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Friday, 19 October 1984
Page: 2071

Senator PETER BAUME —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I also seek some clarification about the scope of the Government's capital gains tax in light of the Prime Minister's statement yesterday of certain limited exceptions, as reported, for example, in the headline of the Sydney Morning Herald, 'Hawke tells how gains tax could work'. I ask the Minister: What conditions will apply, in relation to the capital gains tax, to the division of assets following a divorce? Where the sale of the family home is required by the Family Court of Australia will each of the partners to the former marriage be assessed separately on his or her share of any capital gain that results?

Senator BUTTON —This Senate is a chamber of people and it is sad to see some of them converted into robots who ask standard questions, all clearly compiled by the one person. Senator Baume's question is not particularly intelligent in view of the answers I have given to a previous question on this matter. The Government will not be introducing any new taxes. It is very silly to have the standard preface to these questions referring to the Government's capital gains tax. It has the virtue, I suppose, of repetition, which is important for small minds, but that is the only virtue it has. As we are engaged in a repetition exercise, I repeat that the Government has no plans to introduce new taxes following the election. The taxation system in Australia will be subject to a comprehensive review designed to provide greater equity and fairness in the Australian tax system, which the Australian people and a wide range of community groups in Australia understand to be necessary. The great sadness is that it did not happen earlier. It did not happen because for seven years the country had a lacklustre and uncourageous government-a government that was not prepared to address any of these issues. As Senator Robert Ray points out, the only beneficiaries from the taxation system in that period of seven years were the tax avoiders.

The Government seeks a comprehensive review of the taxation system designed to provide greater fairness and equity and to stamp out malpractices in the system. When that review is complete, the Government will have before it views about the nature of the taxes that should comprise our taxation system from then on. As Senator Baume raised the subject of capital taxes, let me say that, if capital taxes of one kind or another are suggested in that review, no doubt there will be a variety of suggestions about exemptions. Wherever capital taxes are imposed in the rest of the world, as they are, exemptions are provided. That will be the case in this country as well.

Senator Chaney —Will it be a Claytons?

Senator BUTTON —The Leader of the Opposition asks whether it will be a Claytons. The answer is that if the review is of a comprehensive nature, as I believe it will be, it will certainly recommend a taxation regime in Australia that will stop taxation avoidance dead in its tracks. If there is any recommendation arising from the review about capital taxes, it will be important in the area of business taxation and the way in which resources have been directed in this country in the past and should be directed in the future. In respect of both those matters, this Government is hopeful that the results of the review will provide a taxation system of that kind for this country.