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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 3824

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (18:26): I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—


The Aged Care (Single Quality Framework) Reform Bill 2018 contributes to the implementation of the Australian Government's 2015-16 Budget decision to work with the sector to develop a new unified quality framework, which includes a single set of consumer focussed quality standards which will apply across all aged care programs.

This Bill lays the foundation for the introduction of a single set of aged care standards, to be called the Aged Care Quality Standards, to apply to providers of Commonwealth funded aged care.

The single quality framework places consumers at the centre of their care and focuses on giving people greater choice and flexibility. It is part of the reforms being progressively implemented in aged care to create a competitive, market-based system where consumers drive quality and where red tape is reduced for providers of aged care.

By providing for a single set of standards that apply across all aged care programs, the amendments are intended to, once implemented, drive improvements to the quality of care delivered to older Australians, decrease regulatory burden on aged care providers and encourage innovation, excellence and continuous improvement.

Currently, there are four sets of quality standards that apply to providers of aged care services:

Accreditation Standards, which apply to residential aged care services and some forms of flexible care;

Home Care Standards, which apply to home care services, Commonwealth Home Support Programme Services, and some forms of flexible care;

Transition Care Standards, which apply to providers of Transition Care; and

the National Aboriginal and Tones Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program Quality Framework, which applies to providers under that program.

With these amendments, provision will be made for the same set of quality standards to apply across all types of aged care services for the first time. The introduction of new standards will also reflect contemporary evidence and community expectations of the quality of care and services, with the Accreditation Standards being updated for the first time in 20 years.

The Aged Care Quality Standards will be enacted through amendments to the Quality of Care Principles 2014, issued by the Minister for Aged Care under the Aged Care Act 1997, consistent with the manner in which the current Accreditation Standards and Home Care Standards have been issued. Principles are subject to parliamentary scrutiny and disallowance, meaning that the final content of the Aged Care Quality Standards will be able to be transparently reviewed by Parliament.

A single set of standards will increase consistency across aged care services and make it easier for consumers, and their families, carers, and representatives, to make choices about care and services, including as care needs change. Not only will the standards focus on quality and safety for consumers, they will also encourage providers to offer care and services that promote quality of life and wellbeing by placing greater emphasis on consumer choice and identity and partnering with consumers in their care.

The Aged Care Quality Standards to be made under the reforms in this Bill have been developed through significant consultation and co-design with the aged care sector. The Department of Health has undertaken research and consultation with the public, the aged care sector, and other government organisations. A Standards Technical Advisory Group was also established by the Department. The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency is developing guidance and educational material to support assessment of the standards, and has conducted field testing of the draft set of standards.

In October 2017, the Government released the 'Review of National Aged Care Regulatory Processes' which included recommendations regarding the content of aged care quality standards. These recommendations are being addressed through the new Aged Care Quality Standards.

The Bill also makes amendments to the Australian Aged Care Quality Act 2013, to provide the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency with the power to accredit residential aged care services and to conduct quality reviews of home care services, in accordance with the requirements of the new Aged Care Quality Standards.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency will also have the power to assess the quality of flexible care services, Commonwealth Home Support services and National Aboriginal and Tones Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program Services, through a specification instrument made by the Minister for Aged Care.

The Bill also makes amendments to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 so that protected information is exempt from the provisions of that Act. Protected information is information collected by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency in the course of its functions that is either personal information or information that relates to the affairs of an approved provider. The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency Act 2013 already contains criminal penalty provisions for the unauthorised disclosure of protected information.

The Aged Care Quality Standards are an important part of the broader aged care regulatory framework - they promote consumer confidence that Australian Government funded aged care services are safe and of a consistent quality, by setting out core expectations that apply across all services. This Bill is an important part of the Government's reforms to promote quality aged care services that focus on outcomes for consumers.


Today I am introducing the Australian Research Council Amendment Bill 2018 (the bill) which amends the Australian Research Council Act 2001 (ARC Act) to ensure that the Australian Research Council (ARC) can continue to support Australia's best researchers to undertake the highest quality fundamental and applied research and research training.

The ARC's purpose is to grow knowledge and innovation for the benefit of the Australian community through funding the highest quality research, assessing the quality, engagement and impact of research and providing advice on research matters.

ARC-funded research is delivering cultural, economic, social and environmental benefits to all Australians. For example:

researchers at the ARC Industrial Research Hub for Transforming Waste Directly in Cost-effective Green Manufacturing, at the University of New South Wales, have custom-designed a small scale microfactory that uses breakthrough technology to recycle common waste plastics into new green materials

researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, at The University of Adelaide, have developed a revolutionary new 'smart needle' that lets surgeons see at-risk blood vessels to make neurosurgery safer.

ARC funding is awarded on the basis of a competitive peer review process.

The ARC administers the National Competitive Grants Programs. The NCGP comprises two programs—Discovery and Linkage—under which the ARC funds a range of complementary schemes that provide funding for basic and applied research, research training, research collaboration and infrastructure.

The amendments through this bill are required because the ARC Act is the legislative basis that supports the financial operations of these grants programs. This bill will amend the ARC Act to update the existing funding caps and insert two new funding caps through until 30 June 2022 to allow continued funding of quality research in Australia.

The increase to the ARC's funding caps in this bill is in line with inflation and ensures that the government can continue to support thousands of research projects to grow knowledge and innovation for the benefit of the Australian community.

The government is making a significant investment in science, research and innovation—it spent approximately $10 billion across all portfolios in 2017-18 alone.

Demonstrating its commitment to supporting outstanding Australian research, on 10 November 2017, the government announced $333.5 million in funding to some of Australia's best and brightest researchers through the ARC's grant programs. The funding, provided to 859 new research projects, will increase Australia's research capacity by supporting ground-breaking research projects, expanding our research infrastructure and facilities; and supporting Australian researchers, including our early-career and Indigenous researchers.

In addition to this latest funding, in June last year, the government announced $170.6 million in new research funding to support 120 research projects that will grow new industry-research collaborations and support the training and up-skilling of our next generation of researchers—including 17 new Australian Laureate Fellowships, 91 new Future Fellowships and 12 new Industrial Transformation Research Hubs and Training Centres.

In 2017, the government announced 117 new collaborative research projects under the ARC's Linkage Projects program. The projects total $46.5 million and support collaborations with 274 partner organisations, which in addition to the government's funding, have pledged to provide $79.7 million to support those research projects.

The new Linkage Projects were selected under the new continuous application process introduced as part of the government's National Innovation and Science Agenda. Now in its second year, this measure is ensuring that researchers and businesses can collaborate as opportunities arise, improving the timeline for translating research into broader outcomes for businesses and the community.

Australia must ensure we attract and retain world-class researchers and entrepreneurs and that is why we bring this bill to the parliament to ensure the Australian Research Council can play its role in supporting and expanding Australia's research strengths and support the many thousands of direct and indirect jobs that our research and scientific capabilities sustain.

I commend this bill.


This bill will amend the National Consumer Credit Protection Act and the Privacy Act. This important reform will require our four largest banks to participate fully in the comprehensive credit reporting system, delivering benefits to lenders and borrowers alike, while preserving and enhancing the important security and consumer protections enshrined in the Privacy Act.

In introducing this bill today, we are implementing a commitment that the government set out in its response to the Productivity Commission's landmark inquiry into data availability and use, as announced at the time of the 2017-18 budget. In that report, the Productivity Commission recommended that we move to mandate participation in the comprehensive credit reporting system if less than 40 per cent of accounts were being reported in mid-2017. We agreed with this recommendation, giving industry a further six months to meet the target.

When I announced our commitment to legislate in November 2017, there was simply no prospect that the target would be met by the end of the year.

Australians have been waiting for comprehensive credit reporting for a long time. The amendments to the Privacy Act establishing the voluntary comprehensive credit reporting system were passed in 2012, following extensive consideration by the Australian Law Reform Commission. The Financial System Inquiry recommended that the financial system take up comprehensive credit reporting in 2014. The industry standard for comprehensive credit reporting—the Principles for Reciprocity and Data Exchange—was authorised by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission in 2015.

And yet, as of last year, Australia was still waiting for industry to move forward on this issue.

This is why we are committing to this legislation. Australia is an international laggard in credit reporting. Many of our largest trading partners—the United States of America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan—have well-established comprehensive credit reporting systems. On this matter, we are falling behind even developing economies such as South Africa and India.

But movement forward in Australia has been stymied by the lack of a 'critical mass' of credit reporting data.

There is a critical first mover problem at play here - without sufficient data in the comprehensive credit reporting system, there is very little benefit for any individual credit provider to invest the time and capital in building systems and arrangements to access it.

This lack of data means that lenders have a more difficult task meeting their responsible lending obligations. It means that more loans are declined by lenders who simply cannot verify a customer's creditworthiness. And it means that many loans are mispriced, leaving borrowers with good credit histories paying higher interest rates than they otherwise would.

With this legislation, we are changing that equation.

The major banks account for more than 80 per cent of household lending, and hence hold a huge quantity of credit information. Our expectation is that the inclusion of this data in the system, alongside the industry-established principles of reciprocity, will create a 'critical mass' of credit data that provides strong incentives for smaller credit providers to participate in the credit reporting system.

This bill sets out the mandatory credit information fields that must be provided by the major banks to eligible credit reporting bureaus - identification information, payment information, default information, credit liability information, repayment history information, and new arrangement information.

The major banks must supply mandatory credit information on 50 per cent of all eligible accounts within a 90-day window from 1 July 2018, and on their remaining accounts within a 90-day window from 1 July 2019.

This information must be supplied to every eligible credit reporting body - that is, every credit reporting body that meets the standards under the Privacy Act, and had a contract with the bank on 2 November 2017.

This means in effect that every major bank will be required to supply the mandatory credit information to Australia's three largest credit reporting bodies—Equifax, Experian and Illion.

While the bill limits the initial mandatory bulk supply to these three bodies, nothing in the bill prevents additional credit reporting bodies from entering into supply agreements with credit providers and competing with the established bodies. The government strongly supports competition in the credit reporting market.

Once the major banks have supplied the required information, credit providers will be able to access the information from the credit reporting bodies in the event that a customer makes a credit inquiry, alongside analysis and credit scores based on this information.

This means that credit providers will be able to make lending and risk pricing decisions on the basis of comprehensive information, rather than a small fragment of the picture.

All lenders who participate in comprehensive credit reporting will have an enhanced capacity to meet their responsible lending obligations. Those obligations are an important part of consumer protection arrangements.

Small credit providers, including innovative FinTech firms and new entrants, will be better able to serve customers and assess the lending capacity of borrowers.

Placing smaller lenders on a more level playing field with the major banks, in respect of access to credit information, will drive competition in the consumer lending market.

Greater competition in the lending market should benefit consumers, by being offered greater access to finance and better pricing.

Those customers who are currently disadvantaged by the existing negative system—by having a thin credit file, or by having a single default marked against them—will have a better chance to build and repair their credit history prior to applying for a major loan.

Small business owners, entrepreneurs, and sole traders will be empowered to borrow to build their businesses on the basis of strong consumer credit histories.

We are alert to risks for vulnerable consumers. Nothing about this bill changes the important protections in the Credit Act against predatory or misleading conduct by credit providers. ASIC retains all its powers to act to protect customers from misconduct in the lending sector.

Customers who suffer from temporary hardships should not be impeded or discouraged from making appropriate arrangements with their credit providers.

To ensure that the provisions in the Privacy Act dealing with hardship cases remain appropriate, the Attorney-General has asked his department to conduct a review of the arrangements for hardship reporting under the Privacy Act and Credit Reporting Code.

In this legislation, we are building on already-established frameworks to build the comprehensive credit reporting of the future.

Through regulations under the bill, we will ensure that those banks and credit providers that are already supplying comprehensive credit data, including the National Australia Bank, will continue to benefit from the protections and principles embedded in the existing industry-established framework.

Where credit providers and credit reporting bodies are subject to requirements under the bill, they will be subject to penalties if they fail to comply.

Enforcement of these requirements will be responsibility of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, who will be granted the appropriate powers to collect information and require audits to confirm that these requirements are being met.

Credit providers and credit reporting bodies will also be required to provide statements to the Treasurer in January of 2019 and 2020 certifying their compliance with the initial supply provisions of the bill.

Industry is well-placed to meet the timeframes and requirements set out in this bill, which align closely to existing industry standards.

The security of consumer information is of high importance to the government.

This bill strengthens the privacy and security provisions established under the Privacy Act.

We are well aware of the risks of data breaches and privacy infringements in the credit reporting environment.

The government has already acted to strengthen the Privacy Act's approach to data breaches, with the Mandatory Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme coming into effect in February of this year. That scheme introduced serious penalties for failing to appropriately notify customers of a data breach.

The Australian Information Commissioner will continue to have oversight over the management of Australian's personal data, including credit information.

All requirements for credit providers and credit reporting bodies to maintain security standards and protect data against unlawful access or misuse will continue to operate.

In addition, we are extending the security provisions under the Privacy Act to ensure that all credit reporting bodies store their data in Australia, or in a secure cloud service certified by the Australian Signals Directorate.

And we are requiring credit providers to satisfy themselves that a credit reporting body is meeting reasonable security standards, before they supply the mandatory credit information. Under their existing bilateral arrangements, banks already perform audits and ensure that the credit reporting bodies continue to upgrade their security systems to meet the changing threat environment. These important activities will continue under the comprehensive credit reporting system.

The inclusion of these provisions follows extensive consultation with industry, consumer groups, and security agencies, and will allow Australians to rest easy, knowing that their credit reporting information is stored safely and securely.

In addition to the security provisions, this bill allows for innovation and change in the credit reporting sector.

Should new means of information exchange be developed, or new industry frameworks for credit sharing come into existence, the bill will allow for that through the prescribing of regulations.

If it becomes apparent that mandatory supply should be extended to cover second-tier credit providers, the bill will allow for that through the prescribing of regulations.

The bill also contains a statutory review provision, with a review to be completed by 1 January 2022.

We expect that this review will provide an opportunity for the government to confirm that the system is operating as intended; and to consider the impacts of the system on consumers and industry, whether the scope of the system should be expanded, and whether alternate frameworks for credit reporting would be more appropriate given technological changes or changes to the security environment.

In closing, I note that this bill will bring Australia into line with our international peers, by ensuring that our largest banks participate fully in the comprehensive credit reporting system.

We expect that consumers and small businesses will see the benefits of this scheme, as the lending market becomes more competitive and more effective at delivering loans.

The extensive consultation undertaken in developing the Bill will ensure that the approach taken is both workable and effective.

Full details of the measure are contained in the Explanatory Memorandum.


This Bill is to introduce an income test for Carer Allowance and for the Carer Allowance (child) Health Care Card only.

In 2017-18, the Government expects to spend $8.5 billion on payments for carers. This includes $5.4 billion on Carer Payment, $1.7 billion on Carer Allowance for those caring for an adult and almost $600 million for those caring for a child.

Unlike most other social security payments, which are income tested and targeted to those most in need, there is currently no income test associated with Carer Allowance.

Australia's welfare system should target only those who can't support themselves. The Carer Payment, the Age Pension, and Family Benefits are all subject to an income test. This Bill ensures Government support is provided to only those Australians who need it most. It will keep our welfare system strong and sustainable into the future.

Carer Allowance is an income supplement for people who provide daily care and attention in a private home to a person with a disability or severe medical condition. The current payment is $127.10 per fortnight.

Carers caring for a child under 16 years with disability or a medical condition get a Health Care Card for that child with their Carer Allowance.

Those caring for children under 16 years who do not provide the qualifying level of care required for Carer Allowance but who provide at least 14 hours a week care are provided with a Health Care Card in the name of the child.

There is currently no assessment of financial need to qualify for Carer Allowance and the Health Care Card.

This Bill will introduce an income test with a high threshold of $250,000 per annum to both Carer Allowance and Carer Allowance (child) Health Care Card from 20 September 2018.

From 20 September 2018, eligibility for the Carer Allowance payment and the Carer Allowance Health Care Card will be restricted to carers whose own income, and that of their partner (if applicable) is below $250,000. This will be based on Adjusted Taxable Income from the previous financial year.

The income test will apply to new recipients and those who are receiving Carer Allowance or who have a child Health Care Card only on 20 September 2018.

Carer Allowance Adjusted Taxable Income, or ATI, includes taxable income, employer provided fringe benefits, foreign income, net investment loss, reportable superannuation contributions, tax free superannuation income, tax free pension or benefit, and Paid Parental Leave income.

It will exclude deductible child maintenance expenditure. Income from long-term financial assets will also be included in the income test for people who receive tax-free income streams.

In most cases, the ATI of the carer and partner (when applicable), from the previous financial year would be used by Centrelink to assess the claimants eligibility for Carer Allowance. However, a carer would be able to provide an estimate of current year ATI if they have experienced a change in financial circumstances.

The Department of Human Services, Centrelink, will provide current Carer Allowance recipients and new claimants of Carer Allowance information on the income test prior to 20 September 2018.

The $250,000 per annum income limit will apply to both singles and couples. The income test will be a fixed limit with no indexation.

Around 6,500 Carer Allowance recipients will be affected by income testing in the 2018-19 financial year because their own income combined with that of their partner's, when applicable, is above $250,000.

An estimated 400 people with a Carer Allowance (child) Health Care Card only will be affected by the income test.

To put this in perspective, as at September, 608,873 people received Carer Allowance, 16,579 people received a Carer Allowance Health Care Card only, and 264,157 people received Carer Payment.

As we announced earlier this year, the Australian Government will invest the $85.6 million raised through this measure to introduce a range of new early-intervention and tailored services to ensure carers get early support to manage the stresses their role places on them.

Carers Australia, the peak body for carers, has worked with the Government over a two year consultative process to design a new and improved model to deliver support services for carers.

The integrated carer support service will provide a national integrated approach to service provision for carers as opposed to the current fragmented system.

Carers Australia supports the introduction of a $250,000 income test threshold for Carer Allowance to finance reforms to carer support services. The introduction of the integrated carer support service represents the biggest reform for carers in over a decade.

Welfare expenditure on carers in the form of payments and services is an important part of the Australian welfare system. In addition to the $8.5 billion the Government expects to spend on payments to carers in 2017-18, the Government will also provide around $162 million for the delivery of programs and services that assist and support carers.

The Government recognises the very significant contribution carers make to the lives of the people they care for and to the broader community.

Their dedication in overcoming what can be daily challenges is an inspiration. Many of us would personally know someone who provides care to a relative or friend; care that can enable social participation and independence for the person receiving that care.

The need for carers is increasing so it is essential we get the balance right in the welfare system between financial support and availability of services.

The introduction of the integrated carer support service will focus on providing early-intervention, prevention and skill building support, aimed at helping carers before they reach crisis point.

We value the immense contribution carers make to our community, and understand the challenges they face in helping others, in their homes and in their communities.

The introduction of a generous threshold for income-testing Carer Allowance makes the introduction of these new services possible.

This Bill allows the Government to provide financial assistance to those who most need it and increase support services for carers in need.


The Turnbull Government is today introducing an important suite of reforms to protect workers' superannuation entitlements by improving compliance with the Superannuation Guarantee.

It is fundamentally unacceptable for people not to be paid their superannuation entitlements. This Bill introduces very serious consequences for employers who break the law by short-changing their employees.

For the first time, the ATO will be able to apply for court ordered penalties where employers defy directions to pay their Superannuation Guarantee liabilities. These penalties can extend, in the most serious cases, to up to 12 months' imprisonment.

This is one of a number of new enforcement options available to the Tax Office for action against employers who breach their obligation to pay superannuation for their employees.

The Bill also enhances early detection of Superannuation Guarantee non-compliance. In the past, employee complaints have been a primary driver of Superannuation Guarantee enforcement activity. The ATO will continue to act on employee complaints. This Bill gives the Tax Office improved visibility over Superannuation Guarantee obligations and payments, allowing it to detect and act on non-compliance often before the employee has become aware of a problem.

Single Touch Payroll will be extended to all employers from 1 July 2019, giving the ATO near real-time information about an employee's Superannuation Guarantee entitlements. Additionally, from 1 July 2018 superannuation funds will commence near real-time reporting to the ATO of contributions they receive. Combined, these measures provide the ATO with more timely information, supporting earlier detection and enabling quick action against employers detected as not paying the superannuation rightfully owed to employees.

The Turnbull Government is also strengthening the ATO's powers to collect debts on behalf of employees where it uncovers cases of unpaid Superannuation Guarantee by strengthening the director penalty notices regime and tightening arrangements for security deposits. Not just for superannuation obligations, but also for other tax-related liabilities.

The Bill will provide employees with greater ability to check they are receiving the Superannuation Guarantee rightfully due to them by allowing employees to view more up-to-date information about contributions and balances through their MyGov account.

The ATO will also be able to notify employees when it is undertaking collection activity on their behalf. Further, the Bill enables the ATO to pre-fill new employees' tax file number declaration and superannuation choice forms, helping them make informed decisions about their superannuation when beginning new jobs. These measures, which enhance the information given to individuals, will encourage greater member engagement with their superannuation.

This Bill will also amend the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 to improve data matching to help ensure the right people are receiving welfare payments.

Increasing the powers of the ATO to verify a Tax File Number to another Commonwealth agency, where that agency has an existing right to ask for its collection under

Commonwealth law, will offer greater data assurance and integrity across government. This will lead to lower levels of incorrect adjustments in welfare payments and a reduction in welfare payment leakage.

Further, the Bill makes minor amendments to Treasury portfolio legislation to ensure that the law operates as intended by clarifying the law, correcting technical or drafting defects, removing anomalies and addressing unintended outcomes.

Finally, the Bill adds three specifically-listed deductible gift recipients (DGRs). DGR status allows members of the public to receive income tax deductions for the donations they make to these organisations. The organisations are:

Australian Philanthropic Services Limited;

Foundation 1901 Limited; and

Sydney Chevra Kadisha.

Together, the measures in this Bill represent a substantial enhancement to the tax and superannuation system, ensuring employers make the contributions they owe to employees, protecting the system against misuse, and supporting philanthropy.

Full details of the measures are contained in the Explanatory Memorandum.


The coalition government is introducing a new era of Superannuation Guarantee enforcement.

This government has introduced a robust package of legislation into parliament that will, when enacted, mean dodgy employers can't hide from their obligations to pay employees their full superannuation entitlements. That bill gives the ATO the tools it needs to detect future non-compliance and punish it appropriately, including with criminal sanctions in the most egregious cases.

But we know that historical non-compliance has been significant. Last year the ATO found that, while 95 per cent of superannuation guarantee obligations are paid in full, in 2014-15, around $2.85 billion went unpaid.

Some superannuation guarantee underpayment is malicious on the part of dodgy employers. Some is inadvertent, or is a result of poor payment systems, often in stressed small business employers. However in all cases, it's the employees who miss out.

This bill introduces a one-off amnesty to employers who come forward and do the right thing by their employees by rectifying historical non-compliance with their superannuation guarantee obligations.

To qualify, employers will have to come forward voluntarily, without direct prompting from the ATO. And they will have to pay all of their employees' entitlements.

We want employers to bring these debts out into the open and pay them off so that their employees can receive the super they are entitled to and would otherwise miss out on.

The bill offers both a carrot and a stick to encourage non-complying employers to come forward.

The bill does not reduce employees' entitlements by one cent. Everything that an employer owes to its employees must still be paid, and paid in full.

Rather, the bill removes the penalties and fees paid to the Commonwealth that might otherwise apply to historical superannuation guarantee non-compliance by employers that are eligible for the amnesty.

Employers who do the right thing and come forward during the amnesty period will also be able to claim tax deductions for payments made under the amnesty, which is the same outcome as if they had paid on time.

Those are the carrots.

The stick will be reserved for employers that could come forward during the amnesty, but choose not to do so and are subsequently caught by the ATO. Their failure to come forward will be taken into account by the ATO, which will generally impose a minimum 50 per cent penalty on the employer, on top of the other penalties and charges that are ordinarily associated with late payment of superannuation guarantee obligations.

Of course, throughout the amnesty period, the ATO will still continue its usual enforcement activity against employers for any historical non-compliance that they don't own up to voluntarily.

The amnesty runs for twelve months, beginning today, and applies to any historical superannuation guarantee debts up to and including the March quarter of 2018.

The bill also introduces an employer shortfall exemption certificate for certain employees with multiple employers. Currently, employees can breach the concessional contributions cap from compulsory contributions where they have multiple employers.

This measure will allow certain employees to avoid this outcome by applying to the Commissioner of Taxation for an exemption certificate in respect of one or more of their employers. A certificate will mean that their employer does not have to make Superannuation Guarantee contributions for them for up to one year. It will also mean employees are not forced to breach their concessional cap and enable those employees to instead choose to negotiate with their employer to receive the superannuation guarantee contribution as part of their cash or non-cash remuneration.

To be eligible for a certificate, an employee must be likely to have excess concessional contributions for the financial year and have a least one other employer who is required to make superannuation guarantee contributions for them in that year. This targets the measure to those employees likely to breach the concessional cap because they have multiple employers and ensures that employees still receive Superannuation Guarantee contributions from their employment.

The bill also introduces reforms to further support the operation and integrity of the Superannuation Taxation Reform Package announced in the 2016-17 budget. These measures ensure our superannuation system is fair, sustainable and used for its core purpose of providing income in retirement to substitute or supplement the age pension. The amendments also improve confidence in the system by reducing the extent that superannuation is used for tax minimisation and estate planning.

The amendments address the possibility of self-managed superannuation fund members' circumventing the cap on tax-free retirement phase assets through limited recourse borrowing arrangements or non-arm's length income.

The bill includes the outstanding value of limited recourse borrowing arrangements—or LRBAs—in the total superannuation balance of SMSF members at particular risk of entering into certain tax minimisation strategies. This measure will stop those members using LRBAs to circumvent the $1.6 million limit on non-concessional contributions.

The bill also amends the existing non-arm's length income rules to also capture non-arm's length expenses. This will ensure that superannuation funds cannot circumvent the contribution caps by using non-arm's length expenditure to inflate their overall income, for example, by borrowing money from a member at a reduced interest rate.

Full details of the measures are contained in the explanatory memorandum.


The government is backing business with more competitive taxes to help Australian businesses invest, grow and employ more workers as well as pay them more.

The government has already legislated tax cuts for 3.3 million small and medium Australian businesses employing 6.8 million workers, as part of the Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan.

We have increased the unincorporated small business tax discount rate from 5 per cent to 8 per cent (up to a cap of $1,000). This rate will increase to 16 per cent by 2026-27.

Further, by lifting the small business entity turnover threshold from $2 million to $10 million, access has also been extended to a range of small business tax concessions, such as the $20,000 instant asset write-off.

This bill continues the government's strong record of supporting small business to invest and grow by extending the successful $20,000 immediate deductibility threshold for a further 12 months to 30 June 2019.

Small businesses with annual turnover less than $10 million will be able to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets each costing less than $20,000, which are first used or installed ready for use for another year to 30 June 2019.

Assets valued at $20,000 or more can continue to be placed into the small business simplified depreciation pool and depreciated at 15 per cent in the first income year and 30 per cent each income year thereafter. The pool itself may also be immediately deducted if its value falls below $20,000 at the end of the financial year.

To facilitate access to this measure, the 'lock-out rules' that stop small businesses that elect out of the simplified depreciation regime from re-entering it for five years will continue to be suspended until 30 June 2019.

This $20,000 instant asset write-off, first introduced in the 2015-16 budget, will continue to benefit small business, improving their cash flow and helping them to replace or upgrade their tools and equipment and write it off immediately.

This initiative reduces red-tape for small business as they no longer need to track the annual depreciation for assets that are written off immediately, or maintain detailed records substantiating their depreciation claims.

The extension of this measure is welcomed by the small business community.

Around 3.3 million incorporated and unincorporated businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $10 million will be eligible to access the $20,000 instant asset write-off.

It will boost activity and investment for another year, encouraging hardworking Australian small businesses to renew their capital base so that they can grow and create jobs.

The government has a plan for a stronger economy. We have a plan for keeping business competitive to grow jobs and wages.

Full details of the measure are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

I call on all members to give this measure their full support.

Debate adjourned.

Ordered that the bills be listed on the Notice Paper as separate orders of the day.