Taxation Legislation Amendment Bill 2014

HON LYNN MacLAREN (South Metropolitan) [2.41 pm]: I rise to support the Taxation Legislation Amendment Bill 2014, although the Greens will not support this bill unless it is amended in accordance with supplementary notice paper 3.

The PRESIDENT: According to my records, you have already spoken. [4]

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: It was so long ago, but I thought I spoke on the referral of the amendment to the Standing Committee on Legislation.

The PRESIDENT: I have a note here that you spoke on 23 September.

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: I spoke on the referral to the committee.

The PRESIDENT: We are trying to recollect here, but I believe you probably did speak to a motion prior to the second reading debate. In that case, you are eligible and very welcome to speak on the question that the bill be read a second time.

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: Thank you, Mr President, and hopefully I will say something that you find interesting.

We have learned from an inquiry into the Taxation Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 by the Standing Committee on Legislation that the bill needs to be amended. Should the bill be amended as foreshadowed in supplementary notice paper 3, the Greens would lend its support to this legislation.

In September, the Taxation Legislation Amendment Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Legislation because the Western Australian Council of Social Service saw that the bill that was debated in the other place and that arrived in this place may capture, in an unintended fashion, charities that really should have state tax exemptions, so it was important for us to review that bill. The Standing Committee on Legislation did this diligently—for two months, I think. We were supposed to complete the review in one month, but we had to take an extra month to get the materials together because, unfortunately, when we considered this legislation we discovered there were indeed unintended consequences and several fourth-limb charities that should get taxation status would not if the bill was passed unamended. I reiterate how important it is that we have the Standing Committee on Legislation so that we can review things like this when they are brought to our attention.

In this instance, the committee made six recommendations that are addressed by the amendments on the notice paper in the name of the Leader of the House. Having consulted the Western Australian Council of Social Service, the stakeholder that originally raised it to our attention, I am advised that the amendments proposed to this bill might address its concerns. That is important because WACOSS knows the sector and is in touch with legal minds that can assess whether this bill will capture those charities that we want to ensure continue to have tax-free status at a state level.

In examining this bill, the Greens agree with the policy intent that seeks to narrow the scope of the existing payroll tax, transfer duty and land tax exemptions as they apply to fourth-limb charities. The government pursued this course of action way back on 15 May 2013 and eventually tabled this amendment before us. I agree with some of the speakers before me that it is a little disappointing that the amendment that came to the house in the form of this bill needed further work, but I understand it is an incredibly complex area of law and even the amendments that are now before us on the supplementary notice paper are in dispute by some members in the chamber, and I look forward to hearing the clause-by-clause debate on those.

One of the many people who made submissions to the committee during its inquiries was Konrad de Kerloy of the Law Society of Western Australia. We are about to consider a couple of elements of this bill that deserve further consideration, one of which was highlighted to us by the Law Society. The society’s submission states —

The Society considers that it would be appropriate for Parliament to include, by way of regulation, guidelines to guide the exercise of the Minister’s discretion and that the Society would be happy to comment on those draft regulations when they are developed.

That is one of the themes that Hon Sally Talbot has developed thoroughly and the Leader of the Opposition has just raised again; the guidelines are still outstanding and we would like to see them tightened up and become more public and more transparent. That is one thing that we will have a watching brief on, but for the most part the committee’s recommendations, which were unanimously agreed to, have been addressed by supplementary notice paper 3 in the amendments proposed by the Leader of the House. That is all good.

That really starts at the end of a very long journey that took us months. I would like to acknowledge very briefly the committee staff, in particular, Suzanne Veletta, who dealt with this incredibly complex law and put together a report of some 90 pages that details the concerns put forward around the bill. This record of the analysis of the bill should in the future serve anyone who has questions about the Taxation Legislation Amendment Bill and whether indeed fourth-limb charities would be captured; they should look at the twenty-sixth report, an excellent report that was put together by the Standing Committee on Legislation. As that record is quite complete and is available for the public to pursue over the years to come, I have no need to go over the report in tedious detail. I will note, however, that it contained a lot of minority recommendations and I still believe we should uphold some of those minority recommendations and findings, but the majority of them fall away if the amendments on supplementary notice paper 3 proposed by the Leader of the House are accepted. Because the stakeholders in this are now supportive of the bill should those amendments be made and we have those amendments before us, I conclude my remarks in support of the bill—should it be amended. In the clause-by-clause debate in Committee of the Whole, I will raise matters that I feel are relevant to explain the Greens’ support for this legislation.