A hint of a future Labor policy shift on the mining tax is likely to be pounced on by the federal government as legislation to scrap the tariff again comes up for debate in the Senate.
The coalition’s plan to abolish the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT) has not got the numbers to pass the upper house with Labor and the Australian Greens both opposing the move.
But while campaigning ahead of the Senate election re-run in Western Australia, where there is widespread disapproval for the MRRT, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten suggested his party may be prepared to adopt a different approach down the track.
“In terms of what we do in our policies affecting the resources sector for the next election, we will engage in a dialogue with the resources sector,” Mr Shorten said last week.
With the next federal election not due until 2016, Mr Shorten said he remains committed to the principle of the tax and will block moves to have it scrapped.
The repeal legislation has already passed the lower house.
Also on the Senate agenda for Monday are bills to scrap the carbon tax.
On March 3 the first of the bills – to dismantle the independent Climate Change Authority – was rejected by the upper house.
With one down, 10 bills remain up for consideration.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt will call on the Senate to pass “as a matter of priority” the remaining legislation.
The carbon tax is inflicting massive damage on the Australian economy, he will tell the lower house, citing a $7.6 billion hit across the country in its first year.
Also on Monday colourful Queensland MP Clive Palmer is scheduled to introduce to parliament a private member’s bill to investigate the establishment of a national emergency fund that can provide speedy assistance in the event of natural disaster or industry collapse.
Mr Palmer says he has the support of other independents for the “Australian Fund”, and a parliamentary committee should further investigate its viability and report back to parliament.