Thursday, 3 December 2015
Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015; In Committee
I have to correct Senator Dastyari, as hesitant as I am to contribute to this debate at this late hour. Senator Dastyari suggested that grandfathering was introduced with the intention of it being temporary. That is just false. The grandfathering arrangements were introduced by the Keating government in 1995. If you want to make something temporary, either you give something delayed effect in the legislation or you have transitional arrangements. Grandfathering by definition is that you do not want a new piece of legislation to apply to those that had previous arrangements put in place under the previous legislation.
For example, in September 1985 the capital gains tax came into effect—also with Mr Keating as Treasurer and under the Hawke Labor government—and all pre-1985 assets were grandfathered. Now, I have not heard the Labor Party suggest that these grandfathering arrangements should have been changed, and of course they should not be changed, because it would be entirely unreasonable. When you make changes to the tax laws, in order for people to be able to have confidence in the system, in order for people to be able to plan their personal affairs with some certainty, people need to have confidence that, when government changes the rules on them, changes when it comes to tax arrangements are prospective changes.
Senator Dastyari interjecting—
Of course you change things prospectively, Senator Dastyari. But to suggest that it was the intention of the Keating Labor government for this to be a temporary—
An opposition senator interjecting—
Oh, so there was a review? A review? Well, in 1997, two years later, they just happened to be in opposition. If only they had stayed in government, it would have all been different! Well, why then did the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments not change it? Why then did the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments never touch it? This is just complete hypocrisy.
We know that Senator Dastyari has been able to make a lot of political hay for himself out of this whole issue. He is not interested in the outcome. Senator Di Natale is quite right. He is just interested in the headlines. He is interested in the colour and movement. He is interested in being able to jump up and down in front of the cameras. Senator Dastyari has no interest at all in actually achieving an outcome.
So what I would say here, Senator Dastyari, is: stop misleading the Senate. The grandfathering arrangement we are talking about here was put in place by the Keating government. It was kept in place by the Howard government. It was kept in place by the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments. And we do not believe that in the context of an important piece of legislation, given that this has been considered on a number of occasions, we should just, on the fly, make this sort of change. That is why we are not supporting this.