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Tuesday, 18 October 1983
Page: 1830

Mr HOWARD —Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented.

Mr SPEAKER —Does the honourable gentleman wish to make a personal explanation?


Mr SPEAKER —He claims to have been misrepresented. I call the honourable member for Bennelong.

Mr HOWARD —In the course of his remarks the Minister for Finance (Mr Dawkins) said that on this matter I had misrepresented his position and he invited me to apologise. I inform the honourable gentleman that if at any stage I do misrepresent his position I will be only too happy to apologise to him. But the explanation he gave the House, far from establishing that I had misrepresented his position, in fact confirmed the accuracy of everything that I had said. The honourable gentleman will recall that I asked him on 11 October whether he would have a liability-and I quote:

. . . subject to the provisions of the Taxation (Unpaid Company Tax) Assessment Act, commonly known as the bottom of the harbour legislation passed by this Parliament last year? Will the honourable gentleman's liability under that Act be limited only by the extent of the shareholding of Coomel in Metro Industries and the discretion of the Commissioner of Taxation?

The letter that the honourable gentleman read out a moment ago stated, to the best of my recollection because I have not been shown it, that the Commissioner informed him that the company would be relieved from liability for an assessment under the Act. That, to my way of thinking, and the thinking of the House, confirms precisely what I had said. The honourable gentleman says that I had placed great store on a letter from the Commissioner of Taxation. That is true. The honourable gentleman's problem is that, although I placed great store on it, he did not. It was his refusal to accept the totally clean bill of health provided by the Commissioner of Taxation last year to Mr Reid which represented the gravamen of the charge I made against him last week. What I said and what I stand by-the honourable gentleman has not refuted this-is that at the conclusion of his speech on 12 October 1982 he said:

What we are saying is that, quite clearly, the companies with which Mr Reid was associated--

he said was 'associated', not associated as a director or a shareholder, but ' associated'-

were involved in avoiding--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is moving a long way from showing where he was misrepresented. He is now indulging in a debate.

Mr HOWARD —With respect, I was invited to apologise to a Minister of the Government.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked for leave to make a personal explanation on the ground that he was misrepresented. Such indulgence is given to allow him to show where he was personally misrepresented. He is indulging in debate; he is not showing where he was misrepresented and correcting it.

Mr HOWARD —The honourable gentleman incorrectly alleged in the course of his remarks that I had misrepresented his position. I point out, with respect to you , Mr Speaker, and to the House that explaining my position surely is relevant to the question of misrepresentation. But I will bring my remarks to a conclusion with a very simple comment; at no stage have I ever alleged that the honourable gentleman's company's ownership of shares in Metro Industries Ltd represented per se an act of evasion. My criticism of the Minister was his refusal last week , and his continued refusal today, to apply to his own conduct and his own association with that company the standard he so unreasonable demanded of Mr Reid and others last year. I do not owe him an apology. I think, according to his standard, he owes this House a resignation.