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Tuesday, 2 October 1984
Page: 1417

Mr TUCKEY(12.16 a.m.) —Mr Deputy Speaker, these particulars--

Mr Robert Brown —Another defender of the tax dodgers.

Mr TUCKEY —Look, you are down on the record--

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I suggest to the honourable member for O'Connor that he listen to the Chair for a moment. I ask the honourable member for Hunter not to interject and provoke the honourable member for O'Connor. I ask the honourable member for O'Connor to direct all his comments through the Chair and in that way he will have the protection of the Chair.

Mr TUCKEY —Fine. Let me continue, through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and advise you that the honourable member for Hunter is recorded in the Hansard of this Parliament as being a person who came in here with numerous other members sitting on the opposite side of the House and voted for a tax cheat to protect him. I refer to the Minister for Finance (Mr Dawkins). Let us get that on the record for a start before I get down to the subject of the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1984 [No. 2]; which I would like to address at some length.

Mr Campbell —I will talk to the Carnarvon Shire about you again.

Mr TUCKEY —Let me take that up. The Minister for Finance had a lot of innocent councillors--

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I ask honourable members on my right to cease interjecting and to stop provoking the honourable member for O'Connor.

Mr TUCKEY —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Might I say to you that the Minister for Finance recently organised the dismissal of a whole group of innocent councillors, and I was not one of them, so he could appoint the retired Clerk of Fremantle to the Shire of Carnarvon for the express purpose of trying to get hold of some of the dirt this member speaks of. Mr Parkes failed because it is not there. The Minister had Stan Parkes up there for three or four months. This action caused great pain to other people, and it was a blow to the democracy of Australia. So that is what happened. Let us get down to the subject of the Bill. I say to the honourable member for Kalgoorlie: You voted for a tax avoider and you went overseas when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage ( Interim Protection) Bill was introduced, you hypocrite.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I ask the honourable member for Kalgoorlie to cease interjecting. Also, I say to the honourable member for O'Connor that if he wishes to continue making his speech, he will address all his remarks through the Chair and he will make them relevant.

Mr TUCKEY —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. For your information I have marked out substantial references that I want to make to this Bill, and I am quite happy to keep to them, with your assistance. This Bill is about collecting tax. I have told the Parliament on another occasion that taxes are generally the involuntary payments made by members of the community for services provided by government that they may not even need or desire. A tax payment is not something that anybody makes voluntarily, and that includes everybody in this place. It is nevertheless something that is necessary to keep the community going and to provide community services. The Government is now setting out to raise a tax and in so doing it is neglecting entirely its responsibilities in this case.

It was interesting to hear the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Griffiths) refer to a particular case. I think it related to someone by the name of Kelly. He told us a terrible story of how individual people were robbed of their rights under a superannuation scheme. It would have been very interesting to me if the Government had introduced into this Parliament some sort of legislation to redress the wrongs committed against the people who are robbed by this device, this cherry picking scheme or tontine or whatever we like to call it. The loser is not the revenue. It can be considered a tax avoidance measure, and it probably is in the example of two or three children that has been given. But if bona fide arm's length employees are involved and those employees are dismissed ahead of time without being informed of superannuation arrangements made on their behalf, they are the ones who are being robbed, not the taxation revenue which this Government is so wrapped up in collecting so that it can spend. When it cannot collect enough it borrows some more and spends that as well.

The fact of life is that there is a responsibility on this Government to protect the very people that the honourable member for Maribyrnong chose to talk to. Within the Bills Digest provided to us we find reference to the fact that the New South Wales Government has taken some steps in this direction. It is quite interesting. This Government has not done that because it is tax crazy. This Government would not think that its real responsibility is to protect people under this legislation so that if a company comes up with a scheme under section 23F of the Income Tax Assessment Act, and says that it has an intention to pay its employees and gains tax deductions accordingly-there is nothing wrong with that-those people should get the money. The Taxation Commissioner should not be able to say: 'You cheated on your employees so I will have the money instead'. That is what the Government is telling us.

Mr Griffiths —Do you think the money should be left with those principals?

Mr TUCKEY —Mr Deputy Speaker, I am explaining to these people how they are letting down the very people they have been carping about being here to represent. They seem to have some wonderful opinion in their minds that as long as they get the tax they will in some way help those poor people who have been robbed.

Mr Robert Brown —We do.

Mr TUCKEY —I think it would be a lot easier if the Government just gave them the money. Honourable members opposite cannot even do what their close associate the Premier of New South Wales has managed to do; that is, to bring in legislation that will protect people in these circumstances. The Commissioner of Taxation lays down in section 23F what a superannuation scheme is. It is a fund that must be indefinitely continuing and must be exclusively established and maintained to provide benefits for employees and/or the payment of death benefits to their dependants. That is what a superannuation scheme is. If it has been manipulated in some way so that people do not get the money, the Government should bring legislation into this Parliament to ensure that the people do get the money. That would be fair and reasonable; but it has not done that. It got all wrapped up in trying to get in a bit more taxation.

The Government is still determined to run its campaign for the next election on the tax evasion issue. I welcome that because it is my intention every time it raises the issue to say 'Dawkins, Dawkins, Dawkins'. If that message has not gone over in New South Wales, honourable members need only see some of the cartoons in Western Australia. The people there know what it is all about, even in his electorate. They know that. The situation is that this particular-

Mr Young —What is the relation between tax evasion and homosexuality in Western Australia?

Mr TUCKEY —They are both a problem with someone like the Minister for Finance around. If Government members ask the questions, they will get the answers. The fact of life therefore is that this legislation is in the first instance misplaced. It sets out to do something in an area in which the Government has no right to interfere. The Government has no right to money that rightfully belongs to the people who were listed in those superannuation schemes as people who were beneficiaries of the schemes and to people in a scheme that is tax free under the laws of the Commonwealth.

The Government through the reasonably recent introduction of the 30:20 arrangement whereby a large amount of any superannuation scheme funds has to be invested with the Commonwealth has again taken an opportunity from small business people to get into a position of having a bit of superannuation. Quite well paid salaried people in many instances have access to superannuation schemes. It is a reality of life that small businessmen seldom have surplus capital. They do not have that sort of money. They are in a position of needing every penny they have, yet many do not have great capital assets. They are probably in rented premises. When they reach retirement age, unless they put aside funds in some fashion, they have very little to retire on. They pay taxes on their businesses as they go along. Of course, they would like to benefit from the same arrangements that benefit certain salary earners and their employers. Consequently, it was necessary for them to have the right to reinvest some of the funds from their superannuation schemes into their businesses.

This activity has been curtailed by the 30:20 rule. Nevertheless, they can reinvest some moneys, but they are having life made a lot more difficult for them by this legislation because many of them have gone into schemes and at some time may find they cannot proceed with them. If this legislation passes, and in view of the earlier legislation of this evening imposing huge penalties, I wonder how some of those people might then be treated. It is certainly not the type of legislation that is necessary. Of course, I heard mentioned some of the figures as to the potential for revenue collection by making the legislation retrospective. I have informed the House about this on a previous occasion. If the legislation were not retrospective the moneys forgone would not even equal the cost of bringing those extra members of parliament into this place 18 months ahead of the necessary time. Thus the Government is not even very honest in saying to the Australian people that this money can be collected and redistributed to the people. It will spend the money on new members of parliament. Even that particular issue does not help very much. Nevertheless, it is agreed between us that each speaker will not contribute to this debate for more than 10 minutes. As much as I would like to talk about other issues relating to tax avoidance and evasion practised in this place, this is probably not the opportune time.