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Tuesday, 24 March 1987
Page: 1192


Senator SHORT —Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Health been drawn to the article by Mr Ron Castan, QC, President of the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties, in today's Age newspaper in which he undertakes a step by step demolition of the Government's alleged claims of revenue gains from the proposed identity card and reaches the conclusion that the only area in which revenue savings can be claimed lies in the Australian Taxation Office? Is the Minister aware of Mr Castan's reference to recent criticisms of Australian Taxation Office inefficiency which has led to the failure to collect hundreds of millions of dollars of legitimate tax revenue? I ask the Minister whether he agrees with Mr Castan's statement that:

To claim that revenue negligently thrown away for so many years is a `saving' or `benefit' to be achieved by the Australia Card is an attempt to perpetrate a gross deception on the Australian public.


Senator TATE —No, I am not aware of the article referred to and therefore of Mr Castan's claims in relation to the revenue raising possibilities to be derived from the introduction of an Australia Card, and therefore I am not in a position to agree with his assertions. Suffice it to say that I think that the Australian public, certainly from my experience back in Tasmania over the summer recess, is well aware that the Australia Card is needed as a contribution to the present Federal Government's stated, declared and fostered aim of ensuring that we have a fair tax system and a system which is fair in the distribution of Medicare and social security benefits. The Australia Card will play a very important part in underpinning the fair taxation system which we consider to be so essential.