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Monday, 10 April 2000
Page: 15641


Mr Kelvin Thomson asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 15 February 2000:

(1) Has the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) expenditure on market research risen from $556 099 in 1996-97 to $1 317 375 in 1998-99, as revealed in the appendix 6 of the Commissioner of Taxation annual report for 1998-99.

(2) Have the topic or topics of market research been removed since the 1996-97 annual report; if so, why.

(3) What topic or topics of market research, on a company by company basis similar to that contained in the 1996-97 annual report, were undertaken in (a) 1997-98 and (b) 1998-99.

(4) Is either the increase in market research, or the reduction of information provided in annual reports, linked to the Government's directive to have all public communication from the ATO vetted by the Ministerial Committee on Government Communications.


Mr Costello (Treasurer) —The Assistant Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) ATO records show that in 1996-97 the expenditure on market research was $556,099. For 1998-99 the amount reported was overstated by $292,466. This represented a payment made to Toll Logisitics for outsourced work that was misreported as market research. The market research for 1998-99 should read $1,024,909.

(2) The topics for market research have been removed from the 1997-98 and 1998-99 annual reports. The Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) guidelines for the production of annual reports did not require the inclusion of market research topics in 1996-97 or later years. From 1997-98 onwards a concerted effort was undertaken by the ATO to more closely follow the PM&C guidelines.

(3) 1998-99 market research topics by company:

COMPANY

PURPOSE

AMOUNT $

Toll Logistics

CGT Rollover and relief

2,781

Made to Measure

Sales Tax Public notice

2,860

AC Nielsen Research

Family Tax Initiative & Client use of ATO counter facilitiesCommunity perception survey

29,100115,945

Chant Link & Assoc

HECS information productsMarket testing ETP publicationsMarket testing Key Feature StatementsSelf managed superannuation fund studySuperannuation client profilesEmployer compliance Super GuaranteeSelf managed superannuation fund studyMulti-dimensional measure of compliance

23,92835,41324,66738,000161,251175,00038,0004,000

Juliet London Research

SFSS 1999 brochure

29,200

Donovan Research

Professionalism survey

194,379

Roy Morgan Research

Strategic Alignment process - Internal staff survey

5,685

Eureka Strategic Research

Problem Resolution Service - Concept testing

14,733

Details of the market research topics for 1997-98 are not readily available and may take some time to compile.

(4) There is no link in either the increase in spending on market research, or in the reduction in information provided in the ATO annual report, to the government directive to have all public communication from the ATO vetted by the Ministerial Committee on Government Communications.

Market research spending will fluctuate markedly from year to year as the ATO seeks to implement new initiatives and keep in touch with taxpayer needs and behaviour.