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Tuesday, 29 August 1972
Page: 757

Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) - I ask the Treasurer: Has it been drawn to his attention that a question was asked of the Minister for

Works in the Senate in which the questioner wanted to know whether a large firm of Sydney stockbrokers had made $2.5m from what is called a bond washing operation; that the firm had been notified that the sum would be assessed for taxation; that one of the directors had telephoned the Prime Minister's office for an appointment; and that subsequently the firm was informed that the sum would not be assessed? Did the Treasurer write a letter to the senator concerned saying that the assessment had been made by the Commissioner of Taxation but that no information could be given about it? I now ask the Treasurer: Why was the assessment made by the Commissioner of Taxation, and does he propose to leave it at that?

Mr SNEDDEN - By statute the Commissioner of Taxation is an independent officer. I believe that he ought to be an independent officer; and I think that he ought to fear nothing, or hold out hope of favour in the execution of his duties. The Commissioner of Taxation, Sir Edward Cain, is a man held in the very highest esteem and regard by all members of this House and by the public generally. I believe the honourable gentleman does not imply anything to the contrary in his question, but I think it is important that it be made clear so that anybody who may have listened in to the question would not have that thought in his mind.

I have no knowledge of the taxation affairs of the particular people who were named by the senator in the question which he asked in the Senate. I tabled an answer which I wrote on information provided to me by the Commissioner of Taxation. I have been informed by the Commissioner of Taxation not only that he did not have any pressure put on him but also that he did not even have any representations of any kind from the Prime Minister. The important thing which should be made clear here is that in an attempt to do some damage either to the man concerned - the taxpayer - or to the Prime Minister, it inevitably means that there is an attack upon the probity of the Commissioner of Taxation. I can assure honourable members from my knowledge of the Commissioner of Taxation - and I am sure they will acknowledge it - that anybody trying to put pressure on him would get a very sharp riposte. He has had none put on him and he has not had representations from the Prime Minister.

Mr McMahon - Mr Speaker, can I complete this answer because it relates to me as well?

Mr SPEAKER -Is the Leader of the Opposition agreeable to that?

Mr Whitlam - Yes.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition has agreed to it.

Mr McMAHON - I was asked whether I would see Mr Dowling, and I was not at that time certain of the substance of the question or the proposal to be put to me. I delayed for some time and when I came round to examining it on the next occasion I was informed that the matter had been resolved. I did not see Mr Dowling nor did I hear any more from him.

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