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Tuesday, 18 October 1983
Page: 1862

Mr MOORE —Mr Speaker, I seek your indulgence to make a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER —Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr MOORE —Yes.

Mr SPEAKER —I call the honourable member for Ryan.

Mr MOORE —Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to respond to a new member who I guess would not have liked to start his career here in the muck-raking game, but he certainly has. I thought we had only one slum member--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member must get to his statement of misrepresentation.

Mr Griffiths —A point of order, Mr Speaker. I claim to have been misrepresented. All my comments before have been and will be documented.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Maribyrnong will resume his seat. An honourable member is making an explanation. I ask the honourable member for Ryan to get to the point of the misrepresentation.

Mr MOORE —On top of that, I am surprised somewhat that the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy), for whom I have always had a high regard, should seek to defend the particular member concerned. On top of that, I am surprised, sir, that such latitude was allowed--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member is reflecting on the Chair. He has sought indulgence to show where he was misrepresented. If he persists in the vein he is following, I will have to ask him to resume his seat.

Mr MOORE —Tonight allegations were made against me--

Mr Griffiths —What allegations?

Mr MOORE —Pipe down, squirt! Allegations were made against me tonight and I think the record ought to be put straight because in this place we have witnessed over the last few weeks a lot of personal innuendo, with which I have not agreed--

Mr Griffiths —Who started it?

Mr MOORE —I would hate to say. It was a long time before the honourable member came here--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will get to the point where he has been misrepresented.

Mr MOORE —Prior to entering the Ministry in November 1980 I was, as most people here would know-probably new members would not remember-a company director and a member of the stock exchange. As such I would quite naturally have held a variety of interests in public, private and nominee companies, as both principal and agent. From time to time, as would be expected, I bought and sold a variety of these interests. This was and is a perfectly normal and unexceptional part of financial life. I was the principal of John Moore and Co. When I became President of the Queensland Division of the Liberal Party I moved from that position and took with me two interests from it-Colinton Pty Ltd and Universal Tube Testers Pty Ltd. Those companies were both part of the operations of John Moore and Co. They were share trading companies-nothing more, nothing less.

From 1968 to 7 May 1980 I owned shares in Colinton Pty Ltd, a company incorporated in Queensland. On 7 May 1980 I sold the shares which I held in that company, representing 80 per cent of the issued capital of that company, resigned as a director of the company and severed all connections with it. I have had no connection with it, its shareholders or its officers since that date . I have no personal knowledge of what activities the company has engaged in since then. I understand that the company changed its name to Couloir Pty Ltd after the date mentioned.

The honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Griffiths) mentioned Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co. I have never dealt with that company. For the honourable member 's information my company is Coopers and Lybrand.

The company was subsequently sold on that date, as the honourable member rightly pointed out, to a person whose name I do not recall at the moment. He was a partner in another chartered accounting company. It now appears that Couloir was subsequently used in some tax minimisation scheme. I had no knowledge of and was not involved in this scheme in any way. My shares in that company were not sold by me with the intention of avoiding tax. The reason for the sale was to realise the funds for use in connection with the purchase of a house. If we have to get into the connection between proprietary and personal interest around here, which I heard the Minister for Finance (Mr Dawkins) decry this afternoon, the fact is that I happened to get married that year. My shares were not sold with any tax liability and all the company's taxation obligations had been met at the time of sale. The taxation affairs of the company were completely in order when I sold those shares, and my solicitors and accountants have confirmed this to me. It now seems that Couloir Pty Ltd did not pay all the tax that the Commissioner of Taxation believes it ought to have paid in respect of the year 1979-80. The responsibility for the failure to do so is clearly that of the directors and/or the shareholders of the company after 7 May 1980, the date on which I ceased to have any association with that company. However, legislation passed after I ceased to have any connection with that company has imposed a possible retrospective tax obligation on previous shareholders. As a person in such a situation, I received a copy of the company's taxation assessment for 1979-80 and although I have not personally received any demand for assessable tax against me, I have entered into an agreement with the Commissioner of Taxation for the payment of that company's tax, which is more than some others have done.

I will make a couple of points in regard to this matter. The situation I am in is identical to that of many hundreds of other Australians, including some of the people in this place. Unlike another person here I have consistently voiced my opposition to the retrospective taxation legislation for the very reasons that we see today that people who act within the taxation laws at the relevant time are to be taxed retrospectively. Years later--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member is now getting into an argument other than correction of personal misrepresentation of him. I ask him to conclude his explanation.

Mr MOORE —Years later they are penalised for so acting. Taxation law has become so complex that there is a clear and urgent need--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member has now departed from his personal explanation. He will please resume his seat.

Mr Sinclair —Oh, Mr Speaker--

Mr MOORE —Mr Speaker, I have every right to--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Chair has allowed the honourable member to correct the misrepresentation.

Mr MOORE —And I have not finished.

Mr SPEAKER —You are now dealing with general principles of taxation law that do not deal with where you have been personally misrepresented.

Mr MOORE —Mr Speaker, that is entirely incorrect. I have been completely misrepresented within the principle of taxation law, to use your words, and you have allowed it--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr Sinclair —Mr Speaker, I understand the difficult position in which you are placed. But I suggest to you that the allegations made against the honourable member are such that he needs to be able to relate his personal explanation to charges which suggest that in some way his position has transgressed that which normally applies to people under the taxation law. I comprehend, understand and sympathise with the position in which you are placed. But might I suggest your indulgence, Mr Speaker. I understand that the honourable member had just about completed his personal explanation. Could I ask for your indulgence to permit him to do so? I comprehend that he cannot go into argument about the details of tax law. However, I think there are difficulties in this area which well embrace the matters that have been before this Parliament in the last few weeks.

Mr SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the National Party knows that personal explanations involve very difficult judgments for the Chair. Honourable members tend to extend their explanations. However, as a result of the plea, if the honourable member for Ryan was finishing his statement, I will allow him to round it off.

Mr MOORE —Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have just a couple of sentences to go. Taxation law has become so complex that there is a clear and urgent need for reform. Not only must it be simplified in presentation but also citizens of Australia must be able to act with certainty within the law and know that what is lawful and permissible today will not become unlawful, prohibited or subject to financial penalty. The commercial world in particular must be able to act with certainty and not be affected by retrospective tax legislation. Changes to the tax laws should be effective from the date on which they are announced.