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Wednesday, 2 November 1910

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I do not see that in this clause any injustice is done. The Board will be composed of men who occupy the highest positions in the Public Service, which they only attained by reason of their trustworthiness and merit. Senator McColl has stated that the provision will humiliate a man who is in difficulties. Is it not far better that his affairs should be submitted confidentially to three men of that kind?

Senator McColl - Not confidentially, because they can be brought before Parliament.

Senator McGREGOR - Only a report can be brought before Parliament.

Senator McColl - No; a full statement of a man's affairs.

Senator McGREGOR - Even if it were brought before an outsider, the incident would have to be reported to Parliament, together with so many particulars as might be deemed necessary. But why is it necessary that it should be referred to Parliament at all? It is to prevent the thing which honorable senators on the opposite side wish to avoid, and that is collusion between a taxpayer who would desire to be fraudulent and the Board. We do not want anything of that kind to occur, and therefore provision is made for the presentation of a report to Parliament so that it may keep its eye on its officers, and see that everything is done in a straightforward and honest manner. With respect to the question of humiliation, there are many men who have become insolvent, and have been placed in very difficult positions, through circumstances over which they had no control. It is only in such cases that the Board can act, and it will be no disgrace to a man if he has been unfortunate in such circumstances. It will be the right of a taxpayer who finds himself in difficulties, caused by misfortune over which he had no control, to appeal to the Board for the purpose of getting a release from the whole or part of his tax. There is nothing wrong in the provision. I am sure that I should have far more faith in a Board composed of three public servants than in any outside persons who might be appointed.

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