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Christine Milne: Abbott and Palmer's mining tax deal deserves scrutiny

Speeches in Parliament
Christine Milne 3 Sep 2014

The Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, addresses the Senate as the Abbott Government reveals their deal to join forces with coal-mining billionaire, Clive Palmer, to repeal the Mining Tax.

Senator MILNE (Tasmania-Leader of the Australian Greens): I support Senator Conroy's motion to refer the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill to a committee. It is absolutely imperative that there is an opportunity to scrutinise what this deal actually does. I can tell you this: what it does is cast a real blow to every working Australian's superannuation, because it is saying: 'Big miners, get out there and pop your champagne corks. Clive Palmer has just delivered for himself and for you-for Rio Tinto, for BHP, for all of them-a mega windfall gain.' If ever there was a conflict of interest, it is this one.

How is it possible that you can have a coal billionaire voting down a mining tax? His friends in the mining industry get off scot-free, and who pays? They have frozen the superannuation entitlements of ordinary working Australians for seven years so that over there in the corporate boardrooms of the mining industry they can drink their champagne. I bet they sit here and think what a great effort it was all those years ago, when they negotiated the mining tax, that they ran an advertising campaign and got it watered down. Then today Clive Palmer delivers for them. This is the Mr Palmer who is trying to open up a mega coalmine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland-the Waratah coalmine-driving climate change. But do we care? No, apparently the Palmer United Party is very happy to abandon carbon pricing-another windfall gain.

This is exactly what the Australian people were concerned about-the prospect of a mining billionaire coming in here and changing the law to facilitate a benefit to the big miners at the expense of ordinary working Australians. That is an absolute disgrace. As for trying to pitch this as some kind of win, all they are doing is delaying the abolition of the benefits that are here, whether in terms of the schoolkids bonus or anything else. It is just delaying abolition. The Greens are saying that we should be raising money from the big miners in order to put it into health and education and benefits.

I want to go to the area of superannuation again, because it is critical. Why is it fair that those in the public service, those in politics, including those in the Palmer United Party, sit here and get 15 per cent superannuation going into retirement but that working people are still stuck on nine per cent superannuation? We are saying that for seven years you can be frozen at that level; for seven years you can put up with that so that BHP can pop the champagne corks and so that Gina Rinehart can say, 'Now I've got more profits, I can push the abolition of the minimum wage and do you in even further.' That is where this is going.

This country has become a plutocracy. Democracy has gone out the window. This is a plutocracy-a government for the wealthy by the wealthy. We now have a deal in here with a coalmining billionaire abolishing tax on coal profits to benefit the big end of town, for whom the Abbott government governs at the expense of ordinary people. That is an absolute disgrace. Then to have it dumped in here as a deal and expect us to deal with it in this short time is completely wrong. We need the opportunity to scrutinise this. That is why it should be going to the committee, as has been proposed, and as we are now debating.

Whilst there will be big smiles in the Liberal Party rooms and big smiles around the mining tables-big smiles for the Palmer United Party because the leader of the party has just locked in mega profits for himself so that he will never have to pay the mining tax-let's make it very clear that this is a conflict of interest. If anyone in a boardroom were in the same position they would be forced to leave the meeting. We have got to a ridiculous stage in this parliament, in this country, where you can come in here and vote for your own financial self-interest in such a mega way. It is wrong. That is why so many Australians are becoming disillusioned with the parliamentary process, because they look at this parliament and say that it is not these parliamentarians making the decisions; it is big money at the big end of town.


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