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Labor does a 180-degree turn.

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Senator Andrew Murray

Australian Democrats

Taxation, Finance & Corporate Affairs Spokesperson

Nov 26, 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/851


The Australian Democrats are today amazed that the Opposition has voted against two Double Tax Agreements with Mexico and the United Kingdom (International Tax Agreements Amendment Bill 2003) that Australia negotiated recently.

Democrats’ Taxation spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray, said: “Labor has rightly supported 46 Double Tax Agreements (DTAs). Now it has done a 180-degree turn.

“How can Labor object to it on grounds of decreased revenue when it supported tax treaties with the USA and Russia last year, which cost twice as much as this one?

“How can it oppose a tax treaty with Mexico, initiated by its own Neal Blewett in the 1990’s?

“It is also astounding that the ALP could even contemplate putting lucrative Australia -United Kingdom investment and trade flows at risk by failing to update a tax treaty that is 36 years old.

“The business and tax environments have progressed significantly since 1967. Bilateral agreements need to be updated to reflect those changes and to close possible loopholes previously unthought of.

“I’m amazed that the ALP is suddenly voting against sensible tax treaties that would make it easier for Australian companies to invest and trade globally.”

Double Tax Agreements are vital for Australia’s international trade competitiveness for four main reasons:

First, allocating taxing rights between the two jurisdictions prevents double taxation;

Second, the Agreements aim to curtail tax avoidance and evasion;

Third, the Agreements prescribe improved co-operation and information sharing between the revenue authorities of the countries; and

Fourthly, DTA’s improve the efficiency and flexibility of international trade by Australian companies.

“The Australian Democrats have for the last 26 years remained committed to eliminating unnecessary and costly barriers to Australian cross-border trade and investment,” says Senator Murray.

“Thankfully, the Australian public has the Democrats to sensibly and responsibly exercise the balance of power in the Senate and ensure that political stunts like Labor’s today do not harm the economy and international trade relations,” concluded Senator Murray.

Media contact: Grace Tan at 02 6277 5747 or 0417 174 302