Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — General) Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Customs) Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Excise) Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax Assessment Amendment Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — General) Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Customs) Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Excise) Bill 2011, Tax Laws Amendment (Stronger, Fairer, Simpler and Other Measures) Bill 2011, Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Amendment Bill 2011; Second Reading
I am glad you confirm that, Minister, because I am just wondering where regional Australia is. The last round seemed to have forgotten anything west of the sandstone curtain. I understand that the good people in the art gallery in Newcastle see themselves as regional Australia, but we are not seeing very much west of the range. We are not seeing anything out where this wealth is being produced. We have seen what the policies of this government are doing to regional Australia. Go to the town of Kandos. Last year, they had a cement plant. This year they have got nothing. It was closed down because of the carbon tax. That is the policy of this government. In Cobar, the cement that they use in the copper mine now comes from Asia instead of Kandos. That is what this government is doing. This government is bringing in this tax to fill in its bottom line. It is paying for the wastefulness and the squandering of money that we have seen over the last four years.
The missed opportunity is the need to see real infrastructure and real spending in regional Australia. We need to see real growth that will set regional Australia up beyond the mining boom, that will bring value adding to agricultural produce and that will use some of the energy sources being mined in regional Australia closer to home rather than placing them on ships and sending them overseas. This tax will not do that. This tax will take once again from regional Australia where the wealth is produced and distribute it elsewhere. As with the carbon tax, this government is about wealth redistribution: taking it from those that are productive and placing it elsewhere. Regional Australia will not wear this.
We are seeing a deal that was done by the member for New England to get this tax through. It is with great frustration that the member for New England would pass a tax that is as poorly constituted as this one to get a local outcome. While I have sympathy with the intentions of the member for New England, I believe that he has been dudded. I believe he has been sold short. I believe that if anyone else from this side of the chamber went back to the people of the north-west with the deal that the member for New England had done they would be severely ridiculed. The member for New England has basically got another committee and no teeth.
The real issue with strengthening up the legislation we have is with the state governments. The government in New South Wales is working through the process, as is the government in Queensland, I believe, to get this under control. What we have now is a committee and potentially another level of bureaucracy. In the past the farming community have not been served well by environmentalists, and I have great concern that the added focus that this will put on the extraction industries will have long-term detrimental effects on the farmers in my electorate.
The government says that the Prime Minister is a great negotiator. Being in government, and being the Prime Minister, is about leadership. It is about showing direction. It is not about doing grubby deals. As we speak, negotiations are going on with the Greens. What this country is lacking at the moment is a sense of direction. What this country is lacking is confidence. Every time one of these harebrained, half-baked pieces of legislation comes through this place, the country loses confidence.
What makes Australia grow is when individuals have confidence and belief that they are being led well enough that they can invest and grow their own businesses, undertake employment, undertake education and improve themselves and this country. From speaking to people in my electorate, I know that at the moment they are feeling that they are rudderless. They feel that they are not being led, that the country is being run by side deals and dodgy negotiations—not true leadership. If you want to see an example of an ill-conceived piece of legislation, this is it.
The people that I represent believe that the mining companies should contribute more to the communities where this is coming from. But the government has been duped by the three big miners and an opportunity has gone begging.
Unfortunately, this great House is no longer a place of debate where ideas are exchanged and where legislation is formulated. This place has become a rubber stamp for grubby backroom deals.