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24    Commissioner of Taxation—Order for production of documents

Senator Patrick amended general business notice of motion no. 2 by leave, and pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved—

(1)       That the Senate notes that—

(a)       on 12 October 2017, Mr Richard Boyle made a disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) as a former employee of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), alleging that the ATO:

                                                        (i)       had instructed employees to issue standard garnishee notices to seize funds from taxpayers’ bank accounts without notice or consideration of their personal and business circumstances, and

                                                      (ii)       in doing so, had required employees to engage in conduct that was unethical, unprofessional and against the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct;

(b)       on 27 October 2017, the ATO decided not to further investigate Mr Boyle’s disclosure on the basis that the information did not concern serious disclosable conduct as defined in the PID Act; and

(c)       subsequent media inquiries found anomalies in the ATO’s debt collection practices that appeared consistent with Mr Boyle’s disclosure.

(2)       That the Senate is of the opinion that examining the ATO’s actions in relation to Mr Boyle’s disclosure is consistent with the Senate’s role in providing oversight of government administration.

(3)       That the Senate orders the Commissioner of Taxation to provide all documents relating to the disclosure generated or received by Mr Boyle’s supervisor, authorised officer and principal officer (as defined in the PID Act) including but not limited to notes, minutes, memoranda, letters, other external or internal correspondence, emails and/or Microsoft Office Communicator (MOC) conversations to the Economics Legislation Committee (the committee) by no later than 5 pm on 30 July 2019.

(4)       That the committee, when it has considered the documents, report to the Senate as to whether the ATO’s handling of disclosures by whistleblowers warrants further inquiry.

Question put.

The Senate divided—

AYES, 15

Senators—

Bernardi

Hanson

Patrick

Steele-John

Di Natale

Hanson-Young

Rice

Waters

Faruqi

Lambie

Roberts

Whish-Wilson

Griff

McKim

Siewert*

 

 

 

NOES, 46

Senators—

Antic

Cormann

McAllister

Seselja

Askew

Davey

McDonald

Sheldon

Ayres

Dodson

McGrath

Sinodinos

Birmingham

Fawcett

McMahon

Smith, Dean

Bragg

Fierravanti-Wells

O’Sullivan

Smith, Marielle

Brockman

Fifield

Paterson

Sterle

Brown

Gallacher

Pratt

Stoker

Canavan

Gallagher

Rennick

Urquhart*

Carr

Green

Reynolds

Van

Chandler

Hughes

Ruston

Walsh

Ciccone

Hume

Scarr

Watt

Colbeck

Kitching

 

* Tellers

Question negatived.