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Monday, 24 February 2020
Page: 1111

Senator HUME (VictoriaAssistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology) (12:20): I thank those senators who have contributed to this debate on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Recovering Unpaid Superannuation) Bill 2019. The government is acting to improve the integrity of the superannuation guarantee. With the introduction of near real-time reporting on superannuation guarantee obligations and payments, the ATO will be able to detect and act on non-payment of workers' entitlements much more effectively going forward. To address historical noncompliance, this bill offers a limited, one-off opportunity to employers to come forward and pay their workers what they are owed. Employers have from 24 May 2018 to six months after this bill receives royal assent to voluntarily come forward and disclose their historical noncompliance without being subjected to penalties.

Following the passage of the bill, the ATO will update the law administration practice statement that provides guidelines in relation to the remission of additional superannuation guarantee charge imposed under part 7 of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992. The first step of the three-step penalty remission process is to determine the basic level of remission. When updating this practice guidance, it is the expectation of government that the basic level of remission for cases of prompted self-assessment and worse will attract a residual penalty equivalent to 100 per cent of the superannuation guarantee charge, with penalties increasing linearly as the offences become more egregious. The worst cases, where a default assessment has been issued with a severe disengagement and phoenixing arrangement on the part of the employer, should attract the full residual penalty, equivalent to 200 per cent of the superannuation guarantee charge. Only cases of unprompted self-assessment should attract an initial penalty of less than 100 per cent of the SGC. In these cases, where the employer has come forward of their own accord, the government deems it appropriate for the basic level of remission to result in a residual penalty equivalent to 20 per cent of the superannuation guarantee charge.

Let me be crystal clear. The government has absolutely no tolerance for superannuation theft. This is the very last chance that employers will have to come forward and receive concessional penalty treatment. After the amnesty concludes the ATO will take an extremely dim view of those employers that could have come forward but have failed to do so. Those employers will be subjected to penalties equal to at least 100 per cent of their noncompliance. I commend this bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.