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Thursday, 19 February 1987
Page: 324

Mr HODGMAN(11.12) —This is a very reasonable amendment. I note with some interest that clause 16 provides for what will become new section 221YBA. We are into triple letters after the numerals in this wretched Income Tax Assessment Act. I thought to myself: `What does YBA mean? It must be a message from the Hawke socialist Government to the taxpayers of Australia'. It means `you're belted again'. This is a disgraceful provision. `You're belted again'-that is the theme of this legislation.

As the shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Carlton), correctly pointed out, this measure will rip out of Australian business another $90m. If the amounts are borrowed at 20 per cent for six months-my colleague, the honourable member for Streeton (Mr Lamb) will check my mathematics so that we do not have any more quibbling about misrepresentation-that is an extra $9m of interest. If the amounts are borrowed over 12 months, it becomes another $18m. This legislation, which the Government says is a mere bagatelle, will rip out of Australian business more than $100m, when businesses already are slugged to the tune of $1.8 billion under the Government's wretched new business tax.

Mr Blanchard, as you have studied the legislation, you will know that you cannot just consider clause 16 on its own. To get a proper interpretation you also have to look at clauses 17, 18 and 19 because they basically comprise the package. I make it quite clear that I am not attacking the Parliamentary Counsel, nor even my friends in the Australian Taxation Office--

Mr Hurford —And you would not attack me, would you?

Mr HODGMAN —I would not attack the Minister. Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of my admission to the Bar of the Supreme Court of Tasmania. I was admitted to the Bar on 19 February 1962, which is 25 years ago today. As one of Her Majesty's Counsel, I am saying that I cannot understand this.

Government members interjecting-

Mr HODGMAN —Moscow corner is very noisy this morning. This legislation has been 18 months in the gestation, from September 1985 to February 1987. It has taken even longer than it took the Treasurer (Mr Keating) to file his tax returns; that is how long it has taken. One could nearly breed an elephant in that time.

Mr Cunningham —On a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman: The honourable member for Denison is speaking way outside the terms of the matter before the Committee. The Treasurer's tax returns are a personal matter and have nothing at all to do with the debate before this Committee at present. I ask you to call him to order.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Blanchard) —There is no point of order. Before the honourable member for Denison resumes, I note that there is a tortuous path that the honourable member was following.

Mr O'Keefe —It is just because he doesn't understand it.

Mr HODGMAN —I understand two things about this. This legislation will impose on the taxpayers and businesses of Australia more stringent conditions than the Government is prepared to impose on itself. That is my point. In the speech of the Minister for Community Services and Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Hurford), in his reply in the House this morning, he said: `You will have to pay quarterly instead of annually'. That will mean that payments will supposedly have to be on time and, secondly, one will have to predict accurately the amount of tax to be paid by way of provisional tax, because if the estimate is out by a mere 10 per cent, down will come the nulla-nulla. That person will be branded as a tax cheat and slugged 20 per cent additional tax.

I put it to you, Mr Blanchard, that that is taxation by blackmail and thuggery. Why does this Government, which preached and sermonised on tax morality last year ad nauseam, impose on taxpayers and businesses stricter standards than it is prepared to impose on itself? I take the honourable member's point of order. I would dearly love to speak, as I know the facts of the Keating performance and I also know the facts of the Dawkins performance, but I will not go into those matters.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —Order! I again remind the honourable member not to transgress my ruling.

Mr HODGMAN —No, but I do know that the Australian Taxation Office in Hobart has a code which goes on files, which is HLL. That stands for `habitual later lodger'. Apparently it is now on the computers.

Mr Cunningham —How do you know? Have they been chasing you up?

Mr HODGMAN —I pay my tax when required and as required. The honourable member should not have a shot at me when cheating Keating is prepared to be two financial years late in filing his returns. I ask him to withdraw.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —Order! I ask the honourable member for Denison to withdraw that remark.

Mr HODGMAN —He will withdraw the imputation against me. I do not owe the Tax Office one cent. I am not like Dawkins, I am not like Keating and I do not want to be in prison.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr O'Keefe —I raise a point of order. Mr Deputy Chairman, it is not on for the honour- able member for Denison to refer to the Federal Treasurer as cheating Keating. I insist that he withdraw that remark.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —I take your point of order. I have asked the honourable member to withdraw those words.

Mr HODGMAN —Mr Deputy Chairman, I will withdraw, provided you make him withdraw that I owe the Taxation Office, because I do not owe it one cent. I will withdraw, but he should withdraw.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —The honour- able member has withdrawn. He will proceed with his speech.

Mr Donald Cameron —I raise a point of order. The honourable member for McMillan made an imputation against the high-standing reputation of a Queen's Counsel of 25 years. I think you should play it fair and make him withdraw.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —That is a frivolous point of order. Please resume your seat.

Mr HODGMAN —I am sorry, Mr Chairman, but I have to speak to the point of order. May I say that, as tax evasion is grounds for striking legal practitioners from the roll, I call on you as a fair Chairman to make the honourable member withdraw what he said.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —Order! I did not hear the words that were uttered on the Government side of the chamber--

Mr HODGMAN —He said: `Have you paid your tax?'.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —That was mainly because I was trying to listen to the honourable member for Denison and trying to get him to stand down. I ask the honourable member to proceed with his speech.

Mr HODGMAN —I will inform you of what he said and then I will ask him to withdraw it. He said `Have you paid your tax?', the imputation being that I had not. The fact is that I have. I call on the honourable member for Cunningham to withdraw the imputation. Mr Deputy Chairman, you made me withdraw my comments about cheating Keating and Dawkins and the bottom of the sandpit tax fraud. I ask you to make the honourable member withdraw what he said.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —I again remind the honourable member for Denison that I did not hear those words. As I did not hear them, I am not in a position to ask for the honourable member for McMillan to withdraw them. It would help the Committee if the honourable member for Denison continued his speech.

Mr HODGMAN —I will. Mr Deputy Chairman, it is a tragedy that you did not hear those words. Let me put on the record that my accountants in Hobart are Wise, Lord and Ferguson. If the honourable member has anything to say about my tax, I invite him to say it outside the chamber. I will very happily meet him on the right end of a Supreme Court writ for substantial damages. He is on the way out politically, anyway. If I can help him on his way, I am happy to do so.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —Order! Once again, I invite the honourable member to continue with the debate.

Mr HODGMAN —The Government says: `We want everybody in Australia to pay provisional tax, right on the knocker, every three months, and we want you to be so correct that you are not out by more than 10 per cent'. When are we to hear in this Parliament the amount involved in the case of the habitual late lodger the Treasurer? If the Government is prepared to demand that the taxpayers of Australia be on time, why does it not demand that he be on time?

Mr Cunningham —Mr Deputy Chairman, I raise a point of order. Once again, the honourable member is attacking the personal life of a member of this Parliament. I ask him to withdraw that statement.

Mr HODGMAN —He ought to be in prison-the honourable member knows it, and I know it-and so should Dawkins.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —Order! The honourable member has been asked to withdraw a statement.

Mr HODGMAN —I did not hear what he wants me to withdraw.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —I ask you to withdraw the statement.

Mr HODGMAN —I am sorry, but I did not hear what he wants me to withdraw. I am told that the Treasurer has made a full confession in the Parliament, so what is the secret? It is public property. Why is the Government putting the axe into the taxpayers of this country when its front bench is riddled with tax cheats and crooks?

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. He will heed the Chair; otherwise he might find himself in some difficulty later.