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Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Page: 8181


Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (18:43): I just want to acknowledge that Senator Cormann is one of the smartest people in this place. He is highly capable, is highly competent and has a lot of integrity—which is why I am shocked that he put up that argument. It is a very weak argument. It is a farcical argument. To suggest that anyone who supports this amendment—the Labor Party or, indeed, by extension, I as the mover of this amendment or the Australian Greens—is somehow siding with multinational tax avoiders is completely offensive and repugnant. Let us put this in perspective. The only way that this amendment will slow down this bill is if the federal government is not fair dinkum about tackling multinational tax avoiders. I know that the former Treasurer, Joe Hockey, was. I took him on his word. He talked the talk and walked the walk by introducing this bill. To suggest that supporting this very straightforward measure is somehow siding with multinational tax avoiders makes no sense whatsoever. So, for the people out there who are listening on the parliamentary news network or on news radio, it is completely farcical—what the finance minister has said.

Let us put this in perspective. Let us recap. What I am suggesting with this amendment, which mirrors the Australian Greens' amendment, which has been supported by the Australian Labor Party, is that if you are a company that has a global revenue of a billion dollars a year or more then it is not unreasonable to request that that company provide what is known as general purpose financial reporting, set out under Australian accounting standards and public sector accounting standards. It will require, in essential terms, the same level of information that a publicly listed company in this nation has to provide to the ASX and to ASIC. What it will require is a measure of transparency for those companies, already provided by much smaller public companies in this nation which may have a fraction of the revenue of a billion dollars a year but which are able to provide this information quite readily. It will provide a whole range of information, including transfer pricing. It will provide all sorts of information, including the intricate, labyrinthine arrangements that some of these companies are involved in. So all I am asking with this amendment is to have a similar measure of transparency as that already required of publicly listed companies. And what is the threshold? A company with revenue of $1 billion a year or more, whether in Australia or globally. To suggest that those companies somehow are going to find that onerous—I do not think there is a violin in the world small enough to play to say that that argument has any validity! That is what I am saying. Again, I say it with genuine respect for the capacity and the intellect of the finance minister. But this argument does not wash. It is an absolute furphy. And I would urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

The CHAIRMAN: The question is that amendment (1) on sheet 7789 moved by Senator Xenophon be agreed to.