House debates

Thursday, 4 August 2022


Treasury Laws Amendment (2022 Measures No. 1) Bill 2022; Consideration of Senate Message

4:15 pm

Photo of Stephen JonesStephen Jones (Whitlam, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the requested amendments be agreed to.

This bill has come back to us from the Senate, and I don't intend to delay the House any longer than I absolutely need to. It is urgent that the matter be dealt with this afternoon and before the House gets up, because there are provisions within this bill that relate to tax relief for persons who received grants from the government after Tropical Cyclone Seroja. If this bill doesn't pass through the House, they'll incur a tax liability that nobody on this side of the House wants to occur.

The bill comes back to us in substantially the same form as it was presented to the House by the government, with one amendment, which I'll explain to members of the House now. It removes a long-standing exemption in our corporation laws which has existed since 1995 that exempts certain large private companies that existed prior to 1995 from public disclosure of an audited annual report to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the provision of tax data to the Australian tax office, which could then be made public.

During question time a number of questions were asked of the Prime Minister and the government which went to the importance of transparency in corporate affairs. I'd expect, given the tenor of those questions, that members of the coalition will rise and support the government in removing these exemptions from corporations and taxation law. They go to the heart of transparency. They ensure that all large private companies are treated in exactly the same way. They must present to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission an audited copy of an annual report, and they must provide certain information to the tax commissioner, which would be treated in the same way as any other private company's tax information. These are simple, straightforward amendments. They weren't in the government's original bill but they are, word for word, a reflection of amendments that Labor moved in opposition on numerous occasions.

I want to pay tribute to the work for the member for Fenner, the now assistant minister to the Treasurer, for the tireless work that he has put into ensuring that these issues were a part of public consciousness and public debate here. I also pay tribute, of course, to former senator Rex Patrick, who moved them numerous times through the course of the last parliament. I commend the bill and the amendments to the House.

4:18 pm

Photo of Angus TaylorAngus Taylor (Hume, Liberal Party, Shadow Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

While the opposition voted for the bill at second reading, and we strongly support getting on with the bill, we don't support it in its amended form. The amendments moved in the Senate by the Greens, which were not part of the original bill—let's be very clear—and which were accepted by the government, do increase red tape and compliance burden in the economy and for private companies. These are not public companies; they are private companies. It removes the regulatory certainty that's been there—which is something that those opposite ask for all the time—for a limited class of companies, and it constrains the ability for ASIC to make instruments to implement its regulatory decisions.

The other effect of this amendment is to increase red tape for Australian owned companies over their foreign owned competitors. This will mean Australian companies are put in a position where they are less competitive than their foreign competitors, at a time when we need Australian companies being as competitive as they possibly can in a brutal international and global environment. Many of these businesses know how difficult it is to compete globally and win. And winning is what we want Australian companies to do, because that creates jobs and drives investment and drives opportunity. That, of course, is the key to Australians realising their aspirations: Australian world-beaters out there on the world stage without absolutely unnecessary red tape and compliance being imposed on them.

The opposition supports reducing red tape for compliance. That's something we believe in very, very strongly for Australian companies. We want a prosperous, productive economy that can help Australian households, Australian families and Australian businesses to realise their aspirations. For these reasons, we oppose the bill as amended.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the amendments be agreed to.