ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION AND PRODUCTIVITY
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE IN SERVICES
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHARITIES AND NOT-FOR-PROFITS
MEMBER FOR FENNER
MADELEINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR RESOURCES
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR SMALL BUSINESS
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BRAND
A GRAB BAG OF HALF-MEASURES WILL NOT PROPERLY HELP SMALL BUSINESSES OR THE VULNERABLE
Stuart Robert’s latest policy-on-the-run insults Australian small business.
The Minister’s hasty attempts fundamentally miss the point about access to justice for all taxpayers, including the most vulnerable in the community and businesses of all sizes.
The Government needs to fully adopt Labor’s plan - announced 90 days ago - for an independent Second Commissioner for appeals to handle tax disputes for all taxpayers, particularly all small businesses irrespective of their structure or size. It’s a plan which was recommended by the Inspector-General of Taxation, as well as the bipartisan Joint Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue.
Only a Shorten Labor Government will ensure the Appeals Group will be headed by a new and dedicated Second Commissioner, responsible for managing tax disputes for all taxpayers. Under Labor, the Australian Tax Office will establish a framework for the development of communication protocols between the Appeals Group and other areas of the ATO to ensure that the Appeals Group is - and is seen to be - independent in its dispute resolution function.
Additionally, the Government appears to have adopted Labor’s policy of funding 10 Tax Clinics in universities around Australia, but again, Mr Robert fundamentally misses the point. The Government needs to clarify whether its tax clinic assistance will be available to vulnerable taxpayers as well as small businesses, in line with Labor’s announcement earlier this month. The Minister has no detail on whether these clinics are pilots or ongoing projects, their duration, the funding amount, and whether the Minister has veto powers on which university receives funding.
If the Government were serious about true reform to facilitate access to justice, it would also adopt Labor’s Small Business Access to Justice policy (currently before the Senate as an amendment) to allow private small business litigants to seek a no adverse cost order when bringing an action in relation to alleged abuse of market power of another, and to allow the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman to provide assistance.
This would help even the playing field for small businesses, and allow public interest competition cases to proceed without significant financial risks for the small business litigant.
Sadly, it appears that the Government’s record on innovative tax policy is akin to cryotherapy – promises a lot, but the results are dubious.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.