This quote explains its significance:
"From 1 January 2020 it will be a criminal offence to make or accept a payment from businesses that includes $10,000 or more of cash. It is also offence to make or accept a cash donation equal to or in excess of $10,000. The maximum penalty is up to two years imprisonment and/or 120 penalty units ($25,200)."
What follows is a copy of a letter I sent to four independents in Parliament outlining my objections to this unnecessary law and its draconian punishment.
I am writing to you about the “Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019” which was posted on the Treasury website 26 July 2019 as draft legislation.(1) There are several significant flaws in the bill which mean that it is not fit for purpose.
The law is to designed to set up an economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000 (or greater). There are exceptions for transactions which meet the conditions specified in the draft “Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash—Excepted Transactions) Instrument 2019”. To me these exceptions are irrelevant. There should be no such law so exceptions are unnecessary.
This is the explanation for the law given in a PDF file:
“From 1 January 2020 it will be a criminal offence to make or accept a payment from businesses that includes $10,000 or more of cash. It is also offence to make or accept a cash donation equal to or in excess of $10,000. The maximum penalty is up to two years imprisonment and/or 120 penalty units ($25,200).”(2)
The rationale given is “to send a strong signal to the community that it is not acceptable to avoid tax and other obligations by paying with cash.”(3) Apart from this there is the suggestion that the law is aimed at drug dealing and money laundering as well.
I believe there are four good reasons why this bill should be simply rejected, not amended, by the Parliament.
A. The law is totally contrary to the publicly declared policies of the government for a free-market economy. This law is a clear restraint on trade, making illegal to carry out a perfectly harmless financial transaction, namely buying something with $10,000 or more in cash. We live in a free country and the notes and coin which constitute “cash” are all legal tender. So why make such cash transactions illegal?
B. The reason given is that the bill will send a signal that “it is not acceptable to avoid tax and other obligations by paying with cash.” We must ask: When was it acceptable to avoid tax or other obligations by using cash? Who ever said that it was? Notice that the offending cash transactions have not been NOT deemed to be illegal because they are intended to avoid taxation.
The bill seems to assume tax evasion is facilitated by cash transactions and the aim of the law is to criminalise cash transactions. Tax evasion already is illegal, but cash transactions at or over $10,000 are set to become illegal because they MIGHT constitute tax evasion. Shall we make it illegal to purchase a cricket bat because they MIGHT be used to kill someone?
Furthermore there is no requirement in the proposed law to ESTABLISH THE INTENTION to evade tax before conviction and punishment. So the bill plans to impose a penalty of 2 years jail and $25,200 fine to remind people that it is not acceptable to avoid tax by using cash.
C. I suspect most significant tax evasion is carried out by accountants and firms of accountants. What are the penalties for accountants who sign off on a scheme proved in court to be deliberate tax evasion? How do the penalties for promoting a system of tax evasion compare with the automatic 2 years jail and $25,200 fine applied to people who purchase an item with more than $10,000 cash?
D. Apart from being a clear restraint on the free market and criminalising actions which have nothing to do with tax evasion, a breach of this law would be very difficult to establish in court. This is not itself a good reason not to reject a law, but when such very serious penalties have been attached to what is certainly a victimless crime it must be considered. Digital transactions are easy to trace. What level of surveillance would be necessary to establish that a large sum of cash changed hands between two individuals? Would there need to be an officer of the law in every retail establishment which sold expensive items like cars to make sure no plastic bags full of cash were brought into the business?
In short this law would be a clear restraint on trade. It would be useless in the fight to stamp out tax evasion because IT IS NOT DIRECTED AT TAX EVASION ITSELF. Penalties apply only to transactions which in most cases have nothing to do with tax evasion. Finally it creates a victimless crime which would be impossible to police unless it was known in advance and surveillance was at hand.
I have sent you this email because you are independent of any of the major parties. While they may have a party position on this bill I assume you will be able to look at at this draft legislation with your own critical eye. I became aware of the legislation from the following video:
Red Alert: ScoMo Declares War On The Australian People
This video was put out by the Citizens Electoral Council on 30 July 2019. It is a discussion between Martin North and John Adams, a LNP staff economist who has quit and blown the whistle on this anti-free market bill. They discuss this draft legislation which was released on 26 July and would outlaw cash payments above $10k under the guise of tax efficiency. The CEC believe the real agenda is all about negative interest rates and extreme monetary policy, as prescribed by the IMF.
I agree that the “Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019” is part of a program to get us ready for negative interest rates. HOWEVER I believe it is important to attack the bill itself as a way to expose the fact that considered on its own merits it is quite incapable of achieving the stated aim, reducing tax evasion. Only after one recognises that the bill itself is pointless or worse can we ask the next question: So what is the real purpose?
Like the CEC I am against the introduction of negative interest rates but these matters should be DISCUSSED OPENLY in Parliament not introduced quietly as if they are of no importance.