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Thursday, 28 October 1993
Page: 2756


Senator GARETH EVANS —During question time on 26 October, Senator Campbell asked me a question in relation to which I undertook to obtain further advice as to, first of all, a reported comment by the Treasurer on the size of the possible compensation bill for Mabo regarding validation of title; and, secondly, the question of how compensation payments will be treated for taxation purposes.

  As to the first part, Senator Campbell's question was predicated on the report of the Australian Financial Review of 26 October that the Treasurer had estimated that compensation costs arising from the Mabo decision would be around only $100 million. I am informed that this was a misrepresentation of what the Treasurer actually said, which was along the lines that the total compensation cost was difficult to estimate but was likely to be in the order of hundreds of millions rather than a billion. This was a general statement, heavily qualified, in accord with the views previously expressed by other ministers, including me, and was not drawing on any particular analysis prepared by the Treasury.

  As to the second matter, the question of how the compensation payments will be treated for the purposes of taxation is yet to be considered definitively by the government. Since it is likely to be some time before any compensation for extinguishment or impairment of native title is required to be paid, there will clearly be time for balanced consideration to be given by the government to all relevant issues.