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Wednesday, 12 December 1973
Page: 2730

Senator WEBSTER (Victoria) -The Austraiian Country Party supports the passage of the Banking Bill (No. 2) 1973 and we seek to assist the Government in dealing with it immediately. The general principles outlined in the second reading speech are acknowledged by us. The fact is that this is stated to be a Bill which, in some way, will control the development of investment overseas by Australian residents in the hope that they may be able to avoid the incidence of taxation. The whole purpose of the Bill is to put beyond legal doubt the ability of the appropriate authority to control that investment.

The thought in my mind is that the Government may intend, in the wording which is used in the Bill but which is not referred to in any way in the second reading speech, to control financial investment beyond this country in a manner which a true socialist government may wish. The concern which I have is in relation to page 2 of the Bill. If Senator Cotton's pronouncement is correct the Bill provides that the Commissioner of Taxation will give a person a clearance which will be prima facia evidence to the Reserve Bank that it should also give him a clearance. The wording is found in clause 3, sub-clause (3), of the Bill which amends section 39 of the Principal Act. Sub-clause 3 states:

Where regulations in force under this section contain a provision prohibiting the doing of any act or thing except with the authority of the Reserve Bank-

As I understand it the Reserve Bank at any stage is under the direct control of the Federal Government which is in power at the time, whatever its political complexion may be. The sub-section continues: the Bank may, subject to sub-section (4), refuse to grant that authority on the ground that the act or thing involves or would involve, assists in or would assist in, or is or would be associated with, the avoidance or evasion of tax imposed by a law of Australia or of a Territory-

I interrupt my reading of the sub-section again to point out that the next feature that appears to me to be prominent is the following: but the foregoing shall not be taken as limiting the discretion of the Bank to refuse to grant any such authority on any other ground.

To me that is quite an important matter in this Bill and I draw the attention of the Senate to it. Whilst my party supports the Bill in general, I have some concern about that wording and its significance was not referred to, so far as I know, in the second reading speech of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee).

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