Tax Evasion needs to be addressed

23 June 2014

Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (16:09):  I had the pleasure today of meeting with representatives of Micah Challenge Australia, who are in Canberra this week for their annual 'Voices for Justice' event. This year their campaign has been on an issue of great interest to me and to members on this side of the House—'Shining the light on tax dodging'. Tax evasion by major multinational enterprises by profit-shifting overseas is a huge threat to a sustainable tax base in Australia and in many other economies around the world. The last Labor government understood this and a lot of good work was done to clear up several major tax loopholes.

Unfortunately, when the coalition government was elected, they reversed some of these responsible tax measures, allowing over $700 million more to be shifted offshore by major multinationals selling Australians short. As the delegation from Micah Challenge pointed out and as the IMF found recently in their report on spillovers in international corporate taxation, developing countries are hit even harder than we are by the problem of tax evasion and profit shifting.

To Australia the opportunity cost of reversing our measures is the brutal attacks on Medicare and pensions and increases to the fees for higher education. To developing countries, the opportunity cost of foregone tax is even worse. It means missing out on building new schools, new hospitals and dragging people out of poverty. Australia has a great opportunity to progress work on this problem at the G20 in November this year. I commend the group from Micah Challenge for shining a light on this important issue and for trying to keep the government up to the mark on it. (Time expired)