Australia’s opposition accuses Turnbull of tax avoidance

Canberra, Oct 14 (IANS) Australia’s new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was on Wednesday accused of tax avoidance by Labour Party’s Sam Dastyari.

Turnbull defended his investments after the opposition claimed that he was using a tax haven to avoid playing by the “same rules” as the rest of Australia, ABC reported.

Labour Party’s front-bencher Sam Dastyari questioned why Turnbull invested in companies that have offices in the Cayman Islands, a well-known Caribbean tax haven where the corporate tax rate is zero.

“There is one reason people invest in the Cayman Islands — so they do not have to play by the same rules as the rest of us,” Senator Dastyari said in a short speech to the Senate.

“This is not fair and it’s not right,” he said.

Dastyari said the investments were “all legal and disclosed” but asked: “Is any of it appropriate?”

“Every time the Liberal Party votes against tax transparency, remember there is a house in the Cayman Islands — a house where Malcolm’s money resides,” he said.

Turnbull, one of the richest members of parliament, accused the Labour Party of running a new campaign on the “politics of envy”.

“The consequence of that arrangement is that all of that income that accrues to my share of the investment is brought to account fully — and tax is paid on it — fully in Australia,” Turnbull told parliament.

“It actually increases the tax that is paid in Australia,” he said.

He said all of his investments were approved under the Ministerial Code of Conduct when he became a minister and he claimed that Labour had no understanding of how managed funds worked.

Turnbull has dismissed similar attacks in the past, though this is the first time the Labour Party has publicly raised his personal wealth since the Liberal leadership split.

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