Senate debates

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Bills

Treasury Laws Amendment (Working Holiday Maker Employer Register) Bill 2017; In Committee

10:52 am

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

That's very different to their statement, 'The register has chosen not to make these details publicly available to address concerns raised in the community.' You're coming at it from the other way and saying no-one's lobbied them to release the details of this register. But let me tell you, this bloody register was part of this legislation that this house voted on. It was part of the legislation that we voted on. It was part of the deal that we did with the government when we passed the backpacker legislation. It's become abundantly clear this morning that the only person who wants this is Senator Leyonhjelm, and the ATO commissioner has made a decision based on Senator Leyonhjelm.

Now, I don't know: has Senator Leyonhjelm had a discussion, a personal conversation, with the ATO commissioner? He's not in here. Has he written to the ATO commissioner requesting that this not be released? I asked you earlier, Minister, if anyone in government had instructed the commissioner to not release this register, and you said, 'No'. Something doesn't stack up here. It doesn't stack up. You haven't instructed the commissioner. Has Senator Leyonhjelm instructed the commissioner or even asked the commissioner? What's going on?

The CHAIR: Senator Whish-Wilson.

Minister, you chose not to answer my question, which you are entitled to do. And I know that I'm only allowed to ask one more question without another senator standing up to continue this debate, so I hope there will be another senator in the chamber who will stand up and ask you a question if you refuse to answer my questions. And let me tell you, your silence is deafening and it's damning on this issue. We have been led to believe that there's some kind of matter of public interest in relation to this register not being released, and yet today you can't give us any details on why the Commissioner of Taxation has used their discretion not to release this register.

I'll ask you again, Minister Seselja: what information do you have here today as to why the ATO have used their discretion? Are you sticking with your line that, apart from Senator Leyonhjelm, no-one else has lobbied for the information to be released? Is it that the ATO don't want to do the work? Is it just a simple matter of: they don't have the resources and it's something that they don't have the time and effort to focus on if they don't believe it's a matter of public interest? How can legislation that's passed by this place be ignored?

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