Labor stands for tax transparency - Speech, Federation Chamber



Dr ANDREW LEIGH: This is a motion based on a lie. Labor never voted against the multinational anti-avoidance law. Let me say that again for the benefit of the member for Goldstein, who moved the motion. This is a motion based on a lie, a falsehood. The member is misleading the House. Labor never voted against the multinational anti-avoidance law. I know this—

TIM WILSON: Did you support it?

LEIGH: Yes, Labor did support it, remember? I will take that interjection from the member for Goldstein. I refer the member to the Senate Hansard, 9 November 2015. Senator Dastyari said:

'Labor's position is that we support this bill.'

WILSON: What about the House?

LEIGH: The member for Goldstein asks about the House. I will come to the House, Member for Goldstein. There's not a moment in which Labor did not support the bill.

Wilson interjecting—

LEIGH: The problem with the member for Goldstein is he thinks that if a lie is repeated often enough it becomes the truth. He thinks, because he's sat in the House—

Government members interjecting—

DEPUTY SPEAKER: Members will be quite, please.

LEIGH: and he's heard the talking point from the Treasurer and the minister for revenue, that somehow it's okay to continue to mislead the House.

But the very fact is, as I've said, on 9 November 2015 in the Senate, Senator Dastyari said:

'Labor's position is that we support this bill.'

The motion was then amended—

Wilson interjecting—

DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Member for Goldstein is warned.

LEIGH: And it was amended in such a way as to improve tax transparency. The amendments for tax transparency were agreed to by the Senate on 11 November 2015. Labor then in the House, on 12 November 2015, voted to keep those Senate amendments to improve tax transparency. Then back in the Senate, on 3 December 2015, we saw Labor voting against the watered-down Greens-Liberal deal, which saw less tax transparency; two-thirds of private firms were moved out of the tax transparency net. Senator Conroy, referring to an agreement made by Senator Di Natale, said it was 'the filthy deal he did with the government'. The amended bill was agreed to on the voices. Back in the House, the amendments to improve tax transparency were considered, with the House voting against both amendments, and in both cases Labor stood again for tax transparency.

At no moment did Labor vote against the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law. To say that is purely and simply a lie.

This is a critical issue today, because we have just seen in the House the government shut down debate over tax transparency. You don't get much more ironic than that. Right now in the House, moments ago, we had members opposite voting to shut down the debate over tax transparency—and not just any debate. A bill was coming back from the Senate that would have brought the disclosure threshold for tax payable down from $200 million for private firms and $100 million for public firms to $50 million for all firms. The shadow Attorney-General was on his feet attempting to that have considered immediately and he was shut down.

The fact is that Labor in 2013 put in place laws to improve tax transparency—measures that the Australian Taxation Office said at the time would 'discourage large corporate entities from engaging in aggressive tax avoidance practices'. But, after coming into office, the Coalition waged a guerrilla war against transparency. The Member for Kooyong told the Coalition party room there was a real concern that wealthy businesspeople would be kidnapped as a result of tax transparency, something that University of New South Wales accounting lecturer Jeffrey Knapp called 'the stupidest excuse for nondisclosure I've ever heard'. When we asked whether the government had evidence, some security advice to verify a kidnap risk, it turned out no advice had been provided by the Australian Federal Police, the Attorney-General's Department or the tax office. No representations were made in favour of a wind-back in tax transparency. In the Senate, only a single submission was received in favour of winding back tax transparency, from an organisation called the Family Office Institute Australia, which purports to be representative but was in fact an 'astroturfing' organisation.

Labor stood in favour of tax transparency. In the case of the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law, we wanted to amend it to strengthen tax transparency. We never voted against it. We voted for tax transparency, and the government right now, moments ago in the House, has again voted against tax transparency.

Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.