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Tuesday, 9 October 1984
Page: 1934


Mr KEATING (Treasurer)(6.02) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill to amend the income tax law was introduced in another place on 2 May by Senator Jack Evans of the Australian Democrats and received a third reading in that place on 4 May 1984. Honourable members will, of course, be aware that the Democrats' Bill, like legislation first introduced by the Government on 7 December 1983, will include in assessable income the full amount of benefits received from section 23F superannuation funds under arrangements commonly called cherry-picker schemes. This Bill differs from the Government's proposed legislation in one important respect; that is, that it applies only in respect of payments or benefits received on or after 7 December 1983 rather than from 1 July 1977, which was the date of effect sought by the Government.

In the face of the continued refusal by the occupants of the benches opposite and some others to support the Government's legislation, which was debated here and passed for a third time by this House on 2 October 1984, the Government has decided that this Bill should be given passage. This action will ensure, at least, that benefits received under these schemes from 7 December last are properly subject to tax. This action should not be seen as any weakening of our resolve to have this Parliament enact legislation that taxes superannuation benefits misappropriated, in some instances from unsuspecting employees and more generally to the detriment of honest taxpayers, by those who have indulged in these distasteful practices since the schemes first came to notice in July 1977. Rather it should be seen for what it is-a first step.

I do not have to elaborate on the shabbiness of the motives of those who indulged in these schemes other than to say that it was tax avoidance of the most unambiguously blatant kind. As such, the measures call for an application of the Government's anti-tax avoidance retrospectivity policy-a policy endorsed by the people of Australia on 5 March last year. As my colleague the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Hurford) said on 5 September when re- introducing the Government's Bill in relation to these matters, the Commissioner of Taxation is vigorously seeking to challenge these schemes under the existing law but the only certainly effective response is legislation retrospective to 1977. A technical explanation of the proposed section 26AFA, subject to the date of effect being changed, is contained in the memorandum circulated to honourable members at the time of introduction of the Government's Bill containing the original measure. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Howard) adjourned.