Thursday, 3 December 2015
Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015; In Committee
The CHAIRMAN: I don't think he did actually use those words. Nonetheless, Senator Dastyari has withdrawn, so thank you.
This issue of tax transparency—let's just be clear about the role of the Labor Party in this, because I think it warrants it. Yes, the Treasurer of Australia, Mr Scott Morrison, did ask the Labor Party whether or not we were prepared to negotiate on this matter. We made our position very clear: we said we would not negotiate on any point of principle or policy and, after we had been notified of that—and you know this, Senator Whish-Wilson—I made sure that you were aware of that. I said to you that they had been talking to us and that we had rejected it. We were not going to negotiate on watering down—we call it the Bradbury amendment; other people call it the 'kidnapping' bill—the piece of legislation that we all know we are talking about here. It goes by many different names but, effectively, it was the $100 million disclosure bill, which may become a $200 million disclosure bill.
The duplicity and hypocrisy that has gone on in this place and in this chamber on this piece of legislation is outrageous. I believe there was a point of principle here that had we—and we should have—stood firm for a better deal and a better outcome, we would not be exempting right now the number of companies, the 500 or 600 companies, that are now going to be exempted.
I just want to let Senator Di Natale know of some of the companies that it appears he has let off the hook. There is Pacific Petroleum. There is the NSW Business Chamber. There is the Victoria Racing Club. There is Ego Pharmaceuticals. There is Meat & Livestock Australia. They are privately owned companies which sit somewhere between $100 million and $200 million and which now will not be under any pressure.
Let us be clear: the leverage to get a better deal was making sure that the government's measures that the government itself desperately wanted were actually using that. On this idea that we are now somehow going to get a future better deal: no, the leverage is gone. The government's position has actually been consistent on this front. I do not begrudge the government. If I could get these kinds of deals out of the Greens, I would be doing it all the time. Unlike the government, I would be taking it to my party room and I would be taking it through a proper party process. It is unbelievable that, in the world of Malcolm Turnbull and this whole good-government process, all of a sudden we find out that they are not taking these matters to the party room and they are not taking these matters to cabinet, but I imagine that is an internal matter for the Liberal Party. They can discuss it over cake in the monkeypod room.
It takes one night for the Greens to go limp. It takes one night for them to fold completely on this matter. One night with Scotty, one night with the Treasurer, and the world is their oyster. It takes one night, and Senator Di Natale will fold on every matter. It has not even been a one-night stand. They could not even get past question time together. You cannot even call it a one-night stand. There are three parties involved. There are the Greens. There are the Nats. There are the Libs. I think in the Greens party they call that group love! But they do not even make it through a day. They cannot even make it through a day.
What they have done here is that they have sold out for a cheap, quickie deal done dirty on the table of the Treasurer. You should be appalled. The fact that you are prepared to sell out tax transparency under some desperate, pathetic desire to try to claw some kind of economic relevance—and let us be clear about what Senator Di Natale has actually said. The position, he said, is this: 'If the government tell us they're not going to pass something in the lower house, we can't possibly stand firm and try to fight for things here in the Senate.' That is their position. That is the principle. The principle is: 'We will be dictated to. We will be dictated to by what the government tell us they are prepared to do and not do.' What a pathetically weak party to be doing that! What is the point of principle? What is the point of principle in that matter? What is the point of principle there?
The senator goes on. His position is this: 'But we got something! But we got something!' Well, as Adele would have said, you could have had it all. You could have had it all, Senator Di Natale. If it took you more than one night, if it took more than one night to get you, you could have had it all. And that is what you have gone ahead and done on a quick deal.