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Monday, 1 December 2003
Page: 23403

Mr Murphy asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 28 May 2003:

Further to the reply by the Attorney-General to question No. 1463 (Hansard, 26 May 2003, page 14645) does he intend to amend section 16 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 to allow the Taxation Commissioner to notify professional bodies like the Law Society and Bar Associations of the activities of members of the legal professions who are serial bankrupts; if so, when; if not, why not.

Mr Costello (Treasurer) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The secrecy provisions in section 16 protect information about taxpayers collected by the Commissioner of Taxation. Officers may disclose taxpayer information to other parties only where it is within the course of their duties, or where there is a specific exception. The Government is giving further consideration to this issue.

As announced in the joint media release C032/03 by the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer and the Attorney-General on 2 May 2003, the Government is also weighing up the various considerations in officers providing publicly available information to prescribed industry and professional associations. However, information about persons who have been made bankrupt is already publicly available. Bodies such as the Law Society and Bar Associations can access this information about their members, if they wish. They can also require their members to provide this information, as a condition of their membership.