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Wednesday, 20 May 1936

Senator GUTHRIE - I do not think that any one said or even suggested that it was a commercial organization.

Senator Collings - I did not say anything of the sort. All I asked for was the insertion of a definition to prevent fraud.

Senator ARKINS - When the Leader of the Opposition was speaking, Senator Dein, who sits on my left, and Senator Herbert Hays, immediately took him to task for his unfair references to the Salvation Army. Senator Leckie has told us of the agitation that has been in progress for several years to alter the taxation law in its relation to charitable and religious bodies which engage in commercial undertakings. In New South Wales the members of certain organizations are continually on the doorsteps of members of Parliament, asking for protection in their businesses against the competition of semi-religious organizations, but whenever taxation legislation is under review the references to these organizations are clouded in mystery. Apparently no one is willing to say more than that some charitable or religious organizations - no names are mentioned - are engaged in business, and because they escape taxation, are competing unfairly with businesses privately controlled. If there is anything in the allegation that such bodies are using the cloak of Christianity to make profits without paying taxation, it is about time that legislation was framed to check them. In fact I would go further and say that they should be closed up altogether.

Senator Collings - Would the honorable senator agree to the inclusion of a protective definition in the bill?

Senator ARKINS - Yes.

Senator Collings - That is all I am asking the committee to do.

Senator ARKINS - The inclusion of a definition of the nature suggested by the Leader of the Opposition may be justifiable. This matter has engaged the attention of. Commonwealth and State legislators for some considerable time, and I commend the suggestion to the Minister in the hope that, if it is adopted, we shall know where we stand with these so-called religious business concerns if, as has been stated, they are competing unfairly with private business firms.

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