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Wednesday, 9 February 2005
Page: 35


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (12:01 PM) —The government oppose this amendment. An amendment providing that a bankrupt could remain liable for tax debts following discharge from bankruptcy would be inconsistent with government policy, which originated with the previous Labor government. That policy, to remove priorities and special treatment for tax debts, has been in place for the last 15 years. It is based on the principle that you all stand in line in relation to a bankruptcy. The principles of that are well established. To say that you can be discharged from bankruptcy but there is still a debt is really not in accordance with the longstanding principles we have applied to bankruptcy. Certainly, there is a priority amongst creditors but that operates within the bankruptcy, not outside of it. That is, if a person goes bankrupt, they are discharged subsequently. That is the way the law works. We do not see any reason to change that policy. It is one that has been longstanding.