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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 1
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Senator Walsh —On 20 February 1986 (Hansard, page 702) Senator Peter Baume asked me as Minister representing the Treasurer a question without notice concerning fringe benefits tax and charities. The Treasurer has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator's question:

Public benevolent institutions are exempted from fringe benefits taxation on the non-cash benefits provided to their employees. The phrase `public benevolent institution' does not have a statutory definition but is generally understood to be an institution for the relief of poverty, sickness, suffering, distress, misfortune, destitution or helplessness. Public benevolent institutions have, as a common feature, the giving of relief freely to those who are in need of it and are unable to care for themselves. Organisations which do not satisfy these requirements will be subject to tax on benefits provided to their employees in accordance with the valuation rules set out in the legislation.

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Senator Gareth Evans —On 13 November 1986 (Hansard, page 2140) Senator Harradine asked me as the Minister representing the Attorney-General the following question without notice:

Whether the Minister was aware of a number of matters concerning the availability of video material and what action the Federal Government proposed to take to implement the interim measures recommended by the Senate Select Committee on Video Material pending the outcome of the Joint Select Committee inquiry.

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

I am aware of the matters referred to by the honourable senator. In relation to action proposed by the Federal Government to implement interim measures recommended by the Senate Select Committee, the proposal for a moratorium on the sale and hire of `X' rated material in the A.C.T. was submitted to the A.C.T. House of Assembly in 1985. However, the House of Assembly did not provide support for the proposal. The Government's current position is that it does not propose to amend any censorship legislation until the Report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Video Material has been presented to and considered by Parliament.

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Senator Walsh —On 20 November 1986 (Hansard, page 2609) Senator Reynolds asked me a question without notice concerning the oversight of joint Commonwealth-State funded projects in Queensland by my department. I can now provide the following additional information in answer to the honourable senator's question:

The development of the Expo 88 site is not a jointly funded Commonwealth/State project. Expo 88 is being managed by the Brisbane Exposition and South Bank Redevelopment Authority which is a Queensland agency. $3m of Commonwealth funds are currently held in trust by the Authority for the Commonwealth to offset costs of Commonwealth participation in Expo 88 including the construction of an Australian Pavilion. Details relating to Commonwealth participation are expected to be announced shortly by the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism.

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Senator Walsh —On 17 October 1986 (Hansard, page 1515), Senator Maguire asked me as Minister representing the Treasurer a question without notice concerning the production of coins for other countries by the Royal Australian Mint. The Treasurer has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator's question:

Consistent with its charter, the Royal Australian Mint seeks contracts for the production of foreign coinage and it has been particularly active in this regard over recent years following a downturn in domestic coin demand.

As has already been outlined to the honourable senator, the Mint produces coins for several Pacific Island states and it has completed contracts for the production of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea coins.

The depreciation of the Australian dollar will significantly enhance the competitiveness of the Mint in tendering for foreign coinage contracts and the Mint will pursue opportunities provided by the depreciation vigorously.

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Senator Grimes —On 11 November 1986 (Hansard, page 1868), Senator Knowles asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice concerning the monitoring of the incidence of acquired immune deficiency syndrome overseas and the possible screening of short term visitors to Australia. The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The Commonwealth monitors the situation abroad through WHO publications, the medical and scientific literature, and reports from our embassies and high commissions. However, it is not possible to obtain reliable incidence data from the less developed countries, where formal reporting schemes have not been established.

AIDS is a cosmopolitan infection with numerous pockets of high incidence. One must consider the issue of screening visitors in a general sense, rather than confining oneself to nationals from any one country.

There are over a million visitors to Australia annually. It would be neither practicable nor affordable to screen these people for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) antibodies.

Commonwealth policy focuses on preventing the spread of HIV to uninfected persons. AIDS is not spread by casual contact or contact with food, clothing, utensils and so forth. Generally, it is transmitted sexually, or by sharing of needles among intravenous drug abusers, or to the child from an infected mother.

Therefore, the most effective approach is to encourage people to adopt appropriate defensive behaviours to prevent them from becoming infected. To this end, the Commonwealth Government is devoting $2 million this financial year to a national education program. Total Commonwealth expenditure proposed for specific AIDS programs in 1986-87 is $9.9 million.

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Senator Ryan —On 5 December 1986 (Hansard, page 3506) Senator Kilgariff asked me a question, without notice, concerning the Australian Bicentennial Authority's decision not to include Mr Harry Butler in a Bicentennial promotion filmed at Uluru and I undertook to obtain relevant information. The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Bicentenary has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The request for Mr Harry Butler to withdraw from appearing in a segment of the Australian Bicentennial Authority's television commercial resulted from a decision made by the Australian Bicentennial Authority (ABA). The Government was not involved in any way in the matter.

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Senator Walsh —On 25 September 1986 (Hansard, page 842) Senator Watson asked me as Minister representing the Treasurer the following question without notice:

..., I ask whether the Minister is aware of the circumstances in which a taxpayer's principal residence is subject to capital gains tax and under what circumstances, if any, the tax exemption for the principal residence would be available for a person who rents his premises and lives in another house.

In reply, I stated:

Subject to confirmation-because I am not sure that I can accurately remember the details of this-I believe the position is that a person may own one residence and, whether living in that residence or not, that residence continues to attract exemption from capital gains tax if it is sold, providing that the person does not own another residence at the same time. ...

Senator Watson further asked me as Minister representing the Treasurer on 16 October 1986:

... Does the Minister now confirm his answer or is he now aware that his statement that a home is exempt, whether lived in or not, misled the Senate and is incorrect?

The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

A gain realised on the disposal of a taxpayer's principal residence will not be subject to the tax on capital gains. However, a gain may be subject to tax where part of the residence was used for the purpose of gaining or producing assessable income, or the residence was not the taxpayer's sole or principal residence, during any part of the period in which the residence was owned by the taxpayer. In that case, the proportion of the gain which is subject to tax is determined having regard to the extend to which, and the period for which, the part of the residence was used for the purpose of gaining or producing assessable income or the period for which the dwelling was not the taxpayer's sole or principal residence.

Where a taxpayer temporarily ceases to occupy his or her sole or principal residence and the dwelling again becomes the sole or principal residence of the taxpayer within 4 years, the taxpayer may elect that the dwelling is to be deemed to have been his or her sole or principal residence during that period. This may apply for example, to a person posted interstate. In these circumstances, no other dwelling can be treated as the sole or principal residence of the taxpayer during the period concerned, and the use of the residence for the purpose of gaining or producing assessable income is disregarded. Therefore, in those circumstances, the availability of the principal residence exemption would continue, even though the residence is rented during the period in which it is not being used as the taxpayer's sole or principal residence.

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Senator Button —On 4 December 1986 Senator MacGibbon asked me the following question without notice:

Is the Australian Government prepared to give tangible support to setting up a gemstone industry in this country?

The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

My Department is funding a feasibility study of the gemstone processing industry by the consultants, PA Technology Pty Ltd. The objective of this study is to identify any technological developments required to increase industry competitiveness and to recommend means by which these technologies could be developed and implemented. The Report of this study was received on 17 December by the Department and is being examined.

The Government can best support the setting up of a gemstone processing industry in Australia by creating a productive environment for the growth of competitive industries, and by encouraging industries, including the gemstone processing industry, to utilise the latest processing technology, develop marketing strategies and undertake R & D. The devaluation of the Australia dollar should help to foster a competitive gemstone industry in Australia.

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