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Tuesday, 29 September 1942

Mr HOLT (Fawkner) .- The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner) has made a very good explanation on behalf of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley). I am not challenging his exposition. Unfortunately, however, the general run of charitable donors have not the same intimate knowledge of taxation laws as the Treasurer and the honorable member may have. In the past, the position has been quite clear to them. When they made a donation for charitable purposes, they could deduct the item when making up their income tax returns. Henceforth, however, the amount rebated as a benefit to them after the deduction has been made, will be indeterminate from their point of view. That is a factor which, in the mind of a man who is trying to decide what he shall do with money that he has available for charitable disposition or some other purpose, may sway him from the decision to give it to charity to a decision to make some other disposition that may not be in the same degree in the general public interest. I press that point upon the Treasurer. I recognize that perhaps I do so without much hope of success. For the amount of revenue involved, this step is not worth while, because in its consequences it may be opposed to rather than in the public interest. The Treasurer has intimated that he will grant an interview in Melbourne to repre sentatives of some of the big charitable institutions. I did not know that they were to be confined to Victoria. It happens that, as the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has pointed cut, those of us who come from that State have had widespread representations made to us in this connexion. In my electorate, the Alfred Hospital, the Blind Institution, the Braille Institute, and others have brought to my notice their very real concern as to the effects which this amendment will have. I hope that the Treasurer will attend the conference in a receptive frame of mind, determined to hear the cases that these institutions are able to place before him ; that he will go there, not merely to lay down the law to them, but to explain the exact position and at the same time to see whether that position represents, in their view, very real cause for concern in the future. It is his responsibility to see that this amendment, which may be designed to assist the finances of the Treasury, does not at the same time weaken the position of our major charitable institutions, which are doing such valuable public service.

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