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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 14764


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (21:36): Because of the amendments that the Greens secured in the Senate, Australians will now be able to know how much tax 7-Eleven pays, and Labor said, 'No, we don't want Australians to know how much tax 7-Eleven pays,' Because of the amendments that the Greens secured in the Senate, we will now know how much tax the multinational world's biggest coal miner Glencore pays. They have generated $15 billion in revenue and paid no tax in Australia. The Greens were able to secure amendments, stare down the government and say, 'We want this published,' and we have got it. Labor has said, 'We want to keep secret how much tax the multinational company Glencore pays.' Because of the amendments that the Greens secured in the Senate, we will know how much tax is paid by over 280 private companies, many of whom had their tax arrangements kept secret under Paul Keating. Because of the amendments that the Greens secured in the Senate, we will be able to know how much tax is paid by some of the wealthiest private companies in Australia, who donate to the Labor and Liberal parties.

We have secured these amendments. We secured the Senate inquiry that said that it is a disgrace that in Australia people do not know how much tax these multinational companies and these private companies pay. The inquiry said that we need to amend our taxation laws so that private companies in Australia are no longer able to hide their affairs, and we need to amend our tax laws so that companies have to file general purpose accounts instead of filing special purpose accounts. Now we have got it. We have wound back some of the secrecy that Labor imposed, and we on our way to having a well-informed debate in this country about how much tax people pay.

I want to remind the House of a very interesting article that gives the lie to the confected outrage that we have heard in the last afternoon from the Labor Party. Michael West in The Age says this:

Labor, too, had worked hard to legislate these amendments. Their angst was understandable. In political terms it was, as the chairman of the Inquiry into Corporate Tax Avoidance Sam Dastyari framed it, a treacherous compromise, before he had a laugh and conceded the outcome was not too bad

So outraged were Labor about this that they sent an email around to all of their members saying, 'Call the Greens and complain about it.'

When people called us we explained that, because of these amendments, over 280 of the wealthiest Australian companies will have to disclose how much tax they have to pay, and, because of these amendments, multinational companies will have to explain how much tax they have to pay. We kept a record: 95 per cent of the Labor callers who called us have now said, 'That's great—we're going to vote Greens as a result of it.' So thank you very much for that campaign. So confected is Labor's outrage that, when it came to it in the Senate about an hour and a half ago, they did not even call a division to vote against this bill. I bet—you wait and see—they will put up half a fight against these amendments and then they will let this bill go through as well, because Labor know in their heart of hearts that what we have achieved now is that more than 280 Australian companies have to tell the population how much tax they have to pay, and, for the first time, multinational companies are going to have to disclose how much tax they have to pay.

What we know is that, when they have to tell the Australian people how much tax they have to pay, the Australian people—like people have done in the UK—will say, 'Well, that's not enough, and we want more.' When people know how little tax these wealthy companies are paying, they will say: 'We don't want a GST. Let's make multinationals pay their fair share.' Instead of having a GST, let us ask multinationals to pay their fair share of tax, because that is what the Greens believe in: tax reform should start at the top, not at the bottom. It should start with multinational companies, making them disclose how much tax they have to pay. When people know how much tax they have to pay, we will not be having a debate about a GST anymore. We will be saying, 'Let's make the top one per cent pay their fair share,' and the Greens will have contributed towards that.