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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2203

Senator TOWNLEY(10.28) —I was going to leave discussion of the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations until later, but in view of what the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Walsh) said, I feel I should say a little right now. First, I do not think that anyone in this Senate feels that all intelligence resides inside the skull of the Minister. If ever he wants to get leave in this Senate to do anything in future he had better be a little bit more polite in the way he talks about people. If he thinks for a moment that I would agree with recommendation 1 of this report he must be more stupid than most people in this place recognise him to be. When he was an Opposition member he used to make snide remarks, particularly to Senator Sir John Carrick, that quite often he had to withdraw. I thought that since he had become a Minister he had shown a little more intelligence, or perhaps control of his language, than he had when he was obviously trying to bait Senator Sir John Carrick in the years gone by.

Senator Sir John Carrick —He was just a larrikin.

Senator TOWNLEY —He is not much better than that now. Some of his ministerial colleagues have proven to me on occasions that they are just as petty and small- minded as that gentleman is. Let me read recommendation 1 of the report, Mr President, just in case you think I am straying away from it. The recommendation states:

In view of the fact that identified cases of abuse of the taxation law using cherry picker schemes have occurred at least since 1978-79, and that the largest case identified so far occurred in that year, the Committee concludes that retrospectivity is justified and recommends that the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1984 be passed by the Senate.

On not one occasion when retrospective matters have come before the Senate have I agreed to them. Why on earth the Minister should think that I have to give very many reasons why I dissent from such a recommendation, I do not know.

Senator Coates —You should not have bothered sending the Bill to the Committee.

Senator TOWNLEY —The Senate sent the Bill to the Committee.

Senator Coates —You supported it.

Senator TOWNLEY —I certainly did support it. Having listened to the evidence that was given I was even more sure that retrospectivity was not the answer in this case. I do object to the way the Minister feels that in every case one has to spell out exactly why one objects to something like that. Surely, where there is a little bit of simple English in a recommendation of that kind it is easy to see why one objects to it, particularly if the Minister has paid any attention to things that have been said in the Senate even with respect to this Bill.