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Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Page: 3395


Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital TerritoryManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (10:37): I rise to speak on the Treasury Laws Amendment (2020 Measures No. 2) Bill 2020 on behalf of the opposition. At the outset, I will confirm that the opposition will be supporting this bill. This bill contains six schedules relating to various aspects of Treasury legislation. The measures contained in the bill are technical and non-controversial.

Schedule 1 of the bill amends the hybrid mismatch rules in the Income Assessment Act 1997. 'Amends' is perhaps a generous assessment of this measure. The measure clarifies certain aspects and is expected to have a minor, unquantifiable revenue impact over the forward estimates period. We've heard the government make strong claims about how much they are doing to combat multinational tax avoidance, but you have to laugh when the strongest measure they've brought forward this year is a few minor typo corrections and clarifications in the more obscure chapters of the Income Tax Administration Act 1997. The government must urgently act to end multinational tax avoidance.

Schedule 2 of the bill allows the Single Touch Payroll system to include employer withholding of child support deductions from salary and wages. This measure will further streamline and simplify our child support and family law system.

Schedule 3 amends the designated gift recipient rules in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to include a new category for community sheds. This means that men's and women's sheds across the country will now be eligible to receive tax-deductible gifts. There are now more than 1,200 men's and women's sheds across Australia. These sheds are doing vital work, building connections and communities. This work is more important now than ever before as our community recovers and rebuilds following the coronavirus pandemic.

Schedule 4 of the bill amends the International Finance Corporations Act 1955 and International Monetary Agreements Act 1947, to allow the government to meet obligations to the World Bank's International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation that they have under this bill. These measures support the provision of financial assistance and advisory services to middle- and low-income countries. Of course, Labor supports them. Labor will continue to offer the government bipartisan support for Australia's participation in important global institutions.

Schedule 5 of the bill adds a number of specified designated gift recipients to the broader list of specified designated gift recipients. Labor welcomes the inclusion of the Superannuation Consumers' Centre and welcomes their advocacy of the interests of ordinary Australians in the superannuation sector. I'm glad that we're now hearing more from people who represent the interests of ordinary Australians in the super sector, whether the union movement or the consumer movement.

Schedule 6 provides for the Australian tax office to share information on JobKeeper payments with the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Fair Work Commission. This will allow the Fair Work Ombudsman to better address JobKeeper related compliance issues, particularly where employers are rorting the system and pocketing funds. We welcome the government's decision to allow the Fair Work Ombudsman to do their job here, but we would encourage the government to go further. I'm speaking about the $6 billion in superannuation guarantee levy payments that are rightfully earned by Australian workers but snatched away by their employers to fatten their own profit margins. The Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman could be part of that solution, and yet at this point these bodies do not have the powers or the information necessary to tackle the problem of superannuation theft.

Unlike minimum wages, sick leave, annual leave or parental leave, the universal right to superannuation is not included in the National Employment Standards. This means that ordinary workers are powerless to pursue super theft claims through the Fair Work Commission and means that the Fair Work Ombudsman is toothless in the face of this $6 billion problem. This means that workers are powerless to organise through their union to take action through the Fair Work Commission to stop having their superannuation stolen by their employer, and this is not good enough. While we welcome and support the government's decision to allow these bodies to access information relating to JobKeeper and appropriately enforce compliance around this measure, we do call on the government to act to end superannuation theft and to give the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman the powers that they need to do so. I commend the bill to the chamber.