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Tuesday, 9 May 2017
Page: 12

Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaMinister for Small Business) (12:54): In an earlier offering the member for Fenner questioned the amount of tax being paid by our big multinationals, but he knows as well as anyone that the profits diversion tax legislation—I hope Labor supports it—is, hopefully, going through. He knows also that there is a crackdown on multinational tax avoidance. The Turnbull government's tough new laws provide the Australian Taxation Office with the powers and indeed the penalties that it needs to ensure the Australian people receive the tax owed to them.

Australian small businesses open their doors, pay rent, turn the power on—in South Australia sometimes they do not get that option, because of the Weatherill government there and its manic policies, which are quite unreasonable—and pay their staff. Small businesses pay rates and all the rest. Why is it fair that they are open for business and multinationals operating in Australia are not? That is why the Treasurer and the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services put out a joint media release on 6 April—

Dr Chalmers interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: Member for Rankin, this is a good media release, unlike some of those written by those opposite. In the release the two aforementioned ministers said that the ATO has made significant progress and confirmed that it has raised $2.9 billion in tax liabilities against a group of seven multinational companies. That was money that was escaping the net when Labor was in power. That was money that was escaping the net when the now member for Rankin was providing advice for the member for Lilley, the then Treasurer.

Indeed, the ATO is auditing 59 multinational corporations and hundreds of other companies to ensure that compliance with our taxation laws, including the government's new multinational anti-avoidance law, is followed through. The Treasurer said:

Our multinational tax laws are having an impact and we now have one of the toughest, if not the toughest, anti-avoidance tax regimes in the world. Multinational companies are being put on notice.

He continued:

The Australian people expect all corporations to pay the right amount of tax

He is right, of course. Minister O'Dwyer said that it was important that everyday Australians pay their tax. They cannot avoid it, so it is absolutely right that any large corporation that is not paying the right amount of tax should be vigorously pursued by the ATO through the court system.

A special 1,000-strong task force within the Australian Taxation Office has been investigating the tax arrangements of a large number of companies, including multinational corporations operating in Australia. The ATO crackdown includes 71 audits in the large business area and covers 59 multinational corporations—this is underway—as well as hundreds of other companies being reviewed for compliance. According to the tax office, at least seven major national audits are expected to come to a head before the end of this financial year: four in e-commerce and three in the energy and resource industries sector. As a result of this, the tax office has confirmed that it has so far issued $2.9 billion in tax liabilities due for multinational enterprises. That is important. It is expected that some of these will be settled by the companies involved and others are likely to be litigated.

One way or the other, the money is owed to Australia. One way or the other, it needs to be spent on schools, roads, health facilities and all those important things. Australian companies pay tax; why shouldn't the multinationals? That is why this legislation brought into this place by this government and passed through the Senate is so crucial, so integral to making sure that companies are paying their fair share. The ATO has recently met with 175 affected taxpayers or their advisers about their structures and to ensure they are compliant with the requirements under this legislation. Combating tax avoidance, especially by multinational corporations, will assist in ensuring the government can sustainably fund the services that all Australians rely upon, that all Australians demand, expect and deserve. Labor opposed and voted against the legislation, would you believe? They are all talk when it comes to multinational tax—all talk. We have heard the member for Rankin do it. The government is getting on with the job of ensuring that multinationals pay the right amount of tax. I thought I would make those few points so that the member for Fenner, who raised this earlier, was advised of the correct legislation in the House.