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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2599


Mr HODGMAN(4.54) —The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Milton) revealed in his comments on the Sea Installations Bill and cognate Bills the unreal approach that he and his colleagues have taken in relation to environmental matters involving the State of Tasmania. I can assure honourable members opposite from the bottom of my heart that their speeches have guaranteed without any shadow of doubt that in Tasmania the Australian Labor Party will not win one single seat in the next House of Representatives election and it will be flat out holding even two Senate seats.


Mr Chynoweth —I take a point of order. Madam Deputy Speaker, this has nothing at all to do with the legislation under discussion. I wonder whether you could ask the honourable member to direct his remarks to the legislation that is being discussed.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Darling) —I accept that point of order. I ask the honourable member for Denison to ensure that his comments directly relate to the legislation before the House.


Mr HODGMAN —Absolutely, Madam Deputy Speaker. Thank you for that assistance. I use that example as an analogy. The attitude of the honourable member for La Trobe to this legislation, as was evidenced by his speech, is as unreal as his attitude was in relation to Tasmania. This is interesting legislation. I just want to take a short time to comment on some aspects of it that I think are worthy of comment and which should be placed on the record at this time. Once again there is a determination, as evidenced by the legislation, by the Commonwealth to exercise jurisdiction over off-shore activities in a situation which, up until 10 years ago, was still the subject of very considerable constitutional debate. Whilst the States, and particularly Queensland and Western Australia which are directly affected by this legislation, may not be as concerned as they might have been a decade ago about the implications of such legislation, I have to say that every time I see an exercise of Commonwealth power in areas which were previously regarded traditionally as areas of State responsibility, I feel sorry and I express concern about the future of the Federal system as we once knew it. The plain fact of the matter is that the Commonwealth is exercising a power which will involve, on an agency basis, what has been described as perhaps again an example of overregulation. There is also the question of the raising of money by virtue of levy and administrative charges. It seems that government today moves nowhere unless there is a dollar attached. The size of the levy will be based on the market value of the installation concerned and that in turn will be assessed by our friends at the Australian Taxation Office. At first blush I find this legislation a matter of concern because people such as the honourable member who just resumed his seat, who infest the Hawke socialist Government--


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I draw the honourable member's attention to the fact that he should refer to members of this House by their correct title.


Mr HODGMAN —The honourable member for La Trobe is well known in Tasmania. Now he will also be well known in Queensland. If he keeps coming down to Tasmania he will guarantee that the Liberal Party will hold every seat in Tasmania for a very long time. The honourable member for La Trobe, in the last few minutes of his speech on this legislation, made remarks which he claimed to be relevant and which, therefore, I claim the right to comment on. He came within an ace of saying that swimmers should be banned from the Great Barrier Reef. The honourable member complained about people dropping an anchor and destroying coral for 20 or 30 metres. He then said that if people went swimming in these areas and brushed or broke off a piece of coral it would take a long time for that coral to regenerate. This is the lunatic approach of the mad greenie. If they had their way they would ban swimming. Why not also ban fishing on the basis that a sinker would disrupt a little bit of coral?


Mr Milton —Fishing is controlled in the Great Barrier Reef.


Mr HODGMAN —Frankly, the honourable member's position is that he would not let anyone go in there. It is like what he wants to do in Tasmania-that is, lock it up. Madam Deputy Speaker, I am using an analogy. We have got the same lunatic extremist point of view from people such as the honourable member for La Trobe and his colleague the honourable member for Dunkley (Mr Chynoweth).


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I draw the attention of the honourable member for Denison to the fact that the use of offensive terms in respect of members of this House is outside the Standing Orders.


Mr HODGMAN —I am sorry; I am not following you.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —I call the honourable member for Denison.


Mr HODGMAN —The honourable members for La Trobe and Dunkley represent an element which is very powerful in the Hawke socialist Government. I repeat: They are now putting exactly the same propositions in relation to the Great Barrier Reef that they put in relation to the locking up of Tasmania.

The following questions remain unanswered: Firstly, what will be the amount of the levy; secondly, what right of appeal will there be against market value assessment of the sea installation concerned; and thirdly, will a decision of the Australian Taxation Office assessing the market value of the installation be subject to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or to any other form of judicial review? I am grateful that the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen) appears to have noted that I want those questions answered. I ask as a matter of plain logic and fairness: What right of appeal will there be in relation to the market assessment of the installation concerned by the Australian Taxation Office?

I just say in passing and in conclusion that we now have a situation, as a result of legislative amendments brought in by the Hawke socialist Government, that ordinary taxpayers cannot challenge a decision of the Australian Taxation Office by taking the matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal without having to front up with a $200 deposit.


Mr Chynoweth —Get back to the Bill.


Mr HODGMAN —The honourable member obviously has not looked at the legislation because the matters I raise arise from it. My question is valid because the whole determination of the amount of the levy will be based on the market value of the installation. That is fundamental. If, as I say, that is to be done by the Australian Taxation Office, I ask what right of appeal there will be. Once again we see legislation brought in by this Government which has a financial implication of a quite substantial nature. I refer specifically to the fines to be imposed, for example, by section 58a of the Customs Act under clause 12 of the Sea Installations (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill. It provides for a number of offences. The fines are $10,000 for a natural person and $20,000 for a body corporate. In the provisions of clause 15, which will become the new section 187 of the principal Act, once again we see a power to board and search in very extensive terms that covers boarding, the searching of any ship and the securing of `any goods on any ship or aircraft or on any installation of the kind referred to in paragraphs (b), (c), (d) or (e)'. While, at first blush, this clause appears to relate to board and search, it refers to board, search and seize. I remind the Parliament once again that there is a forfeit provision. It is important, because after section 228a of the principal Act we will now be legislating under section 228b:

Any overseas sea installation that becomes installed in an adjacent area or in a coastal area without the permission of the Comptroller given under subsection 5b (2) shall be forfeited to the Crown.

I ask: Is there any right of appeal with respect to forfeiture? These matters are worthy of comment. I certainly am surprised to find that some State authorities apparently do not regard the Bill with the same concern that I do. I see it as a further extension of Commonwealth powers containing arbitrary provisions which, frankly, I do not think are proper. I do not see a right of appeal or review which I think ought to be there and last, but not least, it is a fundamental taxation measure as far as the levy is concerned.