Notes for the Minister's Second Reading Speech
This Bill will amend the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act in a number of respects.
Honorable members will recall that in June the Minister for Defence announced certain decisions the Government had taken following a review of Australia's defence planning. Amongst these was a decision to exempt from income tax the pay and allowances of members of the Citizen Forces received during part-time training. This Bill gives effect to this decision.
In providing this exemption the Government has in mind two broad purposes. It considers it important to show in a tangible way its appreciation of the special nature of part-time voluntary service with the Citizen Forces and to emphasize the importance of the role of these Forces in Australian defence. The Government also has in mind that the exemption from tax will serve as an incentive to recruitment and an encouragement to long service in the Citizen Forces.
Another feature of the Bill is the provision of means whereby special income tax treatment may be accorded civilian personnel contributed by Australia for service overseas with an armed force of the United Nations. In broad terms, it is proposed that these people be granted the same income tax concessions as apply to members of the Defence Force serving overseas in troubled areas.
As honorable members have probably realised, it is proposed that these special provisions will be applied to members of the Australian Police Unit at present stationed in Cyprus with forces of the United Nations. The provisions will also be available for application in appropriate circumstances in relation to any other civilian personnel that Australia may in future contribute to United Nations forces.
A further amendment proposed by the Bill relates to the secrecy provisions of the income tax law. Honorable members will be aware that the Commissioner of Taxation and his staff are under an obligation to observe strict secrecy about the affairs of taxpayers. Statutory authority exists, however, for the Commissioner to communicate certain information to various Crown authorities for the satisfactory administration of other laws.
It is proposed by this Bill to authorise the Commissioner to convey specified information to the Commonwealth Statistician for the purpose of collecting statistics as to employment in accordance with the Census and Statistics Act. The Commissioner will be authorised to supply the Statistician with information as to the names, addresses and industries of persons who are employers under the group certificate and tax stamp systems.
The remaining matter dealt with by the Bill is provisional tax for the income year 1964/65. The Bill contains a measure designed to ensure that this tax is calculated without allowance of the 5 per cent rebate which, as the Treasurer stated in his Budget speech, is not to apply for 1964/65.
The provisions of the Bill are explained in more detail in a memorandum to be circulated to Honorable Members, and I do not propose to comment at any greater length at this stage.
I commend the Bill to the House.