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Wednesday, 15 July 1998
Page: 6146


Mr RICHARD EVANS —My question is addressed to the Treasurer.

Opposition members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Opposition members will remain silent.


Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, on a point of order—


Miss Jackie Kelly —You cannot take a point of order on a question.


Mr SPEAKER —I will hear the point of order after I have heard the question.


Mr RICHARD EVANS —Is the government, Treasurer, committed to ensuring that all taxpayers pay their fair share of tax?


Opposition members —What about Parer?


Mr SPEAKER —Members of the opposition will remain silent.


Mr RICHARD EVANS —Will you, Treasurer, give an assurance that sham transactions designed to avoid tax will not be permitted?


Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We asked the government to have a full question time and they said it should not go beyond 45 minutes. This question is being asked because they mucked it up last time. The plagiarist of the House could not get it right then.


Mr SPEAKER —You have made your point of order. You will resume your seat.


Mr Reith —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: the opposition this morning were complaining that 45 minutes was not enough. I think a few extra minutes is very generous.


Mr SPEAKER —The Leader of the House will resume his seat. Let me make the response that I gave to others—that is, question time's duration, as everyone in this place should know, is at the discretion of the Prime Minister.


Mr Crean —It is on that point, Mr Speaker—


Mr SPEAKER —I have ruled on the point of order. The member for Hotham will resume his seat. The point of order has been heard and ruled on.


Mr Crean —I have another point of order.


Mr SPEAKER —Do you have another point of order?


Mr Crean —My other point of order is this: I accept the fact that question time is at the direction of the Prime Minister.


Mr SPEAKER —It is not for you to accept or not.


Mr Crean —However, they advised us before this happened that it should only be 45 minutes. They have broken it because they mucked up to get the muckup in this House.


Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hotham will resume his seat.

Government members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Members of the government will remain silent. If the member for Hotham persists in making points of order which are not, he can expect to be dealt with in the appropriate way.


Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —I assure the honourable member for Cowan that as far as the government is concerned the government believes that all taxpayers should pay their fair share of tax. This government has been more active than any other in ensuring that that is the case. This was the government that closed down the R&D syndicates, which the member for Hotham protected as a tax minimisation device. This was the government that was prepared to deal with superannuation. This was the government that introduced thin capitalisation rules. This was the government that changed the foreign investment rules. This was the government that introduced the measures against dividend streaming. This was the government that introduced the measures against trading in franking credits.

From time to time people send to me as the Treasurer material which they believe indicates that taxpayers have not been paying their just and due liabilities. I should make it clear that the administration of the tax laws in this country is the responsibility of the Commissioner of Taxation. Under the Income Tax Assessment Act, the affairs of taxpayers in the hands of the Commissioner of Taxation are protected by privacy legislation and they are not disclosed to me or to anybody else. In relation to any tax matters that are sent to me, I pass them on to the Commissioner of Taxation, which is his responsibility. In relation to any other person who has material which they believe indicates or warrants an investigation, it should also be passed on to the Commissioner of Taxation for a due investigation.


Mr Brereton —How much did you get for your Clayton Utz consultancy and who actually paid you?


Mr SPEAKER —I warn the member for Kingsford-Smith.


Mr COSTELLO —I am sure that the Commissioner of Taxation will ensure that they do receive due investigation and that the Commissioner of Taxation will ensure that the law is properly enforced. I want to conclude by saying one thing. I was rather amused by the member for Hotham who walked to the dispatch box and complained that the government was going to put muckup in the House of Representatives. All I can say is that you and your dirty tricks, little eunuch, have been the world exemplars of that little tactic.


Mr Howard —Mr Speaker, I have finally been persuaded by the member for Hotham. His charm, his eloquence and the sheer power of his advocacies invite me to ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper .


Mr SPEAKER —I am glad to hear that you are persuaded.