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Wednesday, 11 November 2015
Page: 8329

Senator DASTYARI (New South Wales) (16:08): I want to reiterate the position of those of us on this side of politics. I believe—and Senator Cash made a point of referring to earlier remarks I had made in this chamber—that this is a good bill. I believe this bill warrants support. I believe this bill goes a long way towards making sure that there is a greater level of transparency and that there are stronger rules around multinational tax avoidance. I believe that former Treasurer Mr Joe Hockey should be commended for the work he has done on this bill. But I also believe that this is not a perfect bill. I also believe that this bill, while it is a good bill and is better than the current situation and circumstances, is one that could actually do with improvement. It is a bill that could do with some changes.

I want to draw your attention to potential changes around the area of making sure there is greater disclosure for private Australian companies that have over $100 million in revenue in any given year. I know this is slightly unfair on the minister, because some of us in this chamber have been part of this debate for the past day and are coming into this with a lot more information. I note that the minister is acting in the capacity at the moment. Minister Cormann, who is perhaps the person who would normally have carriage of this, is at the moment on very important government business in Turkey. So, acknowledging that there is perhaps a limited level of information you may have available to you, Minister, I do believe there is an opportunity.

We heard from Senator Xenophon today about his concerns for the releasing of information about companies of over $100 million. The concern that Senator Xenophon had was one of ensuring that businesses that released this information were not taken advantage of in the chain of responsibility, and also by other companies. The concern would be this. If I were a company, a family business, I may have quite significant revenue—let us say it is $100 million, $120 million or $150 million. I may have a concern that the publication of that information would materially hurt my business in its negotiations with some larger suppliers, a classic example being your Coles or your Woolworths, who are well-known for being quite aggressive in some of their techniques and in how they drive these things.

I do not believe those concerns are right. The reason I do not believe that Senator Xenophon is right in this is that the information made available is available elsewhere. In fact, you can get all of that information, and more, by paying $38 to ASIC. ASIC will provide you with a more detailed series of that type of information, simply with the payment of $38. I believe there is the potential, however, to allow the exclusion of those types of companies by giving the tax office the opportunity to remove them. Would the government consider supporting an amendment that would actually address the concerns raised by Senator Xenophon but would nonetheless address those issues?