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Wednesday, 9 November 1983
Page: 2479

Mr SPENDER(12.25) —I will add one or two points to what has already been said. I have pointed out that I gave advice to the Commissioner of Taxation on sections 263 and 264. I am sorry that the Minister for Housing and Construction and Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Hurford) cannot have that advice because under the secrecy provisions of the taxation legislation he is not allowed to. Of course, I would never reveal the names of those who are involved but I thought it was relevant to mention the matter in view of what he has said. I agree with the honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard). The Minister Assisting the Treasurer was not behaving in his usual charitable style. I think it is relevant, in view of what he said, to point out that it is a very strange way of assisting people who are alleged to have been involved in bottom of the harbour activities to advise the Commissioner about the conduct of events relating to transactions which have since been described by that name. I will say nothing further on that subject. I trust that my advice was in all respects acted upon and that the results assisted the Commissioner in the fulfilment of his obligations under the Act. I do know that certain raids were carried out pursuant to my advice. However, I have never taken the matter any further.

I will say very briefly one or two things on a couple of points that have been raised; for example, naming provisions. The Minister Assisting the Treasurer has justified his case but in the existing Act one is named in respect of breaches or evasions of tax. The point that I wish to put before the House is that there can easily be cases in which a person is not at fault, has not engaged in anything which is illegal, never intended to engage in anything which is illegal and where he is, for whatever reasons, because of financial misadventure perhaps , unable to pay the tax which will eventually be sought to be recouped from him.

I objected to the proposal when it was originally in a draft Bill which came before us when we were in government on the basis that it placed undue pressure upon people and I thought that was wrong. I still object to it on the same basis . All that the provision intends to do is to inspire in people the fear that they should forgo whatever legal rights they have and pay up. I do not believe that that is correct; I do not believe that it is fair. Those who have been found guilty of breaches and evasions are covered by the existing legislation and surely it is breaches and evasions that we are concerned about.

I agree entirely with what the honourable member for Bennelong has said about the removal of section 3 (12). The same kind of reasoning would apply to the amendments which are proposed to section 5 (9). I repeat: Where those who have before or after acted legally and sought lawfully to avoid taxation, whether or not one regards it as desirable, that places them in an entirely different category from those who seek to evade tax. Those who seek to evade tax must take the consequences. I believe that the position of those who acted lawfully should be considered on a quite different basis.