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Tuesday, 17 March 1987
Page: 929


Mr SPENDER —by leave-I accept, of course, that that is the explanation which has been given to the Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen). But the Commissioner of Taxation has a statutory duty, and that duty is this: When a taxpayer is dissatisfied with a decision made by the Commissioner and serves a request on the Commissioner to refer the matter either to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or to a State supreme court, the Commissioner then has a statutory duty to comply with that request. It is not for the Commissioner to determine what cases he will seek to give priority to and what cases he will not seek to give priority to. He has an obligation which applies generally to any request made by any citizen or any other taxpayer. If priorities need to be laid down, that may be something that should be approached by amending the existing legislation. But it is not for the Commissioner to say what cases will go forward and what cases will not go forward.

I have heard complaints from practitioners about the speed with which the Commissioner deals with requests that matters be referred. I refer to my own experiences years ago when I was practising when, if I recall, I had to threaten the Commissioner with a mandamus, directing him to refer a matter, before I was able to get the matter referred on behalf of a client. Whilst I accept entirely the explanation given to the Attorney-General, the plain fact is that the law requires the Commissioner to discharge his duties in accordance with what the law says, not in accordance with notions that he may have as to what should be given priority and what should not be given priority.

Amendments agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report-by leave-adopted.