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Wednesday, 11 November 2015
Page: 8241

Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (10:00): I just have a follow-up to that. I ask the minister to respond to that same question, as I was looking for the public good justification for shielding wealthy individuals from providing their tax affairs. The minister just responded by saying that they respected the confidentiality and they thought that was an important aspect for taxpayers. Do you accept there is also a very compelling case for transparency and disclosure being a strong disincentive for potential tax avoidance, especially around reputational risk? I will let the minister know, if he is not aware, that the evidence that the Senate committee heard on this issue was that disclosure is the first important step to take in providing disincentives to individuals and to companies to avoid tax, because they will get caught out. Senator Dastyari calls it a name and shame register. But I am not saying that these individuals and these companies are actually avoiding tax. I will say, as I said yesterday, if they have done nothing wrong, they have got nothing to hide. So what is the issue? Why not disclose? It is confidentiality on the one hand—respecting the confidentiality of wealthy individuals—and on the other hand we have a compelling argument for policy in the public interest that provides disclosure and a disincentive for tax avoidance. Can the minister please say where she feels the balance of evidence in this argument lies and where the public good component of your policy is?