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Friday, 2 March 1984
Page: 298

Senator HILL(10.18) —It seems to me that this motion to adjourn the debate provides an opportunity to raise a few questions to which the Government might like to give consideration before next week. I hope Senator Chipp's action this morning will enable the Senate to be better prepared for the debate next week. I wish to raise a number of matters that the Government might consider. The second reading speech of the Minister for Social Security (Senator Grimes) referred largely to abuses of the nature of fraud. I would like to know next week how many such cases the Minister is aware of. Mention was made in the other House of one case in New South Wales. Is this legislation based simply on one case of a fraudulent nature? I would also be interested to learn next week how much tax is being lost through these so-called abuses. If the Minister is simply relying on this one case or several cases of fraud, I would be interested next week to know also whether the Commissioner of Taxation and the Government have taken any action, either about offences under the Commonwealth Crimes Act or, alternatively, under Part IVA of the Income Tax Assessment Act since it has been in force.

I will also be interested to learn next week why 1 July 1977 has been chosen as the cut-in date, the date from which assessments are to be made. Why is that date so critical? Will it be suggested to the Senate next week that these cases did not exist in the previous month? Why has the middle of 1977 been chosen as the date to which this tax should operate retrospectively? I will be looking particularly next week for some explanation of why, if these funds did not qualify because excess benefits were allocated during the last seven years, that allocation has been allowed in those years. I cannot understand that. In other words, as Senator Chipp knows, if excessive benefits have been allocated under a section 23F fund the commissioner has a responsibility not to allow it. The party that has paid the sum in could not get a deduction for it. If income is earned by the fund it could be taxable; it might not get the taxation exemption under section 23F. If the Commissioner has been carrying out his role responsibly and in accordance with his obligations under the Act I cannot see why it is now necessary to legislate retrospectively in this form.

Senator Chipp —You can bet that he has been doing that.

Senator HILL —Of course he has been doing it. If he has been doing it, why are we to have this legislation before us at all? It seems to me that there is just no purpose for it. This debate has been a handy opportunity for me to raise these few matters to which the Government might give consideration before next week when the matter again comes on for debate.