CORPORATIONS (COMMONWEALTH POWERS) (TERMINATION DAY) AMENDMENT BILL

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 9 March 2016.)

Ms CHAPMAN ( Bragg—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (12:03): I rise to speak on the Corporations (Commonwealth Powers)(Termination Day) Amendment Bill 2016. This bill has been introduced by the Attorney-General to extend by five years—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are you the lead speaker?

Ms CHAPMAN: I am the only speaker.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The only speaker—well, that is more important again.

Ms CHAPMAN: I indicate that the opposition will be supporting this bill but, as I say, it is to extend the corporations scheme, which commenced back on 15 July 2001, for a further five years. The expiry is due on 15 July 2016 and, accordingly, the government is progressing the bill at this time. In short, whilst the opposition is supporting the bill, it is of some concern to me—and I think ought to be to the government—that we are yet to receive the publication of the federation reform white paper of the federal government, and this will obviously include future proposals, options, and the like, for the federation of Australia.

South Australia as a state has a very important part in the current federation. We have an autonomous constitution. There is, of course, the Australian constitution, and we have in that responsibility for the Corporations Law, and we have since 2001 surrendered to the commonwealth responsibility on a periodic basis to deal with Corporations Law at a national level. It has been for good reason, and I think that it has largely worked and that it is important from the point of view of supporting a revenue responsibility, a taxation responsibility, of each of our jurisdictions.

Largely, as we know, the commonwealth on behalf of Australia collects income tax from its citizens. They collect company taxes and the goods and services tax, to name a few—the principal elements of the revenue that they collect on behalf of all Australians. We, of course, constitutionally retain the right to have income tax imposed on South Australians as a state entity if we wish. It is not usually something that we rush to, that people like to explore, but we have retained that legal power.

Members would know that in recent months there has been some discussion across Australia, and at meetings of ministers, premiers and the Prime Minister, about reform in the taxation area. Whilst there are pros and cons, and there has been some debate out there about tax reform, bear in mind that the Australian government, via the Australian Taxation Office, collects a number of principal areas of tax. Some they give back to us in grants under various agreements, and some they give back to us automatically, such as the goods and services tax, under a legislative formula.

Company tax is collected by, and now administered by, the Australian government and managed at that level, and, whilst a discussion is apparently about to start taking place about the federation structure, and indeed already out in the arena there are discussions about taxation reform, I would have thought personally it would have been prudent of this government to not advance this bill in a hurry, or, if they did, give it a short period of transfer, perhaps a year.

But we have got until July to make some final decisions on this. Whilst we will not in any way impede its passage through this house, I suggest to the government that they have a bit of a think about that. I think it would be prudent of this government to, in fact, hold the progression of this bill through the other place, which they have the capacity to do, until we have seen the federation white paper, until we have heard from the Prime Minister and the federal Leader of the Opposition as to what they will be promoting in respect of that and until they outline how they propose income tax is to be collected and/or administered in the future.

That in my view is what a prudent state government would do on behalf of the people of South Australia. However, they may do nothing; I just bring that to the attention of the parliament, and indicate, with those few words, that we do not oppose the passage of the bill.