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Wednesday, 25 November 1959

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HigginsTreasurer) . - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to amend the Taxation Administration Act 1953-1957 to create another statutory office of Second Commissioner of Taxation with powers and functions corresponding with those now vested in the single statutory office of Second Commissioner. The administration of the taxation laws of the Commonwealth, other than laws relating to customs and excise, is at present vested in a Commissioner of Taxation assisted by a second commissioner. Subject to some exceptions which are not material for present purposes, the second commissioner exercises all the powers and functions of the commissioner.

The administration of the taxing laws bv a commissioner and one second commissioner has continued, without substantial alteration, since 1916, despite the heavily increased responsibilities arising from additional taxes, such as sales tax, and the broadened field of income tax under the uniform system introduced in 1942. Experience over all these years, and more particularly in recent years, has amply demonstrated that the full discharge of the duties and responsibilities of administration is beyond the compass of a commissioner and second commissioner. Administration has been accomplished by delegating authority to assistant commissioners, directors and deputy commissioners to undertake duties and functions that normally would have been performed by statutory officers. Many other duties, such as regular visits to the States for discussions and inspections, have necessarily been curtailed, whilst attention to forward planning and development has had to be neglected in all but the bare essentials.

The Government considers that relief for this situation must be found and believes that this relief will be achieved if immediate steps are taken to create another statutory office of Second Commissioner. To this end, it is proposed that the Taxation Administration Act be appropriately amended to provide the additional statutory office required. I commend the bill to honorable members.

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