Wednesday, 2 August 2023
Questions without Notice
Oil and Gas Exploration
My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Gallagher. Minister, as you know, the Greens have written to the Treasurer informing him that we will not pass the government's budget measure relating to the petroleum resource rent tax unless the government agrees to support our proposal to double the revenue collected from gas corporations. The choice for the government is now abundantly clear: you can either work with the Greens and the crossbench to double the revenue or get half that amount and weaken environmental protections on gas projects in a dirty deal with the opposition and the gas corporations. Minister, which is it going to be?
The government will be seeking to implement its budget decision, which has been outlined in our budget papers. We would be making some sensible changes to the PRRT. Those changes will see the offshore LNG industry pay more tax and pay it sooner. It will contribute, I think, $2.4 billion across the forward estimates to assist with budget repair but also to ensure that we have the resources available to continue to invest in the services that the people of Australia deserve and expect. It was the result of some methodical work that was undertaken by the Treasury about options to improve the operation of the PRRT. The option that was decided on by the government gives the biggest return to Australians sooner. We did that within the context of ensuring that we can supply gas to our population and that we can honour our international obligations. It was a sensible change. If the Greens have decided to oppose that budget decision, then of course we look forward to the decision of the coalition and hope that this doesn't turn into another one of these decisions where we don't get the support of the coalition for a sensible change. It has been backed by the industry. We have been cautiously careful with our considerations on this. We believe that the Australian budget should receive more revenue from this measure. We are hopeful that, if we can't win the support of the crossbench or the Greens, we will win the support of other members of this chamber.
Minister, isn't it true that actually this proposal was designed by the gas cartel in this country? Isn't it also true that 15 gas corporations and peak fossil fuel bodies signed nondisclosure agreements with Treasury to enable them to design the government's proposed PRRT changes? Minister, how many environment, climate and community groups were invited into the design process?
The answer to Senator McKim's question is no. The policy was designed by the Treasury and agreed to by the government. In terms of the consultations that happened, it is not unusual that the government would engage with industry stakeholders around a revenue measure that impacts on their industry. That is business as usual for government in that sense. Nondisclosure agreements as part of that consultation are standard operation as well. It is right that the cabinet, the ERC, when making decisions, has a full understanding of the industry impacts of any proposed change. The normal processes were undertaken in relation to this measure.
Minister, why has the government carved Woodside's North West Shelf project out of this tax? Has it got anything to do with the massive political donations which are poured every year out of Woodside's obscene profits into the coffers of the Labor Party?
This is a common theme from the Greens. The answer to that is no. If they are going to make assertions like that, or insinuations like that, then they should stump up any evidence they have to support such a claim. They are continuing to do this in estimates, in almost every forum they choose—to besmirch the decision-making process and the processes that are legally underway through our political organisations, including the Greens political party. We operate under the same laws that the Greens political party do when they raise donations for themselves. If you've got something to say, if you've got something to prove, then bring it forward, but I think it's very lazy to just stand up and point the finger without anything to back that up.