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Monday, 19 March 2018
Page: 1376

Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (13:18): by leave—I move the opposition's amendments standing in the name of Senator Cameron on sheet 8370:

(1) Schedule 1, Part 1, page 20 (after line 19), at the end of the Part, add:

6A At the end of Division 418


Subdivision 418 -G—Other matters

Table of sections

418-190 Annual impact assessments of this Division

418 -190 Annual impact assessments of this Division

(1) As soon as practicable after the end of each income year referred to in subsection (2), the Minister must cause to be conducted an impact assessment of the operation of this Division during that income year. The objective of the impact assessment should be to measure the additional *exploration or prospecting attributable to the Division.

(2) The income years are as follows:

(a) the 2017-2018 income year;

(b) the 2018-2019 income year;

(c) the 2019-2020 income year;

(d) the 2020-2021 income year.

(3) Each impact assessment must make provision for public consultation, including consultation with the industry.

(4) The Minister must cause to be prepared a report of each impact assessment. The report must include any information made publicly available by the Commissioner under section 3F of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 in relation to *exploration credits allocated for the income year.

(5) The Minister must cause a copy of a report of an impact assessment to be published on the Australian Taxation Office website as soon as practicable after the completion of the preparation of the report.

(2) Schedule 1, page 25 (after line 10), after item 26, insert:

26A At the end of Part IA


3F Reporting of information about junior minerals exploration incentive offset

(1) This section applies if the Commissioner makes a determination under section 418-101 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 allocating exploration credits to an entity for an income year.

(2) The Commissioner must, as soon as practicable after making the determination, make publicly available:

(a) the ABN and name of the entity; and

(b) the amount of the entity's exploration credits allocation for the income year.

(3) An expression used in this section that is also used in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 has the same meaning as in that Act.

The explanatory memorandum for this piece of legislation notes that it's the government's intention that the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science will review the operation of the junior minerals exploration incentive scheme by 30 June 2020 to assess both its uptake and its efficacy in attracting investment. The explanatory memorandum for the bill that introduced the previous incarnation of the program stated:

The Department of Industry will monitor greenfields exploration and the scheme throughout its operation, with a review of the scheme in 2016 …

…   …   …

Key performance indicators for the scheme, against which the review will be conducted, will be finalised by the end of 2014. Subject to the outcome of the review, the programme may be extended for a further period.

According to the new explanatory memorandum, in early 2017 participants in the Exploration Development Incentive and other stakeholders were formally requested to provide feedback on the performance of the exploration development incentive, and this informed the basis for consultation on improving the scheme. The explanatory memorandum states that the government engaged with industry bodies, shareholder representatives, departments and state governments. Although feedback was incorporated into the new scheme, the materials are not public and the explanatory memorandum does not give any detail of impact or uplift of exploration.

Labor supported the passage of the exploration development incentive legislation, and I note for the record that we're supportive of this bill. Consistent with Labor's approach to evidence based policy, Labor is moving these amendments in the Senate today to require the minister to instigate an annual impact assessment of the measure, with provision for public consultation, particularly including industry. The amendments will also require the Commissioner of Taxation to make publicly available the ABN and name of an entity receiving credits and the amount of credits given. This is important. It will enable the sector to see more clearly and in a more timely way exactly what's going on. Labor believes in transparency and rigorous policy evaluation to ensure that initiatives work as intended, and the amendments proposed by Labor today will achieve that end.

I also want to note that the government has indicated that they will support the amendments. I and the shadow Assistant Treasurer wish to thank the government for their good-faith discussions around these amendments. Labor's amendments will give extra certainty to all stakeholders, including industry and taxpayers, that the measures operate as intended. Rigorous policy evaluation helps to guide targeted initiatives in future and ensures the best bang for the taxpayer buck on investment and jobs. I commend the amendments to the committee.