Greens Treasury Spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, has called on the Government to call in the UK Ambassador to ask why the UK continues to allow negligent levels of tax secrecy in their Overseas Territories, as exposed by the Paradise Papers.
“Australia needs to let the UK know that we can no longer tolerate its overseas territories, including Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, being used by Australian citizens or companies operating in Australia for aggressive tax avoidance and potential tax evasion strategies.
“These UK Overseas Territories provide a cover of darkness so that our tax office can’t see if the Australian people are being rorted.
“Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron once promised that the UK Overseas Territories would be subject to Beneficial Ownership Register laws but both he and Theresa May have since reneged.
“Given most tax havens are UK Overseas Territories and given the revelations in the leaked Paradise Papers last night, Australia must call in the UK Ambassador for an explanation as to what the UK plans to do to crack down on these shady structures, and why our close friend is facilitating the fleecing of the Australian public.
“Australia is in the early stages of negotiating a trade agreement with the UK. The Government must immediately rule out signing any deal which would facilitate further use of the tax and secrecy havens of the UK overseas territories.
“Australia must make strong demands on the UK. It could, for example, require the introduction of a Beneficial Ownership registry for the UK’s Overseas Territories as a condition of any trade agreement. It can’t just be a trade and investment agreement, it must also be a tax agreement.
“The Greens have the most comprehensive approach to stopping multinational tax avoidance. We know that every dollar avoided is one dollar less for schools, hospitals and fighting global warming.
“This is fundamentally about fairness. We need to end a system with one rule for the rich and powerful, and one for the rest of us. We have to take on the powerful to change the system. Too many politicians, donors and advisers use these havens themselves and have a vested interest in not seeing the system changed.
“This is why we initiated the big Senate inquiry in 2014 that forced the Liberals to take some action, and we have continually campaigned for more action,” he concluded.