House of Representatives

Treasury Laws Amendment (Combating Illegal Phoenixing) Bill 2019

Second Reading Speech

Mr SUKKAR (Deakin - Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing)

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill amends the Corporations Act 2001, A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 and the Taxation Administration Act 1953 to combat illegal phoenix activity.

Illegal phoenixing involves the stripping and transfer of assets from one company to another by individuals or entities to avoid paying their liabilities. It has been a problem for many decades.

This bill will give our regulators additional enforcement and regulatory tools to better detect and address illegal phoenix activity and, importantly, to prosecute or penalise directors and others who facilitate this illegal activity, such as unscrupulous pre-insolvency advisers.

To support these reforms, the government will also provide an additional $8.7 million over four years from the 2018-19 financial year to increase funding for the Assetless Administration Fund. This additional funding will increase ASIC's ability to fund liquidators who play a vital role in investigating and reporting illegal phoenix activity.

The bill also makes minor amendments to the government's already legislated insolvency reforms which formed part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. These amendments will ensure that these important reforms operate as intended.

The bill was considered by the Senate Economics Legislation Committee, which recommended that the bill be passed.

Full details of the measures are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

Debate adjourned.