Minerals Resource Rent Tax

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (12:56): That was an inauspicious start for the new Manager of Government Business. He said that this debate is about the mining tax. I am sorry, Senator: this debate is about the procedures for debating these bills and about debating them in such a way that everyone can understand the parameters of the debate. I assume the Greens will be supporting us in this motion, which is about getting to this chamber before we debate these bills the information that this chamber has demanded of the government over the last 18 months. This is a chamber of the Parliament of Australia. We are supposedly, in a democracy, the representatives of the people in this chamber of the parliament who actually control what happens. This chamber has said to the government on a number of occasions over the past 18 months that there are certain documents and there is certain information in relation to the mining resource rent tax that it must give to the Senate so that the Senate can understand all of the parameters of these bills when it debates them.

In a direct negativing of the will of the Senate, the government has refused time and time again to present the information that the Senate has demanded. I say to the Greens party, who will I am sure be debating with us, although none of them has spoken on this contingent motion: I am sure you will support us, because in the past you have supported us and we have supported you when we have asked the government to provide this essential information. Indeed, your leader, Senator Bob Brown, said,

_ the lack of information on the mining tax was "increasingly unsatisfactory.

"The time is coming when the Senate is going to have to flex its muscle.

I am sure the Greens, having agreed with us that it is time that the Senate did seek to enforce the motions that have been passed by a majority of senators that the government should present this information, will join with us in making sure that, as Senator Bob Brown says, the Senate flexes its muscle and gets the government to comply with the legitimate requirements of the majority of senators. So, contrary to what the new Manager of Government Business has saidand I worry if that is the best he can dothis is not a debate about the mining tax bills. We are only too keen to get into those debates, but we do need the information. We want to know what the deal was that Ms Gillard and the three CEOs of the three major mining companies in Australia put together.

The Greens are often saying to us about these multinational mining companies that they are not even Australian. I just pause to say that when it came to the flood tax the Greens joined with the Labor Party in exempting those multinational companies from paying a tax which ordinary Austra_lians have had to pay.

There was a deal done by the CEOs of these three major international mining companies with the Prime Minister, and we do not know what was in that deal. Wouldn't it be relevant for the Parliament of Australia, before it debates these mining tax bills, to know what deal has been done by Ms Gillard and the three CEOs of the major mining companies with, I assume, Senator Brown's imprimatur Perhaps we would have a better debate if we had that information and all of the other information which Senator Cormann has rightly asked the government to produce. The Greens have supported Senator Cormann in doing that, meaning that it is the Senate that has asked the govern_ment to produce this information so that it can properly, adequately, sensibly, honestly and openly deal with this.

Mr Acting Deputy President, you might remember that after the last election this government had a new paradigm of openness and accountability. Where is the openness and accountability when the government refuses to acknowledge the Senate's request for this further information

Back to List