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Tuesday, 13 December 1927


Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia) . - If the honorable senator will study the proposed new section he will see that sub-section 4 provides that a taxpayer who is dissatisfied with the decision of the commissioner may, within 30 days after the service by post of notice of that decision -

(a)   in writing, request the commissioner to refer the decision to a valuation board for review of the value assigned to land in his assessment; or

(b)   in writing, request the commissioner to treat his objection as an appeal, and to forward it to the High Court, or, where the land dealt with in the assessment is situated wholly within one State, to the High Court or Supreme Court of that State.

The word " or " is used between paragraphs a and b. At present a dissatisfied taxpayer can either appeal to the board or to the Supreme Court of a State or to the High Court; but the Leader of the Opposition is apparently under the impression that he may do both. There is, as I stated earlier, one stage at which a taxpayer has two strings to his bow, but in this instance he must take one of two courses. The reason for providing an alternative is obvious. When the value of broad acres or agricultural land with very few improvements is in dispute a taxpayer would promptly appeal to a valuation board, from which he would get a decision by men experienced in land values and productivity, but if legal technicalities were involved he would go to the Supreme Court of a State or to the High Court. Sub-section 6 of proposed new section 44l provides that -

The taxpayer may, within 30 days after the date of the board's decision, request the commissioner, in writing, to treat' his objection, so far as it relates to grounds not dealt with by the hoard, as an appeal and forward it to the High Court.

Numerous complications are likely to arise- in calculating a taxpayer's interest in a primary or secondary industry. The difficulties such as would not be dealt with by a valuation board which, as its name indicates, will determine the value of land. To meet other cases these words are included - . . or, where the land dealt with in the assessment is situated wholly within one State, to the High Court or the Supreme Court of that State.

Sub-section 7 provides that -

The commissioner or taxpayer may, within 30 days after the date of the board's decision, appeal to the High Court from any decision of the board under this section which, in the opinion of the High Court, involves a question of law, and the board shall refer to the High Court any question of law arising 'before the board and the decision of the High Court thereon shall be final and conclusive.

That appears to meet the objection raised by the Leader of the Opposition. If a taxpayer is dissatisfied with the commissioner's decision, he may go before the Valuation Board, or the Supreme Court of a State, or the High Court. If he goes to a Supreme Court or the High Court his appeal is finally dealt with. As a number of taxpayers would prefer 'that their case be determined by a Valuation Board provision has been made in tr.at direction. There are constitutional dif Acuities in the way of clothing the board with judicial authority. V aluation boards are to be appointed to decide land values in' dispute and legal questions are to be settled in the Supreme Court of a State vested with jurisdiction, or the High Court, which carries our jurisdiction.







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