I caught Christine Milne (Greens Tasmania) on ABC news radio
yesterday on Thursday during the opening speeches about the minerals taxation bill.
The sheer “did she just say that” stupidity was breathtaking… That she hasnt been pilloried in the press for it speaks volumes about the poor state of political reporting in Australia today.
So Im going to fisk it a little, its a loooong speech, so it will take quite a while, her speech will be plain text, my observations will be bold.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Crossin):
Order! The Senate is considering the minerals resource rent tax legislation as a package.
(Tasmania—Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (19:30):
I rise tonight to discuss what sort of future we aspire to have in this country, because, whilst the specific is the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011 and associated legislation, the context in which we are debating this tax is what sort of vision do we have for Australia in the next 20, 30 or 50 years. How you raise the money and where you spend it will determine that kind of country, because the future is actually an extension of the present and it is shaped by the decisions and actions we make.
Here Christine is using her amazing intellect to tell us time is linear, and actions have consequences… probably the highest point of her speech
More, oh so much more.. under the fold
When I go around Australia and talk to people, they say they want Australia to be a clever country. They want Australia to be a country in which people are well educated and have equality of opportunity, where everybody can aspire to good health care—including good dental health—where there is a sense of social cohesion, because we are an equitable and egalitarian nation and we are happy people. That is the kind of nation that people talk about aspiring to.
“A clever country”, so are you saying we are dumb now? What is worth more in her world, a Uni educated mining engineer or a Surfing Studies – Plymouth / Melbourne or a Doctorate of Philosophy in Ufology – Melbourne University ?
If you want better dental health how about tackling the artificial scarcity of dentists in Australia? Allowing the doctors/dentists to effectively block people entering the profession hasnt helped much.
We are talking about that vision for Australia in the context of the major crises facing the nation now: the global climate crisis, the global energy crisis—including peak oil—a food security crisis and a water crisis. All of those things are coming together and every nation, including Australia, has to face up to them.
Heres the short version of the Senators speech in this area…
The challenge here is how to deliver this clever, equitable, well educated, healthy, socially cohesive country in the face of those challenges. The clear answer has to be that we cannot continue on the path we are on. One option for Australia is to continue the current economic strategy of digging up, cutting down and shipping away, of failing to invest in education and innovation.
Oh dear me, and how are you planning to pay for the investment you claim to want? Oh wait heres the greens plan.
It is, as Ian Lowe once said, the ‘steady as she sinks approach’. In the steady as she sinks approach, you have a situation where people start to grasp for the returns that they can get while they can get them without thinking about what that means for the nation in the longer term. In that scenario we will continue to sell our resources, sell our industry and even sell the land itself, and with the land its water resources.
So the greens are modern Mauththisans, on the one hand they believe that education and innovation will solve global problems, but on the other hand they believe we lack the capacity to adapt.
We cannot have that. We do not want to become a bleak backwater of big holes in the ground, married to a strategy of driving increased greenhouse gas emissions through massive increases in coal mining with declining commodities prices over time,a loss of cohesion in community and a willingness to see a declining number of tourists come here as our natural resources decline in the face of the crises that I am discussing. We need to make sure we maximise the benefits of the mineral exports boom that we are experiencing and invest those profits in making Australia the clever, equitable country that we want it to be as we move into this century.
Forgive me for butting in again, but how are the tourists to get here in a greens approved way? Walk? Less than 1% of Australia is considered “Built environment” a classification that includes mining… If I wanted to rephrase your words “…We do not want to become a bleak backwater of less than 1% big holes in the ground”…
In order to do that we need to maximise the amount we raise from our resources and not just give it back willy-nilly in tax cuts, as the Howard government did in the midst of the last boom. In 2006 I stood here in this Senate saying that it was disgraceful to be giving back in tax cuts all over the place the benefits of the boom in what was described as ‘manna from heaven’, ‘rivers of gold’ flowing out into the community via tax cuts, but at the same time failing to invest in education, training, innovation and research. During those years we lost some our best young people overseas and risked losing our intellectual property in the longer term. It was a bad way to go and we do not want it to happen again.
Heres the point you socialist bitch, the money you spend is taken from the workers/producers in this country, its not ”yours” to piss up any way you see fit. You arent doing us a favour by allowing us peasants to keep some of our produce, like some mediaeval robber baron gone soft.
As for your claim of mining being detrimental to Australias patents/tech industries, it may surprise you to know we no longer work by candle-light, and Australia has produced a huge array of innovative solutions to mining and engineering problems in the field.
At the moment we are facing unprecedented growth in China with its re-engagement with the global economy and that has led to huge commodity prices, but, as I indicated in the Senate today, that is not likely to continue. We need to recognise that China is an incredibly clever country in that they are investing in the low-carbon economy and those new technologies. They are going to cap coal in 2015 and that sends a very strong signal about where we will be wasting money if, for example, we go massively into spending public money in supporting infrastructure development in an industry which has such a limited life in the face of global warming and peak oil.
Funny, China is set to cap coal consumption at 4.1 BILLION tonnes, Australia produced, not exported a grand total of 471 Mt in its peak year to date (09-10). The projected increase in consumption of coal before the cap takes place is larger than the TOTAL production of Australian coal..
We have a windfall gain now and that has led to huge increases in mining profits, but there has not been an exceptional increase in production and productivity has actually fallen. Most of the mining profits that are generated are going to shareholders overseas as the mining companies are predominantly around 80 per cent foreign owned. The benefits of the mining boom have been the subject of rather exaggerated claims about the economic benefits, but if you consider the nation as a whole a lot of people are hurting around Australia because of the impacts on our economy of the mining boom.
Ok got to break in here, can Ms Milne explain to poor simple me, why mining as a sector of the economy is worse than… say the overseas education/University sector? Why is the fees paid by an Indian student to study in Australia worse than a similar amount of money earned from mining?
Mining itself only employs about two per cent of the workforce, far less than agriculture and a quarter of manufacturing. The mining boom has led to an appreciation of the Australian dollar, higher interest rates, and shortages of labour in certain regions and particularly in certain skills.
Its also kept us insulated from a UK/US style economic meltdown. There is a serious disconnect in Ms Milnes head, when she surveys the wreckage of most developed countries economies, then looks at ours, and denounces it.
We know that a number of skilled workers have left the manufacturing sector to try to maximise their incomes in mining towns.
Yes, much better for this “friend of the worker” if they make less money at the widget factory…
These impacts are leading to lower profits and lower returns to shareholders and fewer jobs in other industries, such as manufacturing and tourism. The mining boom is also having adverse implications for greenhouse gas emissions, both during the mining in Australia and when the exported coal is burnt overseas.
Whereas her tourists arrive on hemp rafts propelled by dolphin farts? And if she believes in peak oil she should know the tourism industry must be doomed.
It is extraordinary that the expansion that is to be generated in the Galilee Basin in Queensland, for example, is going to wipe out the emissions reductions from our clean energy package by a factor of at least two or three.
I confess to having hoped this exposure to facts might, just might, trigger a realisation that the whole “clean energy package” is about as effective as a chocolate condom at satans own orgy.. Re-read that bit, ”..is going to wipe out the emissions reductions from our clean energy package by a factor of at least two or three..” At a huge cost to the economy we are going to produce a backwards step in her own stated goals.. Madness
This is an absolutely shocking trend in terms of where we are with the global environment, with the
State of the climate report 2012 from the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology coming out yesterday pointing out that, with greenhouse gas emissions rising, it has to stop. Yet we are driving those global emissions with those coal exports.
Furthermore, we are seeing appalling dredging operations to expand the ports in the Great Barrier Reef. That increased shipping is damaging the Great Barrier Reef and the marine environment, and the implications are not just for tourism and fisheries but for the intrinsic value of the reef itself. The Australian Great Barrier Reef is of world heritage significance, it is of outstanding universal significance to humankind, yet we are prepared to dump the spoil from dredging in Gladstone Harbour and into that reef and destroy those areas forever.
Dont be so fucking infantile, the spoil comes from the ocean bed anyway, and it isnt being dumped willy nilly, its dumped in low value areas, within the marine park, but not in the World Heritage areas, It is difficult to find any major part of the Queensland coast not in the Park area.
That is what I mean about saying we are not a clever country if we are prepared to damage biodiversity, damage the reef and damage our global status in terms of world heritage simply to rush the facilitation of a huge expansion of coal mining. I see today that the companies are calling for an acceleration of the infrastructure build in Queensland to get that coal out of the country faster, get those ships turned around faster and drive greenhouse gases faster. That is the current scenario.
Its called economic growth, investment, and jobs creation, and Ill note a little further on you have no problems spending the monies generated by this industry you hate.
We are also seeing coal and coal seam gas putting at risk quality food-producing land and water supplies. We are witnessing what is going on with farms, farm income and the appalling depression in a lot of farming communities as they see land which they have nurtured and cared for over generations, and water supplies, being compromised by this absolutely mad rush for expanded coal and coal seam gas. It is also damaging community cohesion. As I mentioned before, there have been lots of local government people in the media talking about the lack of cohesion in some of the communities in which the mining boom is occurring as we see the increasing use of fly in, fly out workers and a lack of support for community services in the towns themselves.
Fly in/fly out is because government started treating the setting up of mining towns as a fringe benefit.. It almost overnight saw no new or expansion of existing mining towns, it was taxed out of existence. Just a reminder that taxes have NEGATIVE effects, even if you are to stupid or morally bankrupt to acknowledge this.
Australians have led the world in thinking about the impacts of resources booms and have looked at the optimal taxation treatment of them. We should be setting an example to the world in the implementation of an efficient tax to ensure that people get a fair share of the returns from their natural resources.
Bloody hell, another Tasmanian rent seeker trying to justify the raking off of WA/Queensland monies to her backwards state. In the constitution I think she will find minerals are the property of the STATE government they lie in, not the federal tax eating machine.
That is why the Greens have said that we should have a sovereign wealth fund. As I said, if your aim is to use the boom to actually make the transition to the low-carbon economy, to make this investment in education, to make the investment in national disability insurance and to actually change society to get it to where you want to be, then you need to maximise your returns in the national interest and invest them wisely. That is why in the original Henry review there was a proposal for the resources superprofits tax and that is why the Greens supported it. We wanted to see Australia have the capacity to make the transition that we need to have. But, under duress from a ferocious and misleading advertising campaign by the large mining companies, the government replaced the superprofits tax with this minerals resource rent tax, which is a severely compromised version of what we should be achieving and will raise around $100 billion less over the next decade than the superprofits tax would have done.
Because pulling 100 billion out of the industry sector which has largely shielded us from the ongoing GFC couldnt have any negative effects eh? How about Tasmania use some of its mineral resources to pay for some state based systems? And why the appeal to “a low carbon economy” you can’t want to dampen and industry, and simultaneously reap more taxation from it.
The Greens are totally opposed to forgoing, largely into the pockets of the overseas shareholder base, that $100 billion which could be invested in education, health, disability, dental care and so on. Over $80 billion of the lost revenue will go to those overseas investors, (Ie: the people who funded the projects) and much of the other $20 billion will go to the wealthier members of the Australian community (again, people who funded/made these projects). This is money that could fund initiatives in all the areas I mentioned, including public transport and the very fast train. Can you imagine what a different society Australia would be, what level of excitement there would be in the community, if we actually saw a real return from the resources boom being invested in a very fast train, in dental care, in a modern public transport system—if we actually saw our cities become competitive and productive again instead of being congested and losing a lot of their liveability because we have failed to invest in decent public transport?
A conservative estimate for high speed rail linking most of the East coast is 100 billion dollars, pray tell where the rest of your wish lists money comes from? Dont get me wrong I like trains, and would rather take the Prospector than fly, but its not economically viable without ongoing economic subsidy.
Whilst the mining industry are running a scare campaign about the impact on them of paying more tax, their actual and planned investment and spending on exploration continues to reach new record highs.
Are you lying or ignorant? Australias spending on exploration went backwards as a % globally, with Africa firming up as a serious player.
PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Australian mineral exploration expenditure fell by 9,7% from a record A$2,4-billion in 2007/8 to A$2,2-billion in 2008/9 according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics
The Greens want to see some improvements in this bill. We want to restore the mining tax to close to the level recommended by the Henry review. We want to make sure that the mining companies pay their fair share of tax for the resources that are owned by all of us. This is in the national interest. These resources belong to the people of Australia. They do not belong to a few wealthy people, a few companies and a whole lot of other overseas shareholders. They are our resources; they are non-renewable, and therefore they need to be used in the national interest. At an absolute minimum, the goldminers, who are garnering windfall profits from an unanticipated near-record price for gold, should be brought under this tax along with coal and iron ore miners. This change alone would add almost $2 billion over a decade and, better still, it would be able to restore the coverage to most minerals, including copper, nickel, rare earths and uranium.
Theres the bottom line for the greens, money. Every principle they hold dear (opposing uranium mining) is up for grabs as long as they secure the money they want. They consider the “owners” of the minerals, yet I never saw a green operating a dump truck, a jumbo or an airleg in my time mining. Nor did I hear of the greens funded exploration company, or junior mining startup company. Ive seen a startup up close. The blokes involved (2 geos) cobbled together a joint venture, and bet everything they owned on a single mine, if it failed they lost their houses, the lot. As it stood they made a fortune, THESE ARE GOOD PEOPLE, they created jobs for (by the time I left) just over 1000 people, and are looking to find and develop more ground.. not the greens caricature of robber barons raping the earth.
The rate of the tax should be restored to the 40 per cent proposed in the Henry tax review, rather than the 22½ per cent in this minerals resource rent tax. That would double the revenue raised. The OECD commented that the proposed tax is set at a relatively low level and therefore the taxation of profits of mining companies is likely to remain much lower than before the mining boom. That is worth considering in the context of what we are doing here.
That last couple of lines makes no sense at all.. none. She is claiming a new tax will raise less money than no tax? Im going to be kind and put that down to brain damage rather than stupidity on her behalf.
The federal government also cannot continue to provide a blank cheque whereby state governments raise royalties and then the federal government refunds the companies. That is the most ridiculous part of what has occurred with this tax. Giving the states the capacity to keep raising their royalties—and expecting the Commonwealth to refund that—while not being able to fund in the national interest the Gonski review findings of putting $5 billion into education and our National Disability Insurance Scheme and Denticare because we are giving it back to the states are all flawed parts of this. The other changes incorporated in the tax, such as the higher uplift rate and other generous provisions, also need to be reviewed.
Again, fuck you Tasmanian, the minerals are property of the state government, if you want some mineral wealth, open some mines in your old peoples home you call a state.
In relation to the company tax rate the Greens have made it very clear that we do not support tax cuts for big business. We have made that extremely clear. That would be one way the Greens would fund these initiatives in the public interest to get the clever country to fund innovation in the way that is necessary and to fund education and training. We are the only party in here saying, ‘We are prepared to impose that higher level of taxation during the boom so that we can fund education, disabilities and Denticare’—unlike the coalition’s aspirations. They would rather not give that money to the Australian people. They would rather give it back to the mining companies concerned.
Ok, Ill keep it simple for Christine, as complex thought is difficult for her.
Big companies pay tax. The government then spends that tax.
The more profitable a company is, the more tax the government gets. There is however another effect. If they choose to expand their company (creating more taxpayers, reducing welfare bills etc) the government forgoes some of that tax.
Heres the funny bit… Thats a GOOD thing..
The Greens recognise that, if you are going to fund the $5 billion additional funding for Gonski—and everywhere I go people want money spent on schools—$3 billion going into public education would make a massive investment in the future. It would also make a massive investment in equity in Australia—equitable access to education—and that is essential. The high-speed rail link from Melbourne to Sydney to Brisbane would connect 18 million people. As I indicated, the National Disability Insurance Scheme needs to be funded—as does the sovereign wealth fund that we have suggested—so that we can start making long-term plans to deal with our future.
Just imagine how many school halls we could build at massively inflated prices to union based companies with 3 billion? High speed rail? By all means buy up transport corridors, but its unlikely to be economically viable for a few decades yet. Disability scheme? Nice idea, but the boom will end one day, dont base your funding on a non-permenant revenue stream.
In terms of superannuation and how the government intends to spend this money, the Greens have indicated on several occasions that the miners are now saying that they want some of this money back for infrastructure projects. They complain about paying the tax but they have their hand out for everything from accelerated depreciation to massive investments in their infrastructure—and that is unacceptable. Infrastructure should be in the public interest, not to subsidise the profits of mining companies when they are not even prepared to pay the tax as is recommended.
They pay a lot of tax already. And here is where the greens “cut off my nose to spite my face” ideology comes into play. They simultaneously lust after the money, but cant bring themselves to fund expansion which would see more taxation revenues flowing in.
Its revealing just how contradictory their thinking is. Either allow the industry to go gangbusters, and increase tax collected, or restrict its growth, AND restrict you tax collection in future years.
Yes, the mining tax will allow an expansion of the superannuation scheme by covering the additional costs to revenue that result from the tax concessions offered to super contributions and earnings. The Greens are supportive of the superannuation increase but we want to take this opportunity to address the inequities in those tax concessions. Those concessions should not be giving the same benefits to high-income earners as they do to low-income earners. The Greens propose replacing the flat 15 per cent tax on superannuation contributions with a tax at the employee’s marginal rate, less a fixed amount ofaround 15 percentage points. The best technical approach for doing this should be recommended by the superannuation roundtable.
Again, they will restrict future tax receipts (and increase pension costs) out of the politics of envy, and short term greed for tax to spend. They call for a sovereign wealth fund, while ignoring the fact this is effectively what superannuation does already. Economic idiots.
We are also interested in the recommendations that came out of the tax summit last year and the working group that is now looking at other ways to support small business. If the parliament would take up the Greens’ view that we give the tax cuts to small business but not to big business then we would have $4.3 billion to further facilitate these outcomes including supporting the backbone of the economy, which of course is small business.
You hate small business, stop posturing. At what stage does a saintly small business morph into a hated big business?
I return to where I began. ( Dog returns to vomit, fools hand wobbles back towards the fire..)We will support this tax, recognising that it could and should have been a much better outcome for Australia. The disappointment I have with it is that there is no vision surrounding it. There is no articulated vision for what sort of country we want Australia to be in 2050. How are we setting in place, now, the kind of investment that will lead to that future? If we are to increase productivity in Australia, we will not do it through use of more oil, more resources, more land and more water. We will do it by investing in education, innovation, science, research, maintaining our own intellectual property and selling services around the world. That is the way we will do it. We will do it by getting to the low-carbon economy with all the enormous innovation and opportunity we see, and we will do it by investing in public transport, the very fast train and Denticare. Through all of those investments we will have a happier, more equitable, better educated, healthier country which has a vision of itself as a clever country, a wise country, connected in our region and connected globally by the strength of our intelligence, and all that comes from that, with the kind of intellectual input that I am suggesting. We will not get there through digging more holes, cutting down more trees or giving out the money to everybody to buy votes in the short term and ending up without the clever—(Time expired)(Thank god)
So there it is, the future consists of not allowing any extractive industries, but simultaneously spending increasing amounts of tax revenue from it.