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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 3002

Senator BOLKUS(12.27) —I wish to enter this debate very briefly. I do so to expose the amendment that has been moved by Senator Messner. It is no wonder that when the A team of the Opposition went to Adelaide last week to try to salvage whatever John Howard had ruined Senator Messner was left in Adelaide.

Senator Walsh —Left in Canberra.

Senator BOLKUS —Sorry, he was left in Canberra, perhaps due to excess luggage. When one compares the amendment moved by the Opposition with the current provisions of the legislation one finds what a fraud Senator Messner is trying to enforce upon the Australian Senate, the Australian Parliament and the Australian people. It is very easy for Senator Messner to say we should allow deductibility where `the Commissioner is reasonably satisfied that that expense is directly attributable to gaining or producing assessable income or directly attributable to the purpose of gaining or producing assessable income'. It sounds good, and it pleases his electorate, the whole five per cent of Australia's population.

When we look at the current section 51 of the Income Tax Assessment Act, what do we find? We find precisely the same words. We find that Senator Messner has lifted out of current legislation precisely the same words. No wounder he is a failed accountant chased out of Adelaide! Let us look at section 51 of the Income Tax Assessment Act as it now applies. It states:

All losses and outgoings to the extent to which they are incurred in gaining or producing the assessable income, or are necessarily incurred in carrying on a business for the purpose of gaining or producing such income . . .

The terminology is the same. One or two words may be different, but the terminology is the same. That exposes what is going on here today. The Opposition, trying to perpetrate a fraud on the Australian electorate, is putting up what seems to be a palatable and acceptable provision, but it means nothing. It is no wonder that within a short period Senator Michael Buame will be sitting on the front bench in place of Senator Messner.

We have had a good look at the Opposition's amendment and we have seen what sort of a fraud it is. There is only one way in which the Messner proposals can be enforced to a greater extent that the law is now. At the moment it is just unenforceable. Senator Messner, in government, would have to enlist a whole band of restaurant sniffers, people who went around restaurants checking people out. That is the only way Senator Messner would be able to enforce this proposal.

Senator Maguire —A great job creation scheme.

Senator BOLKUS —It is a great job creation scheme, as Senator Maguire interjects. In essence, we are dealing with a sham that is intended to perpetuate a rort, which, as Senator Robert Ray mentioned, is the fastest growing rort in the Australian taxation system and one which at the moment is enjoyed by less than 5 per cent of the Australian population. I hope that the Committee can see this provision for the fraud that it is. In closing, I for one will probably be gratified if some more vitality is produced on the Opposition front bench when the change is made.