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Wednesday, 12 October 1983
Page: 1653

Mr TUCKEY(4.05) —The motion before the House states:

That the Minister for Finance be condemned for deliberately misleading the House in his answer to the honourable member for O'Connor during Question Time, Tuesday, 11 October.

Misleading the House has become fairly special for this particular Minister for Finance (Mr Dawkins). A few minutes ago he told us how they lost money on a share transaction. Yet when we look at the balance sheet of Coomel Pty Ltd dated 30 June 1977, we see that his accountant or company secretary has written: 'Gain on realisation of shares, $2,071'. We do not know which shares they were, do we? But it is a fact that this Minister can specifically tell us that he knows which ones on which they lost money. He suggested that they were foolish to sell at the bottom of the market. They were selling shares out of a probate avoiding company to a shareholder, namely, his mother. You can bet that they wanted to sell them at a high price! The lower, the better. That is how they sold land adjoining other land that they sold for $550,000. If those shares had gone on the open market, who knows what they would have brought. But they would have had a very poor demand on 1 January when they were sold.

What truths does he tell us? He told us in his speech of 6 October, in regard to the sale of lot 631, now known as 'White Rails':

The liquidator has responsibility for the affairs of the company and has had since the company went into voluntary liquidation in 1978. Because--

and this is the point-

neither I nor any of the other former directors have had anything to do with the company or with the decisions that have been taken since that time . . .

If that was not enough, after I had spoken, on the same night he said:

If the honourable member understands the processes of liquidation of companies he will know that the circumstances surrounding the sale of that land were entirely--

I interjected: 'Do you deny that you negotiated the sale?'-meaning the sale of lot 631. Mr Dawkins said, as recorded in Hansard:

The negotiating and the finalising of that contract were done entirely by the liquidator. The liquidator has, as I have indicated, provided a report . .

That was a total misleading of the Parliament. This man and his brother Roger had constant and continuous negotiations with Graham Robinson of Frenesi Pty Ltd over a period exceeding 12 months. Let him stand in this House and deny he did that and make a further misleader or liar of himself. He has tried to dodge these issues all the way through. Let us remember that this matter has been on notice to the Minister for Finance for a week today. He knew, as a certain person in Perth knew about this matter. That person rang my office, when all that had been stated in the Press was the matters I raised on Wednesday night. The person rang my office and said: 'By the way, I have just read the West Australian. I can guarantee you that everything you have said about Dawkins is correct'. That was a reader of the West Australian. He anonymously rang my office. We do not have to worry any more. He knew who I was talking about and so did the Minister for Finance. What were the charges that I raised on that occasion? I charged the Minister with active--

Mr Beazley —An anonymous caller!

Mr TUCKEY —If the Minister wants to side with him, he should stand up and say that he supports tax evasion. I accused the Minister for Finance of active participation in asset stripping of a company formed to avoid probate on $1.6m. I now extend that figure to $2m, because on further study of the balance sheets we find that they leaked out all the other property that I have referred to at bargain basement prices, including the shares, before they declared $1.6m in their statement of solvency. They deliberately set out to defraud the probate revenue of the Western Australian Government and the Federal Government of $2m. It does not matter whether it was a trick that everyone else was playing. He was a party to it. He sat down night after night with his brother Roger and worked it all out. If he can say that that is not the case, I imagine that lightning will strike him dead.

That is not all that I charged him with. I charged him with active participation in the evasion of income tax revenue exceeding $100,000. Further, I accused him of active participation in the evasion of State stamp duties. They were all specific allegations. Figures were quoted and company returns were referred to. This Minister gave us another story. His final defence was to produce a photocopy of a bit of paper that he claims relates to a member of the Liberal Party. That is his defence. The other day a Government member did the same thing. He claimed that two wrongs make a right. If that is the case for him , that is fine.

We are talking about a Minister of the Crown whose activities have now been defended by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the Treasurer (Mr Keating). If that is the message let me look at one of my accusations. The accusation is-it stands proven and it has certainly not been denied-that substantial interest was capitalised into the sale of property. The message to the householders of Australia now is-it is delivered to them with the imprimatur of the Prime Minister-that if they sell their homes on terms, they should capitalise the interest because if they do not, if they are genuine and charge interest in proper commercial terms, they will be taxed. However if one follows the example of the Minister for Finance one does not have to pay tax. That is the example; it has not been denied. Even a letter from Touche Ross and Co. agrees to the fact that that was the transaction. The Minister tried to get out of it by blaming a paid employee. He suggested that 30 per cent of the value of his assets could be negotiated purely and entirely by a paid employee. The Minister, his greedy brothers and their greedy mother would not have turned around--

Government members-Oh!

Mr TUCKEY —Do not worry; they were greedy because they defeated the probate duty . If Government members think that that is all right, they should stand up one by one and say: 'We agree with it'. The Minister does not have to worry; he has one of the safest seats in the Commonwealth. Some honourable members who hold marginal seats should be worried about what the Minister is doing to them. Do not let us worry about all that. Specific allegations have not been answered.

Mr Steedman —You will all be in marginal seats after the next election.

Mr TUCKEY —That is the honourable member's hope. I thought that I was giving him good advice. Specific allegations were made but no specific evidence has been given. When we get answers on some shares we are told: 'That was a mediocre transaction. They were a loss.' However, the balance sheet reveals that there were profits on shares. I suppose that they are the ones which were sold to the poor, unsuspecting public. The shares that the Minister's mother got showed a loss; so we do not know whether that profit should have been many thousands more or whether it would have qualified for the taxation of capital gains on shares that exists on certain transactions. Let me look at the total excuse that we have had and which the Treasurer now says is fine. I think that tax avoidance lawyers must be coming out of the woodwork at the rate of one thousand per cent. Tomorrow they will all be advising their clients to capitalise their interest like the Minister for Finance. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer say that that is okay! That is the message for tax avoiders for next week. It is interesting to read the letter that the Minister wrote to R. J. L. Hawke and forgot to date stamp. He said:

I have done this because it has come to my notice that inquiries are being made about transactions of Coomel Pty Ltd by persons who may be politically motivated .

Does that mean that if the Minister had not had that information he would not have told this to the Prime Minister? Mr Deputy Speaker, I submit to you that that is exactly what he would have done. He would definitely not have bothered to tell the Prime Minister. Only when, as the Minister for Finance said, he thought that somebody was ferreting around did he write to the Prime Minister and say: 'You had better be careful, Bob; they might nail us on this one.' Maybe in time the Prime Minister will get nailed for having so much cash in his hotel room that someone thought it worth stealing. Let me look at what Touche Ross and Co. said. That company has been held up as the sole excuse and sole support for the Minister for Finance.

It is on the record that other Ministers in this Parliament have bought certificates from the Commissioner of Taxation to guarantee that they are clean. I wonder whether the Commissioner of Taxation would say to the Parliament: 'I condone the practice of asset stripping'. That is what he has to say to support this Minister. He has to condone the practice of capitalising interest in a land sale to a promoter, to a profit taker. As I have said, there is evidence, from features of the transaction, that the Dawkins family was an arms length partner with their close friend Graham Robinson who was frequently in their homes. The Minister says: 'He came to their homes, had a beer with them, had a cup of tea with them but never ever talked about a half a million dollar sale for which they must eventually give the okay to the liquidator'. Is that the way it goes? I bet that it goes that way. Let this Minister-he has already told the House but he is caught again-swear that Graham Robinson did not come to his house. Let him say that Graham Robinson and the liquidator can give evidence on oath to a properly appointed inquirer and that they will swear that on no occasion and at no time did that happen. Let the Minister ask them to perjure themselves on his behalf. We will see, firstly, whether they will do it and, secondly, what happens to them as the evidence that is compounding around the Minister compounds around them too.

I do not know much about Touche Ross but I did notice that at one stage the company had a suit for a considerable amount against it relating to the activities of its profession. I do not know how reputable that makes it. It may have been an accident but it has been pretty careful with the Minister. It goes to lengths to say that it has not carried out an audit of such records. This letter says: 'If everything the Minister supplied to us is correct and we have not audited it'-I bet they do not want to-'he is clean'. That is what they are telling us. This is a message for Government members. The Minister is a member of the Government. Government members do not have to tolerate him as a leader. All they have to do is look at the facts and examine their consciences.

Mr Hollis —We would love to see your record.

Mr TUCKEY —The honourable member can see my record very clearly. Let me look at other things that Touche Ross tells us. We are told that the company purchased freehold land from Alec and Muriel Dawkins in June 1964. That is a traditional scene for a probate avoidance scheme. As I brought to the attention of this House the other night, this is scenario A. In fact, they already have the property-the property located at Armadale, Forrestdale and Melaleuca, the present address of the Minister and his brother. They live so close to each other; Graham Robinson walked between them but neither of them saw him. He had only $40,000 in his pocket-that is all he probably had-but he showed them how, if they got alongside him, they could make all this profit. They made hundreds of thousands and so did Robinson. They were in it together and they discussed the details word by word. They discussed how they would defeat the Commissioner of Taxation. The problem was that they could not get enough out of it by sucking it out of the public. When they looked at the matter the only way that they could maximise their greedy return was to take it out on the Commissioner of Taxation-in other words, the people of Australia.

Is it not amazing that when the good Dr Dawkins put all this together with, of course, the total co-operation of the Minister for Finance, he even included the family home and mother's 600 shares? He did not leave anything out that the probate commissioner could get his hands on. I say and the Opposition says that it is totally illegal to capitalise interest consciously in the fashion done by the Finance Minister. The Treasurer has a responsibility to have that matter re- opened and see whether the tax is still due.

In relation to the other matters, we know that the Dawkins family just practised the tried and common old schemes. However, is it not amazing that the Minister went through all that for such a long time. The Minister says that he retired from the company in 1968. He wants to blame the liquidator for all the dirty work. Directors of companies in liquidation cannot retire; they are there until the final work is cleaned up. The Minister is still a director; he just does not appear in the company returns any more because a liquidator is doing the work. He is still in the company; he is responsible and he did these things. The point about the matter is that this man has misled the House in the statements I have just read to honourable members. He has probably misled the House in his remarks about the return on certain shares because the company made profits on its shares.

The charges are that the Minister for Finance knowingly, consciously and actively entered into a scheme to defraud the income tax revenue by capitalising interest in a land transaction with a Graham Robinson who was acting for a company-Frenesi Pty Ltd. The Prime Minister, and now the Treasurer, by supporting the Minister and refusing a proper and independent inquiry by the Taxation Commissioner, stand accused of supporting such action.