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Thursday, 19 September 1985
Page: 749

Senator SIDDONS —I ask the Minister for Finance a general question. Do both he and the Government believe that a greater degree of employee share ownership would be a good thing in the interests of better industrial relations and would act as an incentive to all concerned to improve the efficiency of Australian industry? If the answer to that question is yes in general terms, will the Government give consideration to reviewing sections of the Income Tax Assessment Act that are a disincentive to employees purchasing shares, and particularly to the problem that any appreciation of shares over the period of, say, five years over which the employees are purchasing those shares is considered by the Commissioner of Taxation as income, even though the employees do not in fact own the shares during that period?

Senator WALSH —I think the implications of such a question are far too wide ranging and profound for me to give an off the top of the head response now. As far as employee share ownership is concerned, for listed public companies there is nothing at the moment to prevent employees buying shares if they choose to do so. I will refer that part of Senator Siddons's question relating to the effects of the present taxation law to the Treasurer for reply.

Senator SIDDONS —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The essential thrust of my question was not answered. Because the present Income Tax Assessment Act is a disincentive, will the Government give consideration to removing any disincentives in that area?

Senator WALSH —I suppose the Government will consider anything. I do not want anyone to read into that response any indication at all that it would be considered favourably.