The convention will support and strengthen Australia’s close economic, trade and commercial relationship with Israel by ensuring that tax residents and companies in both Australia and Israel are not subject to double taxation, while implementing measures to prevent tax minimisation. This agreement will also help strengthen the innovation relationship between our two countries, which is so critical to our common future.
Mr SHARMA (Wentworth) (16:32): I seek leave to speak again without closing the debate.
Mr SHARMA: Today I rise to make a statement concerning the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties report No. 187. The report contains the committee’s review of nine treaty actions, and I would like today to highlight two of these treaties in particular: the prolongation of the MH17 treaty and the Israel double-taxation convention.
The MH17 treaty enables Australian involvement in the investigation of the downing and destruction of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in July 2014, in which 38 Australians were killed. This investigation is administered by the government of the Netherlands, where the involvement of foreign personnel in a criminal investigation requires a treaty level agreement. This is the fifth prolongation of the original treaty of August 2014, and, while the immediate response to the incident has concluded, the investigation and the preparation for the prosecution of the perpetrators in the Dutch criminal system are going. On 19 June 2019, indictments were announced against four individuals for their alleged role in the downing of MH17. The prolongation treaty that the committee considered reflects this new phase in the investigation. Unlike the previous prolongation treaties, this treaty does not specify an expiry date, enabling Australian personnel to participate in the investigation until it is concluded.
The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, and our own Prime Minister recently reaffirmed the collective and unwavering commitment of our country to stand firm on MH17 in defence of our shared values. I quote from their joint press conference:
Our two countries continue to stand united and resolute in our commitment to pursuing accountability for this tragedy and to achieving justice for the 289 victims and their loved ones.
Prime Minister Rutte was recently made an honorary companion of the Order of Australia by the Governor-General, at Admiralty House, in recognition of his exceptional leadership in establishing the MH17 investigation team. I echo here my own commendation for his actions. The prolongation of the MH17 treaty will allow us to continue to pursue accountability for this tragedy and to help achieve justice for the victims and their loved ones, including the 38 Australians and their families.
The Israel double-taxation convention establishes an internationally accepted framework for the taxation of cross-border financial transactions between Australia and Israel. Commercial ties between Australia and Israel have grown markedly over recent years. Two-way trade in merchandise amounted to approximately $1 billion in 2017-18, and, as of June 2019, Israel was the third largest source of foreign company listings in Australia, with 20 Israeli companies, predominantly in technology, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. The convention will support and strengthen Australia’s close economic, trade and commercial relationship with Israel by ensuring that tax residents and companies in both Australia and Israel are not subject to double taxation, while implementing measures to prevent tax minimisation. This agreement will also help strengthen the innovation relationship between our two countries, which is so critical to our common future. Both Australia and Israel are also parties to the OECD’s Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, which provides an international framework to prevent taxation treaties from being used for tax minimisation. The Israel double-taxation convention is the latest addition to Australia’s network of 44 tax related treaties. The convention is consistent with Australia’s model tax convention on income and on capital, which, in turn, is based on an OECD model convention.
The committee supports all of the treaties considered in Report 187. The report also contains the committee’s review of six minor treaty actions. On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank the other members of the committee, including the member for Fremantle, who is here today, and the member for Wills, for the constructive manner in which they worked on both this report and Report 186. On behalf of the committee, I commend the report to the House.