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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21837

Mr Murphy asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 26 May 2003:

(1) Is it a fact that paragraph 24 of a letter sent by Mr Bret Walker, President of the NSW Bar Association, to the Commissioner of Taxation dated 16 December 2002 titled `Tax-delinquent Barristers and Statutory Secrecy' (Reference 01/120) says: `the combination of subsecs 16(2) and 16(4) [privacy provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act] is thought to produce the result that a tax officer may divulge information about (former Barrister and Queen's Counsel Mr Clarrie) Stevens' affairs to everyone necessarily involved in the commencement, prosecution and completion (by judgment or negotiation) of both civil and criminal legal proceedings against him, leading to the public release of that information accomplished by litigation in open court - but must not tell anyone (apart from the official agencies specified in subsec 16(4)) that these public actions have been taken.'.

(2) Is he able to say what was the legislature's intent of subsections 16(2) and 16(4) of the Income Tax Assessment Act.

(3) Is he taking, or will he take, action to amend section 16 so as to allow the Commissioner of Taxation to make information available to disciplinary bodies such as the Bar Association, the Law Societies and other bodies with statutory disciplinary responsibilities within their professions; if not, why not.

Mr Costello (Treasurer) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Questions about the private communications of the President of the NSW Bar Association should be referred to him.

(2) Refer to relevant explanatory memoranda speeches and committee debates on the Parliamentary record.

(3) Refer to the joint news release issued by the Attorney-General and the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer on 2 May 2003.