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The mining tax has been abolished after a deal with the Palmer United party (PUP) in which the government delayed the abolition of the schoolkids bonus and other savings and deferred already-legislated increases to workers’ compulsory superannuation for seven years.
The prime minister was jubilant after the shock deal was revealed, claiming it rendered the Labor party irrelevant and proved the government – approaching the first anniversary of its election – was “getting on with the job.”
After secret negotiations with PUP, the government revealed a deal with the crossbench senators to finally abolish the mining tax – as it had so often promised – if it retained three programs until after the next election, instead of abolishing them straight away.
In changes that will cost the budget bottom line $6.5bn over the next four years but leave it no worse off in the long term, the government has agreed to keep the schoolkids bonus, the low income superannuation contribution and the income support bonus until 2016 or 2017.
But it will also freeze the amount employers are compelled to put into all workers superannuation accounts. It is currently legislated to increase to 10% in 2015-16 and then by 0.5% each year to reach 12% in 2019-20. After this deal goes through it will be frozen at 9.5% and won’t reach 10% until 2021, rising by 0.5% a year after that.
Well by my reckoning that is another victory for the Coalition government in their campaign to undo the follies of Labor, which means that we will no longer have a tax that costs more to administer than it collects which makes us a laughing stock to the world. Further the suspension of increases in superannuation will be greeted with great joy but those in our economy who provide the employment, it will mean that the cost of hiring someone will be less over time which should help business to employ more people. Personally as I have two children in school the continuation of the school kids bonus will come in handy but I very much doubt that it has ever been a game changer to parents in this age of voter cynicism. As Tony Abbott said yesterday in the Parliament this is not everything the government wanted but it will do.
What this means is that the government has actually achieved the three planks of its election campaign, the Carbon Tax has gone, the Mining Tax has gone and the Boats have been stopped, more importantly though this demonstrates that for all of his bluff and bluster in the media Palmer can be dealt with and the government can bring about the reforms that it was elected to do.
It should surprise no one that the Coalition government is getting right down to business in facilitating new business activity and development because unlike Labor and the loopy Greens they are not beholden to rent seeking fringe groups.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has taken decisions on 125 projects in the Coalition’s first three months in office, including approving 29 major projects, which the government estimates are worth $400bn. The decisions – the latest of which was Clive Palmer’s giant Waratah Coal/China First coalmine and railway line to the Abbot Point coal port – could spark a new wave of development.
Mr Hunt also has approved the $1.4bn Abbot Point coal terminal expansion, which paves the way for the creation of the world’s biggest coal export port.
But the approvals – particularly coalmine approvals in the Galilee Basin and the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port – have sparked allegations of “development at any cost” from the Greens and environment groups.
Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters has described the approval as a “terrible Christmas present for the planet” and has raised concerns about its impact on underground water aquifers as well as its impact on combating climate change.
The Abbot Point expansion has been attacked as “criminal” by environmental groups that are calling for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to use its powers to protect the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
Mr Hunt said the government was sticking to high environmental standards.
He also has fast-tracked another 46 projects to avoid delays, after inheriting 371 unassessed projects from the previous Labor government, with 22 dating back to 2008. “We have made real steps in unblocking the pipeline while also putting in place some of the strictest environmental conditions in Australian history,” Mr Hunt told The Australian.
“It’s possible to have high environmental standards and genuine decision-making. The previous government was unable to say yes and unable to say no.”
Mr Hunt also has determined that a further 30 projects require no further assessment and 16 require no further assessment as long as certain requirements are met. Another 50 projects have been “assessed and progressed” under the water trigger.
Any short-term boost to mining investment would provide a much-needed buffer to the economy and give more time to the non-mining sectors on the east coast to fill the growth gap.
While I personally have some concerns about the dumping of dredge spoil from Abbott point with in the Great barrier reef zone I likewise find it ludicrous that the Green religion is being invoked as the major objection to opening up new coal mines. Isn’t it ironic that the party that would throw open our borders to all and sundry, especially when they sling us the “I’m oppressed ” line, object to any increase in our economic activity to generate the wealth that the endless stream of mendicants seek a part of? When will they realise that you can’t have more people in this country if we lack the economy to support them? Greg Hunt is right to suggest that the most important quality that and efficient government must have is decisiveness for its far better to have a prompt decion, be it good bad or indifferent, than to have the lily-livered procrastination that was so evident under Rudd/Gillard/Rudd.
- Dredge and dump projects approved (theage.com.au)
- Federal Government approves controversial Great Barrier Reef developments (abc.net.au)
- Federal Minister approves Qld coal and gas expansion amid new rules to protect Barrier Reef (abc.net.au)
- Palmer coalmine gets green light (smh.com.au)
- Palmer’s Waratah Coal mine gets green light (abc.net.au)
- Great Barrier Reef Gets A Six-Week Reprieve From Big Coal (planetsave.com)
- The industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef (abc.net.au)
- Australia approves $5.7 billion coal project despite criticism (rawstory.com)
I have repeatedly suggested that when it comes to repealing the carbon tax that the ALP will not be at all obstructive in the upper house because they will have to concede that Tony Abbott will have a mandate to do this. Now I find in today’s Oz the same suggestion from Tony Abbott himself:
My friends from the left have been fooling themselves if they think that the incoming government will not be true to their word, after all being untruthful to the electorate is what will be buying Labor’s very long lease on their wilderness accommodation…