Interim Dissenting Report from Government Senators

1.1       The farcical nature of this inquiry is no better demonstrated than by the process of the tabling of the Interim Report. The Labor Party and Greens Political Party majority of the committee are submitting a 24-page Chair’s “Interim” Report when the usual practice is for interim committee reports to the Senate to consist of a one-page advice seeking an extension of time. The Chair scheduled a meeting to adopt this report 90 minutes after it was supplied to government Senators. It is not humanly possible for Senators to read a 24-page interim report, analyse its content and formulate a cogent response at the same time as Senators are otherwise engaged in ordinary activities for a regular day in the Senate.

1.2       Government Senators have serious concerns about most elements of this Inquiry’s conduct, but to name just a few of these concerns:

1.3       The Chair’s Interim Report makes repeated references to, and allusions about, whether a direction was drafted that would have prevented the Commissioner of Taxation from intervening in the Bell Act matter. Evidence to the inquiry has amply demonstrated that no such direction was ever issued. Additionally, as the Chair’s Interim Report itself quoted (at 2.40):

Neither the commissioner nor I, or any other decision-maker in the ATO, were lent on by a minister or their office or directed to do anything other than what we did.[1]

1.4       It is clear from the evidence that the Attorney-General has at all times acted with the utmost propriety, in accordance with advice and established legal processes, and has defended the Commonwealth’s interests in a manner that would satisfy the most diligent scrutiny.  The evidence shows that the Attorney-General’s account of his involvement in matters relating to the Bell Act is absolutely truthful and unchallengeable.

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Deputy Chair

Senator David Fawcett

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