COMMONWEALTH INSTRUMENTALITIES WHETHER INCLUDE DEFENCE FORCE MESSES AND PRIVATE VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATION ENCOURAGED BY COMMONWEALTH GRANT : EXTENT OF IMMUNITY FROM STATE TAXATION
THE REGISTRATION OF CLUBS ACT OF 1904 (QLD)
The Secretary, Department of Defence asks for advice on the question raised in the following extracts from a letter, Acting Commandant Q. to D.Q.M.G.:
With reference to an Act to amend the Laws relating to the Sale of Intoxicating Liquor, dated 4 Edward VII, No. 10(1), copy of which is attached herewith, I am informed that the Officers' Mess, R.A.A. (averaging two (2) dining members), the Canteen, R.A.A., the Sergeants' Mess, and the United Service Institution, all at Brisbane, are liable to a tax of £ 15 each as clubs, and that the Canteen and United Service Institution will, in addition, have to pay £. 10 per annum, as a licence for their billiard tables. That the Act will apply also to the Detachment Canteen at Townsville, and to the Officers' Mess, Sergeants' Mess, and Canteen, at Thursday Island, and, moreover, that all of these Institutions will be liable to periodical, and unexpected, visits by police and licensing officers. I am in doubt as to whether the State Government have the power to tax these Institutions, and will be glad if the matter may be referred for the opinion of the Attorney-General.
The United Service Institution receives a Federal grant, and is otherwise maintained by the annual subscriptions of officers of the Commonwealth Naval and Military Forces of Queensland. Its object is, generally, an instructional one, though refreshments are sold to members only, under rules which are approved by the Naval and Military Commandants.
In my opinion, the Act mentioned cannot be construed to extend to officers' or sergeants' messes, or to canteens-and if so construed would to that extent be ultra vires-inasmuch as the messes and canteens are instrumentalities of the Commonwealth Government. See Regulations and Orders for Military Forces, Part VI, paragraphs 173 etc. As regards the United Service Institution, the facts are not sufficiently stated to enable me to advise definitely. The Constitution and Rules of the Institution should be forwarded. But assuming that the Institution is a private and voluntary association-though encouraged by an official grant-I should be inclined to think that it would not be exempt from State control.
[Vol. 4, p. 435]
(1)The Registration of Clubs Act of 1904(Qld).