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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 609


Senator WALSH (Minister for Finance)(8.33) —In response to Senator Watson's question, the estimate of the revenue that will not be collected because the amendment that Senator Peter Rae has just moved is carried-I assume that it will be-is $9.5m. There is no estimate of the amount that may be recovered by the application of some other section of the Income Tax Assessment Act and, of course, there is absolutely no guarantee that section 260 will be effective at all. In assessing that one has to make judgments about what sort of High Court may exist at some time in the future when a case may or may not be brought. Even if the present High Court of Australia may be disposed to take a somewhat more rational view or, should one say, a view less lenient to crooks than the High Court has taken in the past, there is no guarantee that such a High Court will continue to exist in the future especially, I imagine, if the Liberal Party of Australia should get back into government.

Essentially, the difference between the positions of the Government and the Opposition, as shown by Senator Rae's amendment, is that the Government has said that if it is discovered that people have been plundering the public purse they will be required to pay money back no matter when they did it. Senator Rae has said that if it is discovered that people are plundering the public purse they will be told: 'Those who plundered the purse yesterday and earlier can keep the money and those who plunder today and thereafter will have to pay it back'. That is the essential difference between the Government and the Opposition, as demonstrated on this issue. The Government, of course, will vote against the amendment. I understand, however, that it will be carried. I will then proceed to move the third reading.