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Wednesday, 8 June 1994
Page: 1518

Senator BELL (4.44 p.m.) —I think the minister, perhaps because he was being distracted by Senator Hill at the time the question was being asked, has either misunderstood the question or has been ill-advised. I suggest to the minister that it simply takes the case of the realistic application of the question asked by Senator Panizza to determine that he must have been ill-advised. It is not possible, under the fortnightly repayment arrangement, for the tax office to determine what the taxpayer's taxable income will be when, as Senator Panizza said, the taxpayer may have a negative gearing aspect to his income.

  I do not care what the minister said previously; I would like him to address that question and answer it properly. It is not possible for the tax office to determine a taxpayer's taxable income during the progress of the year and to therefore apply or not apply the HECS liability as the case may be. The taxpayer may not be liable on his or her net taxable income at the end of the year, but of course on an income of $40,000 the tax office will assume that the HECS liability will kick in or become applicable.

  I think the minister's last answer was either ill-advised or inaccurate because the question that Senator Panizza rightly put was not properly answered. I would like to suggest that the new information that Senator Teague talked about did not include an answer to the question that Senator Panizza asked. If it did, I will be advised by Senator Teague, but I cannot understand how the information provided to the coalition could possibly have enabled it to change its mind.

  That information still applies, there was nothing new, and I challenge anyone in the coalition to demonstrate that new information has been provided which changes the situation that was described by Senator Panizza. I would like the minister to either correct the information he just gave or tell me how it is that the tax office could possibly determine a taxpayer's taxable income halfway through the year.