House debates

Tuesday, 28 March 2006

Tax Laws Amendment (2006 Measures No. 1) Bill 2006

Consideration in Detail

6:16 pm

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

I will address specifically some of the issues that were raised by the member for Hunter in relation to the two amendments that he has moved to the Tax Laws Amendment (2006 Measures No. 1) Bill 2006. It needs to be pointed out that the government has adopted the OECD’s 1996 recommendation that member countries deny tax deductibility for bribes made to foreign public officials. This comes on top of the key strategy of making it a criminal offence to pay bribes to foreign public officials, part of the OECD’s Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, which came into force in this country on 17 December 1999.

In October of this year, Australia will respond to the OECD’s working group on bribery on how recommendations in its January 2006 report, which examined the convention’s application, have been addressed. It is important to note that the Attorney-General has carriage of the response to the OECD report. As to whether or not the law in relation to facilitation payments is aligned, the OECD report itself noted—and I put it on the record:

The ATO believes that the definition of “routine government action” under … the Income Tax Act, which is identical to the definition under … the Criminal Code, is sufficient support to restrict facilitation payments to those of a minor nature. It is the position of the ATO that due to the definition of “routine government actions” of a minor nature, as specified under the Income Tax Act, it is not possible that a payment in order to obtain such an action could be anything but “minor”.

Moreover, the ATO’s Deputy Commissioner, Serious Noncompliance indicated at the recent estimates hearings that, in practice, the income tax laws and the Criminal Code have the same requirements.

It is unfortunate that this debate on the government’s very serious attempts to provide the support that business, both small and big, needs to compete in the modern environment has been tainted by the political moves of a desperate opposition. This issue in relation to AWB has primarily been driven by Mr Rudd, the member for Griffith and shadow spokesperson on foreign affairs, in some vain attempt to put himself forward as a leadership candidate. He puts himself forward at a time during which the Leader of the Opposition has been the most ineffective in his period in public life. It is unfortunate that this debate is being used as a political option for the Labor Party. The member for Hunter should be ashamed of the tactics that the member for Griffith has put him up to. As such, the government rejects the amendments.

Question put:

That the amendments (Mr Fitzgibbon’s) be agreed to.


No comments