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senate vote 2021-08-05#1

Edited by mackay staff

on 2021-08-06 12:42:32


  • Bills — Treasury Laws Amendment (Covid-19 Economic Response No. 2) Bill 2021; Second Reading
  • Treasury Laws Amendment (Covid-19 Economic Response No. 2) Bill 2021 - Second Reading - Vaccines and quarantine


  • <p class="speaker">Simon Birmingham</p>
  • <p>I thank senators who have contributed to this debate on the Treasury Laws Amendment (COVID-19 Economic Response No. 2) Bill 2021.</p>
  • <p>As senators are aware, schedule 1 to the bill amends the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Act to allow the Treasurer to make rules for economic response payments to provide support to an entity where they are adversely affected by restrictions imposed by a state or territory to control COVID-19. This measure gives effect to the government's commitment to assist any state that is unable to administer its own business support payments in the event of a significant lockdown imposed by that state or territory between 1 July this year and 31 December next year.</p>
  • The same number of senators voted for and against an amendment introduced by ACT Senator [Katy Gallagher]( (Labor). Had it been successful, it would have added the words below to the usual [second reading]( motion, which is "*that the bill be read a second time*" - parliamentary jargon for agreeing with the main idea of the bill.
  • ### Amendment text
  • > *At the end of the motion, add ", but the Senate notes that:*
  • >
  • > *(a) only 15% of Australians are fully vaccinated;*
  • >
  • > *(b) businesses and workers are struggling from lockdowns made necessary by the Government's botched vaccine rollout and the lack of purpose-built quarantine facilities; and*
  • >
  • > *(c) these lockdowns are costing the Australian economy hundreds of millions of dollars every day".*
  • <p>Schedule 2 to the bill amends the information-sharing provisions of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 to allow the Australian Taxation Office to share data with Australian government agencies for the purpose of administering a relevant COVID-19 business support program. Relevant business support programs are those that have been included in a declaration by the Treasurer for this purpose. The Treasurer can make this declaration by legislative instrument if satisfied that the program responds to the economic impacts of COVID-19 and supports businesses who have had their operations impacted by public health orders.</p>
  • <p>Schedule 3 to the bill introduces a new power in the income tax laws that enables, by legislative instrument, eligible Commonwealth COVID-19 business grants to be declared free from income tax. States and territories are also able to apply the same tax treatment where they have grant programs focused on supporting small and medium businesses facing similarly exceptional circumstances related to COVID-19.</p>
  • <p>Schedule 4 to the bill extends the operation of a temporary mechanism introduced in 2020 which permits responsible ministers to allow for electronic signature for relevant documents in response to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.</p>
  • <p>Finally, schedule 5 to the bill makes COVID-19 disaster payments received by individuals from the 2020-21 income year onwards free from income tax.</p>
  • <p>This bill continues the adaptive response to the COVID-19 pandemic that Australia has applied right throughout the pandemic. It enables governments to continue to respond as necessary to the economic challenges created by COVID-19 that they face, particularly as a result of restrictions put in place at different state or territory levels. As we've worked our way through the pandemic, our ability to respond in ways that are more directly applicable to local circumstances has been enhanced. The measures in this bill enable us to ensure that we can have effective administration and tax-free treatment of the COVID-19 disaster payments, which are applied on a case-by-case basis to different areas as they are affected by lockdowns.</p>
  • <p>The bill enables us to ensure that we can respond with economic support measures for businesses where states and territories need, noting that, to date, states and territories, as they too have enhanced their capability, are showing an ability to deliver those measures themselves, but it's important that we have the flexibility and ability to do that where they find necessary. It maintains other important, flexible measures to get us through the uncertain period that lies ahead. What the advent of the delta variant in particular has taught us is that the uncertainties of COVID continue to exist and that none of us can pretend to predict with absolute confidence what the future will hold. These measures will enable Australia, and particularly the government, to work with state and territory partners, with business and with Australian families, households and individuals to help them as they have done to continue to respond successfully to the COVID-19 pandemic. I commend the bill to the chamber.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Scott Ryan</p>
  • <p>The question is that the second reading amendment moved by Senator Gallagher be agreed to.</p>