Amidst increasing calls to ensure government has sufficient revenue to pay for programs that care for people such as Gonski, Denticare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Greens will introduce a Private Member's Bill to peg the level of Commonwealth rebates to companies at the July 1 2011 level of state royalties.
The Bill replicates an amendment the Greens moved when the legislation originally passed the parliament which was rejected by the government and opposition at the time but is now in line with an option reportedly being considered by Treasurer Wayne Swan.
"Wayne Swan knows we need to protect mining tax revenue so we can afford to care for people with programs like Denticare, Disability Insurance and better funded schools, and this Bill gives him an opportunity to do just that," Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
"We know governments of all stripes face huge challenges in the years ahead to care for people in the face of an aging population, accelerating global warming, global food security problems and much more.
"Finally we're seeing this recognised by people from Heather Ridout and Jennifer Westacott to Ken Henry and Martin Parkinson. It's time the federal parliament grappled with the challenge and made sure the country can provide vital services both now and into the future.
"It's no surprise that state governments, which are looking for every opportunity to make the most of the short term mining profits at the expense of caring for people and the environment, are seeking to gouge royalties when the Commonwealth has agreed to rebate every cent.
"The Greens warned at the time that this could undermine any chance that the mining would even pay for itself, let alone give the country funds to invest in a healthier, fairer, cleaner economy. But the government and opposition both chose to ignore the warnings.
"Instead of a complicated arrangement to cut other Commonwealth-State grants or GST payments, the simplest way to avoid this problem is to peg the amount the Commonwealth will rebate to companies at the level of the State royalty on July 1 2011. This will make sure state governments can't gouge profits effectively out of the pockets of all Australian taxpayers.
"The economy should serve the needs of people, not the other way around, and this Bill gives the Government the opportunity to make that the case."
Please see audio of press conference below with Senators Christine Milne and Larissa Waters. Senator Waters also discussed the Federal Coalition's plans to outsource more responsibilities to the State governments,