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Notice given 3 November 2003

Senator Ludwig: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 2337-2338)—With reference to the implementation of recommendations contained in the report ‘The Use of Bankruptcy and Family Law Schemes to Avoid Payment of Tax’: 

(1) Given that Recommendation 1 states that ‘The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is currently developing these guidelines together with the Attorney-General’s (A-G’s) department and expects to have new guidelines in placed by 30 June 2003’:

(a) were these guidelines put in place on 30 June 2003; if not, what was the cause of the delay and when will this happen; if so, can a copy be provided;

(b) what training was provided to ATO ‘decision makers’ in relation to the implementation of these guidelines; and

(c) what consultations were held with the Privacy Commissioner to ensure that there were no breaches of the Privacy Act 1988 .

(2) Given that Recommendation 2 states that ‘The Treasury, in consultation with the A-G’s department are currently weighing up the various considerations involved in providing publicly available information to prescribed industry and professional associations, including the rights of individuals concerning access to their taxation information as recommended in the Taskforce Report.  While legislative change may provide another avenue for such information to be provided, industry and professional associations can also consider the extent to which they may require the provision of such information directly from their members as a condition of membership’:

(a) what progress has been made to amend subsection 16(4) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and section 3(c) of the Taxation Administration Act 1953, as recommended by the Taskforce;

(b) is legislation still being considered; if so, when can a draft be made available;

(c) has the Office of the Privacy Commissioner or any other agency been consulted in relation to any proposed legislative changes; if so, can the following details be provided: (i) who was consulted, (ii) what was the cost, and (iii) who participated in the consultation process; if not, does the Privacy Commissioner expect consultations to occur;

(d) have discussions or consultations commenced or been conducted with ‘industry and professional associations’; if so, can details be provided of: (i) which ‘industry and professional associations’ attended discussions, and (ii) what to date has been the result of these discussions; and

(e) Has any agency been designated as the lead agency for these discussions; if so: (i) which agency, (ii) has this agency initiated discussions or consultations, (iii) is it required to report on progress made; if so, when can an update of the progress made be provided; if not, why not.

(3) Given that Recommendation 7 states that: ‘It is recommended that section 106B of the Family Law Act 1975 be widened to allow third parties to apply to the court for an order or injunction preventing the disposition of property pending an application to set aside or overturn a  section 79 order’:

(a) in respect of the decision in Deputy Commissioner of Taxation and Kliman (2002) :  has the A-G’s department reached a decision on the need for the above mentioned amendment; if not, when does the A-G’s department expect this; and

(b) can the legal advice concerning this decision be made available.

(4) Given that Recommendation 10 states that: ‘It is recommended that there be a separation declaration for financial agreements generally not only for superannuation agreements, to ensure that financial agreements are not entered into by couples for the purpose of avoiding creditors.  An additional requirement might be included in section 90G of the Family Law Act 1975 , to ensure that legal advice received in relation to an agreement includes notice that a declaration of separation is required’:

(a) has the A-G’s department finalised advice it intends to forward to the Attorney-General in relation to implementing this recommendation; if not, why not, and (i) when will this advice been finalised, and (ii) who within the department has responsibility for the advice.

(5) Given that Recommendation 12 states that: ‘It is recommended that penalties for key offences in the Taxation Administration Act 1953 be reviewed in accordance with advice to be provided by the Criminal Justice Division of the A-G’s department with a view to enhancing their deterrent effect upon high income professionals avoiding payment of their income liabilities’:

(a) what progress has been made in examining the efficacy of the existing penalties in deterring high income professionals, from avoiding payment of their income tax liabilities;

(b) what enhanced penalties are being considered;

(c) what advice has the Criminal Justice Division of the A-G’s department given in relation to increased penalties; and

(d) what ‘other alternative approaches’ are being considered to deter high income professionals from avoiding payment of their income tax liabilities.

2337 Minister representing the Treasurer

2338 Minister representing the Attorney-General

2339  Senator Ludwig: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—With reference to the response to the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission report ‘Managing Justice’, in which the Government stated, ‘We Support ADR techniques - we are reviewing the use of ADR as part of the Government’s overall commitment to act as a model litigant’: (a) who is undertaking the review; (b) has the review commenced; if not, when will it commence; (c) what are the terms of reference for the review; and (d) when will a report of this review be released.

Senator Ludwig: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 2340-2357)—

(1) Does the department use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in an effort to avoid litigation; if not, why not; if so, are there specific guidelines for the Department to follow when using ADR.

(2) If the department is not using ADR provisions, what process is used in cases that require resolution.

(3) Has the department been advised of any development of guidelines for the use of ADR.

(4) Does any of the legislation for which the department has responsibility contain ADR procedures; if so, (a) can each relevant provision be identified (eg. by statute name and section number); and (b) are guidelines provided for the use of ADR provisions in these instances; if so, can a copy of the guidelines be provided.

2340 Minister representing the Prime Minister

2341 Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services

2346 Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing

2347 Minister representing the Attorney-General

2348 Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

2349 Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

2350 Minister for Finance and Administration

2351 Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

2352 Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs

2355 Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources

2357 Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

2358  Senator Ludwig: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—

(1) In light of the report of a Review of the Impact on the Judiciary Amendment Act 1999, what steps have been taken by the Office of Legal Services Coordination to draw government departments and agencies to the desirability of using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in appropriate cases.

(2) What steps have been taken to ensure that each government agency establishes a dispute avoidance, management and resolution plan.

(3) In line with recommendations 69-69 of the Australian Law Reform Commission report ‘Managing Justice’, has a ‘best practice’ blueprint been developed; if not, why not; if so: (a) how was it developed; (b) who developed the guidelines, and (c) when are the guidelines applicable across government departments and agencies?

(4) Which department is the lead agency on the development of an ADR ‘best practice’ blueprint.

(5) Has the department commenced work on the blueprint; if so, when did it commence work.

(6) Has the department completed a ‘best practice’ blueprint for the use of ADR; if so, can copy of the document be provided; if not: (a) why not; (b) what drafts, if any, has the department developed on ADR procedures and guidelines; and (c) can these drafts be provided.

2359  Senator Marshall: To ask the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs—

(1) What circumstances could lead to a detainee in an Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) being segregated from other detainees.

(2) When detainees in IDCs are segregated from other detainees what departmental or company processes are followed.

(3) Who makes the decision to segregate a detainee.

(4) At the time of their segregation are detainees advised how long they will remain segregated and why they are to be segregated.

(5) Whilst segregated from other detainees: (a) what access to services and facilities do detainees have; and (b) what services or facilities are denied.

(6) In relation to detainees in each IDC held in solitary confinement during the past year, how many were held for longer than 5 days; and, in each case, for how much longer was each detainee held.

(7) When a detainee is held in solitary confinement is a report on the circumstances leading to the segregation of the detainee lodged with the department; if not, why not.

(8) Is solitary confinement of detainees ever used as a form of punishment; if not, why have detainees who have been held in solitary confinement been denied reading and music materials.

(9) Do detainees undertake psychological and/or psychiatric assessments prior to, during and/or after they spend time in solitary confinement; if not, why not; if so, are detainees provided with access to their own psychological or psychiatric assessments; if not, why not.