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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 3014


Senator PARER —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer the Minister to the Treasurer's statement last night when he said that in his failure to lodge his tax returns for 1985 and 1986 he had been `treated no differently from any other taxpayer'. This comment was reinforced by Senator Button in reply to an earlier question from Senator Chaney. I ask the Minister: Is it normal for all Australians to have personal discussions with the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation concerning their tax returns? Is it normal for all Australians to receive personal letters from the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation drawing their attention to the fact that their taxation return is 15 months overdue?


Senator WALSH —Senator Parer is domiciled in Queensland and so it probably would not apply to him, but, assuming that he was resident in the Australian Capital Territory, if he wanted to ring up the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation--


Senator Archer —Did you say `resident'?


Senator WALSH —I said that assuming he was resident in the Australian Capital Territory, if he wanted to ring up the Deputy Commissioner in the Australian Capital Territory and have a discussion about his taxation return, I think he would be able to do that.


Senator Durack —Come on; answer a question for once.


Senator WALSH —Senator Durack should file himself away for five years instead of the tax evading activities of his mates in the Western Australian Liberal Party.


The PRESIDENT —Order! There are far too many interjections.


Senator WALSH —Of course, I understand that this is a measure of the Opposition's desperation. It is trying to beat up a technical offence by the Treasurer in failing to lodge a taxation return on time-a return that would have entitled him to a refund had it been lodged on time. With the most extraordinary logical gymnastics, Opposition senators try to draw all sorts of conclusions from that. For example, if Mick Young were fined for speeding in the Australian Capital Territory, booked by the Australian Federal Police and convicted of a speeding offence, I suppose the Opposition would suggest that he should resign because he is the Minister responsible for the Federal Police and has been booked by the Federal Police for speeding. There would be as much merit in that as there is in the other proposition that the Opposition has put up.

The real test of propriety is intent. I guess that one of the reasons why the Treasurer was too busy to fill in his tax return on time to get the refund to which he was entitled is that he was working so hard trying to make the tax evader friends of the members of the Opposition pay the tax they ought to pay. What really matters is whether people pay the tax they ought to pay, not when they lodge returns. The Treasurer, this Government, Senator Siddons and one or two other Australian Democrats are committed to the principle of making everybody pay the tax he ought to pay, a principle which is rejected by honourable senators opposite.