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Friday, 22 May 1936

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- The Minister (Senator A. J. McLachlan) appears to have a misconception of the members of such organizations as chambers of manufactures and chambers of commerce. Certainly members of chambers of commerce are the commercial leaders in their particular communities, but all of them are not big fellows, or representatives of big fellows only. Amongst the 2,300 members of the Melbourne Chamber of Manufactures there are many who employ as few as two or three hands, and I have no doubt a similar state of affairs exists in the Sydney chamber.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The chamber employs an expert on taxation to advise its members.

Senator LECKIE - No. Certainly some big firms employ experts, but, the small men who are members of the chamber cannot afford to do so.

Occasionally, when taxation matters of a complex nature arise for the smaller men, the chamber arranges a conference at which these matters are discussed, and such members are given the benefit of expert advice secured by the chamber: The point I emphasize, however, is that organizations of this nature do not represent solely big men; they include among their members many small men, who are not well informed on taxation matters. I point out that when this Governmentproposes to deal with problems confronting primary industry it displays a willingness to confer with organizations representative of primary industry, such as the "Wool Council, or Butter Council, and it accepts the advice of these bodies; but when dealing with matters directly affecting commercial men the organizations representative of commerce appear to be suspect, and the Government never approaches them for advice, nor does it take any advice which they volunteer. I suggest that when dealing with commercial problems, the Government should confer with organizations representative of the commercial man before it frames its proposals.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Experts in every State who have nothing to do with the taxation departments were consulted on every provision of this bill.

Senator LECKIE - That may be so, but on the other hand we have heard the opinion of experts who disagree with some of the provisions of the bill. These experts have pointed out certain difficulties which they believe would arise under certain clauses. I sympathize with Senator Duncan-Hughes iu this matter. The Senate did not ask very much from the House of Representatives. It appears generally that Senate amendments receive but scanty consideration from the Ministry. I again refute the statement that members of chambers of commerce and chambers of manufactures are big fellows; some of them are engaged in commerce on a very small scale indeed, and not a few of them are earning much less to-day than the average artisan on wages.

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