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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 608

Senator PETER RAE(8.27) —During the second reading debate on the Bills with which we are dealing cognately, I indicated that in respect of the Trust Recoupment Tax Assessment Bill 1985 I would move an amendment in the following terms:

Page 6, clause 5, line 39, leave out '1 July 1980' and insert '12 May 1982'.

The reason for doing this was made abundantly clear during the second reading debate. It is simply to date back the retrospective operation of the particular legislation about which there is no contest-I wish to emphasise that fact-to the date upon which the then Treasurer, Mr Howard, announced clearly that action would be taken to amend the legislation to recoup any trust income stripping as well as trust capital stripping which had been engaged in in breach of the intention of the legislation which had been first introduced in 1978 and amended in 1981. In May 1982 it was announced that further amendment would be made as necessary. In other words, as it was discovered that people were breaching the intention and the spirit of the legislation, an announcement was made to the effect that anyone who did so from that date did so at his own risk of being subjected to the retrospective change of the law. That is what is perceived by many people-and I am one of those who firmly believe it-as being a fair and justifiable way in which to operate a society. That is, that people must observe the law as it stands or as they may reasonably anticipate it to be, bearing in mind the clear statement which has been made by the government of the day which has the capacity to implement it or is likely to be able to implement it. Where that statement has been made, people act at their peril. But if no such indication has been given, it is an impossible society if people behave within the law and find that retrospectively that which they did which was lawful-they had no warning that it may be unlawful-has been made unlawful. We believe that that is a fundamental undermining of the basis upon which a fair, stable and law abiding society can exist.

In those circumstances I shall move an amendment to change the operative date from the date of 1 July 1980, plucked out of the air by the Government, to the date upon which the clear warning was given by the then Treasurer that, effective as of 12 May 1982 legislation would be introduced to recoup from people who engaged in the practice which I described in my speech at the second reading stage, which the Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) has just summarised in his speech in reply to the second reading debate and which is agreed on both sides of the chamber is objectionable behaviour. The difference is that we believe the legislation should be dated from the date upon which clear warning was given and people were put on notice that if they continued to engage in such behaviour they would be subjected to a recovery of the gain they had obtained. I move:

Page 6, clause 5, line 39, leave out '1 July 1980', insert '12 May 1982'.