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Tuesday, 2 December 1986
Page: 3150

Senator CHANEY —My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, follows the question asked by Senator Messner which he failed to answer. Is it a fact that the new substantiation rules, which were introduced by the present Treasurer, Mr Keating, define a taxpayer's place of abode for tax purposes as the residence where he or she lives with his or her family and sleeps at night? Is it, further, a fact that it is possible to deduct an allowance paid for travelling expenses-that is, such an allowance is not assessable-only if that money is paid to a taxpayer for nights when he is away from that usual place of abode?

Senator WALSH —I was asked whether the definition in the Income Tax Assessment Act is as Senator Chaney claims it is. I do not know, but it has no relevance to this question because the Commissioner of Taxation does not require substantiation of travelling allowances.

Senator Messner —That is not the point.

Senator WALSH —It is the point. I would have thought that even Senator Durack would have been able to see that that is the point, particularly as he was once Attorney-General. Indeed, I am reminded that there was a time when three well-known players in the Victorian Football League were known as the `Terminator', the `Dominator' and the `Penetrator'. These names were derived from events in their lives off the football field. If Senator Durack had ever played VFL football he would have been known as the `Hibernator'.


Senator Chaney —Mr President, having been properly chastised by you earlier in Question Time, I rise on a point of order and say that this continual--

Senator Elstob —That is a disgrace. Fancy saying you have been chastised!

Senator Chaney —The word `chastised' is a clean word; it is all right, Senator. I am just suggesting--

Senator Puplick —He wouldn't know-it's got more than one syllable in it.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Senate to come to order. Senator Chaney is entitled to take a point of order and he shall be heard.

Senator Chaney —Mr President, my point simply is that the Minister has again set out to insult Senator Durack and I ask you to ask him to withdraw.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask Senator Walsh to withdraw his statement in relation to Senator Durack. I also ask him to respond to the question asked by Senator Chaney without going into parenthesis.

Senator WALSH —The Commissioner has not required substantiation, for income tax purposes, of travelling allowances. Now the Opposition-

Senator Walters — He hasn't withdrawn.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Minister to withdraw.

Senator WALSH —I am sorry; I withdraw, Mr President. The Tax Commissioner's reason for doing that is that those TAs were awarded by tribunals and the tribunals had satisfied themselves that that was the appropriate amount of payment and so on. It seems to me that the Opposition is really saying, insofar as it makes any sense at all, that it was an error for the TA to be received, which is quite a separate question from the question of whether it was subject to income tax. The law for that particular case, as far as income tax is concerned, is quite clear, as I understand it; that is, that it does not require substantiation. If the Opposition wants to argue that it should not have been paid in the first place-that seems to be what it is arguing-that is a separate question and it is one on which the Government will be quite happy to have a debate at some time other than this week, when we have more time.

Senator CHANEY —Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. I agree with the Minister that the last point is a separate question that we can ask separately. I note that the Minister has said that travel allowance does not require substantiation. Is he saying that the Tax Commissioner does not even require to know whether or not one was travelling? Is the Minister representing the Treasurer asserting that it is acceptable to receive a travelling allowance when one is, under the taxation rules, not travelling but at home?

Senator WALSH —The position as I understand it-at least for the 1985-86 financial year, and, I believe, still; I am less certain of the latter-is that the Commissioner has decided that travelling allowances determined by tribunals, as this particular TA has been, do not require substantiation.