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Wednesday, 10 October 1984
Page: 1582

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(5.31) —I rise to speak briefly on the report of the Commissioner of Taxation. In the time available I have not been able to read it in detail. Nevertheless I have been impressed-I believe the public would be impressed-by the clear statement of the Commissioner of Taxation that the bottom of the harbour schemes have now been thoroughly dealt with, that that episode in Australia's history has been put to rest. The Commissioner has emphasised what, quite some months earlier, the Minister for Finance, Mr Dawkins , had said. He indicated quite some time ago that the effect of previous legislation had been that the issue of the bottom of the harbour schemes was now resolved. I think it is important for the Senate to understand this. Mr Boucher, the Commissioner of Taxation, has said that the primary reason for this is, of course, the legislative actions that were taken by the previous Government, as well as the reorganisation of the Australian Taxation Office to deal with the matters. Quite clearly this situation in 1983-84 resulted from legislation which was introduced and passed by the Fraser Government. It has been recognised by the accountancy profession and the legal profession that the legislation introduced and passed by the then Treasurer, Mr Howard, was totally effective in destroying those schemes. No action on a legislative level by the Hawke Government could have had that effect in the year under review. Quite clearly the effect is one that was set in progress by the previous Government up to and including March 1983. Therefore it influenced the results for this financial year.

I say this because we are repeatedly told here that the bottom of the harbour schemes must still be pursued and that the Fraser Government did little or nothing. We now have the clearest proof. First of all we have the proof of a statement by the Minister for Finance, made some months ago and therefore made on the basis of the actions of the previous Government. They were scarcely actions which could have come to fruition had they been the actions of the Hawke Government. Mr Dawkins stated that the bottom of the harbour schemes had been put to rest. We now have a clear statement by the Commissioner of Taxation that the mechanisms within the Department of the Treasury that were basically established under the Fraser Government worked with the legislation of past governments to bring about this situation. I hope that we will no longer hear from Government senators what must now be regarded as propaganda-the suggestion that nothing was done by the Fraser Government, that we were the friends of tax dodgers. What Mr Dawkins has said in the past and what the Commissioner of Taxation has now said is that it was the Fraser Government that was the active and effective enemy of tax dodgers. Let that be quite clear. Never again should any suggestion be raised here-it could only be propaganda-that we were the friends of tax dodgers. The Commissioner of Taxation, an independent statutory officer, has made a clear statement. I ask that it be accepted and acknowledged that the Fraser Government, and specifically Mr Howard as Treasurer, did an outstanding job, a job that had been commended by the accountancy and legal professions, a job now confirmed by the Commissioner of Taxation. I stress that we should no longer hear any propaganda on this matter.