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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1103

Tax Avoidance

Mr TAYLOR (Hume) (14:51): My question is to the Assistant Treasurer. Will the Assistant Treasurer update the House on the government's actions to crack down on multinational tax avoidance and ensure that companies meet their tax obligations? Are there any risks to this approach?

Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongAssistant Treasurer) (14:52): I thank the member for Hume for his question—

Dr Chalmers interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Rankin will leave the chamber under 94(a).

The member for Rankin then left the chamber.

Mr FRYDENBERG: and acknowledge the economic expertise he brings to this place. Multinationals are not new. Companies like IBM, Shell and Citibank have been trading goods and services across state boundaries for nearly a century. With the increasing digitisation of our economy, it is becoming more and more difficult for tax authorities to appropriately tax multinationals. So that is why the Abbott government are moving on a number of fronts. First, legislatively: we have tightened the thin capitalisation rules to prevent excessive debt deductions. Second, resourcing: we have given more resources where it is needed most—

Mr Perrett interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton will leave the chamber under 94(a).

The member for Moreton then left the chamber.

Mr FRYDENBERG: so that the international tax division in the ATO is larger under us than it was under Labor. We are working cooperatively, led by the Treasurer through the G20 process, to get greater information sharing. I am asked are there any risks to this approach. The biggest risks are coming from those opposite, because just the other week we passed through the Senate legislation which will give us a saving to the budget of $1.3 billion by improving the R&D tax concessions for some of Australia's largest companies, including multinationals. Do you know what? Those opposite opposed it, even though it was their legislation when they went to last election.

I have a quote that I would like to share. It is a very good quote. It says:

We said we would remove the R&D tax concession for large companies with a $20 billion Australian turnover or more, to ensure innovation spending is directed to where we will have the biggest benefit … it's a down payment on the repair that the budget needs.

Who do you think said that? Prime Minister, did you say that? Treasurer, did you say that? Did the member for McMahon say that, the professor of ouzo economics with a masters in the marginal tax scales? No. It was the member for Lilley—Euromoney's treasurer of the year and the second most famous graduate out of Nambour high.

Always look at what Labor does not what Labor says. I want to finish with a quote and it comes from an interview on AM on 17 July between Chris Uhlmann and the Leader of the Opposition. The question from Chris Uhlmann to the Leader of the Opposition:

… why won’t you even back your own cuts?

The answer from the Leader of the Opposition:

Chris, we're the Labor Party.

Enough said.