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Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Page: 1048

Mr GRIFFIN (Minister for Veterans’ Affairs) (6:20 PM) —Firstly, I would like to thank those members who contributed to this debate on the second reading of the International Tax Agreements Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2009. The government is committed to supporting trade and investment whilst combating tax evasion through its network of international tax agreements. This bill will give the force of law to three agreements that will support those objectives: the new tax treaty with New Zealand; the second protocol to the Belgian tax treaty, which updates the exchange-of-information provisions; and the agreement with Jersey on the allocation of taxing rights over certain income.

Australia shares an exceptionally close relationship with New Zealand. The tax treaty further enhances this relationship by reducing tax impediments to the cross-border movement of people, capital and technology by facilitating cooperation between taxation authorities to reduce tax evasion and by providing increased legal and fiscal certainty for commerce between the two countries.

The enhanced exchange-of-information provisions in the second protocol to the Belgian tax treaty will be an important tool in Australia’s effort to combat offshore tax evasion. The enhanced provisions will allow the exchange of information on a wider range of taxes in a wider range of circumstances. This will discourage taxpayers from participating in abusive tax arrangements by increasing the probability of detection, making it harder for it taxpayers to evade Australian tax.

The agreement with Jersey was signed in conjunction with a tax information exchange agreement. The agreement on the allocation of taxing rights over certain income will help to prevent double taxation. The tax information exchange agreement between Australia and Jersey will facilitate the exchange of tax information between Jersey and Australia, once again discouraging taxpayers from participating in abusive tax arrangements. I commend this bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.