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Tuesday, 2 December 2003
Page: 23527

Mr Murphy asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 10 February 2003:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to an article by Paul Barry titled “As Caesar judges Caesar, bankrupt barristers go on their merry way” which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 February 2001, identifying four Sydney barristers who have been bankrupted twice over huge unpaid tax bills.

(2) Is he aware that one of those barristers, Mr Robert Somosi, has incurred $835,000 in unpaid tax and penalties since the 1980s.

(3) Is he aware that Mr Somosi was also convicted in 1996 of failing to lodge a tax return for 17 years, which then covered his entire working life at the Bar.

(4) What action is the Government taking to deal with serial bankrupts like Mr Somosi, who use serial bankruptcy to avoid paying tax, including whether it will report such persons to the Law Society of New South Wales and the Bar Association of New South Wales.

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

(1) to (3) The independent Commissioner of Taxation has responsibility for administering the taxation laws and collecting the revenue. He assures me that the Australian Taxation Office is doing all it can to recover unpaid tax from Mr Somosi in the course of bankruptcy proceedings.

(4) Refer to the joint press release issued by the Attorney-General and the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer of 2 May 2003, `Progress of Government action to strengthen laws to prevent tax abuse'.