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Wednesday, 14 December 1983
Page: 3776

Senator WALSH (Minister for Resources and Energy)(5.01) — Senator Harradine will not be disappointed, Mr Chairman. When he was goaded to explain the reason why he reversed today the vote that he cast a year ago on exactly the same matter he resorted to false argument. His apologia for reversing the vote is to claim that if section 3 (12) were deleted from the principal Act at this stage it would impose retrospectively tax on those people who had already been exempted from their liability by section 3 (12). In fact section 8 of the Acts Interpretation Act provides that that could not be done. It preserves the right of those who have utilised section 3 (12) provided an assessment has already been issued. So the reason Senator Harradine gave for reversing his vote is no reason at all. Again, that is a fact which could have been checked, had he been at all interested in it, by a simple inquiry to the office of the Treasurer (Mr Keating) or the Australian Taxation Office. It reveals that, like the Opposition, he has had no real interest in determining the crucial facts of this matter. He has determined that section 3 (12) will not be repealed even though 12 months ago he voted for its deletion from the original Act. He has yet to give an explanation as to why he did that, and I do not believe he will.

None of the other things he had to say had any relevance to the reversal of the vote he cast in 1982. He cannot claim, as the three Australian Democrats are able to claim legitimately, a complete and principled objection to the principle of retrospectivity. He had no total objection to that principle last year. He has changed his vote this year. The reason he has given is spurious. It is in fact simply not correct.