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Tuesday, 28 May 1996
Page: 1502

Mr ROCHER —My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer introduce amendments to taxation laws to allow to develop domestically an internationally competitive market trading in what is known as contingent debt or, as has sometimes happened in the recent past, will it be left to the Commissioner of Taxation to use discretionary powers to make piecemeal laws for this new synthetic investment product which operates overseas in a very impressively growing market?

Mr COSTELLO —Let me say in answer to the honourable member that the government takes responsibility in relation to tax matters and in relation to any taxation changes that are needed in order to facilitate the trading of those new products. Unquestionably, the Commissioner of Taxation will have some advice, but the government will take the policy decisions.

I should also indicate to you that the government has already taken decisions to improve new financial products through the taxation system, particularly in relation to bank equity investment in small and medium enterprises. We are also having a look at other measures which involve changes in relation to withholding taxes—a matter on which I have had a number of representations. But in answer to your question—

Mr Crean —Do you know what the question is?

Mr COSTELLO —We know what the question is, old son.

Mr Crean —Do you know the answer?

Mr COSTELLO —What is more, old son, we know the answer. It is not something you would have learned at ACTU congresses, either.

Mr Howard —I wouldn't bet on it.

Mr COSTELLO —Do you think they might have? The only things you learned at ACTU congresses were how to exempt seafarers from income tax—and there was a lot of talk about that, wasn't there?—and how to get exemptions for builders' labourers. In answer to your question as to whether the commissioner will take the decision or whether the government will take the decision, it will be the government that will make the policy decision.