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Tuesday, 2 October 1984
Page: 1422

Mr RUDDOCK(12.43 a.m.) —I move the amendment circulated in the name of my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr Howard:

Clause 3, pages 1-3, omit '1 July 1977' (wherever occurring), substitute '7 December 1983'.

The purpose of the amendment is to remove the retrospective element involved in this legislation and to find out whether the Government is serious about the question of recouping revenue in relation to schemes that operate in this area. Two arguments on this matter were mounted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition . He said that if the Government were serious about recouping revenue, it would accept the amendment and proceed to have the legislation in place, whereas if it persisted without the amendment, the legislation would not pass the Senate.

The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Allan Morris) said that he would like to see a double dissolution on this matter and would like to see the matter pressed. The fact is that the Government has given no indication that it intends to have a double dissolution on this matter. In fact, I have seen the challenge thrown out by Australian Democrat members of the Senate in regard to this question. If the Government were serious it might well introduce a double dissolution Bill and there might then be a prospect of the legislation being passed and the revenue being recouped. But the Government has no intention of proceeding to a double dissolution. As it would suffer considerably in terms of the outcome of its early election were it to take that course of action, of course, it will not proceed with it.

That serves to demonstrate even further that the Government's intention is not to recover revenue as a result of the operation of these schemes in the past; rather, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said during the debate on the second reading of the Bill, the Government's real intention is to beat up this matter as a political issue, to discuss it in the context of an election and to be able to suggest, as honourable members did quite scurrilously in regard to my colleague, the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) when he was debating this question, that we were in some way friends of tax dodgers because of the principled approach we have taken on this matter. It is on the basis of the principle that we have put to the House that there should be an amendment to clause 3 to remove the substantial retrospective effect involved in this legislation. It needs to be noted that the effort on the Government's part is to back date these proposals to 1 July 1977. I think that indicates the nature of the retrospective element that is involved-some 7 years. I strongly support the amendment, commend it to the Committee and suggest that if the Government is serious about recouping revenue as a result of this matter, it should proceed to accept the amendment that the Opposition has moved.