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Wednesday, 11 November 2015
Page: 8253


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (12:31): I would remind Senator Bilyk that Labor is supporting this bill. Do not get too excited in your arguments against it. As has been stated several times in this debate—and perhaps if those on the other side had a little more experience in the real world of business they would understand—the government introduced the amendment that we are all referring to because publication of the taxation information of these particular companies would have, effectively, disclosed the owners' financial affairs and posed a risk to their position in the market by making key economic information available to their competitors and their suppliers.

Senator Bilyk: Where does the evidence come from?

Senator Dastyari: That is just a lie!

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN ( Senator Reynolds ): Senator Bilyk and Senator Dastyari, the minister has the call.

Senator CASH: The Senate, as I have stated, has already debated the substance of this amendment when it passed the tax and superannuation laws—

Senator Bilyk: I rise on a point of order, Temporary Chairman. The minister is not answering the question that is pretty simple. I have asked it a couple of times. Where did the evidence come from? Is there any evidence? Let me make it easy for the minister: is there any evidence?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Senator Bilyk, there is no point of order.

Senator CASH: For the benefit of those in the gallery who have to endure this, and for those listening to broadcast, the good news is that I think there is only 12½ minutes left before we go to senators' statements. This has been canvassed time and time again. My understanding is that the Senate has already debated the substance of this amendment.

Senator Bilyk interjecting

Senator Dastyari: You are misleading the chamber, Senator.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Senator Bilyk and Senator Dastyari, the minister has the call. I have already said that there is no point of order. The minister is answering your question.

Senator Dastyari: I did not call a point of order.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: You are saying exactly the same thing as you did with your point of order. The minister is answering your question. Let her be heard.

Senator CASH: Again, as I said, the government introduced the amendment because publication of the taxation information of these companies would have, effectively, disclosed the owners' financial affairs and posed a risk to their position in the market by making key economic information available to their competitors and suppliers. Because it appears that we are going to be going through until 12.45 pm, if I could perhaps take a few minutes, for the benefit of those in the gallery, and for the benefit of those listening to this debate on broadcast, to explain what we are, in fact, debating. We are debating multinational anti-avoidance law. This is all about ensuring that in Australia we have some of the strongest integrity rules in the world. That is something that, as Australians, we should be very proud of.

When we ascertain that there are multinationals who are artificially structuring to avoid tax being paid in Australia by booking revenue offshore from Australian sales, as a government we should do something about that. Why? Because, obviously, these companies have an unfair advantage over local businesses, over families and over small businesses, who end up shouldering the greater tax burden. What this ultimately does is to undermine confidence within the Australian taxation system. Again, it might surprise those listening and those in the gallery that the opposition do support this bill. You would not yet think that by the manner in which they are behaving, but they do support this bill. Before the end of today and perhaps before we go to senators' statements, given that this is a bill that is going to ensure that multinationals engaging in deliberate tax avoidance have to pay tax in Australia, I would hope that this bill does pass the Senate.