House debates

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Questions without Notice


3:36 pm

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Attorney General) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Assistant Treasurer, and I refer to his responsibility for taxation and administration. Is the Assistant Treasurer aware of reports that failed lobbying firm Shac Communications donated over $100,000 to the Assistant Treasurer's infamous Fadden Forum shortly before going into liquidation, with debts of over $430,000, including to the tax office? Has the minister sought advice on whether the tax office is able to claw back these donations so the revenue can be invested in schools, hospitals and infrastructure instead of the Liberal Party?

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I put it to you that these are clearly party matters—and, in fact, ancient party matters—and not in the responsibility of the minister, the Assistant Treasurer, not now and not at the time that they occurred, when he wasn't even a member of the executive.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Manager of Opposition Business, on the point of order from the Leader of the House?

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Manager of Opposition Business (House)) Share this | | Hansard source

In the first instance, in terms of the responsibilities of the Assistant Treasurer, the official government statement has him being responsible for both taxation and administration. The relevance of the question is not because the donation was made to a fund in his electorate. The relevance of the question is because it goes to the return of taxation money to the tax office.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I still think that the question has a series of problems. I appreciate that whoever wrote the question is trying to bend it in a way that would force the minister to reply. Certainly the point the Leader of the House makes, with respect to the minister not being in that position at the relevant time, is valid. But what I would say is, having listened to it, as Assistant Treasurer, I think the minister responsible for the tax office can be questioned on matters of tax administration. I won't go back to earlier examples that involve me as a questioner with a former Assistant Treasurer I'm sort of gazing at. It doesn't mean that the minister can canvas many of the matters, necessarily, that have been raised, but I think a question on administration is in order, and how he deals with that question of administration is simply a matter for him.

3:38 pm

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party, Assistant Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

Let me thank the member opposite for his question on tax administration and I, like many members in this House—indeed, all members on this side—am more than happy to have a discussion about tax administration and how it's performed. Why don't we start with the government's MAAL law, in terms of anti-avoidance law, a series of legislation that those opposite voted against. That series of legislation has now collected $5.6 billion in tax. That's $5.6 billion from multinationals and large corporations. Furthermore, not only did those opposite vote against that, the government's multinational anti-avoidance legislation has now collected over $1 billion of tax from the large ecommerce providers—the Googles, the Apples, the Amazons. Again, this is something that those opposite voted against. So, when it comes to administration of tax, can I suggest that this side of the House has a great story to tell, and that side of the House, who voted against it, has a very poor story indeed.