By Ally Foster news.com.au
People could be jailed for two years and fined $25,200 just for using more than $10,000 in cash in one transaction under a new bill being put to the Australian Parliament.
An exposure draft of the legislation, called the Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019, was quietly introduced by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last month.
Under the proposed law, all cash transactions between businesses and individuals would be limited to $10,000, and any amount over this would be considered criminal.
The proposed changes were first announced in the 2018-19 budget.
The Federal Government’s Black Economy Taskforce recommended the changes in its final report, claiming the measure would help reduce crimes like money laundering and tax evasion.
“This ensures that entities cannot make large payments in cash so as to avoid creating records of the payment and facilitating their participation in the black economy and undertaking related illicit activities,” the draft bill reads.
Anyone who goes over the $10,000 cash limit could be put in jail.Source:Supplied
If passed, the law would come into effect on January 1, 2020 and would apply to all cash payments made to businesses with an ABN.
The penalties, jail time and fine would apply to both the individual and the business part of the transaction.
There are a couple of exemptions to the cash ban.
The $10,000 cash limit would not apply to individual-to-individual transactions, such as the private sale of a second-hand car.
The limit also wouldn’t apply when depositing or withdrawing money from a bank.
However, not everyone is in support of the proposed law, with many groups claiming it would just give the banks even more control over people’s money.
One Nation has already spoken out against the bill, with Senator Pauline Hanson saying the Government is trying to “manipulate” everyday Australians.
“Effectively, if you are a person who keeps cash and uses it to buy a new small car, for example, you will face the real threat of two years in jail and a fine that would likely exceed the value of the vehicle,” Ms Hanson wrote on Facebook.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party has said they will oppose the bill.
“The Government claims the legislation is to combat the ‘Black Economy’, but the truth is, it’s legislation the Government hopes will stimulate the Australian economy.”
She branded the bill a “social experiment” that would try and use Australians’ money to correct the market.
“Flushing ‘Mattress Money’ out of the shadows and back into bank accounts will leave deposits vulnerable to negative interest rates, prompting those with savings to spend the cash on investments or consumption items,” she said.
One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts backed up this stance, saying cash is “legal tender” and Australians should be allowed to use it as they please.
In a submission to the draft bill, major accounting body CPA Australia called for the legislation to be withdrawn.
Head of CPA Australia, Dr Gary Pflugrath, agreed there needed to be a crackdown on the black economy but said linking criminal activity to all large cash transactions was “a step too far”.
There are concerns the legislation will just give more power to the major banks.
“This legislation is attempting to deal with a symptom, not the cause, of the black economy. While the use of cash in a large transaction may be an indicator of risk, it does not prove by itself that the behaviour is criminal,” Dr Pflugrath said.
“The presumption that only tax evaders, money launderers and criminals use cash, and the mindset that these new offences are required to address criminality, has resulted in a proposed bill and instrument that run counter to well-established criminal law principles and have the potential to affect many Australians.
“The focus on criminalising certain cash transactions is an extreme response to the problem of avoiding scrutiny.”
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has also come out against the ban on cash, saying it will do “little to nothing” to fight black market activity.
“Cash is legal tender and its value must be protected, not undermined,” ACCI said in a 2018 submission to Treasury.