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Wednesday, 18 March 1987
Page: 880

Senator PUPLICK —The Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce will be aware of the enthusiasm in private enterprise research and development activities expressed for the Government's 150 per cent tax concession scheme for such research and development and the support given to this scheme by the Opposition. Is the Minister aware that a number of significant recipients and potential recipients of this taxation assistance are expressing real concerns that the rulings being given by the Australian Taxation Office and the monitoring of expenditure by the Tax Office are having the effect of subverting the intentions of the scheme and reducing its real effectiveness and value to industry? Has his attention been drawn to such apparent nitpicking requirements as those which require the actual specific costs of an individual scientist's salary rather than a global figure of total salary expenditure outlaid on a project to be calculated and vouched for; or the requirement for precise assessments of salary costs to be made where a scientist works primarily but not exclusively on a project designated for the taxation concession support? Will the Minister arrange for his Department to liaise with the tax concession recipients to establish the extent to which petty bureaucracy within the Tax Office is reducing the real and potential efficacy of this scheme and take all necessary steps to minimise this without in any way allowing public money to be improperly expended?

Senator BUTTON —Senator Puplick asked whether I was aware of concerns about a variety of matters associated with the 150 per cent tax concession for research and development. The answer to that question is yes. A month ago, I think, I instructed that steps be taken to try to clarify a number of issues relating to this matter which are basically associated with companies' concerns about increasing self-assessment for taxation purposes and the fear of penalty for wrongful self-assessment in respect of the research and development concessions. There are a number of detailed matters; Senator Puplick referred to one of them of which I was aware. My Department is liaising with the Tax Office. The other point which follows from that is that I think a letter was sent last week to a number of registered companies advising them of the actions which have been taken and further material will be sent on a regular basis to keep them in touch with developments.