Monday, 8 February 2016
Tax Laws Amendment (Implementation of the Common Reporting Standard) Bill 2015; Consideration in Detail
by leave—I move amendments (1) and (2) together:
(1) Schedule 1, item 14, page 15 (cell at table item 6, column 2), omit "2019", substitute "2018".
(2) Schedule 1, item 15, page 16 (lines 22 to 33), omit subitem (3), substitute:
(3) Despite subsection 396-105(6) in Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953, to the extent that a statement under subsection 396-105(2) in that Schedule for 2017 relates to an account that is a Lower Value Account (within the meaning of the CRS), the statement must be given to the Commissioner no later than 31 July 2019.
Note: Section 388-55 in that Schedule allows the Commissioner to defer the time for giving an approved form.
It is a sad day for this House when the assistant minister—who has now been in this place for nearly a decade—gets confused as to the periods in the debate when one moves a second reading amendment and when one moves a detailed amendment. As a member of nine years standing ought to know, the time for moving a detailed amendment is now, and I am now doing so.
This detailed amendment—moved at the proper time, Assistant Minister—is not a controversial one. It simply suggests that Australia's timetable for implementing the Common Reporting Standard should be the same as those of the 40 countries that are moving to implement corporate reporting in 2018. That would bring corporate reporting into line with the reporting for high-income individuals. It is not a controversial amendment. It should be supported by any government worth its salt. Any government that is interested in taking multinational tax avoidance seriously ought to be willing to move on the Common Reporting Standard in line with other countries.
I foreshadowed this amendment, in my second reading debate speech, earlier. It is a very straightforward amendment, one which simply changes the date in a bill. It does so to ensure that Australia is not a laggard when it comes to dealing with multinational tax avoidance. Multinational tax avoidance, sadly, is a problem that the government likes to blow a lot of hot air about but is unable to act upon.
Here is a test. Just as last year we had a test on the final day of parliament, when Labor made absolutely clear that we were supporting the government's multinational tax avoidance bill despite the fact that that bill was completely uncosted—had asterisks in the budget where the revenue measures were but we always said we would support it—we simply said we believed in transparency as well. Sadly, the Greens and the Liberals did not believe in transparency.
They conspired to take the majority of private firms out of the tax transparency net. As the member for Batman so passionately argued, the Greens simply went to damp kale when it came to dealing with the issue of multinational tax transparency. They sided with the Liberal Party.
It was a debate in which the Greens, as the member for Batman has noted, simply sold out—just as they did on the emissions trading scheme, just as they did when they lined up with the government to raise Australia's debt cap to an unlimited level, a debt cap that is now, clearly, going to be needed given that this government's return-to-surplus target has been pushed out to post 2020. It is a government that came to office saying it would deliver surplus in the first year and in every year after that. It is now saying it will not deliver a surplus this term, it will not deliver a surplus next term but maybe it will deliver a surplus of the term after that.
Let's face it, even that is in jeopardy, because we have the Treasurer out there saying that he is going to crack down on bracket creep—failing to tell the Australian people that bracket creep is the primary means by which his government intends to return the budget to surplus. Take away bracket creep and they have no hope of delivering a surplus budget, because they are unable to go tough on multinationals.
We on this side of the House have a $7 billion plan, which closes debt deduction loopholes and the use of hybrid instruments, which makes changes that are economically responsible, carefully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, informed by work done at the OECD. Yet while we are willing to back their multinational tax bill they are not willing to back our multinational tax measures. While we are willing to back their multinational tax bills, which simply have an asterisk where the costings should be, they are not willing to back our multinational tax package that adds $7 billion to the budget bottom line over the course of the next decade.
This amendment, now, is a test as to how serious the government is on the issue of multinational tax avoidance. Does the government believe that we should be with the rest of the G20 and OECD pack, with the other 40 countries that are moving at an appropriate time on the Common Reporting Standard, or should we be trailing up the back of the pack with the countries that are not really serious? This is a test for this government on multinational tax avoidance. Will it support Labor's amendment or will it turn to damp kale one more time?
I do not think it would shock members to understand that the government will not be supporting these amendments. Once again, I would say to the shadow Assistant Treasurer that if they were serious about this bill, the Common Reporting Standard and the measures before us, they would have voted for the multinational measures that we put forward.
At the end of sittings, last time, the minister at the table, for no reason at all, gagged the shadow Assistant Treasurer, and no reason—I will draw your attention to the state of the House. (Quorum formed)
I was just saying that of course the government will not be support these amendments. We say to the opposition: if you had wanted to do something serious, you had the chance last year to support the government's tough measures on addressing anti-avoidance measures for multinationals. I say again—