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Wednesday, 11 November 2015
Page: 8249


Senator BILYK (TasmaniaDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (12:12): I have a couple of concerns about this whole bill. The first concern is that it so obviously erodes public confidence because it makes our tax system not as transparent. The biggest concern that I have—and we heard from Senator Xenophon earlier in regard to this and from Senator Ludwig—is this concept of kidnapping, this concept that if big businesses have to report then there is the chance that they or their families might be kidnapped. I do not want to make light of this at all, because kidnapping is obviously a very serious issue. But when the ATO gave evidence during the inquiry that one in five private companies earning over $100 million do not pay any tax and the government is supporting that—that seems to be the whole emphasis behind this bill—then I think that the people of Australia have the right to understand that it is just a furphy. It is just a ridiculous argument. When asked about that particular area of concern, the AFP, the ATO and the Attorney-General's Department could not give any evidence about that happening. So my first question is: where did that evidence come from? If you are going to use the argument of kidnapping, where is the official evidence? Where did that come from?

When people are kidnapped, most of the time there would be a ransom involved and, to me, the only people being held to ransom here are the low and middle income earners of Australia, who pay their fair share of tax. But if you are in one of these companies earning $100 million then the government will find any excuse for you not to have to pay your fair share of tax. It is absurd and it is absolutely logical. There is a complete lack of evidence behind the absolutely clumsy defence of this bill. We know there are few supporters of it. So my question to the minister is: where is the evidence of that? Who actually gave evidence? How did you get that evidence? You cannot just stand up and say that. And also: how do you respond to these comments in general that are being given by other senators?

Just before I sit down, in regard to the 'filibustering' comment: what an absurd comment to make. You come in here, you put up these proposals and you give us the most illogical arguments to defend them. As Senator Ludwig said, he is still waiting for an answer to his question. I have been sitting here through this debate, and I have not heard any logical or believable answer about the kidnapping concept. I really seriously would like to know: where did that evidence come from?

Senator Ludwig: That's a weird one!

Senator BILYK: It is absolutely weird, Senator Ludwig—and not just weird, but absolutely bizarre, and quite an insult to the intelligence of low and middle income Australians who, as I said, are paying their fair share of tax and expect that big businesses should too.