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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2110 ..

MR QUINLAN: Mr Speaker, that term, whether unparliamentary or not, is a fairly good description of what has happened here.

Mr Smyth: It is unparliamentary on the part of school kids. You should not be saying that in front of the kids, Ted.

MR QUINLAN: Not in front of the children!

Mr Smyth: Do not scare the children.

MR QUINLAN: Right. It turns out that we had a Bill which went through this place in order to fix some loopholes in the legislation that had been pointed up by cases outside of this Territory, particularly in Victoria. The Government moved to fix that and they failed; in fact, they introduced inappropriate legislation. This Bill, as I understand it, does not fix that problem; it just takes us back to square one so that this time round the Government can consult the people in the industry, which they obviously did not do, and get it right the next time round.

I understand from people in the industry - some of those that we were seeking out to speak to; some of those that rung my office because they had received this misinforming missive from the Government - that it is the intention of the Government to form some sort of consultative panel and it is the intention of the Government to come back and introduce legislation that no longer is flawed to the extent of the original legislation. You would reckon, from the week that we have had when we have had a mess-up with legislation, that just for once the Government would come into this place and say, "We messed it up. Can we go back and start again? We did not consult. Can we go back and consult?". Instead, we get what I have to say is a misleading presentation speech with this Bill. But, for all that, we support the Bill.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer), in reply (11.57): Mr Speaker, the Bill amends the Payroll Tax Act 1987 to clarify that wages paid by employment agents to contractors who are bona fide employers in their own right continue to remain exempt. The Payroll Tax (Amendment) Act 1999, gazetted on 6 May 1999, sought to address two Victorian Supreme Court decisions, provide greater certainty and objectivity for taxpayers in order to reduce overall compliance costs and, where possible, be consistent with legislative amendments in Victoria and New South Wales.

As a result of representations from the employment agent industry, it is now recognised that the attempt to tighten current exemptions could have inadvertently affected some bona fide employers in their own right who supply the services of their employees through employment agents. That impact is inconsistent with government policy and is not in line with the intention of the legislation. This Bill will rectify this unintended consequence and clarify for employment agents that wages paid by them to contractors who are bona fide employers in their own right will continue to remain exempt. For this reason, the Bill will be given a retrospective commencement date of 6 May 1999. Mr Speaker, while the industry was critical of the original timing for the amendments which were gazetted on 6 May 1999, the timing was essential due to the perceived threat to the ACT payroll tax revenue base from not providing legislative certainty under the employment agent provisions.

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