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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 611

Senator HARRADINE(8.48) — Many of us are often tied up with other work of the Senate and tonight I was involved until shortly after 8 o'clock with a committee. I understand that in my absence Senator Walsh, in characteristic fashion, instead of dealing with the question at hand, descended into an unfounded smear attack upon myself. He was required to withdraw his allegation. I thank the Deputy President for obtaining that withdrawal in my absence and also those who sought the withdrawal. To set the facts right, Senator Walsh-

Senator McIntosh —I raise a point of order. We are in Committee. Personal explanations can be made at a later stage.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Townley) —Order! There is no point of order.

Senator HARRADINE —I acknowledge that what Senator Walsh accused me of was irrelevant to this legislation. I would hope that the Deputy Whip is not attempting to deny me the opportunity at this appropriate time to lay the record straight. Senator Walsh was not referring to anything to do with this legislation. He was referring to votes on the so-called innocence provision, section 3 (12) of the Taxation (Unpaid Company Tax) Assessment Act, and he accused me of inconsistency in my voting on that section. The facts are entirely different.

Senator Sheil —Was he wrong again?

Senator HARRADINE —He was certainly wrong again. The facts are on my side and are a matter of public record. I invite the Committee to examine what I said on 16 December 1983, at page 3974 of Hansard:

I have maintained a consistent approach based on certainty before the law and fairness. It was one thing last year to vote against the inclusion of a clause which conferred certain rights to expect certain treatment in accordance with let-out or innocence provisions; but it is entirely another matter, 12 months later, to deny to taxpayers their right to relief which, under the law, they are entitled to expect. They are two different questions altogether.

That is what I said on 16 December 1983. If honourable senators compare that with what I said on 12 September 1984, they will see that I have maintained a consistent approach throughout. I said:

The position in respect of sub-section 3 (12) last December was entirely different from what it was in 1982 because the 'innocence clause' was not in the legislation in 1982.

At that time I considered that section 3 (12) was not necessary, but once it went in it provided an expectation to taxpayers that they would have their assessments made accordingly. Therefore, to remove that right was an entirely different matter altogether. I invite the Committee to examine the record to see whether I have been inconsistent, as Senator Walsh has alleged, or whether I have been consistent. It is there in the record. It is one thing-I emphasise this-to vote against a right which did not previously exist, which was my vote in 1982, but once that right is enshrined in statute and a legal expectation has been raised, it is entirely another matter and another consideration to vote for its removal.