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Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Page: 8177

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (18:29): Firstly, I completely reject the assertions that Senator Whish-Wilson made about a shredded tax office and the tax office being under pressure. It is true that the previous Labor government imposed an efficiency dividend on the tax office which led to a reduction of about 3,500 ASL positions. It was quite appropriate for the previous Labor government to do that because in the 21st century, in 2015, the administration of our tax laws is not the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago

It is not paper based in the same way. There are more sophisticated compliance mechanisms and tools available these days. Of course, the tax office will continue to be at the global leading edge when it comes to pursuing, implementing and administering our tax laws in a modern and efficient way—and they are doing a great job.

Specifically in relation to international tax avoidance, the government has provided an additional $87.6 million to the ATO over three years to investigate international tax avoidance. To date, the program has raised over $400 million in tax liabilities, and it is estimated to raise about $1.1 billion in total. This suggestion that we are not resourcing the tax office appropriately is wrong. Even if Senator Whish-Wilson's assertion were right, it does not link at all with his final sentence in support of his amendment, because, as I have indicated before, his amendment and Senator Xenophon's amendment do not add anything when it comes to providing information to the tax office, because the information required for tax compliance purposes is already available and within reach of the tax commissioner.