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Notice given 13 December 2002

1036  Senator Cook: To ask the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer—

(1) (a) How many taxpayers, in circumstances similar to those of Julie Vincent’s have settled and agreed to pay amounts to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) that have now been found not to be owing, as a result of the Full Court decision in Vincent v Commissioner of Taxation [2002] FCA 656; and (b) what is the amount of money that has been, will be or would otherwise have been collected irrespective of the Vincent case.

(2) (a) Is it the case that most taxpayers issued with amended assessments for 1994, 1995 and 1996 potentially fall within the ambit of the Vincent decision based on the Commissioner’s own assessment of the deductibility of their claimed expenditure; and (b) what is the amount of money collected from taxpayers during these years of income. 

(3) Has the ATO accepted settlement offers from taxpayers after the decision in the Vincent case in circumstances in which the taxpayers are agreeing to settle for an amount that the full court decision has shown is not owing; and (b) how many have they accepted in these circumstances.

(4) Can the ATO provide any statistics on the number of taxpayers who have entered into bankruptcy in circumstances where the decision in the Vincent case indicates that the amended assessments issued to them were in fact not owing.

(5) Has the ATO notified taxpayers that one of the implications of the decision in the Vincent case is that a tax deductible loss may be claimed on the cessation of their projects, in circumstances where their projects were commercial failures.

(6) If the decision of Justice Stone in Cooke v Commissioner of Taxation [2002] FCA 1315 is upheld on appeal, how much money will have been collected from taxpayers in circumstances where the court has found that no money is owing by these taxpayers.

(7) Why did the ATO refuse test case funding for the Vincent appeal.

(8) Why did the ATO select ‘Budplan’ as a so-called representative test case when the Vincent case and the Cooke case have shown it was not representative of other tax effective investment projects.

(9) Given that immediately prior to the settlement offer closing the Commissioner was suggesting that the first instance decision in the Vincent case had broad application to all taxpayers: Now that the decision has been overturned on appeal, why is the Commissioner now stating that the decision of the Full Court in the Vincent case has limited application to other taxpayers.

(10) Does the Assistant Treasurer believe that the Commissioner, in forcing ordinary taxpayers to settle prior to court appeals being decided, is acting as a model litigant in accordance with the Attorney-General’s policy statement.

1037  Senator Nettle: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade—

(1) Is the Minister aware of the sanctioned slaughter of 20 000 dolphins per year currently taking place in Japanese waters.

(2) Has the Minister raised the issue of dolphin slaughter in trade negotiations with his Japanese counterpart; if not, can the Minister explain why it has not been raised; if so, has the Minister sought an undertaking from his Japanese counterpart that this practice will be phased out.

(3) Given Australia’s success in the eco-tourism industry, will the Minister be providing Japan with assistance and expertise regarding the establishment of eco-tourism facilities for whale and dolphin watching; if not, why does the Minister believe that eco-tourism is not a practical and viable solution to prevent further Japanese cruelty to dolphins

1038  Senator Sherry: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations—With reference to the report, ‘The Working Holiday Maker Scheme and the Australian Labour Market,’ released by the Government on 24 September 2002:

(1) Is the Government aware of the statement on page 27 of the report that, ‘The most usual rate of pay [of working holiday makers] was about $10 per hour’.

(2) What was the federal minimum wage for casual workers in the period during which the relevant working holiday maker survey was conducted.

(3) What has the Government done to investigate the reasons for any discrepancy between the federal minimum wage for casual workers and the $10 ‘most usual’ rate of pay for working holiday makers.

(4) What accounts for any such discrepancy.

(5) What steps has the Government taken since it received the report to ensure that working holiday makers are not paid below the legal minimum wage.

(6) Is the Government aware of what proportion of these working holiday makers who were paid $10 per hour were paid their wages cash in hand.

(7) What steps has the Government taken since it received the report to ensure that those who employ working holiday makers withhold and remit tax when paying their employees’ wages.