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Wednesday, 2 May 1984
Page: 1455


Senator JACK EVANS(10.09) —by leave-I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

This Bill is designed to include in assessable income, the value of certain benefits received from or in connection with, certain 23F superannuation funds. It will insert a new section 26A which will operate where benefits were received or obtained in circumstances where the taxpayer had no right under the fund rules to receive the benefits, or where the benefits paid were excessive for the purpose of paragraph 23F (2) (h).

This Bill will prevent further abuses of the kind outlined by the Treasurer (Mr Keating) in his second reading speech when introducing the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1984. Section 23F funds have been used by some for the purposes of tax avoidance. I deplore the fact that in its extreme form, this has been done at the expense of employees who are essentially deceived by their employers, who have only their own selfish interests at heart.

This Bill is, therefore, substantially the same as the Treasurer's Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 2). It differs, however, in one important respect . The Government has backdated its legislation to 1 July, 1977. My Bill will start operating from 7 December, 1983, the day the Treasurer first introduced this legislation into the Parliament.

Despite this neglect by former governments, the Fraser Government was supported by Australian Democrat Senators Mason and Siddons to retrieve some of the taxes which had been evaded. Subsequently I joined with my fellow Australian Democrat Senator Colin Mason to support further legislation to retrieve further revenue from the tax evaders of the past.

We then supported the Government to retrieve taxes lost through the distortion of the section 23F tax provisions for superannuation benefits, known as cherry- picking. We have been consistent in our fight against tax evaders and in our support for legislation against tax evaders.

My fellow Democrats, Senators Chipp, Haines and Macklin, have been equally consistent in their stand on principle against any form of retrospective tax legislation. I can understand that point of view and it is to accommodate that principle that I have introduced this Bill to ensure that the 23F loophole for tax evaders is closed immediately.

I ask all senators, now, to vote in a demonstration of genuine concern over tax avoidance. This Bill will give Parliament the opportunity to close off some avenues of future tax avoidance without being impeded by concern over retrospectivity.

The choice for Government members is clear. Will they continue to play politics in order to arouse public anger at what Governments have allowed tax avoiders to do in the past, or will they support this Bill which will prevent further abuses of this type in the future? Are they serious about tax avoidance or are they using tax avoidance to play politics?

Debate (on motion by Senator Button) adjourned.