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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 9771


Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (09:57): It was pointed out to me this morning by Senator Dastyari that the government was close to caving in on this. Absolute BS! What that is code for is: 'We were going to do a deal with the government, but you beat us first.' That is what that is code for.

Let me tell you: I sat in your chair, Mr President, when this party let the kidnap amendment go to a vote without putting up speakers and without even so much as a 'No' on the division. It was the Greens that put this amendment back into the mix and rescued this national debate. The Labor Party did absolutely nothing—absolutely nothing. They rolled over and had their tummies tickled.

We have led on this through the Senate inquiry. Senator Milne got this Senate inquiry up. We put this amendment back into the national conversation, and I am glad that we are still having it today. It is the Greens that have led on this, and we want an outcome for those—

Senator Dastyari: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. Senator Whish-Wilson is misleading the Senate. He sat there and begged me—

The PRESIDENT: That is no point of order.

Senator Dastyari: He begged me to let him move it, because he needed—

The PRESIDENT: Resume your seat, Senator Dastyari! There is no point of order.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Let me tell you of the people that came into our offices and every single senator's office and said, 'We need politicians in this country to do something about multinational tax avoidance': the Oaktree foundation; Micah Challenge; the Tax Justice Network. We are doing something about that here today, but the Labor Party are shouting from the sidelines because they want to score political points. They do not want to deliver an outcome for those who have worked so hard in this country to get tax justice in Australia.

Let me tell you—these stakeholders will be coming out today saying: 'Thank you for doing a deal. This is what we want. Thank you for standing up for us today.' We are here representing the Australian people. We are leading on this debate. All the Labor Party are doing is scoring cheap political points. We are happy to debate this through to the early hours of the morning because we are on the side of angels. To quote your leader, 'The Greens are on the side of angels.' I can certainly tell you, Mr President, we want to see outcomes.

Let me say this just shows today how irrelevant the Labor Party have become. They have been dealt out of getting an outcome on tax justice in this country. We have looked at this, we have talked to stakeholders and we have made a decision. We could have all scored political points against the government on this. We could have loaded this up and given it back to the government as a Christmas present. But do you know what? There would be no Christmas present in this country for those who want tax justice. This would have been a political point for the Labor Party and for the Greens if we had wanted to go down the dog whistle politics road. What we have done today is delivered for stakeholders in this country. We have delivered. I am proud to say that we have general purpose accounting, Senator Xenophon's amendment. We have agreement—

Senator Conroy interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Conroy!

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Are you making a point of order, Senator Conroy?

The PRESIDENT: There was no point of order. Continue, Senator Whish-Wilson.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Let me tell you—we have delivered on Senator Xenophon's amendment, which is absolutely critical to removing special deals for companies to make them do general purpose accounts.

Senator Conroy: The BCA have endorsed you today!

The PRESIDENT: Senator Conroy!

Senator WHISH-WILSON: We can now get multinationals that have been dodging billions of dollars of tax to tell us where their country-of-origin reporting is. We have begun tax transparency, and it is going to be a long journey. But don't forget—you lost the kidnap bill! We brought it back. You lost it, Labor Party!

The PRESIDENT: Through the chair!

Senator WHISH-WILSON: The Greens brought this back, and now we have begun to bring the debate on transparency back to the Senate, and we have delivered a result. I am proud to stand here today and say that we have delivered a result on tax justice in this country. It will become clear when all the 'BS' clears from this chamber that we have actually got a good result here today. Is it the end of this debate? No, it is not. We have a long way to go, but I am proud to take the first steps in getting a result, and we will take the leadership on the next steps if that is what it takes. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion to suspend standing orders, moved by Senator Fifield, be agreed to.