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Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Page: 808


Mr ANTHONY SMITH (5:37 PM) —On behalf of the coalition, I make a short contribution to this debate on the International Tax Agreements Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2010. The bill before us has the support of the coalition. It was introduced in the first sitting week and when passed it will, as the minister pointed out at the time, give force of law to the second protocol to the tax treaty with Singapore. As the minister said, it will upgrade the exchange of information provisions in that treaty to internationally agreed tax standards. Tax treaties with key countries are something that the coalition when in government pursued vigorously, and this tax treaty follows in those footsteps. It will have great benefit and, as I said, it is something that the coalition supports.

The treaty with Singapore and this legislation have been subject to considerable public scrutiny. As with all bills that deal with treaties, this bill has been before the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, which has recommended that it be passed. This bill effectively upgrades the treaty. In particular, it will amend the International Tax Agreements Act 1953 to enact into Australian law the second protocol amending the agreement between Australia and Singapore on the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to income tax law.

The second protocol to give effect to this agreement was signed on 8 September 2009. It was negotiated in the context of improving the tax transparency and exchange of information between countries. As I have said, the coalition supports this bill, as we have done with other tax treaties, which is important to ensure that not only is there very effective tax law but also evasion can be dealt with more effectively by these tax treaties. So we welcome this International Tax Agreements Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2010. It has our support.