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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7622

Senator STEPHENS (Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector and Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Prime Minister for Social Inclusion) (1:17 PM) —I thank Senator Fifield for indicating support for this important bill and for describing in great detail what it is all about. It is a transition bill; the existing regime for the regulation of tax agents was actually introduced in 1943, and it is now inappropriate for Australia’s current tax and commercial setting. The primary piece of legislation that replaces this existing framework with a new regulatory regime was the Tax Agents Service Act 2009, which was enacted earlier this year.

As Senator Fifield has described quite clearly the key provisions in the bill, I just want to assure senators and those listening that the key provisions in the bill, like all of the key elements of the new regime, have been developed through extensive consultation over a number of years. The consultation process has involved a broad range of stakeholders representing very different areas in the community. It was quite a robust consultation process that has resulted in a very balanced regulatory regime that the government is ready to implement, and that those involved in the tax agent service industry are keen to see occur. They have expressed their strong support for the introduction of the new regulatory regime, and so I appreciate that the opposition understands that and is supporting the implementation of that new regime as quickly as possible.

The government is committed to implementing a new regulatory regime that is tailored to Australia’s dynamic and modern tax and commercial environment, and is designed to strengthen the integrity of the tax system and the tax industry. The passage of this bill will represent another important step in the creation of this much awaited regime, and I can also confirm that the final part of the tax agents services package, the tax agents services regulations, was also the subject of public consultation in August of this year, and the government is moving to finalise these regulations in the very near future.

I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.