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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9336


Mr CIOBO (MoncrieffParliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (19:09): I thank those members who have contributed to this debate on the International Tax Agreements Amendment Bill 2014. This bill, by amending the International Tax Agreements Act 1953, gives effect to the revised tax treaty between Australia and Switzerland. It also clarifies the meaning of the term 'immovable property' for the purposes of the revised Swiss treaty and for any future Australian tax treaties that also use that term.

In modernising the existing tax treaty with Switzerland, which was signed in 1980, Australia has negotiated improvements to the bilateral tax arrangements which will enhance tax system integrity and transparency. The revised treaty provides a legal basis for the exchange of taxpayer information, including Swiss bank information, between the tax administrations of Switzerland and Australia for the purpose of preventing tax evasion. This is not possible under the existing treaty with Switzerland.

The revised treaty and this bill also ensure that Australia's tax treaty network continues to support Australia's economic relationships with its major trade and investment partners. In updating the rules concerning the allocation of taxing rights between the two countries, the revised treaty with Switzerland will remove a number of taxation obstacles that might otherwise impede bilateral economic activity.

The amendment moved by the opposition is as stunning in its hypocrisy as it is wrong. The amendment is not supported by the government. This government is committed to ensuring the integrity of our taxation system is maintained and is taking action to ensure that multinationals are paying the appropriate amount of tax in Australia. We have legislation before the parliament to tighten the thin capitalisation safe harbour limits and ensure the foreign non-portfolio dividend exemption for Australian companies only applies to returns on equity. These measures address profit-shifting by preventing the excessive allocation of debt to the Australian operations of multinationals and I commend the bill to the House.

Question negatived.

Original question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

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