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Wednesday, 27 July 1921

Senator FAIRBAIRN (Victoria) . - The practice of nearly all Government Departments is to send officials to examine books. I had a dispute the other day with the Land Tax Commissioner with regard to the value of certain land,' and as he wasanxious to see my firm's books in order to ascertain what profit had been made, he sent two of his officers to inspect them, and make extracts from them. That is the most convenient way of dealing with the matter.

Senator Russell - And it is the usual practice.

Senator FAIRBAIRN - Then, why retain this extra power ?

Senator Russell - It is the policeman.

Senator FAIRBAIRN - I know that the Government always keep power over the individual. But I would like to see the individual have some power left to him. I know that most Government, officers are perfectly reasonable, but now and again one comes up against an officer who is not reasonable, and gives as much trouble as he can. I want the business community to have some safeguard against such a man. To give the Government the tremendous powers so often given them on the assumption that they will be wisely exercised is not a conciliatory way of conducting affairs. It is a serious matter for the manufacturer to part with his books. How is he to know that they will be properly looked after, or that all kinds of secrets may not be disclosed by the person who has them in his custody ?

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