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Tuesday, 2 December 1986
Page: 3151

Senator WATSON —My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, relates to the special treatment of the Treasurer by the independent statutory office, the Australian Taxation Office. Can the Minister confirm that for taxpayers who have previously prepared their own returns, it is normal Taxation Office procedure to issue a final notice by about mid-November, followed by a summons 14 days later? Can the Minister also confirm that in the last financial year, 37,086 summonses were issued by the Taxation Office for failure to lodge a taxation return? Yesterday the Minister claimed that the Treasurer was treated in the normal way. If that is so, why did he not receive a summons like tens of thousands of other Australians? Why was special consideration given in this case by the independent statutory office, the Australian Taxation Office?

Senator WALSH —I was asked why no summons was received. I do not know whether a summons was even issued. If I were to ring up the Commissioner of Taxation he would, very properly, tell me to mind my own business as to whether any summons was issued. Let us just assume that a summons was issued. It may not have been received because it might have been stolen in the mail by the Leader of the Opposition or his agent because we do know that other mail addressed to the Treasurer from the Taxation Commissioner has been stolen. The plain fact is that the Leader of the Opposition has in his possession a photocopy of the original letter, which could only have fallen into someone's hands if it was stolen. The Leader of the Opposition is either a thief or a fence, that is, a receiver of stolen property.

Senator Chaney —Mr President, I rise on the obvious point of order. The Minister should be instructed to withdraw.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Minister to withdraw that remark against a member of another House.

Senator WALSH —I withdraw, Mr President.

Senator WATSON —I ask a supplementary question. Why was special consideration given in this case?

Senator WALSH —There is, to my knowledge, no special consideration, but if there has been any I will refer it to the Treasurer for reference to the Commissioner.