Senate debates

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Matters of Public Importance


4:50 pm

Photo of Nick XenophonNick Xenophon (SA, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

In two minutes or less, I say this: tax transparency is important because without a high level of transparency in our tax system, particularly for large corporate entities, public confidence in our tax system can be undermined and eroded. Parallel to that, having tax transparency can stimulate public discourse and debate as to whether some of our biggest corporations are paying a fair and appropriate level of tax. So it is relevant and important as part of this public discourse to be aware, for instance, that global energy giant Chevron paid just $248 on revenues of $1.73 billion. We need to know what the story is there. That is why I moved those amendments in relation to general purpose accounts in the last session of this parliament. I think it is important that we have that additional layer of information for companies that have a part of a global entity with $1 billion or more in revenue. If you are small or medium company that has $25 million or more in revenue you need to provide details to ASIC, which are public and transparent. There is a grandfather clause of close to 1,500 companies that do not have to provide that. Treasury itself, in its own inquiry back in 2006-07 said, 'We should get rid of that exemption.' That is part of this debate.

Finally, I want to make reference to Senator Edwards, who said that it is all my fault and that I was not part of the debate several weeks ago. I did miss the debate. The speaking list collapsed. I was doing an interview. I have been up-front about it. I have apologised for it but there was no division. Senator Edwards needs to be corrected in relation to that. Unlike Senator Edwards, I am not perfect. I will try to do better next time. That is why I am trying to make amends so that we can have greater levels of tax transparency in this nation. I think it is absolutely imperative that we have a good public debate in a great democracy such as ours.


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