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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6832


Senator FAULKNER (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (2:32 PM) —My question is directed to Senator Coonan, the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Revenue, and it follows on from the grudging answer to my previous question. Minister, isn't it true that the property at 16 Paradise Avenue, Clareville is recorded by the New South Wales Land Titles Office as being owned by Karnick Trustees Pty Ltd? Can the minister confirm that this company has been deregistered by ASIC under section 574 of the Corporations Act for failing to comply with statutory reporting requirements? Is it not true that property owned by deregistered companies is transferred to ASIC? As the minister in the portfolio with responsibility for ASIC, can the minister inform the Senate why ASIC has failed to notify the Land Titles Office that it is the owner of the Paradise Avenue property which she claimed in the newspaper was her weekender?


Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) —Thank you, Senator Faulkner, for keeping up the attempt! Senator Faulkner's question goes to the ownership of the property. I do not know. I have not searched the record. I believe it belongs to my husband. I do not know whether it belongs to interests associated with my husband. My husband has an adult family from his previous marriage. He has arrangements that cater for them. I do not know very much about this property, and I am really unable to help Senator Faulkner as to how it is registered.

Senator Faulkner perpetuates an absolute fiction that I have ministerial responsibility for ASIC and for corporate governance matters. That is a furphy, that is completely wrong, and Senator Faulkner knows that. My colleague Senator Ian Campbell has ministerial responsibility for ASIC and for corporate governance matters, and I answer questions on his behalf in this chamber.


Senator FAULKNER —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Perhaps the minister could explain, if she does not know about the ownership of the property, why she gave her previous answer. I ask the minister, who does answer questions in relation to ASIC matters in this chamber, to explain the capital gains tax implications of a property which is transferred to ASIC due to the deregistration of the company owner. Can the minister confirm that her husband's failure to transfer this property into his own name once the family trust company was deregistered in March 1993 in fact has resulted in nine years of deferral of capital gains tax liability?


Senator Hill —Mr President, I raise a point of order. What is being sought is a legal opinion, which is improper in the first instance. Senator Coonan has answered in relation to her husband. She understands that he owns this property. What flows from that is her husband's business and not hers and has nothing whatsoever to do with her portfolio responsibility. Therefore, this question is out of order and should be so ruled.


Senator Faulkner —Mr President, on the point of order: again my question goes to what is the responsibility of the minister in this chamber in terms of those question which it is proper for her to answer. She answers questions in relation to ASIC. She answers questions in relation to the revenue implications of all matters relating to capital gains tax. There cannot be an argument that this question in its entirety is not in order. All Senator Hill is trying to do is to stop the question being asked. It is an obvious and transparent case of another cover-up by the government.


The PRESIDENT —Senator Faulkner, I believe that your supplementary question was very similar to the previous questions you have asked. It does go into similar types of principles that occur under a senator's declaration and a spouse's declaration, as you would be aware, and so I rule that out of order.