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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 1774..


POSTPONEMENT OF ORDERS OF THE DAY

Motion (by Mr Humphries), by leave, agreed to:

That orders of the day Nos 2 and 3, Executive business, relating to the Motor Traffic (Alcohol and Drugs) (Amendment) Bill 1997 and the Motor Traffic (Amendment) Bill (No. 2) 1997, be postponed until the next day of sitting.

TAXATION (ADMINISTRATION) (AMENDMENT) BILL 1997

Debate resumed from 8 May 1997, on motion by Mrs Carnell:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR MOORE (4.19): Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Taxation (Administration) (Amendment) Bill 1997. Apart from the fact that I see it as a budget Bill - and I would, therefore, support it - I also see that it is sound in principle. It seems to me that it deals effectively with windfall gains in revenue, and I think it is appropriate for us to be able to ensure that these windfalls do remain within the community. There is some question as to whether or not certain parts of the taxation law would be found valid if tested in the High Court. I think it is appropriate that we should effectively shore up a defence to ensure that excise-type revenue measures are not found to be invalid. To be able to take some action to clarify that issue, I think, is worth while. Therefore, I will be supporting this piece of legislation.

The first time I really became aware of this situation was when the business franchise fees in the X-rated video industry did come under challenge, when the excise there was challenged. The ramifications that case had were quite widespread. It seems to me that the State and Territory legislatures ought to see what they can do to ensure that they do have the prerogative to impose such duties. It is interesting that the High Court has held, until now at least, that the sorts of fees we charge are regulatory fees and not direct fees; and, therefore, we have been seen to operate legally. It seems to me that, whenever we are dealing with issues of taxation, we should deal with them in the expectation that they will be challenged. That is why it is that this legislation makes good sense.

MR WHITECROSS (Leader of the Opposition) (4.23): Labor will be supporting this Bill. I thank Mr Moore for his heroic filibuster. Labor can hand out the bouquets as well as the brickbats, Mr Moore. This Bill amends the Taxation (Administration) Act, as I am sure Mr Moore was ably explaining. The amendment Bill includes provisions to ensure that a court cannot refund tax paid, without the taxpayer satisfying the court that the impost has not been passed on to third parties; or, if it has, that the taxpayers be reimbursed. The Bill contains a provision to allow a taxpayer to apply to the commissioner for a refund of an amount paid in excess of the tax payable, even though the law has been declared invalid by the courts and the tax payable is precluded from being recovered. It also includes rights of appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for taxpayers where the commissioner is not satisfied that a taxpayer has not charged, recovered or repaid a revenue amount to or from a third party under the Act.


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