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Wednesday, 9 February 2005
Page: 34

Senator LUDWIG (11:57 AM) —I could not leave it unsaid that, if the minister recalls the process that we went through last time, it took an FOI request to finally beat out of the government the report that we were seeking. The government then made it available. That is my recollection of it. I hope to be corrected. Even then, it was deleted in a certain fashion. It was completely unacceptable, and it took some time between the start and finish of it. As I said earlier, the reason was that they thought that the types of practices might be reiterated. But they could always do what the tax office does—they put dates on certain issues and say, ‘Anyone who contravenes this past this date is in trouble.’ That way you can isolate these things and move forward. This way, unfortunately, the government are saying, ‘Trust us again. We will take it away.’ That is effectively what came out of schedule 1, which was not acceptable, and which came out of an earlier report. They are saying, ‘We will go away and have another look at it. We are not going to commit to telling you that the submissions and the report will be available. We will come back at some stage in the future and hopefully address these terrible rorts—these instances which might be going on.’

If I can do something now I would rather do it now. The process has gone on. I will not put my office to trouble, but I think the first time I identified it with a press release was Christmas 2001, if not Christmas 2000—I am happy to be corrected on that. It was effectively about high-flying barristers having a good Christmas on the tax man. This is not something new. I lack confidence that the government will be able to address this quickly and decisively. They do not seem to have been able to do that up to now. This one amendment, although a small amendment, is designed to assist in the overall process. I remain unconvinced.

Question agreed to.