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Wednesday, 6 August 1930

Senator DALY (South AustraliaVicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Sir George Pearce) keeps harping on this question of law. The section to which the right honorable senator has drawn attention gives the High Court the right to grant an appeal to any taxpayer ona question of law. The right honorable senator says that the court cannot decide on the facts, but in proper cases the High Court can give leave to appeal on the facts. It did so in Gordon's case.

Senator McLachlan - That was. a case of an appeal against the assessment.

Senator DALY - Exactly. I agree with the right honorable senator that the High Court is not going into every question of fact in respect to every assessment made by the Commissioner of Taxation. But it is for the court to decide whether on the facts the case is of sufficient magni tude to be heard by it. For instance, it may be shown that the Commissioner in the course of his investigation has done something contrary to the law. Surely it is not desired that every disgruntled taxpayer should have the right to waste the time of the High. Court on appeals when there is no question of law arising in connexion with an assessment.

Senator Sir Geobge Pearce - Right through the act, the words occur "if in the opinion of the Commissioner."

Senator DALY - If, in the exercise of that discretion which is reposed in him, the Commissioner does something which it can be shown to the High Court is a wrongful exercise of his power, it becomes a question of law. The admission or rejection of any particular evidence which may be necessary to enable the Commissioner to arrive at a particular decision is a question of law or may he so in the opinion of the High Court. The facts would be considered first and the judgment given upon the facts, plus the inferences. The Gordon case involved questions of fact. The High Court should be in a position to refuse to hear frivolous appeals. It was never intended that it should be open to any disgruntled taxpayer who might not be satisfied with the assessment or the mathematical accuracy of the formula adopted by the Commissioner. That should be a matter for the Board of Review. The statement submitted by the Sydney Chamber of Commerce does not in any way reflect on the Board of Review. What has happened since the board was established to cause honorable senators who, at that time, favoured the scheme to object to it now? Are they simply objecting to it because it has been brought forward by this Government ?

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