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Tuesday, 14 May 1985
Page: 1878

Senator BOSWELL —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer the Minister to recent taxation rulings 2121 and, the latest one, 2129, which have the effect of redefining salaries and wages, forcing many small business people who are genuine sub-contractors, consultants, share fishermen and share farmers into the pay as you earn taxation system. Does the Minister agree that this decision has resulted in small business people losing their independence and working capital, has created a more rigid labour market and has increased costs in the building, computer and insurance industries, and now for share fishermen and share farmers? Does the Minister also agree that the PAYE method of taxation is inappropriate due to the seasonal and unpredictable income of many of the people affected by this decision? Will the Minister and his Department review these rulings in the light of the hardship being caused?

Senator WALSH —It is not within my Department's responsibility. I am sure that nobody is surprised to know that I do not have copies of rulings 2121 or 2129 with me, nor have I learnt them off by heart. I understand that rulings of the nature that have been outlined by Senator Boswell have been given, although of course it would not be fair or accurate to describe them in the lurid terms in which he did. Those rulings are aimed at the eradication of tax evasion. I know that that is an objective with which the National Party of Queensland will have little sympathy, if any, because tax evasion and the National Party of Queensland are almost synonymous, which was demonstrated very clearly some years ago when a court judgment was given under which the present Leader of that Party in Queensland, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, was required to pay, I think, some $12,000 in taxation which he had previously evaded. If Senator Boswell is interested, I do have a copy of that judgment. I thought it was in the bottom of the drawer, but it does not appear to be there now. I used to always have a copy of that judgment in the bottom of the drawer so that I could refer to it when a tax evasion question such as this arose.

Senator Button —You are slipping.

Senator WALSH —Yes. I am too busy these days. I make two more points: Firstly, such rulings are the business of the commissioners and not of the Government, but I will seek the views of the Treasurer on those rulings which Senator Boswell cited; secondly, such rulings are aimed at the eradication of tax evasion. I repeat, that we all recognise that that is an objective for which the National Party of Queensland at least would have little, if any, sympathy.