'I take Warwick seriously': Rudd

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd told the Chamber during Question Time yesterday he “takes the good people of Warwick seriously” when it comes to the new mining tax affecting local small businesses.

Federal Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott referred to the Daily News’ story on Tuesday when he asked Mr Rudd if he agreed with Chamber of Commerce president John Randall that “if business owners get hit by this new tax, they will have to pass it on and that means increases in a huge range of costs including the cost of building a home in Warwick”.

“I asked the Prime Minister if he conceded that his government had failed to think through the impact of its great big new tax on miners, which will affect not only big mining companies but also small, local quarries and family businesses,” Mr Scott said.

The debate became heated when Mr Rudd skirted around the issue, praising Warwick and declaring he has visited the Rose City “a few more times than the Leader of the Opposition”.

“Like the Member for Maranoa, I think Warwick is a great town. It is full of great and fine upstanding citizens and has contributed much to the civic and political culture of Queensland,” Mr Rudd said.

“Those opposite seem to think that these reflections of mine lack sincerity. They do not. It is a great city.”

The Prime Minister then went on to say businesses in Warwick would “stand to benefit from a cut in the company rate” under Labor.

The issue became even more heated when Shadow Minister Bronwyn Bishop was ordered to leave the Chamber for an hour after accusing Mr Rudd of not knowing his own policy when he spoke about businesses benefiting from the $5000 tax break.

“Each and every one of those opposite is standing in the road of a tax cut being delivered to small businesses in their electorate,” Mr Rudd said.

“ALSO the infrastructure needs of the honourable member’s electorate – the roads, the rail and the ports necessary to underpin our resources sector in the future – standing in the road of a purpose-built infrastructure fund to support those infrastructure investments over time.”

Mr Scott was unhappy with how the Prime Minister responded to his question.

“The Prime Minister said I needed to ‘get real about standing up’ for my constituents,” he said.

“By opposing Labor’s new mega tax, I’m standing up for the thousands of jobs in the mining industry in southern Queensland, I’m standing up for the small quarries in my electorate and I’m standing up for families and businesses who will see the cost of basic products such as fertilizer, cement, sand and glass go up because of this tax.”

As for Mr Randall, who on a personal note was stoked to finally get his name in the Hansard, he was glad to see the local struggles put to one of the highest political forums.

“The Chamber thanks our local member for highlighting the plight of businesspeople in Warwick should the new super mining tax go through,” Mr Randall said.

“Perhaps the Federal Government is just flying a kite on the scope of the tax to allow themselves to back down if necessary... they don’t realise it’s going to affect the small guys and therefore cost them votes.”

Mr Randall put forward the invitation for the Prime Minister to meet with Warwick businesses “to get a grass roots level of understanding about the pitfalls ahead of them”.

“I’ve even got the perfect meeting place – does Mr Rudd know where the railway station is where a former Prime Minister held a public meeting and got egged as a response?”

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