House debates

Monday, 8 February 2016


Tax Laws Amendment (Implementation of the Common Reporting Standard) Bill 2015; Second Reading

4:21 pm

Photo of Alex HawkeAlex Hawke (Mitchell, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

I would like to. I would like to hear your view on it, because this is all we have got before us. How do we make the law in this country? How are you making law in this country? Have you consulted with the sector, like the government has? We have consulted with multinationals and we have consulted with the banks to understand that the financial year in Australia operates from 30 June to 1 July, unlike most European countries, which operate on the calendar year. There are reasons why this is happening six months later than in other countries. You simply come into this House and put in a ridiculous, infant like, pious amendment to this bill to have a crack on the way through when the government is implementing the common reporting standard in agreement with the OECD—negotiated agreement with the OECD—to ensure that we have the right measures in place so we can commence this at the start of our tax year. Nobody in Australia would find that unusual or unacceptable and yet the Australian Labor Party are once again here in this chamber trying somehow to make out that the government is not doing the right thing on multinational tax.

I want to make this blatantly clear to the Australian public. We are doing the right thing by Australians. We are doing the right thing by our economy. We are doing the responsible thing by our economy. We are patiently and calmly implementing bills and measures to ensure that multinationals pay their fair share of tax in this country and we are doing it in cooperation with the G20 and in cooperation with the OECD, as part of the BEPS process that was established under Australia's leadership at the G20. It is the Labor Party at every turn that are opposing this. They voted against the measures that this government put forward. The Australian Greens supported it. The Australian Greens knew these were responsible measures and the Independents knew these were responsible measures. It is the Labor Party that felt they could have some sort of political game with multinational tax. It is something every single member of this House agrees on and it is something that jurisdictions around the world understand—all laws need to be tightened and cooperation between countries and jurisdictions is vital to ensure that base erosion and profit shifting is taxed appropriately and becomes an option of the past.

Let us look at the actual bill, not at the ridiculous, pious amendment we have in front of us from the shadow Assistant Treasurer. That is the only thing we have a copy of. Members of this House will note that this is the only thing we have before us. I want to say that this standard of course will tackle and deter offshore tax evasion. Financial institutions in Australia are going to be required to collect information on a foreign resident's accounts and report it to the ATO. The ATO will provide the information to the foreign resident's tax authority. In exchange the Australian Taxation Office will receive information on Australians with offshore accounts and use it to ensure they are complying with their domestic tax obligations. G20 leaders endorsed the standard under Australia's presidency. For the shadow Assistant Treasurer I want to say that again: G20 leaders endorsed the standard under Australia's presidency—under this government and its determination to ensure multinationals pay their fair share of tax.

We have all committed to begin to exchange information by 2017 or end of 2018, depending of course on how your country operates with its tax and financial years, which—for the shadow Assistant Treasurer—does differ from country to country and does have serious implications if you attempt to by some imaginary amendment simply adjust a schedule without serious negotiation with those people you are going to affect—not just large multinationals but also smaller banks. Have you thought about the cost that will be passed on of course to customers just by simply exercising some imaginary complaint about this issue? This is an agreed position with the OECD. It is a negotiated position that will ensure that we meet our obligations. Indeed, over 95 jurisdictions have committed to implementing it, including former tax secrecy jurisdictions, importantly: Luxembourg, Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. We can see real progress being made on this front, something all members of this House ought to support and ought to welcome the government's initiatives on.

In summation I want to say again that if you are serious about multinational taxation and combating anti-avoidance then you ought to be supporting this government's initiatives. The Australian Greens have supported this government's initiatives in combating anti-avoidance measures. The Independents have supported combating anti-avoidance measures. The Australian Labor Party need to drop their pious attitude towards the government's approach and get on board and understand that we are methodically working with the OECD and all other jurisdictions to implement those laws and measures necessary to ensure that we deal with this problem that has faced modern economies. So I say to the opposition: stop the resistance, join with the government, support us on the Tax Laws Amendment (Implementation of the Common Reporting Standard) Bill 2015 and please stop with the pious amendments and all of the nonsense.


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