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Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Page: 319


Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (12:07): I thank all the members who have contributed to this debate—in particular, the member for Werriwa and the member for Makin. They have ensured that this has been a very wide-ranging debate that reflects the commitment of so many people in this place and this government to enhancing relations in trade and investment and cultural relations with those in other countries—in particular, the Asian region and India.

By the end of this decade, Asia is expected to overtake the economic output of Europe and North America combined to become the world's largest economic power. Average GDP per person in Asia is set to almost double by 2025, a feat that took the United Kingdom over 50 years to achieve during the Industrial Revolution. Our bilateral tax treaty network, which sets out tax arrangements with partner countries and establishes mechanisms for dealing with disputes, needs to cover our emerging trade and investment links right across the region. There is no better time than the present, in this the Asian century, to strengthen our relationship with India by giving the force of law to the new bilateral tax agreement between Australia and India. The Indian protocol will improve the administrative framework for tax cooperation between our two countries. It also provides for enhanced information exchange between the two taxation authorities and ensures the integrity of the tax system by providing for mutual assistance in the collection of tax debts.

The Indian agreement is in addition to the new bilateral taxation agreements between Australia and Marshall Islands and Mauritius. Such international cooperation between revenue authorities is essential to improve transparency and combat tax avoidance and evasion. The government is committed to removing taxation barriers that impede Australia's bilateral trade and investment relationships with other countries, and this bill will give effect to both of these commitments. Each of these agreements will strengthen Australia's bilateral economic relationship with these jurisdictions and, directly or indirectly, will help to discourage taxpayers from seeking to use offshore arrangements to avoid Australian tax. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.