From Hansard, 22 November 2011 (emphasis added):
WAYNE SWAN (Lilley, Australian Labor Party, Treasurer) –
There is no greater engine room of jobs in our economy than small businesses. We have 2.7 million small businesses in this country and they employ a lot of Australians. Putting in place the $6,500 instant asset write-off is a big job generator for small business and a big job generator for our economy. If those opposite vote against a $6,500 instant asset write-off, that will be a very dark day for those in the party of Menzies who think they stand for small business—the party that Mr Menzies described as standing for the strivers, the planners and ambitious small businesses. That is where we stand on this side of the House. We stand for the strivers, the planners and those with ambition in our economy. That is why we stand for a significant tax cut to small business. But it is a measure of how negative those opposite have become. It is a measure of how far they will go to wreck sensible policy proposals that they could oppose a tax cut for small business. We on this side of the House also stand for working Australians and a big boost to their superannuation funded by the profits of 20 or 30 superprofitable mining companies* and, by and large, supported by the mining companies.
The Leader of the Opposition gave a speech last night about economic policies. I would call it the magic pudding speech. He claimed he had fiscal discipline and then announced he was going to abolish a tax paid by the 20 most profitable companies in the country. He wants to spend more, save less and have bigger surpluses. That is a magic pudding and it shows how unqualified and unfit for office those opposite are.
So, Tony Abbott said that he would abolish “a tax paid by the 20 most profitable companies in the country”, did he?
Sound plausible to you?
It didn’t sound plausible to me.
Quite clearly, the “20 most profitable companies in Australia” are not all mining companies.
Indeed, 12 of the top 20 most profitable companies are not mining companies at all. A 13th and 14th are gold miners, thus not subject to the MRRT. A 15th is a nickel miner, thus not subject to the MRRT. A 16th and 17th are copper + gold miners, thus not subject to the MRRT. An 18th is a small mining explorer, thus not subject to the MRRT. A 19th is an oil and gas company, thus not subject to the MRRT. In fact, there is only one (1) company in the Top 20 most profitable companies in Australia that is a miner subject to the MRRT – Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group.
Wayne lied to Parliament. According to the Westminster conventions, he must resign.
If he will not resign, Gillard must sack him.
Even if we give Wayne the widest possible latitude for error, and say that he meant “the 20 biggest companies in Australia”, he still lied:
That’s the Top 28 companies in Australia, ranked by market capitalisation.
There can be no plausible excuse for Wayne’s lie.
He is the nation’s Treasurer, and had been so for over 4 years at the time of making this statement to Parliament.
He is the purported architect of the mining tax, the topic upon which he was speaking.
So there can be no excuse that he “didn’t know”, that he misled the Parliament “unintentionally”.
Wayne Swan is arguably the government’s worst offender when it comes to engaging in rank sophistry. Including putting words in other people’s mouths, and then attacking what they did not say. It is a delightful irony (or simply karma?) that he was doing precisely that, putting words in Tony Abbott’s mouth and attacking him for it, when he lied to Parliament.
Wayne Swan has a long and inglorious track record of lying and deceiving. As oft-documented on this blog.
It is long past time that his lies caught up with him.
Over to you, Mr Abbott.
* This is a second lie. The increase in compulsory superannuation is NOT being paid for by the MRRT at all. It will be paid for by employers. The largest employer in Australia is small business, a significant number of whom are not registered corporations, and so will not benefit from the tiny company tax cut that the government claims will be funded by the MRRT. According to the Hansard, many other government ministers have repeated this particular lie in Parliament – the subject of a future post ( h/t Twitter follower @Prronto ).