Thursday, 3 December 2015
Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015; In Committee
On Senator Dastyari's passionate statement about how we could have actually had a deal here tonight, let's be very clear what we are talking about. He said we had the numbers as a Senate. We had the numbers for a political outcome, not for a policy outcome. There is a big difference between actually getting a bill passed into legislation and getting a political outcome that you can go and do a press conference on.
The point I wanted to make about grandfathering is that with companies over $200 million it does not matter if they are grandfathered; there are nearly 300 companies that will now have to disclose. It does not matter that you are grandfathered; you will still have to disclose that basic financial information that this bill outlines.
Let's be clear: Senator Muir initially put up this amendment around grandfathering not because he wanted to get rid of it; he did it because of a technicality. His original amendment going back to the first bill made it clear that he did not want people distorting the sensitive information. He did not want tabloids, greenies or whoever beating people up because of this information. And it was a sensible thing. He said: 'Let them go through and look at ASIC's accounts so they can actually get a clearer picture of all the information there.' Following that, he discovered that some companies do not file with ASIC, because they have this grandfather amendment. So he said, 'Well, if I'm going to stick to my principles here, every company has to have their info on the ASIC register.' That is where it has come from. It has not come from a desire to get rid of it per se.
I want to make it clear that, with the transparency that we have in place here for companies over $200 million, it does not matter if you are grandfathered or not; you will be on this list. If people want to know more about your financial affairs and they cannot find it, that is going to be a very good incentive to put your accounts on ASIC. This is the important factor that we are dealing with here. We are building momentum towards getting that transparency that we want in place. Do not ignore this fact: if you vote against this tonight, you are voting against having a version of the Bradbury legislation—or the kidnap bill or whatever you want to call it. We have at least got that tonight. Let's be very clear about that. And it does not matter if you have been grandfathered or not; you are going to have to put your information on there. So, we have actually delivered a very good result on this.