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Friday, 22 July 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - No one can read the annual report of the Commissioner of Taxation without- realizing the force of what Senator Pratten has had tosay about his staff. I take it that one of the matters to which the Public Service Board will have to give its attention is that raised in the, in some respects, rather alarming report of the Taxation Commissioner. The Commissioner has been losing some of the most experienced officers of his staff, and he rightly complains that a very large number of temporary officers in his branch are dealing with highly confidential matters. The Government believe that the PublicService Board will realize the seriousness of the position, and will be able to suggest alterations which will lead to improvement.

I would remind honorable senators that in the Public Service Bill we are proposing that the Commissioner of Taxation shall be given the power of a permanent head in order that he may be able to deal more directly with his own staff.

In regard to the taxation of bonus shares, Senator Pratten has said that he does not expect me to do any more than refer his remarks to the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook). That I will do. I know that the matter to which the honorable senator has referred is at the present moment the subject of consideration between the Commissioner of Taxation and our legal authorities.

With regard to the item under the heading of "Miscellaneous," to which reference has been made, the vote covers payments to the institutions and not to the inmates of those institutions. The matters raised by the honorable senator are receiving the attention of the Treasurer, and his remarks will be brought under that right honorable gentleman's notice.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Attorney- General's Department, proposed vote, £13,415, agreed to.

Home and Territories Department.

Proposed vote, £87,503.

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