Xenophon moves Senate for tax amendment

Cherished

Silver Meritorious Patron
Just in the last hour or so:

http://forums.whyweprotest.net/318-...lic-benefit-test-amendment-66478/#post1242894

Listening to the Senate right now. Tax law debate about forestation schemes that are in effect ponzi schemes....but anyhow. Xenaphon introducted an amendment to the bill to introduce a public benefit test to tax-exempt "non-profits", arguing that such organizations (specifically, The Church of Scientology), if they are to enjoy tax-exemption should have accountability to the Australian public for their activities. Mentioned a laundry list of their behavior which would exclude them...disconnection, forced abortion, child labor law violations, stalking, intimidation, etc...

Gone to division...just about to fail (okay, now just has...6 yays to 28 nos). Greens are supporting, but the government and opposition are not.

Of note though, is that neither major argued against the content of the proposed amendment, but rather the appropriateness of it's insertion into the current debate. Both Senator Sherry (labor) and Xenophon, have used the word cult in regards to Scientology... "Cult clearinghouse" to be exact...which is what Xenophon was using to justify the insertion of this amendment in the context of the current debate.

The comment got quite a few chuckles. :p

Anyhow, I'll post the hansard when it's up.
 

Carmel

Crusader
So is it positive thtat they didn't argue against?
Sure thing, they chuckled. If most had their way, they would have gone with it but are kinda forced into towing the party line if they want any future political career.

Anyways, this issue (over tax law) is not the issue of an Inquiry into Scn. It's something that Xen just 'threw in' to a different debate and they didn't oppose what he was saying....pretty funny really.
 

Anonycat

Crusader
I hope this kind of dialog creates a stronger pubic opinion there, so that the politicians take a unanimous stand for the people. It seems inevitable.
 

scooter

Gold Meritorious Patron
Right now the public position Scientology just above convicted child molesters here in Oz.:yes:

We're working on getting it even lower.:D

Stay tuned.:happydance:
 

RogerB

Crusader
Right now the public position Scientology just above convicted child molesters here in Oz.:yes:

We're working on getting it even lower.:D

Stay tuned.:happydance:

Lower, like dropped out of sight, off the screen of existence? As in dead and buried? :D

R
 

mnql1

Patron Meritorious
Transcript from Hansard, May 12, 2010

COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

SENATE

HANSARD

WEDNESDAY, MAY 12, 2010

(proof issue)

http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/dailys/ds120510.pdf

pages 14-16:


Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (11.00 am)—by leave—I move amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 6105 standing in my name:

(1) Clause 2, page 2 (after table item 7), insert:
7A. Schedule 4A 1 July 2010. 1 July 2010.

(2) Page 34 (after line 6), after Schedule 4, insert:
Schedule 4A—Public benefit test
Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
1 After section 50-50
Insert:
50-51 Public benefit test for items 1.1 and 1.2
Public benefit test
(1) The regulations must formulate a test (to be known as the public benefit test) against which the aims and activities of an entity may be assessed.
(2) The public benefit test must include the following key principles:
(a) there must be an identifiable benefit arising from the aims and activities of an entity;
(b) the benefit must be balanced against any detriment or harm;
(c) the benefit must be to the public or a significant section of the public, and not merely to individuals with a material connection to the entity.
(3) The public benefit test may contain provisions relating to the manner in which the test is to be applied to the aims and activities of an entity, as well as ancillary or incidental provisions.
(4) The Minister must take all reasonable steps to ensure that regulations are made for the purposes of subsection (1) before 1 July 2010.
Entities must meet public benefit test
(5) An entity covered by item 1.1 or 1.2 is not exempt from income tax unless the entity meets the public benefit test.

During the last sitting session I moved two Senate motions calling for an inquiry into the Church of Scientology and in particular into the need for a public benefit test for organisations that receive tax exemptions from the Australian government. Recommendation 41 of the Henry tax review supports the establishment of a national charities commission which would monitor, regulate and streamline tax concessions for the not-forprofit sector. Importantly, it would also be tasked with codifying the definition of a charity.

The government’s response during the last sitting session was that they did not want to pre-empt the Henry tax review in relation to considering the motions I had put before the Senate—in particular, one motion which specifically targeted the whole concept of a public benefit test like that which exists in the United Kingdom. The review is out and the recommendation is there, but the government has chosen not to adopt it.

A public benefit test currently exists in the United Kingdom. This amendment would introduce a similar process here. In the United Kingdom it applies to religions and charitable organisations. It says that there must be an identifiable benefit arising from the aims and activities of such an entity, the benefit must be balanced against any detriment or harm and the benefit must be to the public or a significant section of the public and not merely to individuals with a material connection to the entity.

This amendment puts in place a reasonable test for bodies seeking to be recognised as charities and seeking to get tax-free status. It ensures that their aims and activities are of true benefit to the community as a whole. For charities and other entities to receive tax exemption it seems only fair that they must meet this public benefit test if they are to be propped up and supported by the Australian taxpayer.

I make no apology for introducing this amendment here in the context of this legislation. I have flagged previously that I will be persistent and relentless in pursuing a just outcome for the victims of Scientology to ensure that this organisation receives appropriate scrutiny. Indeed, for any organisation that receives the benefit of a tax-free status there must be a degree of accountability, and that is lacking in our current laws. This would fix that, by adopting the tried and tested UK test of a public benefit test. Some of the allegations that have been made against the Church of Scientology include criminal behaviour, coerced abortions and stalking. There is completely unconscionable conduct in relation to the way their members are treated. There are issues in relation to child labour laws and in relation to the way employees and volunteers are treated. The whole issue of the conduct of this organisation—the hundreds of thousands of dollars they charge, and more, for their courses—seems extraordinary. People are put under pressure and families are ripped apart. It causes harm and devastation to individuals.

I acknowledge the support of Professor Pat McGorry, an Australian of the Year and one of Australia’s pre-eminent experts in mental health, and others, such as Professor Ian Hickie, who have expressed real concern that this organisation is against people seeking assistance from medical practitioners, psychiatrists or psychologists for mental health issues—that is dangerous. And that is why it is appropriate that we have once and for all a public benefit test. I seek the support of my colleagues to do so.

If this is defeated, as I expect it will be, I indicate that, every week that this Senate sits, there will be a motion related to this issue. Senator Sherry is smiling and he does so with good grace, but this is an issue that will not go away. Too many people have been hurt by this organisation. We need to have a degree of accountability and public scrutiny. This mechanism of a public benefit test is a significant way forward. It has been tried and tested and been subject to robust scrutiny in the United Kingdom. We should adopt it here.

Senator JOYCE (Queensland—Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (11.04 am)—Although we can empathise with many of the statements of Senator Xenophon, we do not find it appropriate to deal with this issue in this piece of legislation. It is an entirely different issue to clearing houses. We look forward to a debate and to the processes that will be more suited to this. But, in this instance, we will not be going down the path of talking about attributes or otherwise of Scientology or other groups in a debate about clearing houses.

Senator MILNE (Tasmania) (11.05 am)—The Australian Greens will be supporting Senator Xenophon’s amendment. It is essential that we end up with this public benefit test, and I commend him for continuing the campaign for such a test.

Senator SHERRY (Tasmania—Assistant Treasurer) (11.05 am)—The government will not be supporting this amendment. There are legitimate issues that Senator Xenophon raises—some of which I agree with, some of which I do not agree with. As Senator Joyce has indicated, this legislation is about a clearing house for superannuation; it is not about a public benefit test for religion. It is about protecting 19,000 investors who have lost money in forestry investment schemes from an inappropriate tax outcome. The legislation is also about eligible managed investment trusts. It is about as
far away as you could get from a public benefit test that would apply to charities.

Senator Xenophon, you have pointed out that there were some recommendations in the independent tax review. I am also aware a Productivity Commission report has been finalised on this issue of charities. So, whilst I accept that you are keen to make your point—and you are perfectly entitled to make your point—this is not the appropriate place to be cross-inserting a public benefit test in this type of legislation.

Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (11.07 am)—I thank my colleagues for their contribution, in particular Senator Milne for indicating the support of the Australian Greens in relation to this. To Senators Joyce and Sherry, I indicate they should think of this particular amendment as a ‘cult’ clearing house. Think of it in those terms because this is about behaviour. It is CHAMBER not about belief; it is about behaviour. It is important that having this sort of legislation would be a clearing house for determining who is legitimate and who is not in the public benefit. Senator Sherry may be bemused by my analogy, but I still think it is valid. It may be stretching it, but it is not improper under the standing orders to introduce this amendment in the context of this debate. We are dealing with tax laws. This is an amendment to the Income Tax Assessment Act and I am sure this chamber and my colleagues are more than capable of chewing gum and walking at the same time—they can consider other concepts. I appreciate where we are at on this. I will continue to pursue this issue through motions and other means, whether it be a private senator’s bill. I will continue to persist with this issue because too many people are being hurt, too many victims are coming forward and, if we had a public benefit test, I think that would solve many problems.

Senator SHERRY (Tasmania—Assistant Treasurer) (11.08 am)—Very briefly, I accept your brave attempt to connect a ‘cult’ clearing house with a superannuation clearing house and I would suggest that if we were to have a clearing house for cults you would not want them to escape without penalty.

Question put:
That the amendments (Senator Xenophon’s) be agreed to.

The committee divided. [11.13 am]
(The Temporary Chairman—Senator PM Crossin)
Ayes………… 6
Noes………… 28
Majority……… 22

AYES

Brown, B.J.
Hanson-Young, S.C.
Ludlam, S.
Milne, C.
Siewert, R.
* Xenophon, N.

NOES

Adams, J.
* Bernardi, C.
Bilyk, C.L.
Birmingham, S.
Cameron, D.N.
Cash, M.C.
Colbeck, R.
Collins, J.
Crossin, P.M.
Farrell, D.E.
Feeney, D.
Fielding, S.
Forshaw, M.G.
Furner, M.L.
Humphries, G.
Joyce, B.
Kroger, H.
Lundy, K.A.
Marshall, G.
McEwen, A.
McLucas, J.E.
Moore, C.
Parry, S.
Pratt, L.C.
Sherry, N.J.
Stephens, U.
Williams, J.R.
Wortley, D.

* denotes teller

Question negatived.
 

Carmel

Crusader
Hehehehe!!!

Sen Xen is effective, but he's also a bit cheeky with a good sense of humour. Can't be too serious about these matters. :giggle:
 

Arthur Dent

Silver Meritorious Patron
I think it's great. He's getting attention from the senate about it and I am sure the public awareness is raised due to it. He has sort of "safe pointed" (sorry!) the motion as they are only denying it based on it's insertion into the motion at this time. I am hopeful!

The motion mentions a Public Benefit for Charities being effective in the UK. Can someone say if Scn. is tax exempt in the UK also?
I don't think I knew for sure one way or the other and am curious. I would imagine they are, knowing the cofs. And if they are...is this Public Benefits group actively concerned and involved about Scn's abuses in the UK? Thanks.
 

Ogsonofgroo

Crusader
Thank you MNQ1, you rock as usual! :happydance:
Even without a majority support I think that flooring these proposals is awesome for getting things into the lime-light of public scrutiny, certainly cannot hurt.
 

Chess

Patron with Honors
What a truly remarkable read. People like that who can think and narrate with such speed & clarity are amazing, their game is being exposed slowly and surely. Zen is quite the persistant fella and I'm glad he's on our side - amazing man. Politics or not there is obviously a strategy firmly in place and those smirks and smiles will surely fade when all those who oppose an enquiry suddenly get cornered in the (hopefully) not too distant future by a head hunting media whose sole purpose is to expose those who knew but failed to act against the crimes of organised Scn. They will have there own, cold shivers of an SRA to contend with. Here's hoping the storm is a good one.
 
Hehehehe!!!

Sen Xen is effective, but he's also a bit cheeky with a good sense of humour. Can't be too serious about these matters. :giggle:

It's a clever use of parliamentary procedure, both in the attempt to get it through as well as forcing his colleagues once again to go on the public record. :whistling:


Mark A. Baker
 
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