A total of 2,659 submissions were received by the committee during the course of the inquiry into the Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019, which it assured will be referenced and discussed in the inquiry report.
Ahead of the report’s delivery date, the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance has opined that any restriction on cash is an attack on economic freedom.
“Australians should be allowed to make legal purchases with the legal tender of their choice instead of being forced onto the banking system,” the ATA said, urging the Senate to “listen to the voice of the people”.
“A $10,000 restriction on the use of cash would harm small businesses, give more power to corporate banks and would fail to restrict any criminal activities.
“Many Australians still use cash and wish to continue using this legal tender for their privacy and security. Banks and electronic payment methods are not always reliable. Look at the bushfire crisis and the thousands of Australians forced to use cash during a natural disaster.”
The bill, which proposes to outlaw payments between individuals and businesses of more than $10,000 and introduce penalties of up to two years of imprisonment, as well as a $25,200 fine, is currently before the Senate and was slated to come into effect from 1 January.
While the government has argued that this is a necessary measure to level the playing field for businesses by curbing the black economy, the small business ombudsman has expressed concern that the bill could actually disadvantage businesses where a customer chooses to pay with cash and the record keeping is compliant.
“In circumstances where payment by credit or debit card attracts transaction fees and charges, the consumer may not want to use that form of tender. Or where the consumer’s daily funds transfer limit, or overall credit limit, is less than the amount due (say, for travel costs) and the consumer deposits cash directly to the business’s bank account,” Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said in a statement late last year.
“Such a scenario will expose the small business owner to the mental element offence of recklessness and a potential custodial sentence.”
Ms Carnell also warned of the dangers for regional and remote small businesses and pastoral family enterprises in rural Australia that do not have reliable access to the internet and electronic banking facilities.
She said at the time that the government owes a duty to the population to ensure a comprehensive media campaign is undertaken before implementation.