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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 11

(Question No. 1256)

Senator Bolkus asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 20 August 1986:

(1) What action has been or will be taken to implement Mr Costigan's recommendation that the Tax Department investigate Reserve Bank and private bank records for evidence of the large scale unpaid company and personal tax which occurred at this time.

(2) Will this information be used to follow the money trail of the proponents of organised crime.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Attorney- General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Mr Costigan did recommend the establishment of a Taxation Investigation Tribunal (paragraph 10.025) and a Taxation investigation officer (paragraph 10.026). Mr Costigan has subsequently proposed, in a private capacity, that an Inquiry be set up to discover the extent of money laundering involved in overseas transactions. In respect of those recommendations and the subsequent views of Mr Costigan the Government's position is that it supports the investigation of the taxation affairs of criminals. In recommending these new bodies, the Royal Commission expressed concern regarding insignificant penalties for non-compliance with requests for information and the use of the defence of self-incrimination in respect of failing to provide information. These matters were addressed in the Taxation Laws Amendment Act 1984 passed prior to the receipt of the Commission's Final Report. The proposed new bodies were therefore considered unnecessary in that they would duplicate work of existing agencies including the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Australian Federal Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the National Crime Authority. It is appropriate to mention however that the ATO does, as part of its continuing responsibilities for the administration of the taxation legislation, have access to Reserve Bank and private bank records, including for the purposes of assessing unpaid company and personal tax.

(2) The Government recently announced a comprehensive package of legislation to attack the proceeds of crime which is to be introduced in the Autumn Sitting this year. That legislation will include measures designed to follow the money trail of organised criminals, including drug-traffickers.