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Message No. 728, 27 September 2001, from the Senate was reported returning the New Business Tax System (Thin Capitalisation) Bill 2001 with amendments.

Senate amendments to be moved as requests—Statement by Speaker

The Speaker made the following statement:

My attention has been drawn to the fact that the Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC) has provided a statement of reasons as to why some of the Senate amendments to this Bill should be moved as requests. Copies of relevant papers are available from the Clerk.

As I understand OPC took this view because the amendments in question had the effect of reducing the availability of deductions to certain taxpayers, and therefore increasing the burden of taxation on those taxpayers, contrary to the third paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution.

The Senate has, however, made the alterations as amendments and not as requests.

For its part, the House has taken the view that the restrictions of the third paragraph of section 53 apply to Bills relating to taxation, as well as those relating to expenditure. Consistent with this view, the House has objected to actions of the Senate in proceeding to make as amendments some alterations to bills dealing with taxation.

It is ultimately a matter for the House itself whether to object to such actions.

In this case Members may take the view that, despite the section 53 issue, the circumstances in which the House finds itself and the wider interest in having the bill settled without delay would not make it inappropriate for the House to proceed to consider the amendments as amendments and not take objection on constitutional grounds.

Mr Slipper (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) moved—That:

(1) the House endorses the statement of the Speaker in relation to the constitutional questions raised by the Senate message in respect of this Bill;

(2) the House, having regard to the public interest in the early enactment of the Bill, refrains from the determination of its constitutional rights in respect of the matter; and

(3) the amendments be considered forthwith.

Question—put and passed.

On the motion of Mr Slipper, the amendments were agreed to.