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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2583

Mr ROBERT BROWN —I ask the Prime Minister: In view of some of the more outlandish claims made about the latest bottom of the harbour legislation, will he explain the rationale for this legislation? Will it help to ease the tax burden for the ordinary, law-abiding, taxpaying Australians?

Mr HAWKE —It is in no formal way that I acknowledge not only the interest but also the deep involvement of the honourable member for Hunter in economic matters generally and in the fiscal area in particular. The latest legislation introduced by this Government is a result of the Opposition's hypocrisy and double standards in rejecting the Government's two previous tax recoupment Bills . The effect of its rejection of that legislation is the loss to revenue of about $60m this year, and $270m in total. The unforgivable behaviour of the Opposition shows simply that it has caved in to the tax avoidance industry. In that process it has had the hypocrisy to try to accuse this Government of being a high tax government. What this Government has been about in its two previous attempts to have tax recoupment Bills passed, and what it is about again, is the creation of the condition in which it is most likely that this Government will be able to ease the tax burden upon the great mass of ordinary, honest Australian taxpayers, and to do that by making sure that the tax rip-off merchants are brought to heel. That is the basic rationale of the legislation. It is quite clear that the Opposition is doing its very best to sabotage this Government's very proper approach to this matter.

This legislation, if it is passed, will enable the Commissioner of Taxation to administer more effectively the existing law and to assess recoupment taxpayers for avoided tax. In particular, the Bill now before the Parliament will allow the Commissioner to waive an appropriate amount of tax in cases where a public company shareholder has benefited only partially from company tax evasion. Let me emphasise, as I have had cause to do before, that this Bill, as I know the honourable member understands, is consistent with the spirit of last year's legislation brought into this place by the previous Government. Yet now those opposite have decided once again to oppose most of this legislation. In conclusion, it seems that they are determined to do everything in their power to establish their credentials as friends of the tax cheats of this country.