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Wednesday, 23 May 1973
Page: 2500

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) (Treasurer) - 1 move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill proposes amendments to the appeals provisions of the income tax law to transfer to the State Supreme Courts the jurisdiction of single justices of the High Court in income tax appeals. This is intended as an interim measure pending the establishment of the proposed Superior Court. There is a pressing need to relieve the High Court, so far as possible, of the single justice work. Some of this work derives directly from the Constitution and cannot be removed from the jurisdiction of the High Court. Other parts of that jurisdiction derive from Commonwealth statutes and may be removed by amendment of the statutes. By far the greater volume of work presented in the single justice jurisdiction of the High Court consists of income tax appeals, either appeals brought directly from a Commissioner's decision or from a decision of a board of review.

Under the Income Tax Assessment Act a taxpayer, if dissatisfied with a decision of the

Commissioner, may request a reference of the matter to a board of review or to the High Court or to the Supreme Court of a State as an appeal. It is proposed that in future a taxpayer's choice will lie between a board of review and a single Judge of a State Supreme Court. Similarly, where the present law allows the Commissioner or a taxpayer to appeal to the High Court from a decision of a board of review involving a question of law, it is proposed that the right of appeal shall lie to a single Judge of a State Supreme Court. References by a board of review to the High Court on a question of law arising before the board will, in future be to a single Judge of a State Supreme Court.

The amendments provide that where a taxpayer has gone to a board of review and on appeal to a State Supreme Court, or where a board has referred a question of law to a Supreme Court, the matter may, with the leave of the High Court, be taken on appeal to the Full High Court. Where a taxpayer requests the Commissioner to treat his objection as an appeal and the matter is, under the proposed amendments, decided by a State Supreme Court the present law gives the taxpayer or the Commissioner the right of appeal - without leave - to the High Court in its appelate jurisdiction. This will remain unchanged. The amendments also provide for certain procedural and transitional arrangements. Principally, these will permit the High Court to remit to a Supreme Court any of the single justice income tax matters which have come to it under the present law. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser) adjourned.

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