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Wednesday, 20 May 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - The explanation offered by the Minister does not meet my objection. The organization, which I have in mind, has two spheres of operation. One brings it properly under the definition of a religious body; but it is also a huge trading concern, and, in my opinion, should not, on that phase of its operations, be exempt from tax. On more than one occasion the Labour party has been requested to take up this matter by the unions of employees who are engaged in similar occupations in private industry. By reason of its religious appeal to the public, this particular organization is not competing fairly with private enterprise. It markets articles which have to be manufactured and placed in containers. From time to time in my letter box I have found propaganda directing my attention to the advantages of the products made by this organization and informing me that if I present myself at the local store with the enclosed coupon, I shall be given two boxes of that product for the price of one. The employees of other firms complain that owing to this unfair competition their output is being reduced. The appeal of this organization is to the religious feelings of the community. For example, a certain organization of a properly religious character and entitled to recognition as such, engages extensively in laundry work. It takes, into its laundries women who are unfortunate in more senses than one and gives them a means of livelihood. Making a canvass of the shipping companies, its representatives point out what charitable rescue work it is doing and as a result, obtain their laundry work. Its competitors in private enterprise, however, lose a considerable amount of business through these tactics. I emphasize that the organization does not pay award wages and is not subject to the same overhead costs as the private concerns; but it has a religious appeal to the public which no commercial competitor can have. I have in mind more than one organization ; they are not confined to the Seventh Day Adventists', the Anglicans, or the Roman Catholics. One of them, can be rightly claimed to be religious in its activities; what it does with its profits is no concern of the national Parliament. The point to be borne in mind is that it makes profits like private industry; it is competing unfairly with commercial enterprise. What prospect lias any business man of competing successfully against the Salvation Army? J! fail to understand why it should be exempt from taxation in "regard to its trading departments.

Senator Dein - The Salvation Army does not trade at all.

Senator COLLINGS - Nonsense. It engages in laundry work, and in the manufacture of uniforms, and a hundred and one other things are produced on a wholesale scale by its subsidiary institutions. The competition is most unequal. If the department has a definition of what is a religious, a charitable, or a scientific organization, I desire to know it. I could collect in a very short time a number of cranks who would be able to convince the Taxation Department that they were scientists. If the Commissioner of Taxation happened, to sympathize with their activities, probably they would obtain exemption from income tax on any profits they might make. This morning I stated that the Opposition believes in the income tax as the fairest form of tax, and the possibilities of escape from it should be reduced to a minimum.

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