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Wednesday, 2 December 1998
Page: 1099

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) (10:30 AM) —I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill introduces the Australian business number. All businesses will be able to deal with government using one identifier. This will reduce compliance costs for business. It will make it possible for business to provide information only once, to one agency, and to get help from different parts of government, in one place.

This measure was first recommended by the Bell committee, which was asked by the government to find ways of reducing red tape for small business.

In addition, the combined effect of the business number, the goods and services tax, and the pay-as-you-go reforms that will be introduced next year will make it harder for unscrupulous businesses to get out of paying their fair share of tax.

The ABN will be available to all businesses. An ABN will also be available to other entities that need to deal with government, such as charities and religious organisations.

Businesses, particularly small businesses, currently have to deal with numerous regulatory bodies across all of government. By introducing the ABN and making it available to the states and territories, the government will make it possible to significantly reduce the burdensome number of registrations and reporting requirements.

The ABN will make it possible for business to get information, help and assistance from one place, removing the time consuming and frustrating task of locating and contacting different agencies. If circumstances change for a business—for example, a change of address—the business will only need to notify one authority and the new details will be automatically recorded for all government agencies.

I present an explanatory memorandum for this bill and the succeeding bill, A New Tax System (Australian Business Number Consequential Amendments) Bill 1998. Full details of the measures in the bill are contained in the explanatory memorandum, circulated to honourable members. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.