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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 3011

Senator CHANEY —My question, which I address to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, follows his answer to my supplementary question in which he said that there was no question of impropriety. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that it is an offence under the taxation legislation to fail to lodge a return within the required time and that that failure can carry a penalty of up to 200 per cent of the amount of tax which is payable on the income which has not been declared?

Senator BUTTON —The answer is: I believe so.

Senator CHANEY —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate asserting that for the Treasurer of the country to be in breach of the taxation law and open to prosecution and conviction is not a matter of impropriety? I remind the Minister of the endless discussions we had in this place about proven misbehaviour and the assertions from the then Attorney-General that conviction of a criminal offence was the one certain guide that we had. The Leader of the Government used the word `impropriety'. I ask him again: Is he suggesting that for a Treasurer to be in breach of the taxation legislation does not give rise to any question of propriety?

Senator BUTTON —Failing to lodge a taxation return by the due date is a matter which the Commissioner of Taxation deals with in respect of all citizens in this community, and the Treasurer will be in exactly the same position as other citizens in this community in respect of that matter.