12 November 2015
by Joanna Mather

Coalition votes down its own tax bill


Labor claims: "Scott Morrison is so keen to help huge companies hide their tax affairs that he is now delaying his own multinational tax bill".

Laws to crack down on multinational tax avoidance have been thrown into uncertainty after the government voted down its own legislation.

The government is refusing to pass the tax avoidance bill after Labor, the Greens and cross-benchers banded together to force an amendment that would publicly disclose the tax affairs of all companies with turnover of $100 million.

The government wants to shield about 800 privately held Australian companies from having their tax bills included in an Australian Tax Office report due out next month.

The amended Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015 was voted down in the House of Representatives, where the government has a strong majority, on Thursday.

The bill targets multinationals that have adopted structures to avoid having a taxable presence in Australia, diverting billions of dollars in profits offshore.

Labor and the Greens managed to convince crossbenchers in the Senate to support the amendment on Wednesday. When the bill came back to the House of Representatives on Thursday, the government opted to vote it down, which means it will be sent back to the Senate.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said was a very shabby and irresponsible way to deal with a serious issue.

Opposition assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said the government should stop trying to protect potential dodgers.

"Scott Morrison is so keen to help huge companies hide their tax affairs that he is now delaying his own multinational tax bill," he said.

"This bill could pass the parliament today if Scott Morrison would accept the Senate's reasonable amendments.

"The Treasurer thinks shielding rich firms form scrutiny is more important than passing a bill to ensure everyone pays their fair share."