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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 17

Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (11:22): I rise to speak on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Black Economy Taskforce Measures No. 1) Bill 2018. Creativity is fundamentally human. When art is found on the caves of Arnhem Land, we know beyond any doubt that it was a human being who drew it. Yet this bill seeks to place creativity under the cloche of the criminal law. Schedule 1 of this bill makes it illegal to create software that can be used to falsify point-of-sale records of businesses. A software creator faces a reverse onus of proof in the event of prosecution. This is contrary to the fundamental principle of our system of justice, dating back 700 years to the Magna Carta, that the accuser makes the case. It also contravenes another principle—that it is the intent of the criminal that matters, not the tools used. A criminal act requires a guilty mind. Tax evasion is a crime in Australia. Criminalising the creativity of software developers whose tools might be used to evade tax is not the answer; better enforcement of tax evasion law is. Sales and tax return information can be recorded by hand, fairly obviously, with no software, all quite legally. Yet if a shopkeeper uses such means to falsify sales records in order to commit tax evasion, should we seek to ban paper or ink? Clearly this is ridiculous.

Schedule 2 to this bill continues the confusion about whom the law should target—the criminal or the consumer. It seeks to impose a regulatory burden on companies that employ courier or cleaning services. The justification for this is that these services are said to be particularly prone to tax evasion. Again, this is wrong. It should be the courier and cleaning operators that are targeted by tax evasion enforcement authorities, not the innocent people or businesses that pay for their services. This is no more than punishing the innocent for the crimes of the perpetrator. I oppose this bill.