase tax that is gleaned from the offshore gas industry. Neither is it associated with the Taxation Office. It's responsible for the day-to-day administration of all petroleum and greenhouse gas titles in Commonwealth waters in Australia and is the first point of contact for matters relating to offshore titles administration. It operates on a cost recovery basis, funded by the petroleum industry. Its key functions in Commonwealth waters are to provide information, assessments, analysis, reports, advice and recommendations to members of the joint authorities and the responsible Commonwealth ministers under the OPGGS Act and associated regulations. It facilitates life of title administration, including but not limited to joint authority consideration of changes to permit conditions, and approval and registration of transfers and dealings associated with offshore petroleum titles. It manages the collection, management and release of data. It keeps the registers of petroleum and greenhouse gas storage titles.

The joint authorities are the decision-makers for the granting of the petroleum titles that underpin petroleum exploration and development—exploration permits, retention leases and production licences. NOPTA provides advice and recommendations in relation to these decisions. NOPTA has the authority to grant short-term titles. It utilises its technical and administrative experience to develop guidance and legislation through the Offshore Resources Branch. The states and the Northern Territory maintain a titles administrator role in their respective state and Territory waters. NOPTA'S offices are located in Perth.

If you really want to deal with the issue of tax avoidance in relation to the offshore gas industry, you don't do it, in my view, through what One Nation are proposing in this bill. I think this is another example of One Nation just not getting it, not understanding what the real issues are and looking for any argument they can put up to justify the nonsense that they raise continually in this place, which is mainly to deal with race issues, to attack Australians who are not born in Australia. This is just typical, so they can get out there and argue, 'We're trying to get more tax for the battlers out there in Australia.' That's got nothing to do with it. This is about One Nation trying to put up another smokescreen to try to pretend that they actually make a contribution of some significance in this place. The reality is they make no contribution of any significance in this place other than trying to push this place towards debating issues of race and religion, debating issues that divide the community. That's what One Nation do in this place; that's their modus operandi. That's how they get into this place.

If you look at Senator Hanson's past record, originally it was about attacks on Indigenous Australians, then it moved to Asian Australians, then it moved to Muslims. That's been Senator Hanson's modus operandi in this place. She is divisive and she pulls terrible stunts, like coming in here in a burqa, to try to create more division in this country. It's absolutely shameful. And for her to come in here and try to pretend that One Nation has any interest in or actually any comprehension of the complexities of the petroleum resource rent tax and all the issues that go to that just beggars belief. It is simply to try to justify One Nation—that they actually do something a little bit different from the race baiting that is their bread and butter in this place.

So I've got no sympathy for this bill in the context of what's been put up. Getting the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator to have any contribution to this issue is just a nonsense. This is a taxation issue—a very significant taxation issue. My view is that if the offshore petroleum industry are not paying appropriate tax in this country then they should be paying it. Even this government—a government that is so divided, this government that is an absolute rabble of a government, a government with a weak Prime Minister—has had to address this issue, and it's done that by appointing an individual, former Treasury official Mike Callaghan, to do what the government describes as a comprehensive and holistic review.

Now, we support a comprehensive and holistic review into whether the offshore gas industry is paying their fair share of tax. That's an appropriate thing to do. The Auditor-General's report into one offshore project on the North West Shelf, in an industry that's worth $200 billion, found a $5 billion bonanza in tax deductions taken by companies behind the project. These companies were Woodside, Chevron, BP, Shell and BHP Billiton, which have all reduced their royalty bills. That means less money coming to the Australian government to pay for hospitals, to pay for education, to pay for schools, to get a decent vocational education system and to get more apprentices employed around the country. These are the issues that are required to be dealt with—

Senator Hanson interjecting

And, Senator Hanson, you can mouth off all you like down there; people understand that—

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Cameron, I remind you to direct your comments through the chair.

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Human Services) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes, through the chair. Senator Hanson needs to understand that the public are on to her. They're on to her party. This is just part of the racist, un-Australian position she adopts. She tries to wrap herself in the Australian flag when what she really wants to do is rip the flag apart, rip this country apart, rip our society apart. That's what Senator Hanson's all about. That's what she's been doing for the last few decades in this country—and becoming quite rich through doing that, through manipulating the funding that comes to Senator Pauline Hanson through electoral payments. We all know what it's about. We all know that Senator Hanson is really about division and not about doing something comprehensive or appropriate on the gaining of taxation in this country from these multinational corporations.

So the government has set up this inquiry. We'll have to wait and see what comes out of Mr Callaghan's inquiry. But it's pretty typical of this government that it appoints former staffers of various government offices. Mr Callaghan was a chief of staff to former Liberal Treasurer Peter Costello. That report was supposed to have a look at it and outline new measures that would be dealt with in the budget. I'm not sure where that report is, but I know there is lots of support for a proper analysis of all the issues that go to the PRRT and to make sure that multinational corporations in this country pay their fair share. You see, if these corporations don't pay their fair share, what we end up with is an incapacity to build roads and the infrastructure required for a modern developing country like Australia. We've still got to develop in the regions; we've still got to develop in many areas. We'll need a significant amount of funding to deal with population increase so that it's done in a proper—

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

It being 12.20, the Senate will now proceed to the consideration of government business.