Senate debates

Monday, 17 September 2018


Treasury Laws Amendment (Black Economy Taskforce Measures No. 1) Bill 2018; In Committee

4:46 pm

Photo of Zed SeseljaZed Seselja (ACT, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance) Share this | Hansard source

When I was cut off, I was responding to questions from Senator Macdonald and also Senator Paterson. In responding to Senator Macdonald, I pointed out that, in fact, the response to the Black Economy Taskforce was one very important part of the debate in the committee stage of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Black Economy Taskforce Measures No. 1) Bill 2018 and more broadly. It is part of a broader suite of measures which include: expanding the taxable payments reporting system; introducing an illicit tobacco package to target the three main sources of illicit tobacco—smuggling, warehouse leakage and domestic production; modernising business registers and consulting on reforms to the Australian business number system; introducing an economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000 for payments made to businesses for goods and services from 1 July 2019; removing tax deductibility of noncompliant payments from 1 July 2019, which will mean business will no longer be able to claim a tax deduction for employee wages where the business has failed to withhold; and increasing the integrity of the Commonwealth procurement process by requiring all businesses tendering for Commonwealth government contracts over $4 million to provide a statement from the ATO certifying that they are generally compliant with their tax obligations.

To specifically answer one of the questions that was put forward by Senator Paterson in relation to the amendments that were made in the House of Representatives, this bill does require businesses offering cleaning or courier services to report payments they make to other businesses providing those services. The government, in responding to this, acted on stakeholder advice that it is important to relieve businesses from reporting where the payment to be reported represents only a small part of the overall activity of the business. The amendments exempt a business from reporting where payments to cleaners or couriers are less than 10 per cent of the total GST turnover of the business.

Senator Paterson made some remarks about the overall red tape burden. I obviously agree with much of his contribution, where he pointed to the fact that the former government was very much pointing almost as if to a KPI as to how many pieces of legislation they had passed. Many of those pieces of legislation added a regulatory burden for business, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises. Senator Paterson talked about some of the great work the IPA has done to reduce red tape, which is in line with the government's approach that, yes, there are times when this kind of regulation is very important. I commend this regulation to the Senate. We have listened to those stakeholder concerns but, as Senator Paterson pointed out, we have a long record of looking where we can, where it is appropriate. Where this red tape and this regulation is unnecessary, we have taken the approach that we will do all we can to mitigate it. Yes, there is all sorts of important regulation, including of the black economy, but where we can mitigate it we do. In this case, to answer Senator Paterson's question, we very much listened to stakeholder concerns and came to the conclusion that the amendments to exempt a business from reporting where payments to cleaners or couriers are less than 10 per cent of the total GST turnover of the business is the appropriate balance to be struck.


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