Documents: Australian Taxation Office

10 September 2019

Order for the Production of Documents

Senator Patrick (South Australia): I move:

(1) That the Senate notes that:

(a) on 12 October 2017, Mr Richard Boyle made a disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) as a former employee of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), alleging the ATO:

(i) had instructed employees to issue standard garnishee notices to seize funds from taxpayers' bank accounts without notice or consideration of their personal and business circumstances, and

(ii) in doing so, had required employees to engage in conduct that was unethical, unprofessional and against the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct;

(b) on 27 October 2017, the ATO decided not to further investigate Mr Boyle's disclosure on the basis that the information did not concern serious disclosable conduct as defined in the PID Act; and

(c) subsequent media inquiries found anomalies in the ATO's debt collection practices that appeared consistent with Mr Boyle's disclosure.

(2) That the Senate is of the opinion that examining the ATO's actions in relation to Mr Boyle's disclosure is consistent with the Senate's role in providing oversight of government administration.

(3) That the Senate orders the Commissioner of Taxation to provide all documents relating to the disclosure generated or received by Mr Boyle's supervisor, authorised officer and principal officer (as defined in the PID Act), including but not limited to notes, minutes, memoranda, letters, other external or internal correspondence, emails and/or Microsoft Office Communicator conversations, to the Economics Legislation Committee (the committee) by no later than 5 pm on 16 September 2019.

(4) That the committee, when it has considered the documents, report to the Senate as to whether the ATO's handling of disclosures by whistleblowers warrants further inquiry.

Senator Duniam (TasmaniaAssistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries and Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism): I seek leave to make a very short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator Duniam: We believe that the public release of information requested within this motion would potentially prejudice future legal proceedings being a fair trial of criminal charges by jury.

Question agreed to.

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Senator Patrick (South Australia): I seek leave to make a short statement.
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Senator Patrick: I indicate that Centre Alliance will support the substantive motion but not the suspension of standing orders.
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