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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4904

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:00): On behalf of the opposition I rise to contribute briefly on the Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2012 Measures No. 1) Bill 2012. I say at the outset that the opposition is not opposing this bill. As I indicated, I will just speak very briefly on the schedules to this bill. There are seven schedules in all. The first two relate to the goods and services tax. One relates to GST-free health supplies, the other to GST treatment of government appropriations. In each instance, in summary, they seek to restore the original intent following rulings by the full Federal Court. As I have said in previous debates on these tax law amendment bills, this is a regular piece of business for this parliament.

Schedules 3 and 4 are somewhat related. Schedule 3 is a pause in the indexation of superannuation concessional contribution caps. The opposition has rightly been critical of the government's approach almost from day 1 in this area. I will deal with schedule 3 first. We have well and truly had this debate with the government about their flawed approach to superannuation, but in this tax law amendment bill, as is the custom, we are not opposing the bill, because we recognise that all of the schedules have been factored into the government's approach and we have had those policy arguments.

Schedule 4 deals with a refund for excess concessional contributions. Similar to the last schedule, the shadow assistant Treasurer, Senator Cormann, has debated these aspects with the government over many months—in fact, since the last election.

Schedule 5 deals with the disclosure of superannuation information, schedule 6 with pay slip reporting and the final schedule with refunds. I will deal very briefly with some of those that I have not mentioned. With regard to the disclosure of superannuation information, everyone supports the intent of easier consolidation, and the coalition, naturally, supports moves to consolidate superannuation accounts, but we also think that there needs to be greater member awareness as part of this process as well. So we make that point, as we have made it so often throughout the debate.

Schedule 6, which deals with pay slip reporting, has been well foreshadowed. Schedule 7 of this bill amends the Taxation Administration Act 1953 to provide the Commissioner of Taxation with a legislative discretion to withhold entitlements to high-risk refunds pending refund integrity checks of a taxpayer’s claim. Again, the coalition supports moves to preserve the integrity of our tax system, including measures to prevent any systemic attempts to defraud the Commonwealth of GST revenue and, as has been pointed out, allowing the commissioner the discretion to hold back any suspicious claims pending verification checks is indeed a worthwhile initiative. Obviously the success of this measure depends on how that discretion is applied, and it goes without saying that if the discretion is applied far too broadly it of course has the potential for adverse impacts on small business and the like. But, as a schedule in this bill, the coalition supports this integrity measure. As I said at the outset on the bill as a whole, the coalition is not opposing it.