The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

10 March 2012

Doorstop interview

Brisbane

SUBJECTS: MRRT; delivering Australians a fair return from the mining boom; Queensland election campaign

TREASURER:

I just wanted to say a few things because we've got Parliament resuming next week and we've got the Minerals Resource Rent Tax before the Senate. So the Government has spent 18 months of very detailed consultation to ensure that the MRRT gives a fair return to the Australian people and is well designed in terms of its implementation for industry. This legislation passed the House of Representatives last year with the support of the Independents and minor parties in the House.

Now the legislation is before the Senate. It is really important that the minor parties, the Greens and the Independents support the passage of this legislation in the Senate in the next fortnight. Certainty demands that. A significant tax cut for 2.7 million small businesses is on the line. Substantial increases to the superannuation of workers is on the line. These are important measures so that's why we need to see priority for passage of this legislation through the Senate and we need to see the support of the minor parties and the Greens in the Senate. Why is that so important? Because Mr Abbott and the Liberals want to destroy the MRRT.

Mr Abbott and the Liberals want to give a tax cut to Clive Palmer and take away a tax cut to 2.7 million small businesses in this country. Mr Abbott and the Liberals are kneeling down to the vested interests in the Liberal Party like Mr Palmer. So we need to see independent, strong support for this legislation which gives Australians a fair return for the mineral resources they own 100 per cent. It will give a very significant tax cut from 1 July to small businesses and a very significant increase in the superannuation savings of Australian workers over the decades ahead.

Now we've also seen some commentary in the last couple of days from Mr Abbott. Mr Abbott has said that he is going to have some sort of audit commission. This audit commission won't be about finding out the truth. It will be about hiding the truth that the Liberal Party has a $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line. The fact is that Mr Abbott wants to give tax cuts to some of the most powerful and wealthy interests in our country at the same time as giving tax increases to ordinary workers in our economy. Over to you.

JOURNALIST:

Have you received any indication that the mining tax is not going to pass?

TREASURER:

No we want to see strong support from the minor parties, the Greens and the Independents in the Senate. Certainty demands that we get this through as quickly as we can. The fact is that the Government has settled on a design. We've worked that design through with industry over the past 18 months. We've consulted extensively. We've had a very big community discussion about all of these issues and the Liberal Party is still intent on destroying this legislation. We need to see this through the Senate as quickly as possible in the period ahead.

JOURNALIST:

You called this today. So do you have any indication that people are reluctant to pass it?

TREASURER:

Well, there's no doubt that some in the Senate will want to move amendments. Some amendments may well be unacceptable to the Government. The fact is we've settled on the design of this tax. It will deliver a considerable increase in resources to fund tax cuts for small business and to fund increases in superannuation savings of Australian workers. The fact is we've got to get this through. It's passed the House of Representatives and certainty demands that it passes the Senate as quickly as possible.

JOURNALIST:

You mentioned Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart and Twiggy Forrest but isn't it really Rio Tinto and BHP and Xstrata that are getting most of the mining and paying most of the tax?

TREASURER:

Well, the fact is that they are not campaigning against the tax. It's Mr Palmer and others who are campaigning against this tax. The fact is that the industry has responsibly agreed to a design which delivers a significant increase in revenues which provides the capacity to cut tax for small business and increase superannuation savings of Australian workers. But it is Mr Palmer who has continued a public campaign against this tax and of course everybody knows his close links to Mr Abbott and the Liberal Party. So Mr Palmer and his interests in the Liberal Party are intent on destroying this tax which is supported by responsible elements of the mining industry. The priority of the Liberal Party is to give a tax cut to Clive Palmer and a tax increase effectively to 2.7 million small businesses. What ever happened to the party of small business and Robert Menzies?

JOURNALIST:

What will you do if it gets blocked in the Senate?

TREASURER:

What we're going to do is to continue to put forward our case for a very swift passage of this legislation through the Senate. It's important we get the certainty. It starts on 1 July. We need to see this passed through the Senate and be put in place to deliver a revenue stream which supports tax cuts to small businesses and superannuation increases for working Australian families.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible) Campbell Newman is up against it in Ashgrove and may not win that seat.

TREASURER:

Well, I think we're now getting a farcical situation in the Liberal Party. It now appears that if possible that Mr Newman could lose the seat of Ashgrove. I don't think that the Liberals can go for one day longer without indicating who would be their leader if Mr Newman lost and of course I've been an observer of Queensland politics for a long period of time and I know that there are plenty of very bitter entrenched interests within the Liberal Party who will be fighting over that to the bitter end.

JOURNALIST:

Isn't it a bit rich for someone from Federal Labor to talk about leadership issues?

TREASURER:

We put these issues behind us. What we're dealing with here is an election in which the so-called leader of the LNP may not win his seat. They cannot let it go one day longer to say who would lead that party if they were elected to government.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible) a lot more people in the Liberal National Party to choose, wouldn't there?

TREASURER:

Well, I'll leave that up to the Liberal and National Party but I watched Mr Nicholls and Mr Seeney and all of the others running around and bumping in to each other and falling over each other. It's actually getting into a farcical stage.

JOURNALIST:

You spoke about the significance of the mining tax. I know it's down the road, but could this be the sort of thing (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

It's far too early to be talking in those terms. This is a really important piece of legislation. It's in our national interest. What we need to do is to maximise the opportunities that flow from the resources boom and the Asian Century. We need to turn this into the Australian century in Asia and the way we do that is we take some of the super-profits of very profitable mining companies and spread them around the country via a tax cut to 2.7 million small businesses and a boost to the superannuation savings of millions of Australian workers. What could be more eminently sensible than that?

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible) idea to sell to ordinary Australians.

TREASURER:

I think Australians do very much support the MRRT and the Parliament supported it. The opposition came from the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives. This legislation was supported by the Greens and the Independents in the House of Representatives last year. What I'm calling on the Independents, the Greens and the minor party representatives in the Senate to do is to give this priority and get it through. Certainty demands it but of course common sense demands it as well.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible). How can you be so sure there's not a single change that could be made?

TREASURER:

Well, this has been through a very comprehensive period of consultation. All new tax legislation goes through a lengthy period of consultation. This one has been through a longer period of consultation than many. It has been thoroughly worked through. We had the Argus Committee, we had the consultation following that with the business community and the wider community over 18 months. It's passed the House of Representatives. Now we've got to get it through the Senate.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well, that's a question that should be directed to the Defence Minister.

JOURNALIST:

Campbell Newman this morning, described you as out of your depth and (inaudible). How do you respond to that?

TREASURER:

Well, I just think it shows how desperate Campbell Newman has become and how out of touch he is with what is going on in the economy and indeed in the state. I mean, it was only a couple of weeks ago he indicated that Bowen was north of Cairns. I mean, this guy is really out of his depth and out of his zone. The fact is he comes from Tasmania and he still doesn't know where Bowen is in Queensland. I mean, really that's why he's desperate.

JOURNALIST:

You've admitted though that you made an error in the way the mining tax was originally handled. Are you still learning on the job?

TREASURER:

What I said was that we would sit down with the industry and negotiate our way through. That proved very difficult to do, particularly when the industry indicated in the early stages they were not wanting to be part of a negotiation. When we got that negotiation going, we got it done. That's what I've said in the past and that's what I'm saying to you today. Thanks.