House of Representatives

International Tax Agreements Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2010

Second Reading Speech

Mr Shorten

Mr Shorten (Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation) (10:59 AM)

-by leave- I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Today I introduce the bill to give the force of law to the second protocol to the tax treaty with Singapore which will upgrade the exchange of information provisions in that treaty to the internationally agreed tax standard.

The government is a global leader in the implementation of the international standard of tax transparency. In line with this standard, the upgraded exchange-of-information provisions in the protocol between Australia and Singapore will allow the tax authorities of both countries to exchange a wider range of information on a wider range of taxes.

In particular, the new provisions will provide that neither tax administration can refuse to provide information solely because it does not require the information for its own domestic purposes or because the information is held by a bank or similar institution.

The government has taken an important leadership position to promote international cooperation to combat cross-border tax evasion. The enhanced provisions in the second protocol to the tax treaty with Singapore are an important tool in Australia's efforts in this regard, by increasing the probability of detection when taxpayers participate in abusive tax arrangements. The protocol will further facilitate the prevention of tax evasion by facilitating the exchange of information that predates the protocol.

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has considered this protocol and has recommended that binding treaty action be taken.

Full details of the amendments brought forward in the bill are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Ms Gambaro) adjourned.