Standing up for Canberra

Tax Laws and Superannuation Bills (No. 2) 2013

There are many improvements to our tax and superannuation systems that are enabled by the Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2013 Measures No. 2) Bill 2013. Among other things, this bill provides certainty to those small businesses who use the GST instalment system and in schedule 3 we have amendments that will reduce compliance costs by allowing taxpayers to estimate their annual GST liability, allowing them to pay by instalment and submit an annual activity statement rather than quarterly or monthly activity statements, which is a great relief for many small businesses.

This measure arose from a suggestion made by a member of the public to the Tax Issues Entry Scheme, which allows the public to put forward suggestions for minor policy changes. So it is great that it has been responsive to actual needs and suggestions from the public. The bill also ensures that tax offsets will continue to encourage Australian documentary, film and television production and it furthers the government's ongoing efforts to reduce the number of lost superannuation accounts. At June 2012 there were almost 32 million superannuation accounts in Australia, which is almost three accounts for every worker. This measure has been released for public consultation twice, in March 2012 and also August 2012. The bill is part of a broader package of superannuation measures that are aimed at reducing fees on unnecessary superannuation accounts, protecting members' retirement savings from being eroded by those fees and charges.

All these improvements are very worthy and very worth while for small businesses and the general community and will be of great benefit to the individuals they affect. However, there is one particular aspect of this bill that I want to speak about today and that is the listing, as a deductible gift recipient, of the National Boer War Memorial Association. Members would be aware that I have an interest in the Boer War and that I support the works of this worthy association. Just yesterday we were talking about the Boer War and the memorial, which I will touch on later. From memory, it was one of our fellow members in the House who had just come back from a function on the weekend wearing a rather loud tie commemorating some Boer War functions.

Last year I spoke in this House to mark the 110th anniversary of the signing of the treaty of Vereeniging, which ended the second Boer War. I spoke then about the importance of remembering this war, which is often referred to as the forgotten war. For Australia the Boer War is particularly significant because in many ways the Boer War marked the beginning of Australia as an independent nation and it played a pivotal role in forming our national character. At the start of the war in 1899, Australia was six self-governing Crown colonies in the final stages of forming a federation and in June 1899 the people of all colonies except Western Australia had voted in favour of federation—and in 1900 Western Australia would join them.

By then Australians, including our first servicewomen to serve overseas, were already serving alongside Britons, Canadians and New Zealanders as part of the imperial forces. The British commanders particularly valued the Australians for their horsemanship, their bush skills and their initiative. The Australians were becoming known for a special type of mounted infantry which would become the light horse of the First World War. For the first time, Australians and New Zealanders fought together, as they would in future conflicts, a tradition that has bonded our nations in the most exceptional way for over 100 years now.

The Australian tradition of raising specific volunteer forces to serve overseas was also established. As would happen later in the 20th century, men were recruited from individual states, but they fought together as Australians. In all, some 23,000 Australians, including 60 women, served in the Boer War. Unfortunately, 589 lost their lives and 1,400 sustained serious wounds. Australia also lost its first servicewoman when Sister Frances Emma—Fanny—Hines died of pneumonia in August 1900. It is sobering to think that almost half of all deaths were from disease or accident.

The National Boer War Memorial Association is a very important association in commemorating our role in the Boer War because, while the Boer War was the first war to be commemorated by public memorials in many small towns across Australia, to date no specific national memorial to the war has been built. About a month ago, I was up in Norfolk Island for committee work, but prior to that I was also there with the minister for territories, and I had the opportunity to visit the Norfolk Island RSL and speak to them about a $2½ thousand grant that they had just received from the Labor government that will help them build a memorial in their RSL: a cabinet to house their memorabilia.

The National Boer War Memorial Association has been campaigning tirelessly to rectify the need for a specific national memorial, and now, more than 110 years after the event, preparations for the building of such a national memorial are well and truly underway. The site for the memorial is on Anzac Parade in Canberra and was dedicated on 31 May 2008. The design was unveiled by CDF, General David Hurley, in Canberra on 1 March 2012.

The listing as a deductible gift recipient of the National Boer War Memorial Association will enable the raising of much-needed funds to pay for this important memorial. The timing of this legislation could not be more fitting, because 31 May, which is this Friday, will mark the 111th anniversary of the end of the Boer War, and across Australia commemorations will be held. There were some on the weekend, and there will be some in Canberra this weekend. In Canberra we have a service and wreath laying at St John's church in Reid, which is just behind the intended site for the memorial; a dedicated closing ceremony at the Australian War Memorial; and an official observance at the site of the future National Boer War Memorial on Anzac Parade.

Today I ask that we all remember the brave men and women who served in Australia's first national war, the Boer War, and I look forward to one day being able to commemorate an anniversary of the Boer War at a beautiful National Boer War Memorial. The site that is dedicated is a beautiful site, but what is even more stunning is the actual design, with the men on horses and the tufts of grass that surround it that look like little puffs of dust rising up behind the horses as they ride. It is a very active and quite passionate representation of a scene from the Boer War. It is a stunning memorial, and I really look forward to seeing it in place in the near future. Fortunately, the association has received a seeding grant of $200,000 from the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and that will go some way towards getting us to the final stages of this beautiful memorial. I commend the bill to the House.

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