Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 19 October 1983
Page: 1919

Mr HOWARD —I refer the Treasurer to the letter of 17 October 1983 from the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in Perth in relation to Coomel Pty Ltd. In doing so let me assure the honourable gentleman that I do not take issue in any way with the contents of that letter. I believe that the Deputy Commissioner in that letter correctly interprets and applies the 1982 recoupment legislation passed by this Parliament. I ask: Is it not a fact that this letter confirms that the Taxation (Unpaid Company Tax) Assessment Act 1982 applies to the ownership of shares by Coomel Pty Ltd in Metro Industries Ltd at the time of the sale by that latter company of the company known as Treamog Pty Ltd? Is it not also a fact that the Deputy Commissioner proposes to exercise his discretion to relieve Coomel of any recoupment liability arising from its ownership of shares in the circumstances I have just stated, on the ground that Coomel did not derive any benefit from the sale of Treamog by Metro? Can the Treasurer therefore assure the House that other shareholders in public companies which might be affected by the 1982 recoupment legislation, who likewise derived no benefit from sales by those companies, will receive precisely the same treatment from the Australian Taxation Office? Can the Treasurer also assure the House that any assessments already issued under the 1982 legislation to public company shareholders who derived no benefit from sales affected by that legislation will be cancelled forthwith?

Mr KEATING —I take it that the clear implication in the honourable gentleman's question is that in no way have I exercised any influence on the Commissioner of Taxation in respect of that notice.

Mr Peacock —He did not say that at all.

Mr KEATING —Let us be clear about that. It is, I think, clear that there is a discretion in the legislation which the honourable gentleman himself introduced. If, in the Commissioner's view, there is no benefit an assessment need not be raised, but that discretion resides with the Commissioner. The matter gets back to this question of innocence. The point is whether innocence can be distinguished and I think it is difficult for anyone to determine from this distance whether in fact there was a benefit from shares as a result of the bottoming of a particular company. The power to make that judgment resides with the Taxation Commissioner. He has that discretion. That discretion has been exercised in the case of Coomel and the matter is one for the Taxation Commissioner.