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Friday, 11 October 1985
Page: 1107

(Question No. 122)

Senator Bolkus asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 22 March 1985:

(1) Is the Treasurer aware that Lancelot John Priestley took part in a Curran-type scheme which involved hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax avoidance; if so

(a) did the partnership involving Mr Priestley involve the tax scheme operator Brian Maher's Commercial Securities Ltd;

(b) was Mr Priestley associated with four now defunct NSW companies, Bukama Pty Ltd, Trafmill Investments Pty Ltd, Play-o-Mat Pty Ltd, and AEP Distributors Pty Ltd; and

(c) did these companies in 1977 ultimately end up passing through the hands of directors which included John Patrick Donnelly and Lee Gabriel Hurley, and, ultimately, into the bottom of the harbour in a manner which left approximately $500,000 in avoided tax.

(2) What is the current cost to the taxpayer of Lancelot John Priestley's salary as a member of the NSW Supreme Court.

(3) How many tax cases has Mr Priestley dealt with as a judge of the NSW Supreme Court.

(4) What are these cases and in which instances did he decide in favour of the Commissioner for Taxation.

(5) Was a partner of Mr Priestley in the tax avoidance scheme a Sydney solicitor, James Hamilton Momsen.

(6) Did the National Times of 7 March 1982 carry an apology to Mr Priestley which stated that he had acted `in accordance with the highest standards of his profession', and did the same edition of the National Times carry an apology to Mr Momsen.

(7) What is the estimated total cost to the taxpayer of tax avoided by Mr Priestley in this and any other schemes in other years.

(8) What is the total amount of salary paid by taxpayers to Mr Priestley since he became a judge.

Senator Walsh —The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The secrecy provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act prohibit the disclosure of information concerning the taxation affairs of a taxpayer.

(2) Salaries paid to members of the NSW Supreme Court are determined by the Government of NSW.

(3) As a judge of the NSW Supreme Court, Mr Priestley dealt with only one reported tax case where he sat as one of three judges.

(4) The case was DFC of T v AGC (Advances) Ltd 84 ATC 4177 and the court unanimously dismissed the appeal by the Deputy Federal Commissioner of Taxation.

(5) See answer to question (1).

(6) The National Times of 7 March 1982 carried the apologies referred to by the honourable senator.

(7) See answer to question (1).

(8) See answer to question (2).