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Monday, 28 August 2000
Page: 16731


Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) (4:04 PM) —I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—

TAXATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL (No. 7) 2000

This bill will amend the income tax law to allow deductions for donations of $2 or more made to:

. the Community Disaster Relief (Sydney Hail Storm Assistance) Fund;

. the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial Fund;

. the Global Foundation;

. the United Hellenic Earthquake Appeal;

. the Foundation for Gambling Studies;

. the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal Public Fund;

. the RSL and 6th Division Australian-Hellenic Educational Memorial Fund and the Mount Macedon Memorial Cross Restoration; and

. the Development and Maintenance Trust Fund.

In addition this bill will amend the Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalments regime to:

. simplify the way beneficiaries who are absolutely entitled to the assets of a trust and beneficiaries of certain investment trusts work out their instalment income; and

. minimise the compliance burden on the trustees of those trusts

while maintaining the PAYG instalments base.

The bill proposes amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, the Income Tax (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997 and the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 by correcting unintended consequences made by the rewrite of the provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 resulting from the Tax Law Improvement Act (No. 1) 1998. In addition, some minor amendments will also be made to the readability of those rewritten provisions.

The amendments will, generally, apply to assessments for the 1998-99 income year and later income years.

The bill also proposes amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997:

to ensure that the integrity measures relating to the CGT general discount operate more appropriately; and

to clarify and ensure that the provisions concerning the CGT small business concessions have the intended consequences.

The amendments will apply to CGT events occurring after 11.45 am AEST on 21 September 1999.

There is a minor technical amendment in the bill that replaces an incorrect reference to `foreign public official' with `public official' in the section that deals with non-deductibility of bribes to public officials.

Full details of the measures in this bill are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SERVICES (2000 BUDGET AND RELATED MEASURES) BILL 2000

The Bill deals with a range of initiatives announced in the 2000 Budget relating to the provision of greater flexibility and choice in child care, youth allowance family assets test, the period for data-matching of income details, the exclusion of payments made under the ABSTUDY Scheme from the income test and the protection people affected by the termination of the Agreement on social security between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Australia.

There is a demand for more flexible child care from families whose needs are not met from existing services. The `Greater Flexibility and Choice in Child Care` initiative will improve families ability to access and choose child care that meets their needs. Shift workers, families working non-standard hours, those who have a sick child or who live in rural and remote areas without access to care will particularly gain through this initiative. The choice of child care services will be increased by making in-home care more accessible than it is at present. This Bill makes amendments that are necessary to ensure that care provided by approved in-home care services will qualify families using that care for child care benefit.

The Bill increases the exemption for a person's interest in business assets under the youth allowance family assets test. Currently this exemption stands at 50%, but the Bill increases the exemption to 75%. This will generally make youth allowance payable to young people from families with business assets of up to $1.658 million. The change shows the Government's support of families, particularly those in rural areas. About 7,200 young people should benefit from the measure.

At present, the matching of income details under the Data-matching Program under the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 is limited to the two most recently completed financial years. The Bill proposes an amendment to extend this period to the four most recently completed financial years. In doing so, it will increase the ability to detect people who commit fraud against the social security system by deliberate action, or engaging in artificial tax schemes that minimise their declared income and their tax liability and allow them to obtain a social security payment.

The Privacy Commissioner's Office was consulted in the development of this proposal and all data matching will be undertaken in strict observance with the other requirements of the Act.

The measures relating to the exclusion of payments made under the ABSTUDY Scheme remove the anomaly between these payments and the income test. This will achieve equity in the treatment of ABSTUDY Scheme recipients with that of other income support recipients. It will also ensure that ABSTUDY Scheme recipients are treated consistently with other income support recipients.

The Bill also provides for the protection of people affected by the termination of the Social Security Agreement with the United Kingdom. People who migrated to Australia on or before 1 March 2000, the date written notice of the termination of the Social Security Agreement with the United Kingdom was formally served, will be “protected”. This measure will enable these people to get early access to age pension, even after the Agreement terminates on 1 March 2001 because they will be able to use their periods of contributions to the United Kingdom social security system as periods of qualifying Australian residence.

Debate (on motion by Senator Ludwig) adjourned.

Ordered that the bills be listed on the Notice Paper as separate orders of the day.