House debates

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Bills

Tax Laws Amendment (2013 Measures No. 2) Bill 2013; Consideration in Detail

11:25 am

Photo of Joe HockeyJoe Hockey (North Sydney, Liberal Party, Shadow Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

I welcome the backdown from the government in relation to these amendments. Occasionally they do listen to the wise counsel of the coalition. On this occasion they have, appropriately, shelved schedules 3 and 4 and allowed for proper consultation.

I do not want to rub it in, but I do note the speech from the member for Lyne. I just cannot help but be reminded of his absolute, total hypocrisy in this place. The member for Lyne was a guy that said: 'Let the sunshine into the parliament. Let everyone have a good look. Let's have proper scrutiny and treat the chamber with the respect it deserves.' Yet he stood in this place not long ago and said: 'Don't worry, I have letters from ministers that assure me that this bill is not going to have what could be the impacts. We don't need to have a parliamentary inquiry. I've got—I, the member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott—letters from ministers and I've got letters from these people. I'm satisfied. Therefore, no-one else needs to have the opportunity to consult. Because if you consult with me, Rob Oakeshott, that is all the consultation you need. Don't worry about the parliament. Don't worry about any committees of the parliament.' What a complete hypocrite this guy is. Seriously, every time we have tried to have additional scrutiny, the member for Lyne is in the way. Yet he goes out there and parades like some sanctimonious god of accountability. Frankly, he is a complete, damn hypocrite.

I cannot wait for the day that he is not in this place so that we can have someone who actually is consistent representing Lyne. The previous member for Lyne was a man of great integrity. This current member for Lyne—I do not know what he is possibly thinking when he gets up here in this rather droll way and says: 'Don't worry, I've consulted and therefore we should all be satisfied. Everything is okay as long as I'm satisfied.' Whereas, actually, nearly half the House, on this side, are not satisfied—and now the government themselves are saying they are not satisficed—with the proper level of scrutiny of those schedules to the bill. So the overwhelming majority now in the chamber want further consultation in relation to the schedules. But for the member for Lyne, because he is satisfied everyone else should be satisfied. Anyway, common sense has prevailed and we welcome just a little sliver, a glimpse, of common sense from the government.

Question agreed to.

by leave—I move opposition amendments (2) and (5), as circulated in my name, together:

(2) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 10), omit "5", substitute "6".

(5) Schedule 5, page 77 (line 1) to page 83 (line 11), omit the Schedule.

Confidentiality of taxpayer information is fundamental to the administration of taxation law, and confidentiality is protected because ensuring the privacy of sensitive information, including commercial information, goes to public confidence in the system of tax. The minister for superannuation, the member for Maribyrnong, has said as much himself. He said:

Taxpayers provide personal information to the Tax Office expecting it to be kept confidential.

The public release of taxpayer information, therefore, needs compelling justification. What have the government said? They have said they are going to reveal taxpayer information for two reasons. The first is, as the Assistant Treasurer says:

… more transparency around the levels of tax being paid by large and multinational businesses in Australia to allow an informed debate about the efficiency and equity of our tax system.

Schedule 5 requires the commissioner of tax to release information to the public that is disclosed in the taxpayer's tax return—namely, the entity's total gross income, its net taxable income and its income tax payable. It only applies to companies if their total income is $100 million or more. So multinational groups, such as Google, Amazon or Starbucks, which may have minimal income sourced in Australia, will not be affected, I understand.

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