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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8428

Senator WONG ( South Australia Minister for Finance and Deregulation ) ( 21:3 8 ): I apologise, Senator Xenophon but, given that I have been called 'incompetent', I probably should give an answer to Senator Joyce. He is not here but I will put it on the record. I am advised that the levels of the civil penalties in the legislation reflect the seriousness of the contravention and provide disincentives to non-compliance. Most penalties are financial penalties applying to corporations. Executive officers of corpora­tions are only liable if sufficiently culpable. The maximum penalty is 10 years or 10,000 penalty units, and a court will decide what type and level of penalty is appropriate in the circumstances of a particular case.

A large maximum penalty allows for significant penalties to be imposed in the worst cases of deliberate action to, for example, asset strip a company to avoid liability. The provisions are based on the Crimes (Taxation Offences) Act 1980, which also has maximum penalties of imprisonment of 10 years. The penalty is also consistent with 10-year imprisonment penalties provided for in the Criminal Code for serious fraud offences such as obtaining financial advantage by deception and conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth.