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Speeches

Bill - Mineral Resource Rent Tax and Other Measures Bill 2013, second reading

I am pleased to speak on the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2013 [No. 2], which is of acute importance to my electorate of Durack, which incorporates the Pilbara, mid-west and Kimberley regions, the town of Port Hedland and the remainder of the great mining province of the north-west. Mining, primarily of iron ore, is critical to the economy and to the wellbeing of the people of Durack and of the Australian nation. We are all well informed of the impact of additional regulatory burdens introduced by Labor on the sustainability of the mining industry, as we have seen companies choosing to reduce their investment or move offshore as a consequence of an uncertain and irresponsible policy regime introduced by Labor. These companies have chosen to pursue their activities in an environment where they have determined there is less risk and greater support for their endeavours. We must reverse this impression and restore confidence to ensure growth, development and sustainability of Australia's great mining and resources industries.

Those opposite say we should all share in the spoils of mining. That is a matter of opinion but, if that is what Labor intended, they have failed miserably to achieve that objective, as history has shown. This is typical of Labor—create an ill-conceived tax that raises little revenue but commit to spend money that it hopes, wishes and prays will somehow be available to fund their commitments. Is it any wonder that Australians are now lumbered with a $1 billion monthly interest burden, which mostly flows overseas, and we are now using a credit card to pay the interest on the credit card? So this government is left to fix the economy and return confidence to the Australian people. Repeal of the MRRT and associated expenditure will improve the budget bottom line over the forward estimates.

The sovereign risk associated with the misguided MRRT is clear to even the doubters. As we have witnessed, it deterred investment and forced even Australian companies offshore to invest in places like Africa. How ridiculous! It is quite something when mining companies start to think it is easier to do business in Africa. How embarrassing! The repeal of the mining tax will have a pivotal impact on the perception of international investors, leading towards restored confidence. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

Let us look at this very sad and sorry history. The original tax, promoted by Labor as the resources superprofits tax, was calculated by Labor to raise more than $40 billion over five years. It has been more like the superdud tax. In 2010, with the introduction of the MRRT, this was calculated down to $26.5 billion and then again to $16 billion. As we all know, a net of just $340 million has been raised by fewer than 20 taxpayers, whilst another 145 miners have been required to produce their MRRT instalment notices.

Having worked in the iron ore sector in Western Australia, I know firsthand that the regulatory burden of the mining tax cannot be overstated. Even though there are only a few companies that, as it turns out, had to pay the mining tax, there are numerous other mining companies who employed staff to comply just with the MRRT legislation. Because of the complexity of this legislation, mining companies around Australia were employing expensive accountancy and legal firms to provide them with an understanding of just what this mining tax meant to them. As we now know, in the end the time and cost taken to understand and comply with this ill-founded legislation was all for nothing, given it raised so little revenue for the Australian people, and it could have been spent on more productive aspects of a mining business.

Getting rid of this ill-thought-out tax will see mining companies around Australia breathe a sigh of relief, confidence restored and foreign investors having faith that Australia is back in the hands of the adults. The repeal will have a significant impact on administration and compliance costs—indeed, millions will be saved by small, medium and large entities. Clearly, the matter was not given due attention by Labor. It was not thought-out, verified or evaluated. This is an appalling approach to doing business. We must repeal this tax and its associated encumbrances and costs.

I am very passionate about this issue. I was born in Kalgoorlie and experienced the booms and busts of the gold and nickel industries. It is not always easy to make a quid out of mining. For Labor to make it harder for mining companies and, by extension, the good people who live in these mining towns is plain irresponsible. Today I stand here not as the girl from Kalgoorlie but as the representative of Durack, which of course is the economic and mining powerhouse of Australia. Let us put it in perspective: Western Australia contributed, in 2012-13, 58 per cent of all mining outputs and 97.5 per cent of the total iron ore produced. One other statistic just to finish off is that in Port Hedland we see that it is anticipated that some 350 million tonnes of iron ore will pass through that port in a financial year, and some 400 million tonnes is well within its sights. Western Australia is significant, and it can only get better once we get rid of this tax.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Broadbent): I thank the member for Durack. I have not heard the line 'it's hard to make a quid' for a long time.



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