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Thursday, 25 September 2008
Page: 72

Mr BOWEN (Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs, and Assistant Treasurer) (4:50 PM) —in reply—I thank all honourable members who have contributed to this debate. The Tax Laws Amendment (Political Contributions and Gifts) Bill 2008 forms part of our mandate to govern. We campaigned on abolishing the tax deductibility of political donations. We had a clear election commitment to do so. Political parties receive considerable public funding. We do not believe they should receive further public funding through the tax deductibility of political donations.

This bill is also a savings measure, one of many the government is taking through this place and through the other place. We again call on the opposition to support this measure in this House and in the other house. We do not need another talkfest from the opposition. We do need another inquiry to determine whether this is the right thing to do. This is a measure that the Australian people would warmly welcome. It is a measure that the Labor Party campaigned on. It was a clear part of our election campaign. The previous government tried three times to increase the threshold on tax deductibility. They tried it in 1998, they tried it after the 1998 election and they tried it in 2006. On the first two occasions they introduced this into the parliament it was defeated in the other place. Of course, on the third occasion, in 2006, it was supported in the other place because the Liberal Party and National Party had a majority in their own right.

The 2006 changes were part of their wider reforms—if I can use the term ‘reform’ very loosely—which increased the disclosure threshold, for example, from $1,500 to $10,000, which I know the honourable member for Melbourne Ports referred to. That meant that you could make a substantial donation by spreading your donations across state and territory entities. The opposition in this debate have continued to argue valiantly to defend the tax deductibility of political donations. I do not believe that is something the Australian people would welcome, and I certainly commend this bill to the House.

Question put:

That this bill be now read a second time.