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Tuesday, 18 November 1986
Page: 2372

Senator GILES —The Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry and the Treasurer is apparently aware of a report in the Sun-Herald on 16 November that National Party Deputy Leader Ralph Hunt had sent 50 copies of the Australia Card Bill to the National Farmers Federation warning it that the Australia Card would have to be produced at cattle sales for every transaction. Does the Australia Card legislation require production of the card at livestock sales? Has tax evasion been a feature of livestock sales in the past?

Senator WALSH —What will be required for livestock sales, assuming they are being conducted through an agent, is that the agent when first doing business with a client will require the production of the card. He will record the card number of the client and ultimately remit that information to the Australian Taxation Office. For subsequent transactions with that agent the production of the card will not be required because the agent has already satisfied the obligation to ensure that the person who is selling the livestock is who he claims to be. It is very necessary to ensure that the sellers of livestock sell the livestock in the correct name and that the transactions are reported.

I remember that some years ago in the central wheat belt of Western Australia, the area from which I come, pig sales were conducted regularly-fortnightly I think-at a town called Merredin. Every time there was a pig sale the banks, which were located in an adjoining town, used to give Elder Smith a gladstone bag full of crinkly bank notes that would then be taken up to Merredin to the pig sale and handed over to the farmers who sold pigs in names such as Ned Kelly, Bob Menzies and so on. Elder Smith was doing that even before John Elliott took it over. The stock agents, of course, were clearly collaborating in a major tax evasion exercise which flourished for years. The reason it flourished was that the identity of the seller was not accurately recorded on the sale transaction or reported to the Taxation Office. With the Australia Card that sort of taxation fraud will become impossible. Indeed, I think it was virtually wiped out in the Merredin area some time ago. I do not know whether we should assume from Mr Hunt's recent complaint about the tightening up and proper identification of the sellers of livestock that it still flourishes in Mr Hunt's electorate. If it does, perhaps that explains why he is complaining about the introduction of the Australia Card.

The example which I have just given-I know it was a pretty spectacular one because it flourished for years-of gladstone bags stuffed full of bank notes that were taken up from Kellerberrin to Merredin every second week by the stock agents drives home very clearly the point of how essential it is that the seller of goods be properly identified and that the Taxation Office be aware of the transaction. That is something that the Australia Card will ensure occurs.