Subjects: Passing of the MRRT; Tony Abbott’s Noalition; the Budget and savings
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Last night the Parliament passed the Minerals Resource Rent Tax legislation. This was a good day for the national interest. The Government says yes to ensuring that Australians get a better share from the resources that they own, that are finite, that can only be used once.
The crossbenches said yes. The Australian public says yes. The big miners themselves said yes.
But Tony Abbott, so addicted he is as the Leader of the Noalition, to saying no, no, no, no, called 32 separate divisions, in which they lost every single one, because they are simply addicted to saying no.
They said no last night to increases to superannuation. They said no last night to better infrastructure in regional Australia. They said no to reducing company taxation across the board.
This is a Coalition that is led by someone who is so addicted to saying no, he’s now saying no to people in his own Party Room. Yesterday morning there was a revolt over the issue of superannuation and the lack of consultation with his own Party Room, in which he slapped down Kelly O’Dwyer and other members of his own party, and did so in a way that showed the nasty side of Tony Abbott for all to see.
He also slapped down a number of MPs who are concerned about the influence of the Nationals in the Noalition. The Nationals who don’t get the economy. The Nationals who would have Warren Truss taken seriously as the alternative Deputy Prime Minister of this nation, and who have Barnaby Joyce as their main spokesperson coming out day after day with economically illiterate statements; coming out day after day, with quite absurd propositions, particularly when it comes to the economy, but of course also when it comes to the environment.
Last night was extraordinary. You had, in spite of the fact that the Coalition knew that the Government had majority support to pass our mining tax legislation, Noalition member one after the other stand up and talk for 15 minutes, essentially to each other, in an attempt to filibuster and delay the vote. You then had division after division called, even though many people on both their frontbench and their backbench were nearly asleep. Some people had to be given the job of waking people up during the divisions.
Indeed Mal Washer voted with his feet when he indicated to a range of people from both the Government and the Opposition that if this vote was filibustered until late into the evening, he wouldn’t be a part of this quite silly, immature political game.
QUESTION: What have you – where have you found the money to fund the Green’s promise that you’ve made to get their vote for the mining tax?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it’s not funding a promise. What we’ve done is find savings, and that’s consistent with what we’ve done across the board.
We went through an election campaign in 2010 whereby all of our commitments were fully offset. We make sure we are fiscally responsible, unlike the Opposition who have a $70 billion black hole.
QUESTION: Why can’t you tell us why?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Because it’s up to us to release our statements when we see fit. It’s as simple as that.
But what we do, because the fact is that we are in a position to ensure, as we do with all of our policies, and anyone who followed the decisions that we made during the election campaign will know that that’s consistent with everything else. We have a position whereby we are determined to return the budget to surplus. We’re determined to be fiscally responsible. We make savings all of the time. When we make our spending commitments we have to come up with offsets and savings. That is normal practice.
And quite frankly, the position that the Greens political party was not going to vote for a tax on the big miners was untenable.
QUESTION: Will you ever release what exactly those savings were, or will they be just fudged up amongst all the other savings?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s up to us to announce at an appropriate time, with due respect to you.
What Australians care about is the fact that we’ve got this legislation through, is the fact that the big miners will pay more for extracting the resources that Australians own. That’s what they’re interested in, not the micro analysis of it. What they’re interested in is that their super will be better, regional infrastructure will be better, company tax will be less.
QUESTION: You’ve struck your deal with [indistinct], Rob Oakeshott [indistinct], we all found out what you did to get their votes, what’s different with the Greens?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You found out there’s no big deal here, there’s offsets for measures in terms of Government commitments. That occurs, regardless, absolutely regardless of the Greens or anyone else. That is what we do as a Government. If you follow attention to detail when we make announcements, you will know, all of you will know, that that is what we do as Government practice.
QUESTION: How often do the Greens get to find out what your budget savings are, before your backbench?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: All of you will know that this is normal practice. We make our own decisions about savings, uninfluenced by the Greens or anyone else.
QUESTION: Are you suggesting that the Australian people don’t care where these savings have come from?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I’m suggesting that you’re micromanaging an issue and missing the big picture.
The big picture here is that big miners will pay a mining tax. What Australians know is that their superannuation is going from nine to 12 per cent. What Australia’s 2.7 million small businesses know is that they’re going to get a company tax cut. What Australians know if you’re living in regional communities – if you’re living in Mackay we’ve got a Mackay Ring Road study of which we’ve announced the people who will be doing that this very day. They know that all of that activity is occurring as a result of last night. And frankly, given the amount of money in the context of the budget that we’re talking about, in terms of the size of savings, that is minuscule compared with the sort of job that we do day after day, every day, in terms of the Cabinet making sure that we’re fiscally responsible.
QUESTION: Do you really have a deal with the Greens, if they’re still reserving a right to move amendments to the mining tax in the Senate?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We have a position whereby it’s passed through the House of Representatives. This is a good measure for Australia. It is in the national interest, and Tony Abbott will be judged by his actions, and the actions of the Noalition last night who continue to just vote no, no, no, to everything, and who, yesterday were saying no within their own Party Room.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.