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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr SPOONER (Robertson) .- I do not know whether this clause is similar- to a section which is contained in the Commonwealth Bank Act.

Mr Beasley - It is.

Mr SPOONER - Some States have enacted rating exemption legislation. In New South Wales, government and semigovernment authorities are exempt from rates in respect of properties which they own, and similar laws have been effective in other States for some years. The object of this is to avoid the necessity for paying money, so to speak, from a government pocket into a semigovernment pocket. I do not believe that this clause is quite on all fours with the corresponding section of the Commonwealth Bank Act. I know why the Commonwealth Bank makes ex gratia payments to municipalities. It is a trading concern in a deeper sense than the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It owns property in many parts of Australia, and it is the banker for many shires and municipalities. In New South Wales, at all events, it conducts more banking business for shires and municipalities than does any other bank, and it conducts the banking business of a number of semi-government authorities, like the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board. The bank considers that it should not accept that benefit without making a contribution, as any ratepayer would do, to the revenues of the shires and municipalities. Therefore, it makes ex gratia payments equal to the rates that would be assessed if it were liable for rates. The committee will have to leave this matter to the judgment of the commission.

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