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Thursday, 14 November 1985
Page: 2148

Senator WALSH (Minister for Finance)(12.36) —I suppose in an ideal world what Senator Messner said would be correct. I do not think it is accurate to say that people do not know what is going to be taxed and what is not going to be taxed. In general that is well known. In very fine detail it is probably not known, but there is nothing unique about that, even for tax laws which have been enacted. Indeed, the fact that it is not always unequivocally clear in fine detail is one of the major reasons why we have so many appeals going to taxation boards of review, a question which Senator Peter Baume raised a couple of minutes ago. I ask Senator Messner not to take this as a definitive answer, but to the best of my knowledge the fringe benefits legislation will be introduced before this spring Budget session ends and the rest of the legislation will be introduced in the autumn session. I will see whether the Treasurer (Mr Keating) has anything to add to that. To the best of my knowledge that is the case.

Senator Messner —Do you mean the entertainment tax as opposed to fringe benefits?

Senator WALSH —Yes, I think that is part of the fringe benefits tax. I lodge the caveat: Do not take that as a definitive answer. It is not without precedent for legislation to be many months behind an announcement. Senator Messner has mentioned that it sometimes happens when loopholes are closed. There is at least one other occasion not relating to the closing of a loophole that I can remember, and that was the announcement in July 1982 of major changes to the depreciation allowance for plant, which was announced by the last Government. That legislation was not, in fact, enacted by that Government at all; it was enacted by the present Government in the autumn of 1983. Likewise, a range of tax amendments and concessions announced with the 1982 Budget, not related to the closing of loopholes, was not legislated in 1982 at all. It was legislated by this Government in March or April 1983.