CANBERRA: Australians could face two-year jail sentences and fines of up to $25,200 under proposed laws that limit the use of cash to $10,000.
Many groups are opposing the move saying it will create an Orwellian state by giving authorities greater control over people’s finances.
A number of stakeholders have called on the Federal Government to withdraw the proposed laws, which were first announced in the 2018-19 budget as part of measures to fight the so-called black economy.
The Government’s Black Economy Taskforce had argued a $10,000 cash limit for transactions between businesses and individuals would help fight the cash economy by stamping out tax evasion, money laundering and other crimes.
But some groups fear the laws could give the banks, which have faced much scrutiny under the banking royal commission, too much control over people’s money.
The laws would apply to all payments made to businesses with an ABN for goods or services, affecting major purchases like cars, boats, housing and building renovations.
The Government has said the measure would not apply to individual-to-individual transactions, such as private sales where the seller does not have an ABN, or cash payments to financial institutions.
The laws, if passed, would take force on January 1, 2020, and for certain AUSTRAC reporting entities from January 1, 2021.
But One Nation has already indicated it would vote against the Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill.
If the new laws are passed, penalties for those exchanging more than $10,000 in cash would apply to both parties to the transaction — the payer and the receiving business.
Senator Pauline Hanson said on her Facebook page the party was against the bill.
“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 said in the Facebook post.