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Wednesday, 20 May 1936

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- The Minister's explanation does not answer the objection which has been raised. Honorable senators know that organizations which claim to be religious bodies actually engage in trade, and, because of the exemption granted under this provision, obtain an advantage over their competitors. I have in mind an organization whose income runs into thousands of pounds a year. This organization is competing with local traders. It is true, I believe, that its profits are devoted to the maintenance oi missions and to other religious purposes, therefore it can legitimately claim that it has a religious standing. But when an organization, religious or otherwise, deliberately enters into business and competes with the ordinary trader, its profits should be subject to the same toll by the Taxation department as are the profits of the average business man. One of these religious bodies, to my knowledge, pays no taxation. An organization which makes thousands of pounds a year from its trading operations should pay the income tax. I assume that the Taxation Department takes pains to ensure that this particular institution expends its profits in a proper manner; nevertheless in exempting it from taxation, the department is doing an injustice to its competitors. If it were competing on fair lines I would raise no objection; but it pays no taxation, while its competitors are obliged to do so. The Minister should give to the committee some further assurance that institutions engaged in ordinary trading will not escape the taxation disabilities which are the lot of the private trader.

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