Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Richard Bruton, who is this week leading a trade mission to Australia, has been accused by a tax lobby group of "hypocrisy" over Ireland's tax rules, after telling Australian media that the government supports international moves to quell aggressive corporate tax avoidance.
The issue of the use of Ireland as a corporation tax avoidance conduit by multinationals is a controversial political topic in Australia. It emerged earlier this year that Apple has used its Irish operations to account for AUS$9 billion (€6.5 billion) of sales in Australia over the last decade.
When pressed on the issue by local reporters this week, Mr Bruton said Ireland would not be pushed into raising its corporate tax rate.
"The issue with Google and Apple is: how do you price and identify and tax digital matters? All tax codes have to change to deal with this. It's not an Irish issue, it's not a Dutch issue, it's an international problem," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Ireland has a tax regime that is clear and transparent. We're fully supportive of the rules Australia, through the G20, is seeking to introduce."
Mark Zirnsak, secretary of the Tax Justice Network in Australia, reportedly told the same newspaper: "It's hypocrisy [for Ireland] to say, on the one hand, we need international co-operation, but on the other hand to help companies artificially funnel their profits."
Several Irish firms have announced deals on the trade mission. Lincor Solutions, a healthcare technology company, yesterday announced a deal with Hill Health Solutions, who will distribute Lincor's products in Australia.