The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Helen Coonan

Helen Coonan

Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer

26 November 2001 - 17 July 2004

Media Release of 17/06/2003

C057/03

17 June 2003

SENATE OBSTRUCTS BILL TO ENCOURAGE OVERSEAS WORKERS

Short-sighted opposition by the Labor Party in the Senate has seen Australian business deprived of the opportunity to benefit from overseas workers using their skills to expand the economy, the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan said today.

Senator Coonan said that the expatriate measure in the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (No 2) was designed to address barriers to international competitiveness in the tax system.

"Australia will lose out because people with the skills we need, such as health professionals and information and communication specialists who visit on temporary entry visas will now not receive tax exemptions covering income derived from their assets overseas," Senator Coonan said.

"The Opposition has blocked measures to create employment and investment in Australia and this will impede our development as a strong business centre," Senator Coonan said.

"The measure has been attacked by the Labor Party as a special concession for rich foreign executives, but this is blatantly wrong."

"In 2001 the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations identified a national shortage of accountants, registered nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists, radiation therapists and information and communication technology professionals."

Senator Coonan said it is regrettable that the blocking of these measures will hurt employers who have identified short-term skills shortages.

"Australia has grown up - it is no longer a closed, isolated economy. We have major trading partners, major investments, and we recognise the benefits of skilled labour and new ideas from overseas. We are proposing to remove some of Australia's outdated impediments to labour sourced from overseas," she said.

"Labor is prepared to let Australia fall behind. The measure has been subject to extensive consultation and has been consistently supported by business and, more recently, by the Board of Taxation. Without reforms such as these, skilled professionals will continue to be lured outside Australia and we will be left behind," Senator Coonan said.