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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) . - There is one matter in connection with this Bill on which I would like to make an observation for the consideration of the Government. It arises from the incidental reference to the constitution of Tax Agents Boards. Time has not permitted me to make even a casual examination of this matter since the Bill was introduced last Friday, but there are various matters, with regard to these Boards, that concern me. First, I think that a board such as this should not be under the control of the Commissioner of Taxation. I think that a board that has authority to register or deregister tax agents should be an independent authority. If that jursdiction is placed in the hands of the Commissioner of Taxation it could make too subservient to him the people he approves for registration and it could sap the independence of those whose registration he threatens not to approve.

I am not standing here in defence of any dishonest or unreliable tax agent of whom it can be proved that he has not the quality of integrity to officiate as a tax agent. I submit that the principle is wholly wrong. Tax agents upon whom the public has to rely and who should be able to discharge their duties most independently exclusively in the interests of the public, should be in no sense be beholden to the Commissioner of Taxation for approval of registration. The authority to approve of their integrity should be in the hands of an independent authority.

The other point which I wish to raise is that the Commissioner must go to a lot of useless expense. Every year I, as a tax agent, get an inquiry: "Do you want to renew your registration as a tax agent?" It is just a question of filling in a form. These people must have a surplus of time in order to be able to send out these queries year after year. If you do not send back the form you get a reminder and then a further reminder. It seems to me that registration should be for a period of three or five years and not for one year only.

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