4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 8 p.m. on Tuesday next.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. During a discussion in this House on Friday last, I stated that the honorable member for Bendigo, as a Minister of the Crown, had done certain things which he complained that a member of the present Government had done. I made that statement in good faith, believing that my authority was unimpeachable. I find, upon further inquiry, however, that the statement was not correct. I therefore take this opportunity of withdrawing it and of saying at once that the attitude adopted by the honorable member on Friday was in no way inconsistent with his action as a Minister. I regret the statement, and apologize for having made it.
– I thank the honorable member for Bourke for the complete and honorable manner in which he has corrected . 1 mistake which, perhaps, may be readily accounted for. I appreciate the withdrawal all the more since it has been spontaneously made.
Vancouver Mail Service - Semiofficial Post Offices : Municipal Councils and Half -holidays: - Nonofficial Offices : Scale of Allowances - Painters’ Wages - Instrument Fitters’ Pay - Eight Hours Day Lottery.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether -
In view of the delay and inconvenience caused at present by the fact that the Vancouver Mail steamers leave Australian ports a few days prior to the arrival of the steamers from Vancouver, and the manifest advantage it would be to the mercantile community if the steamers left Australia a few days after the arrival of the incoming mail, will he inquire as to the possibility of this advantageous alteration in the sailings of the steamers being arranged?
– I shall be very pleased to make inquiries on the lines suggested by the honorable member, but would point out that since we have entered into a contract with the company we cannot make any alteration without its consent.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral an article appearing in the Hobart Daily Post of 27th instant, headed “ Post Office Sweating,” and in which the following paragraph appeared -
In the above case the Deputy PostmasterGeneral at Hobart stated, in reply to a request for two hours off, from 5 to 7, that “ if the sanction of the municipal council were obtained, he would not object.”
I desire to ask the honorable gentleman whether it is usual for the Department to seek the sanction of members of a municipal council before any alteration in the hours of postal employes is made?
– I take it that the reference is made to a semi-official post office. It is the custom of the Department to notify the local municipal council or progress committee of a . proposal to grant a half-holiday in connexion with such offices, and to endeavour to ascertain from them the day most likely to suit the convenience of the district. If they suggest a certain day as the most suitable on which to have a half-holiday we adopt their recommendation, but if they report that no halfholiday should be given we carry out our original intention irrespective of their wishes.
– A few days ago I asked the Postmaster-General whether he would furnish the House with information as to the allowances made in the case of non-official post-offices. I desire to know whether the information is yet available?
– Later in the day I shall lay upon the table of the House a statement showing the full scale of allowances. I intend to have a number of copies printed, and twenty or thirty forwarded to each honorable member, so that he may send one to any person who complains that he is not receiving the full allowance.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Does his Department intend to pay the painters temporarily employed the minimum rate of wage determined by the Wages Board of Victoria, to come into operation on the 1st October?
– The following intimation was issued on 10th instant to all Deputy Postmasters-General regarding pay ment to artisans and mechanics casually or” temporarily employed, viz. : -
With reference to the casual’ employment of artisans and mechanics in the several Departments of the Public Service, it has been decided that employes, where engaged upon work coming within the scope of determinations issued by trades Boards constituted under Arbitration Acts, Factories Acts, or other similar legislation, shall be paid the rates fixed by the Boards, and be subject to the same working conditions and methods of payment as men employed outside the Service engaged in similar work.
This decision is also to operate in all future cases where the temporary services of artisans and mechanics are required.
Consequently the rate of wages determined by the Wages Board of Victoria will be paid to the temporary painters referred to.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Postmaster- ‘ General, upon notice -
What are the rates of pay of electric instrumentfitters in the Postal Departments of the several States of the Commonwealth?
– The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following information : -
The rates of pay provided for instrument fitters are as follow : -
Junior instrument-fitters (learners) - £60 to £110 per annum.
Instrument-fitters- £1 14 to£156 per annum.
Senior instrument-fitters. Grade VI. - £162 to £168 per annum.
Senior Instrument Fitters, Grade VII. - £174 to £180 per- annum.
Foreman instrument-fitters, Grade VIII. - £192 to £210 per annum.
Foreman instrument-fitters, Grade IX. - £216 to£228 per annum.
Foreman instrument-fitters, Grade X. - £234 to £240 per annum.
asked the Postmaster- General, upon notice -
If the Postal Department is imposing, in connexion with the Eight Hours’ Day lottery, the regulations that are in operation in connexion with Tattersall’s lottery?
– No. No evidence has been submitted to me to indicate that section 57 of the Post and Telegraph Act applies in this case.
– In reference to the Constitution Alteration Legislative Powers Bill which was read a first time in this House yesterday, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government intend by that Bill to give the Commonwealth control and jurisdiction over the licensing laws, auctioneers’ licences, hawking licences, work on wharfs, and allother matters connected with trade and commerce - buying and selling - within the States, as well as the civil and criminal law relating thereto. If that is their intention, I should like the honorable gentleman to intimate what powers will be left to the States in the event of such an amendment being agreed to.
– I think that the Bill states on its face what its object is’. It is not an attempt in any way to trench upon the powers of the States further than is necessary for the benefit of the whole of the people of Australia.
– In reply to a question as to whether it would be possible to arrange for the publication of rainfall records in different country centres, the Minister of Home Affairs stated recently that it was difficult to make suitable arrangements for the supply of telegraphic reports. He promised, however, to obtain a report on the subject, and to ascertain whether it was not possible to make a satisfactory arrangement between the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and the Meteorological Branch of his Department. I desire to know whether the report is yet available ?
– We are looking very carefully into the matter, but as the charges of the Telegraph Department are fairly high, I would suggest to the honorable member that he should consult the Postmaster-General.
– The honorable gentleman promised to obtain a report.
– I am dealing with the matter at the present time.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs state when the contour map of the Federal Capital, which he promised to have prepared on a reasonable scale, will be ready for distribution?
– It is ready.
– I ask the honorable gentleman whether he will cause copies to be distributed amongst honorable members?
– The map is ready, but I am not sure that it is yet to hand. Colonel Miller will be visiting the Capital Site this evening.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs consider the advisableness of causing to be prepared on a small scale a relief map of the Capital Site, either in clay,papier mache, or wax, so that we may see at once the contour of the country?
– The contour map to which the right honorable member for Swan has referred, is so splendidly drawn, that it will show in black and white all that the honorable member desires to see.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether, in view of the allegation that the introduction of British workmen to fill the places of German strikers at the engineering works in Berlin is causing fatal riots, and that British and American journalists have been attacked with swords by Berlin police, and, further, that if these allegations are true, international hatred, and possible war, later on, may result from the disturbance, the Minister of Defence will place on record the primary cause of the dispute as a guide for future action?
– I think the honorable member must recognise that the discussion of such a question might involve Australia in serious international complications. If there is any question relating to the disturbance, which the honorable member thinks that the Department of Defence can answer, I should like him to give notice of what he desires to know.
-Referring to the engineering strike now taking place in Berlin, and the alleged attack on an American journalist, Mr. Albert Shaw, by the Berlin police, can the Minister of
Home Affairs, as a former American citizen, state whether America is likely to be led into war with Germany as the result of the action of capitalists, who in time of industrial disputes seem to have no nationality-
– No love of Fatherland, and no patriotism.
– As I have had no opportunity yet of communicating either officially or unofficially with the German or American Government, and the question is a very delicate diplomatic one, I am not in a position to answer it directly. I can only say that, from my experience in America, I believe Germany will both apologize to America and pay a heavy indemnity to the families of the journalists to whom the honorable member refers.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The policy of the Government in regard to the coasting trade of Australia will be found set Out in Part VI. of the Navigation Bill.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 29th September, vide page 3992) :
Clause 33 - (1.) Joint owners of land shall be assessed and liable for land tax in accordance with the provisions of this section. (2.) The joint owners shall be jointly assessed and liable in respect of the land as if it were owned by a single person, without regard to their respective interests therein, and without taking into account any land owned by any one of them in severalty, or as joint owner with any other person. (3.) Each joint owner of land shall in addition be separately assessed and liable in respect of -
his individual interest in the land (as if he were the owner of a part of the land in proportion to his interest), together with
any other land owned by him in severalty, and
his individual interests in any other land. (4.) The joint owners in respect of their joint assessment shall be deemed to be the primary taxpayer, and each joint owner in respect of his separate assessment to be a secondary taxpayer; and from the lax payable, in respect of his interest in the land, by each jpint owner under the last preceding sub-section, there shall be deducted such amount (if any) as is necessary to prevent double taxation. (5.) If any of the joint owners is an absentee, the joint owners shall be assessed and liable jointly as if all of them were absentees; unless the interests of the absentees in the land are not more than two-fifths of the whole, in which case they shall be assessed and liable jointly as if none of them was an absentee ; but in any case any of them who is an absentee shall be separately assessed and liable, under this section, as an absentee.
.- This is an important clause, which raises the question of making tenants in common and partners in land, as well as joint tenants as they are generally understood in law - that is, joint tenants who have a right of survivorship - liable, not severally, but as if each were the owner of the lot. There is, of course, no double taxation. There seems to be an impression abroad that under this clause each pays a double tax, and I have a letter to that effect, but I am sure the Attorney-Generai will say that nothing of the sort is intended. The idea is that by making each owner, whether in severalty or not, a joint owner, under the definition, of the whole land, each would pay the rate prescribed as being payable upon the value of the whole land, rather than the lower rate which he would have to pay were he assessed as an owner in severalty. Honorable members will see how wide the definition of “ joint owners “ in clause 3 is. “ Joint owners “ means persons who own land jointly or in common, whether as partners or otherwise. True joint owners in law are those who own land with a right of survivorship. That is, if one dies, the land goes to the survivor. In the case, however, of tenants in common, although they have undivided interests, if one dies his share passes to his representatives, or according to the terms of his will. On an intestacy as regards true joint tenants the survivor takes the whole. The Attorney- General ought to confine his definition of joint tenants to those who have a right to survivorship, because, strictly speaking, they may be regarded as owners of the whole land, and it would not be at all unfair to make them liable for the higher rate for which all joint tenants under the definition in this Bill will be liable. I do not think that is against the principle of subdivision, because, although tenants in common may have an undivided interest, each owns the land separately from the other, and the value of the interest of each is absolutely known. It passes to his representatives on death * it is* attachable on bankruptcy by the liquidator as a separate estate, and it is assignable as a separate estate. Although there may be a use of the land in common, there is subdivision so far as rents and profits are concerned. They are absolutely distinct in every way, and I think it is a mistake to regard such owners, tenants in common, and partners, as liable for the full rate prescribed by the total value of the land, whereas, as a matter of fact, each individual is in reality an owner in severalty, but for the purposes of co-operation it may be that they come together and use the land jointly. For the purpose of testing the view of the Committee, I move -
That the word “The,” line 4, be left out.
If this is carried, I shall subsequently move to add after the word “ owners,” in the same line the words “ with the right of survivorship.” The effect will be to confine this sub-clause - which now regards each owner as the owner of the lot for the purposes of the higher rate - to the joint owners as the law understands them, that is, joint owners with a right of survivorship. Consequent amendments could then be made in the other sub-clauses. I think the suggestion is reasonable. It involves a - very substantial amendment of principle, and I hope the Government will consider it favorably. In South Australia, where joint owners pay in this way, a deduction is made from the valuation of each as an owner to the extent of the increased tax he pays, the owner having, merely for purposes of collection, paid the higher rate.
– The amendment is one to which I shall be reluctant to agree unless some distinctive principle is to be established by it, and convincing reason shown for it. In the New Zealand Act “joint owner” is defined in exactly the same terms as in this Bill, not as a joint owner with right of survivorship, but as a joint owner who holds land in common in any circumstances. Under that Act, even joint occupiers who are not related to one another in terms of law are brought under the heading of “ joint owner,” and later on in this Bill a joint occupier is treated in exactly the same way as a joint owner.
– I should have to move to alter that.
– I know; but I am pointing out to the honorable member that what we are aiming at is the splitting up of estates. Here are two or more persons owning or occupying land in common. That is a thing we do not desire. We desire that the land shall be held, not jointly, but in severalty. There may be ten or fifty joint owners. A company comes under the joint ownership clause, and nothing that does not attach itself to a company ought to attach itself to joint owners who are not a company. The honorable member for Angas proposes to limit ‘ ‘ joint owners “ in this clause to its technical legal meaning. The honorable member will see that under the New Zealand Act joint owners and joint occupiers are treated in exactly the same way as we propose, and the question of their legal status is immaterial. In the Victorian Bill the same thing is proposed. Therefore, the legal and technical definition, which is the narrower one, and which, as the honorable member says, limits the term to persons who have certain rights which do not terminate on the death of the others cannot be accepted here.
.I ask the Attorney-General to reconsider this clause, which has very wide consequences. These clauses, when read with the definition of “joint owner,” apply to every case of co-operative ownership, and every possible case of partnership ; and the trouble is that, as only one exemption is allowed, the aggregational principle results in very high rates of taxation. Such a provision can in general have no other effect than that of producing revenue.
– It has a tendency to prevent joint ownership being carried to excess.
– Under the clause, only one exemption is given. In the case of a large estate held in joint ownership by two or three persons, with the right of survivorship, there is practically one property, and there, the clause should probably apply, but it will also apply to every case of co-operative action.
– Certainly it will.
– And to that extent joint occupiers are penalized who own land in severalty but work or manage it jointly.
– There is the clear advantage of joint ownership, and they cannot have lower rates.
– I should be pleased to see some provision showing that a cooperative community or joint occupiers of a large piece of land do not come under this clause.
– I said that they gain the advantage of joint ownership.
– That is an advantage of the combination, but not an advantage given under this Bill. At present, if a cooperative community be formed-
– It is not a question of a co-operative community, but of a joint ownership.
– It is a question of the joint occupation of land, which may be held by trustees for the benefit of the cooperative community.
– Of course it may, and it may be a means of evading the tax !
– It may, or it may not.
– What the honorable member proposes would tax every company in the State on the lower rate.
– The honorable member is quite wrong ; a company is a legal entity which has rights of ownership, and is made a person under the Bill.
– Only for the purpose of fixing the liability on somebody.
– A company cannot be a joint owner by itself - it owns in its own right.
– The individuals are joint owners.
– The* individuals are shareholders in the company, and all land owned by a company is deemed to be held by the shareholders as joint owners.
– They are joint owners under this Bill.
– It is not shareholders of a company, but the persons who are covered as joint owners, we are discussing. The honorable member for Angas has drawn attention to a case in which three persons own a piece of land, ‘ with the right of survivorship, so that if A and B die the whole goes to C as his absolute property. Under such circumstances, the honorable member sees no objection to the application of the clause ; but he does object in a case where the parties are tenants in common, with no right of survivorship - in which each has his clearly defined individual interest.
– Each will pay on his share.
– That is just what each does not doj there is only the one exemption of ^5,000, and the clause applies to all other properties which an individual may hold, and has a cumulative effect.
– It is not cumulative at all.
– If A, B, and C own a piece of land as tenants in common, and only one exemption of ,£5,000 is allowed, individual interests in other lands must be added to the share of each.
– These people A, B, and C seem to be very well off!
– That is no answer to the argument.
– It is the best possible answer under this Bill.
– The Attorney-General first denies , what I say, and then declares that the people must be well off ; but he does not meet the argument. The honorable member for Angas asked the AttorneyGeneral to take into consideration the method adopted in South Australia.
– There is not a graduated land tax in South Australia.
– There is one gradation.
– Whether there be gradation or not does not matter.
– Yes, it does; the honorable member is complaining . that these people will be taxed on the higher rate.
– If the Attorney-General was simply contending that this is a burstingup tax there would be some method in his argument; but the whole difficulty arises from the fact that we are trying to accomplish something which the Constitution, never intended we should accomplish.
– I ask the honorable member not to raise the constitutional question.
– When we advance one set of arguments the Attorney-General declares that the Bill is designed to burst up estates, and when we meet him on that ground, he accuses us of destroying the revenue.
– I have to meet so many arguments that if I stayed in the same place, I should never do anything at all !
– The honorable member is in his place to meet arguments, and I am sure he cannot complain that we have not treated him generously.
– Let us hear what the honorable member suggests.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral to adopt the principle of the South Australian Act.
– We cannot do that.
– If the Attorney-General says he cannot do that, it is not worth our while proceeding further.
– I cannot do that, but I am prepared to listen to any other argument.
– If the Attorney-General adopted the principle of the South Australian Act, and provided that the interest in the jointly-owned land should not be taken into account in computing the additional land tax, we should be satisfied.
– But the other partners are not liable for the additional tax imposed on one partner.
– If men are in possession of an estate of 60,000 or 70,000 acres, worth, say, £3 an acre, we ask the AttorneyGeneral to treat that as one estate, so that if one of the men happens to own other properties, some allowance will be made. As to the absentee provisions in sub-clause 5, I direct the attention of the Attorney-General to section 54, subsection 3, of the New Zealand Act, which provides that if an absentee taxpayer is liable to be assessed jointly with another taxpayer not an absentee, they shall be assessed jointly, as if neither was an absentee. Under the Bill, in the case of a joint occupancy, there is a mathematical mode of taxing the absentee according to certain proportions ; and I should like to know why the New Zealand section was not adopted.
– I should like to make it quite clear that, in the case of a joint owner or occupier who has land other than that of the joint estate, the fact of his having such other land does not involve his partners or the other joint owners in any further liability.
– That is quite true.
– If three men own a joint estate, and two of them own other land, that fact will not impose on the third person anY additional liability.
– That must be an oversight !
– The honorable member may take that as some consolation m a sea of trouble. It is not, however, an oversight, but merely following those principles of the Bill to which the honorable member from time to time takes such exception. As to the position of absentee joint owners, the New Zealand Act practically provides that if one of the joint owners is an absentee, then none of the others shall incur any liability other than they would have incurred had none of them .been absentees. As we propose to amend the clause in relation to companies, making only those shareholders who are absentees liable as absentees, I am willing to amend this clause so as to make the same principle apply. If the Committee will pass the clause I shall have it amended so as to bring it into conformity with the other amendment to which I have just referred. Of course, a shareholder in a company is a joint owner for the purposes of this Bill, and joint owners other than those in companies should be treated in exactly the same way.
– I should like to draw the attention of the Attorney-General to subclause 5. I have been informed of a case in which two brothers own Melbourne property worth ,£10,000. There is a building on the land, so that the property cannot be divided into two halves. One brother lives in Melbourne, and the other travels, being absent from the city for three-fourths of his time, and, therefore, under the Bill is an absentee. Clause 33 causes both the resident and the travelling brother to be taxed as absentees.
– It is proposed to amend the provision, so that only the joint owners who are absentees shall be taxed as such.
– That is what 1 want.
.- It is a pity that the Attorney-General will not ac- . cept the amendment of the honorable member for Angas, because it is only reasonable that tenants in common should be excluded from the operation of this provision. The prime object of the Bill is to break up large estates, but the clause under discussion penalizes those working in partnership, even when they are members of a family. When speaking on the second reading, 1 instanced a case in which, on the death of.’ the father, the four sons bought out .the sisters’ shares, and worked the property together, each being married, and having a home upon it. As tenants in Gammon, those brothers would be taxable under this clause. It was suggested that they could evade their liability by dividing their property, and working it conjointly, but clause 34 applies not only to property owned in comnon, but also to property worked in common. In another case, six members of a family took up selections, each holding his estate in severalty, but allowing it to be worked jointly with the others. Under clause 34 they would be deemed to be joint owners of the whole property. The other day one of them died, and in connexion with the probate proceedings it came out that the whole of the estate would be worth about £7,000, the interest of each brother being a little over £1,000. Has that family done wrong in working its land jointly for the common benefit? Yet its members are to be taxed under the clause when, if they worked their land separately, they would not be liable to taxation. Then there are the cases in which city properties are held jointly in estates which cannot be subdivided. I know of a piece of land, not four blocks from this building, the unimproved value of which is about £7,000; it belongs to a family whose individual interests are a little over £1,000 each. The land has a frontage of 15 feet, and’ cannot be subdivided. No doubt there are many other cases of the kind. Persons should not be discouraged from working together.
– Will a tax of £8 a year discourage them ?
– The proposal in the Bill is unjust, since two men working together are treated differently from two men working separately.
– They make more.
– Not necessarily.
– Co-operation in every form should be encouraged.
– Exactly. The object of the Bill is to prevent any one man from holding an unduly large area of land, but I do not know why, if several persons choose to work one estate, or to work several estates in common, they should be penalized as though the whole property belonged to one man.
– Where four or five farms are worked together the clause does not apply.
– It would apply in the case to which I have referred, and in which six members of the family have been working separate holdings as one property. Clause 34 says distinctly that when two or more persons own land in severalty, but occupy it jointly, either as partners, or on a joint account or otherwise, they shall be deemed to be joint owners in the proportions of the unimproved values of land so owned by each of them. It would not interfere with the object of the Bill to give to persons interested in an estate, or working estates together, an exemption each.
– A man owning land the unimproved value of which is £100,000 is liable to a heavy tax, but if the amendment were carried, and he took in four or five partners, although he might retain 99 per cent, of the interest and they be given only 1 per cent., he would evade taxation. We do not desire that to happen. It must be remembered that we are dealing with powerful institutions who, if we leave a hole in the clause, will be through it like sheep through a race.
.- If the provisions under discussion are passed as they stand, they will hit very hard a great many farmers in my district, notwithstanding that it is closely settled. The land there has been taken up by small men, but in many cases fathers and sons work their selections together. It is more economical to do this than to work them separately. In some instances, large areas are covered by such a partnership. I suggest that the Attorney-General should give an exemption to each of the joint owners. If an estate were owned jointly by four persons, they should be each exempted to the extent of an unimproved value of £5,000.
– Suppose a farmer had £20,000 worth of land, he could, under the honorable member’s proposal, if he had three sons, give them a twentieth share each, without right of survivorship, and thus escape the payment of tax.
– Each twentieth share would have an exemption, and the remaining seventeen-twentieths would have an exemption which would not enable the farmer to escape taxation. In the cases to which I refer the land has been worked to its fullest extent.
– We desire that fathers shall cut up their land, and give it to their children during their life-time.
– In many cases farmers and sons are working their separate estates together.
– They will not be affected.
– The Bill does not say so.
– The more the matter is considered, the more it seems to be the aim and object of the Attorney-General and those supporting him to hit as heavily as may be all forms of co-operative landowning. The honorable member is so anxious that no one shall escape from the net he is weaving that he is actually aiming a deliberate blow at all forms of . cooperative working and co-operative holding.
– That is not so.
– It is. I cited the other day the case of a man having £30,000 worth of land, and a family of ten children. Several of the sons are grown up, and are ready, if need be, to parcel out the land. But the father says, “ Why should I not continue to give them the benefit of my advice and experience as an overseer? Why should I segregate this estate, -as I shall have to do if this law be passed?” Is it necessary that ownership of this kind should be individualized?
– If that man divides his land amongst his children, they need not necessarily come under this clause.
– They would do so, unless each parcel of land were absolutely individualized. That would lead to unnecessary labour and expense. Each farm would have to be separated by fences, and separate deeds would have to be obtained, just as if there were no co-operation among the family. The Attorney-General is constantly preaching the benefits of cooperative effort, and yet we find him here proposing to penalize it. I take it that the object of the Government is that the best use shall be got out of the land. In such a case as this, that can obviously be secured by all the parcels being consolidated for the purpose of working and using them. Is not a man’s family entitled to as much justice, in connexion with the use of his land, as are outsiders ? If the land to which I have referred were divided amongst outsiders, the Attorney-General would exempt those men, but when a man divides his land between his sons who are of age, and are in need of land just as much as outsiders are, he is to be taxed because those sons are at home, and are working economically and usefully together. On the face of it, this clause must be grossly unjust. It must tend to discourage that provision for families which has so often been held up to us as an ideal by honorable members opposite.
– This question is really more important than the Attorney-General seems to realize. A number of cases, in addition to those which the honorable member for Gippsland and others have given, might readily be cited in support of our contention. I recognise that, as the Attorney-General has said, if the amendment were made without any subsequent alteration it would openup a door to the evasion of the Act; but I think that that difficulty may be easily overcome. The honorable member for Angas proposes to insert the words “ with right of survivorship “ at the beginning; of the clause, and, if that amendment were accepted, we could get rid of the dangers that the Attorney-General fears by amending sub-clause 3 so that it would read “ Joint owners of land with or without right of survivorship.”
– I have a note to move an amendment in that direction.
– Such an amendment would meet cases of the kind that have been brought forward, without any possibility of evasion of the law, because it would impose upon individual tenants in common the obligation to pay the full tax upon their individual interests. The AttorneyGeneral has referred to the case of a man owning £100,000 worth of property who, under the amendment, could evade the tax by joining nominal or small interests with his property. That difficulty would be overcome if the further amendment I have suggested were made, because the man in that case would have to pay the full tax on his , £100,000 worth of land.
– It would be a question of contribution between the joint owners.
– No ; I am dealing now with the case of tenants in common. Take the instance given by the honorable member for Gippsland as an example of cases where six or seven people own property in common and work it in common, none of their interests being taxable, but the joint interest exceeding the taxable amount.
– I understood the honorable member to speak of people who owned land in severalty and worked it, as it were, in co-operation.
– That was one case to which I referred.
– If they owned in severalty they would not be joint owners. But in the case I have just mentioned, if they worked the land together, although their individual interests were below the exemption, as tenants in common without right of survivorship they would be taxable. I appreciate the difficulty raised by the Attorney-General, but urge (hat we can completely overcome it by making these persons contribute according to the tax on their individual interest in the land.
– It would pay a large owner to leave his land in the hands of his family and not to cut it up.
– If a man cut up his land he would carry out one of the objects of this Bill, and if he did not, then, if my suggestion were adopted, he would pay this tax and so carry out another object in regard to the obtaining of revenue.
.- An eloquent appeal has been made on behalf of families who work, in co-operation, one block of- land, and honorable members on this side of the Committee are prepared to deal with such co-operative effort quite as generously as are the Opposition. I know of some families - fathers and sons, and in some cases sons-in-law and daughtersinlaw - who are working land jointly, and in som-i cases one might characterize as something nearly approaching abject slavery the conditions under which land is farmed in this way. I am citing cases that have come under my own personal notice, where a farmer is prepared to continue to hold his land, and to employ his sons upon it at a mere pittance. If the “ dad “ were taxed under’ this clause no one would be better pleased than some of the sons.
– But that is not the class of case with which this clause deals.
– The honorable member for Parramatta has been referring to such cases.
– Is it the object of the Bill to break up family partnerships?
– I do not say that it is, but some honorable members have been pleading for a gate to be left open by which some of these men would be able to escape taxation.
– I have no such desire.
– The honorable member for Gippsland cited as a hard case that of men who are working together on a property of the unimproved value of £7,000; but how much taxation would these joint owners pay? Allowing for the exemption of £5,000, they would be taxed on the unimproved value of £2,000, and would have to pay 25s. per annum each. Surely that would not ruin a man. We cannot legislate under this Bill for hard cases. I think that we can justly tax a man who holds a farm in his own name and is practically farming his sons in order to cultivate it.
– So as to leave them all the more when he dies.
– I repeat that I know of cases where the sons would throw up their hats in glee if the “ dad “ were taxed.
– We have just listened to the honorable member for Maribyrnong using the usual arguments of the other side, and pointing to one or two hard cases which ought not to lie relieved under this Bill. Is the basis of this legislation merely a desire to break up family relationships? Does the honorable member suggest that the case which he has cited is a typical one ? If it is, then the bulk of our fathers are inhuman and are using their children as they would not use dogs. The honorable member’s statement is a libel upon the family life of Australia. It is a libel to suggest, as he does, that such cases are widely prevalent.
– I say that we have them, and I am not going to allow such persons to escape taxation.
– If such cases are not widespread, why does the honorable member mention them?
– What about J. and A. Brown? Are they to be let off?
– They will not be let off, and no one desires to let them off unless they have a bond fide case for exemption.
– Is not the case of J. and A. Brown a bond fide one for taxation?
– I think that their case, if any, is one in which taxation should be paid.
– And this clause will make them pay.
– In making a case like that pay taxation the honorable member is going to compel a multitude of small men to pay.
– A man must possess a lot of money before he can be taxed under this Bill.
– I am talking of one of the small cases mentioned last night by the honorable member. I cited the case of a man having £30,000 worth of land, and the honorable gentleman said that he war. a small man.
– I said that such men would have to pay a small tax.
– A small tax, amounting to £200 or £300 a year. That is a small thing according to the honorable member.
– How large an estate must a man have?
– Thirty thousand pounds. It is quite interesting to see the scale and range of the honorable member’s financial notions since he has had charge of this Bill.
– He must have £40,000 worth of estate before he pays £300 a year. A nice hard case that is !
– I said £30,000.
– Then he would not have to pay more than £250 a year.
– That is a mere fleabite to the honorable member.
– So it is on £30,000. I wish I had to pay it.
– The point is that the honorable member is trying to wring money out of these cases when their land is practically though not technically divided.
– I should like to know that the honorable member had £30,000 worth of land. He would think himself a big man.
– If I had £30,000 worth of land I should probably try to do what the gentleman I quoted the other day was trying to do. He has ten children; I have nine, and I should try to provide for those nine children by keeping the land together and working it with them until they are married, and parcelled the land out for themselves.
– And a very laudable object, too.
– It is a most natural thing to do, but the Minister says to them in this Bill, “ Unless you segregate, split up the holding, and individualize the separate parcels, we shall not let you off. If you work it in cooperation we shall fine you for doing it.” This from a Socialistic Government !
– I rise to gain information on this question. I believe that if we accept the amendment of the honorable member for Angas some of the biggest land-holders will escape taxation altogether. I am open to conviction, but let me cite a case. I know of a case where the father of a family selected 380 acres for each member of it, although some of them were mere infants. The father is working the whole of that land himself. I take it that under; the amendment all he will have to say is that he is working the land jointly with the whole of the members of his family, and he will not pay a cent, in taxation.
– He will have to pay.
– If we accept the amendment he will escape taxation, and lots of other big land-holders, at any rate in my State, will also escape, because they will say they are working the land jointly with their families.
– The example the honorable member for Denison has given is really not an example of this matter at all. If a man, as often happens, selects land in the names of his children-
– He cannot do it until they are of age.
– Supposing he pretends to do it, then, in the eye of the law, those are all separate estates. It may be that he cannot legally do it at all, or, if he can legally do it, it may be that the real ownership of the land is in himself.
– But it is being worked conjointly by the family, he will say.
– It is not the working but the ownership that is the basis of the Act, and in such a case the question for the Commissioner, or the tribunal that has to decide it would be, “ Is this man the owner of all that land, or is he, in fact, the owner of only one small portion of it?” If they find that in fact he is the owner of only one small portion he escapes the taxation, as he should. The fact that he agrees to work it with other people ought not to make him liable to taxation. In the case which the honorable member for Denison put, the Commissioner would rightly find that the land belonged to the father, who would have to pay the whole tax.
– Quite properly, fathers often take up land to assist their sons.
– That can be done when the sons are over twenty-one. Where the father can take up selections for John and Jim, it is quite proper that he should do so, and the mere fact that John and Jim and their father agree to work their lands together is no reason why the Government should depart from the true principle of ownership and tax them.
– As long as the ownership is bond fide, this clause cannot touch it?
– That is the point ; yes.
Question- That the word “ The “ proposed to be left out stand part of the clause (Mr Glynn’s amendment) - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I want to make provision for joint owners who, before the 31st December this year, subdivide their land. It has been mentioned to me that there are cases in which such subdivision has taken place since the introduction of the Bill. I do not think the Attorney-General would object to allow those who, by subdivision in the true sense, parcelling out their land, become owners in severalty before 31st December, to be treated differently from joint owners under the Bill. To accomplish that end, I propose to move -
That the following words be added to subclause 2 : - “ Provided that this sub-section shall not apply to joint owners who between 30th June and 31st December,1910, become by subdivision of the land owners in severalty.”
I do not think that is much to concede.
– It will apply to those who become owners in severalty and are not in other respects liable under this clause ?
– I propose to amend only this particular sub-clause, so that the other provisions may remain unaffected. In submitting these amendments I, of course, infer that consequential amendments in the direction of subdivision of the land will be made. As to absentees, I suggest that the wording might be this -
If any of the joint owners is an absentee he shall be separately assessed as such in proportion of his interest, which, in the case of joint tenants with the right of survivorship, shall be deemed to be one-half the interest.
– I am not quite clear as to what the honorable gentleman desires. The proviso which was inserted in clause 11, as a Government amendment, says that an owner, who has parted with any land, bond fide, after the 30th day of June, and before the 30th September, shall not be liable to assessment; and there is an analogy between the cases. When a man has done a thing, practically before the passing of the Bill, he should escape certain liabilities which he would not escape had he not done that thing. The honorable member contends that, in regard to estates held jointly, but distributed before a certain date, the clause, which imposes certain higher rates by reason of the joint ownership, shall not apply. As to the dates I say nothing, except that, in my opinion, they should fall, as in the other case, between 30th June and 30th September. As to an estate held jointly, which has been bond fide cut up, and is held in severalty, are the owners entitled to be taken out of the clause? Without committing myself to the terms of the honorable member’s amendment, it may be fairly said that they are entitled to some relief, seeing that what they have done is what we desire them to do.
– If the honorable member will accept the amendment, the dates may be altered so as to agree with clause n.
– I cannot accept the amendment now, but I am willing to undertake to put in words which will have the desired effect.
– I am satisfied, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That all the words from “ If,” sub-clause 5, down to “ case,” inclusive, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Joint owners shall in no case be deemed, in respect of their joint assessment, to be absentees, but.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 34 - (1.) When two or more persons own lands in severalty but occupy them jointly, whether as partners or on a joint account or otherwise, they shall be deemed to be joint owners of the lands, in the proportions of the unimproved values of the lands so owned by each of them. (2.) Without limiting in any way the meaning of joint occupation, two or more persons shall be deemed to occupy lands jointly if the lands are occupied, worked, or managed -
.- I appeal to the Attorney-General to consider seriously whether he shall insist on this clause, which I regard as the most farreaching in the whole of the Bill. What it deals with is not ownership, but simply joint working; and altogether it is certainly a most extraordinary provision. I do not think it is the intention of the Government, or their supporters, that men, who own land separately, shall be prohibited from working their lands together. No bursting up can be accomplished by this means, because the land is already as much burst up as it possibly can be.
– While I do not like voicing objections to the Government measure, I must admit there is some force in the objection raised by the honorable member for Gippsland. I can sympathize with the object of the clause, which is to insure that genuine subdivision shall not be retarded or prevented ; because it is quite conceivable that a man with a large estate, capable of supporting a number of families, might arrange for fictitious subdivision, and thus evade the higher rate of taxation. At the same time, this clause may operate very harshly in genuine cases. Many land-owners have purchased land with a view to settling their sons and daughters, and, under this clause, they will be assessed as joint owners, though the titles are separate. It might be urged that this would apply in cases where the title is held by the father or the mother, for the children, but there would be no difficulty in taking out titles in the name of the children, and thus giving the latter some independence, if they are prepared to strike out for themselves. It is desirable that families should “ pull “ together; and when they are doing so, the Attorney-General should devise a method by which they may be regarded as separate owners, thus differentiating between them and others who subdivide nominally for the purpose of evading the tax.
– I hope the Attorney-General will listen to the appeals made by the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for Corangamite. There are many genuine cases, especially amongst men who are opening up the country in the States which are as yet not closely settled. They have not sufficient capital to provide separate homes and complete working plant for their sons and daughters; and if the AttorneyGeneral will promise to consider the matter honorable members will, I think, be satisfied. Surely it is not desired to prevent the members of a family from working together to make homes for themselves. This proposal cannot be defended on the ground that revenue is necessary, because we do not wish to impose taxation on those who are making the best use of their land. Will the Attorney-General promise to consider whether provision can be made for exempting from taxation individuals owning separate property, which they work in common? He cannot be expected to draft an amendment . on the spur of the moment, but he might agree, either to the striking out of the clause, or to its recommittal, and, in the meantime, consider whether he can meet our views.
– I appreciate the force of the arguments’ which have been used against the clause, but there is great difficulty sometimes in distinguishing between joint ownership and joint occupation, particularly in a family estate. In a case such as that mentioned by the honorable member for Denison, if joint ownership were not allowed, but joint occupation were, the effect might be the same, and an evasion of the tax might occur, which we do not wish. At the same time, we have no desire to discourage genuine cooperative effort. I am willing to give the proposals that have been made every consideration, and should like to hear anything that honorable members may have to say about the clause.
– Will the honorable gentleman give an opportunity for the recommittal of the clause?
– I shall not agree to the striking out of the clause now, but I ask the Committee to allow me to look through the Bill to see the effect of the various amendments, with a view to determining what can be done safely to provide for genuine co-operative effort.
– On the last clause the honorable member refused to do what he is now promising to do.
– Joint occupation and joint ownership are different things, though, as I have said, their effect may, in some cases, be identical, and it is necessary to prevent evasion of the tax under cover of either.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral promise to assist us to recommit the clause?
– Is it proposed that we should pass the clause now, with a view to its reconsideration later?
– I propose to consider the position, and to allow the clause to come up later with other clauses on recommittal.
– It will be recommitted ?
– Yes. “
Clause agreed to.
Clause 35- (1.) All land owned by a company shall be deemed (though not to the exclusion of the lia bility of the company or of any other persons) to be owned by the shareholders of the company as joint owners, in the proportions of their interests in the paid-up capital of the company. (2.) The provisions of section twenty-four of this Act shall apply accordingly (but so that the assessment and liability of the company shall be in lieu of the joint assessment and liability under sub-section two of that section), and the shareholders shall be separately assessed and liable, and entitled to deductions, in accordance with that section. (3.) The term “ shareholder “ in this and the next following section includes all persons on whose behalf a share in the company is held by. a trustee or by any other person.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That the word “ twenty-four “ in sub-clause 2 be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “thirty-three.”
– I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “(4.) A company shall in no case be deemed to be an absentee; but any of the shareholders who are absentees shall be separately assessed and liable as absentees.”
Under that provision shareholders will be liable to be taxed as absentees only if they are absentees. If a company has 500 shareholders, 300 of whom reside in Australia and the other 200 in other parts of the world, its liability will be assessed accordingly.
– I would point out that sub-clause 2 reads -
The shareholders shall be separately assessed and liable, and entitled to deductions, in accordance with that section.
It seems to me that the same words should be used in the proposed sub-clause 4. It may be that the provision would be read in the same way as it stands, but it might be safer to make the wording the same in each sub-clause.
Amendment agreed to.
– Can the Attorney-General see his way to exempt shareholders from liability in respect to other property, instead of charging them on cumulative interests ?
– Under clause 33 a joint estate is valued as though it were held by a single person. A company’s estate would be so valued and assessed. Under clause 54 provision is made for contribution in the case of joint owners.
– There is no double taxation ?
– Clause 39 prevents double taxation. The liability of shareholders in companies is limited to their interest. If a man’s shares represent an interest in £500 or , £5,000 worth of unimproved value, they will be taxable accordingly, but the rate will be different if he is a resident from that which will be applied if he is an absentee. A company will be liable for the whole tax, but the liabilities of the shareholders will be limited to their holdings of shares.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 36 agreed to.
Clause 37 -
Land owned by a Mutual Life Assurance Society (not being land of which the society is mortgagee . in possession, or which the society has acquired under or by virtue of a mortgage) shall be deemed to be owned by the Society as trustee for the several Australian’ policy-holders as beneficial owners in severalty in proportion to the surrender values of their policies as determined according to a method to be prescribed, and shall not be deemed to be occupied by them jointly.
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “ (2.) For the purposes of this section, a
Mutual Life Assurance Society means any assurance society all the profits of which are divided among the policy-holders. In the case of a society which has shareholders who are entitled to receive a share of the profits of the society, a proportion of such land owned by the society, corresponding to the share of the profits of the society which the Australian policy-holders are entitled to receive, shall be deemed to be owned bv the society as such trustee as aforesaid. “(3.) It shall not be necessary for the Assurance Society to make returns as to, nor for the Commissioner to assess, any policy-holder whose beneficial interest in the lands so owned by the Society is less than an amount (not exceeding Twenty pounds) to be prescribed.”
First of all, we limit the liability of mutual life assurance societies to the liability of each individual member. A society as such is not taxed on its aggregate possessions, and, in so far as it is not a mortgagee in possession, there is no liability on the part of such a society, save that which belongs to each individual member. The effect of this provision is that no policy-holder of any mutual life assurance society throughout Australia is liable for the payment of any tax under this Bill. I wish this to be clearly understood, because in the Argus this morning half a column was devoted to stating that the mutual principle had been invaded and violated by this Bill, and that it was lying, helpless and melancholy, on the footpath along which we are supposed to be tramping. The simple truth is that no member of a mutual life assurance company will, as such, pay any tax under this Bill. As to mortgages at present existing, and held by mutual life assurance societies, there is no liability upon any such society in Australia under this Bill, and as to future mortgages there will be no liability for a period of threeyears after they go into possession. It ‘ will thus be seen that practically, not only is every shareholder of a mutual life assurance company free, but every such company is free in respect of its liabilities as mortgagee in possession, and of the accrued mortgages which stand as the result of its operations. These companies have no liability in regard to future mortgages other than that for which clause 28 provides. Three years must elapse after they go into possession before they can become liable for anything more than the liability for which the mortgagor was responsible. Therefore, mutual life assurance companies are practically and actually exempt from this tax. I come now to the definition of what a mutual life assurance company is, and to the position of companies which are partly mutual and partly proprietary. Proposed new sub-clause 2 practically declares that a mutual life assurance society is one in which the profits are shared; societies whose profits are not shared are treated as ordinary companies. Mutual societies, including the Australian Mutual Provident Society, and all others of a similar kind, are separately dealt with. As the result of representations made by the mutual life assurance companies, we propose to insert new paragraph 3, so as to practically render it unnecessary for such a society to send in thousands of returns in respect of its policyholders. Without such a provision as this the Australian Mutual Provident Society would have to furnish something like 250,000 returns. If the clause be amended as we propose, it will be sufficient for that society to furnish a return that no member has an interest exceeding , £20 in respect of the unimproved value of its property. That will be a general return, which will be accepted by the Cornmissioner, and for which, of course, the society making it will be responsible. I am informed by the general secretary of the Australian Mutual Provident Society that there is no case in which any policy-holder has an interest exceeding £20 in the unimproved value of its property. There may be some cases where men, having assured their lives for £10,000, £20,000, or £30,000, have an interest exceeding that amount, and in each of those cases a special return will have to be submitted. The remaining policy-holders,, however, will be covered by one return. That will be the position in regard to all mutual life assurance societies.
– I take it that the intention is that all lands which a mutual life society holds as a trustee, ether than estates held -by it as mortgagee in possession, shall be exempt.
– They will be liable in respect of lands that they themselves own.
– They “will not be liable in respect of the properties used by them to carry on their business.
– No, but they will be liable in respect of properties on which they have, foreclosed.
– I wish to draw attention to a matter of drafting. Under this clause it is provided that land owned by a mutual life assurance society shall be deemed to be owned by it as trustee for the several Australian policy-holders, and shall not be deemed to be occupied by them jointly. Under clause 29, however, it is provided that any person in whom land is vested as a trustee shall be liable in respect of that land as if’ he were beneficially entitled to it. It will, therefore, be necessary to make it perfectly clear that as trustees for the policy-holders these societies are not liable, under that clause, both as regards laud held by them as trustees, and the shareholders’ interest.
– They are not exempt except to the extent to which they are exempted by this clause.
– Quite so. I wish it to be made perfectly clear that the land which they hold as trustees for the policy-holders shall not be deemed to be liable to taxation under clause 29.
– I think the clause is clear.
– I ask the honorable gentleman to make sure that it carries out his intention.
– Very well.
.- So far as I follow the Attorney-General, he appears to have appreciated the mutual principle in his amendment. It may support his action to remind ourselves that there are in Australia 450,000 members of purely mutual life assurance companies; that the average assurance is worth £170; and that the average yearly premium is less than £6, including in each case industrial assurance. The only, point to which I wish to direct attention relates to surrender values. A reference made by the Attorney-General to an interest amounting to £20 was somewhat vague. I was unable to perceive the relation of the sum mentioned to the general question of surrender values. The average policy of £170 on which there had been the average payment of £6 per annum would acquire a surrender value of £20 in a few years.
– I shall explain the matter. For the information of the Committee, and the general public,, let me say that a deputation consisting of Mr. Teece and others, who thoroughly understand the life assurance business, waited on the Prime Minister and myself to ascertain exactly the meaning of this clause, and to put before us some of the difficulties with which they were confronted. Mr. Teece declared in the most positive way that the surrender value, so far as he knew - and I suppose no one knows better than he does - of any policy-holder’s interest in the unimproved value of the property held by his societydid not amount to £10, but I suggested that, in order to have a safe margin, he should put it down at £20.
– Does the amendment now before us agree word for word! with the amendment as printed?
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 38 (No disposition to be effective while possession retained).
– This clause is exceedingly drastic where a conveyance of transfer is absoluteand bona fide. It needs to be read inconjunction with a preceding clause, in connexion with which the Attorney-General’ has promised some concessions in respect of joint ownership. If- the concessions foreshadowed by the honorable gentleman in: the matter of joint ownership are made, then I take it that this clause must also beamended. Otherwise what is conceded in the matter of joint ownership will bepartly nullified. Will the Minister assurethe Committee that he will see that any alteration shall be made in this clause necessary to give full effect to what we believe wilt be conceded later in the matter of joint ownership?
– The clause is quite in harmony with the rest of the Bill, but if, after the various amendments have been gone through, it is found that there is in it anything which would be out of harmony with the Government proposals, it will also be varied on recommittal.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 39 -
Where under this Act -
one person is deemed to be the primary taxpayer, and another person is deemed to be the secondary taxpayer, in respect of the same land or interest; and
it is provided that there shall be deducted from the tax payable by the secondary taxpayer, in respect of the land or interest, such amount (if any) as is necessary to prevent double taxation, the amount of the deduction (if any) shall be the amount by which the tax payable by the primary taxpayer is increased by the inclusion of the land or interest in his assessment :
Provided that the amount of the deduction -shall not exceed the amount by which the tax payable by the secondary taxpayer is increased by the inclusion of the land or interest in his assessment.
– I move -
That paragraph (a) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph : - “ (a) Any person is deemed to be the secondary taxpayer in respect of any land or interest ; and “
– What is the effect of that amendment?
– I have not gone nhrough this portion of the Bill, and shall be glad if the honorable member will wait until the Attorney-General returns.
– We had at last arrived at some sort of idea of what this difficult clause meant, so that I shall be glad to learn the effect of the amendment.
– The alteration has been made with the intention of making the clause clearer. The clause in itself was clear enough, but, owing to the extraordinary objection of the honorable member for Flinders that it was not quite clear, infinite labour and pains have been taken, and the clause is now a very model of perspicuous and even of elegant language as applied to this class of literature. I hope it will stimulate other Legislatures to go and do likewise, in which case the man in the street will be able to understand Acts of Parliament so readily that he will begin to despise Legislatures as being quite unnecessary. It is needless to explain what is meant by the amendment, because it explains itself, but the intention is this : There are references throughout the Bill to a secondary taxpayer and a primary taxpayer, and”, although those terms are in themselves perfectly clear, an attempt is made in this clause, in order to make assurance doubly sure, to pin them down and, as it were, classify them in such a way that no human being can be in any difficulty. Practically, what the clause, as amended, means is that, where land is held by two or more persons, and one of them owns also other land not included in that estate, and is, consequently, liable to a higher rate of tax, there is to be deducted from the amount payable by the other man such an amount as is necessary to prevent double taxation. That is to say, once the tax has been paid by the one man, it shall not be paid by the other man as well. The Commissioner, in every case, taxes at the highest rate. Where one of those two men owns £50,000 worth of land outside a particular block, that is added to the value of the block, which may bring the rate up from1½d. to, say, 4½d., and the whole estate is therefore taxed at the 4½d. rate. But the other man might own only the land in that estate in which he was interested with the first man, and he would pay on the1½d. rate. There would be deducted from the man who paid on the 4½d. rate such an amount as would be necessary to prevent double taxation. The amendment . which has been moved is consequential on an amendment made earlier in the Bill, under which the primary taxpayer does not pay. As the clause read before, one person is deemed to be the primary taxpayer, and another is deemed to be the secondary, but in cases where there is no primary taxpayer, obviously the wording of sub-clause a would not apply. It is therefore proposed to amend it so that it shall include cases where the primary taxpayer does not pay.
– I must confess that my mind is not yet absolutely clear. After this, I believe that anybody who is guilty of owning a piece of land will, -in all his walks, have to be accompanied by a lawyer on one side and an . accountant on the other. That, however, has reference to the general policy of the
Bill. I do not intend to try to fully understand this particular provision until the necessary occasion arises for it. So far, however, as I can understand it, the object of the amendment would appear to be this : in the Bill, as originally drawn, there were supposed always to be a primary taxpayer and a secondary taxpayer coupled together. The idea now is that there may be cases in which the secondary taxpayer is liable to a secondary liability, but the primary taxpayer would come under some exemption, and it is therefore desired to preserve the liability of the secondary tax- payer, while the primary taxpayer gets off.
– The primary taxpayer is one who is never entitled to a deduction.
– Never entitled? Then we have the clause applied to a case in which there is no primary taxpayer and there is a secondary taxpayer. If the amendment is carried, I understand the clause will operate in this way : Where there is not a primary taxpayer, but there is a secondary taxpayer, there shall be deducted from the tax payable by the secondary taxpayer, in respect of the land or interest concerned, such amount as is necessary to prevent double taxation, but that amount of deduction, if any, shall be the amount by which the tax payable by the primary taxpayer is increased by the inclusion of the land or interest in his assessment
– The honorable member will notice that there is no reference there to a tertiary taxpayer.
– I do not find in it any geological periods beyond the secondary, but I must confess that darkness seems to be rendered a little more dark by the amendment.
– The secondary taxpayer is the only one that gets the deduction, and he never gets it unless he pays at a higher rate than the primary taxpayer.
.- This seems such a hopeless tangle that it reminds me of Mark Twain’s clock. When asked how he told the time by it, he said that when the hands were at a quarter past 8 it struck twelve, and then he knew the time - it was 20 minutes to 3. The Minister should take notice of the criticisms of the clause from both this and the other side, and knock it into decent shape.
Amendment agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
Amendment (by Mr. Batcheior) agreed to-
That the following proviso be added -
Provided further that the secondary taxpayer shall be assessed and liable in respect of the land or interest, notwithstanding that the primary taxpayer is exempt from taxation in respect of the land or interest, or that there is no primary taxpayer in respect of the land or interest.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 40 -
Any taxpayer may within the prescribed time appeal to a Justice of the High Court against any assessment by the Commissioner with respect to his land.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That after the word “ taxpayer,” line 1, the words “ or person “ be inserted.
.- Has the Attorney-General considered the advisability of extending the right of appeal in the way of providing more Courts? Under the clause, after an assessment is made by the Commissioner, right of appeal is given, but only to a Justice of the High Court. This taxation applies over the whole of Australia, and assessments will have to be made in the case of lands in all parts of the Commonwealth. At the present moment the Judges of the High Court are kept constantly employed, the appellant jurisdiction having increased, and the original jurisdiction being exercised more widely. A Justice of the High Court is the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and an amendment of the Constitution is proposed which will involve considerable increase in the work of this or the other Justices. “Unimproved value,’’ which has to be determined, in the first instance, is very much a matter of opinion ; and, if we may judge from the experience in the States, there will be a vast number of appeals against assessments. I suggest that, in addition to a Justice of the High Court, Judges of the Supreme Courts, and also of District Courts, be empowered to hear appeals.
– Can we do that?
– I am asking the AttorneyGeneral to consider the advisability of doing so.
– The Judges of the Supreme Courts of the States also claim that they are overworked.
– I believe that State Courts could take appeals of the kind. In New South Wales, the Land Appeal Court, the District Court, and, I believe, Courts presided over by Police Magistrates are utilized; while in Western Australia resident magistrates preside over local tribunals for the purposes of appeals ; and in New Zealand there is an Appeal Court in each district. The tribunal ought to go to the litigants, and not the litigants to the tribunal, because cases can be better determined on the spot where local knowledge is available. The Justices of the High Court sit only in the capital cities; and we can imagine the immense cost if an assessment in the northern part of Queensland were appealed against, and the appellant had to bring all his witnesses to Brisbane. On the other hand, if a Justice of the High Court is sent to these outlying places, it will take him a week to go and a week to return, with the result that the whole of his time will be occupied in hearing appeals under the Act. We know that such a state of affairs is not practicable; and, in order to meet the circumstances, I have given notice of an amendment, which, however, I shall not move if the Attorney-General will give an assurance that he will look into the matter. The honorable member for Angas, too, has given notice of an amendment providing, especially if the scope of the Court is extended, for appeals from the lower courts to the High Court. During the progress of a hearing questions of interpretation of the law may arise, and, as this is a taxing measure, the interpretation ought to be uniform throughout the Commonwealth.
– Appeals can only go to the High Court by special leave if we substitute Supreme Courts or District Courts.
– The honorable member for Angas has given notice of an amendment providing, as in New South Wales, New Zealand, and, I think, Western Australia, that appeals may go to the” High Court on a case stated.
– On questions of law ?
– Yes; if the AttorneyGeneral will accept the suggestions that are now made they will be found to afford much relief.
– Does the honorable member suggest any amendment in this clause?
– I have given notice of an amendment providing that appeal may be made to a Supreme Court, a County
Court, a District Court, or such other Courts as may be proclaimed. Under the Customs Act cases may be heard in the High Court, a Supreme Court, and a District Court ; and what I desire is to have appeals made to some Judge or Court of recognised standing in any of the States so as to enable, as far as possible, the cases to be heard on the spot where the land is situated and the witnesses reside.
– If the clause is allowed to remain, as drafted it will be fruitful of the greatest: inconvenience and also injustice. In South Australia when a dispute arises as to an assessment, an officer of the Department is sent into the district on a day appointed, with a view to its settlement ; and if the decision is not satisfactory there is an appeal - not to the Supreme Court, but to the nearest local Court. If all the work under this Bill is to be centralized it will be most unjust to the individual taxpayers, particularly to those taxpayers who need most the protection of this Parliament. There are one or two clauses further on which render it exceedingly necessary that a High Court Justice should not be the first and final Court of Appeal.
– This is an appeal against an assessment, and nothing else.
– And, therefore, in nineteen cases out of twenty, the question will be one, not so much of law as of fact, requiring the attendance, not only of the appellant himself, but also witnesses. In many cases the appellant will require numerous witnesses - practical men, to give practical evidence for the guidance of the Court. Of course, we cannot expect the Attorney-General to settle these details on the spur of the moment while the clause is under consideration, but we urge him to devise some method which will best consult the convenience of the taxpayers. If this is not done they will be placed in an extremely difficult, and, in many instances, almost impossible position.
.- Under this clause the right of appeal if limited purely and simply to the amount of the assessment. Clause 18 provides thai the Commissioner may make an assessment of the amount on which, in his judgment, the land tax ought to be levied, and the taxpayer is liable, excepting so far as he establishes on appeal that the amount is excessive. Clause 42 provides that on the hearing of the appeal the Judge may make such order as he thinks fit, and he may either reduce or increase the assessment. But the right of appeal should not be limited purely to questions affecting assessments. It should be given in regard to all questions arising in connexion with the measure. For instance, a corporation may claim that it has been improperly placed on the list of taxpayers, being exempt, either as a charitable institution, a religious society, the trustees of a public library, or the trustees of a showground. As the Bill stands, there is no right of appeal on the ground that the person assessed claims exemption, and thus it will be impossible for the Judge to find that a person who has been assessed is not taxable. The word “ assessment “ is not wide enough.
– I agree with the honorable member for Darling Downs as to the advisability of having cases tried where the facts are known. If there is a difference of opinion among expert valuators, the settlement of the dispute must be determined by the evidence of persons with a knowledge of the neighbourhood in which the land assessed is situated. It has recently been held that under Commonwealth law evidence cannot be taken on commission. Therefore I am willing to make such amendments as will give effect to the honorable member’s suggestion. There should, too, be an appeal on questions of law to the High Court. As to what has been urged by the honorable member for Bendigo, I would point out that in dealing with an assessment the basis on which it is made may be reviewed, and thus claims for exemption may be decided on, and such questions as whether a man is or i.- not an absentee or a joint owner dealt with.
– Will the honorable member look into the matter?
– Certainly. We must make it possible to appeal in regard to all those questions.
– The Attorney-General has referred to the New Zealand legislation, under which a special magistrate of the district is appointed President df the Court, and two other members to assist him are appointed by the Governor in Council. There might be an advantage in choosing as the two other members persons resident in and acquainted with the district, because of their knowledge of local values, but, in my opinion, there would be a still greater disadvantage in that such persons might be suspected by unsuccessful litigants of bias, and we should do all that we can to remove any ground for suspicion of that kind. I think that the two members appointed to assist the special magistrate should not be local men, but should be chosen because of their special capacity. They should be practical assessors, because the magistrate- could not be expected to have a practical knowledge.
– The magistrate would be informed by the evidence.
– That is the best way of informing him.
– It seems to me that he could be assisted by two practical men understanding and appreciating the evidence submitted.
– It would be better not to have such assistance, but to let the magistrate sit alone in the way in which magistrates sit when dealing with appeals from valuations made by shire councils and municipalities.
– I am prepared to agree to that; but every convenience should be given to taxpayers by providing for the hearing of their disputes in their own districts. There should be an appeal on matters of law from the District Courts to a Justice of the High Court, or to a Justice presiding over a special Court created for the purpose; because there will be a tremendous amount of litigation, and the work of dealing with it will be too much for any Justice of the High Court.
– In view of what the AttorneyGeneral has said, I shall not move my amendment.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the words “ a Justice of the High Court” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the High Court in its original jurisdiction, the Supreme Court, or a County or District Court of a State, or such other Court as is specified on that behalf by proclamation.”
.- I would suggest to the Attorney-General that, in the circumstances, a little more consideration might be advisable. I appreciate his desire to meet the wishes of the Opposition - and their wishes have been many in this respect - but, to my view, we are hurriedly proposing to strike out the words “ Justice of the High Court” when it might be a distinct advantage to have a question of law decided at once by the High Court, instead of being submitted to some District or County Court.
– This relates to appeals on the facts. Appeals from other Courts on questions of law will still go to the High Court.
– But I think it would be better to provide for these cases being heard by a “ Justice of the High Court or such other Court as may be proclaimed.” We need not specifically mention the Supreme, County, or District Courts. If my suggestion were adopted, Courts of such a character as the necessities of the moment required could be proclaimed in any part of Australia. It might be advisable, in the interests of all concerned, that a case should go at once to the High Court, and be finally settled by it, instead of extending through the ramifications of the lower Courts and finally reaching the High Court when the applicant was a ruined man, and the Government would be unable, if it won its case, to get its costs. There would be a natural tendency on the part of appellants to go, in the first place to District or County Courts, overlooking the possibility of appeals to- the High Court, and the costs that those appeals would involve.
– Under the New South Wales Act cases are heard locally, but there is the right of appeal on questions of law. I did not suggest that the High Court should not be included.
– The AttorneyGeneral proposes to go further than he was asked to go by the Opposition, and that is why I urge that he should reconsider the position. The additional step that he proposes to take seems to me to be, at present, unnecessary and dangerous, and one that may lead to needless expenditure on the part of both the Government and appellants. If the circumstances required it, any Government worthy of its name would proclaim a Court in almost any part of Australia to hear an appeal rather than that an appellant should be brought to the High Court, or that one or two Justices of the High Court- should be constantly travelling all over Australia. But to say that the High Court, in the first place, shall not consider these cases, except on an appeal from an inferior Court, seems to me to be unnecessary.
;. - The amendment proposed by the Attorney-General does not commend itself to me, for it provides for a proclamation where we should have a distinct statutory provision. If we state in the Bill itself what Courts shall be empowered to deal with these cases we shall be responsible .for that provision, and will know exactly what arrangement is to be made for the hearing of appeals. Under the Customs Act there is a right of appeal to a Supreme Court of a State or to the High Court. The appeals to the final tribunal under this Bill will i elite largely to questions of assessment. The penalties imposed, under certain conditions, if an assessment is unsatisfactory,, are sufficient in many instances to ruin a man. I suggest to the Attorney-General that he should, after due consideration, draft a clause to meet the position. I should strongly object to any provision being made by regulation by the Ministry of the day, no matter what party might be in power.
– - I wish briefly to support the contention of the honorable member for Adelaide, that a multiplicity of Courts may spell disaster to many appellants. If we leave it open to the Government of the day to proclaim a special Court to meet groups of circumstances, the ends of justice will be served, and the High Court may well be left as the final arbiter.
– I tried to explain that it was necessary to have a case relating to a question of fact heard in the neighbourhood where it arose, and where the witnesses resided. If we left this matter primarily to the High Court we should need a High Court Bench far more numerous than we have at present, and during the next two or three years we should have Justices of that Court doing little more than hearing appeals under this Bill. Justice ought not to be delayed. The law ought to be administered, not only without favour, but without delay. Whilst I am willing to include the High Court in its original jurisdiction amongst the Courtsthat are to hear .these cases, it would befutile to expect the High Court to deal; with the bulk of these appeals. I invitehonorable members to think for a moment of what usually takes place after a fresh municipal assessment. I was once an appellant in a local Appeal Court against a municipal assessment, and found that there were a dozen or two dozen appeals, in connexion with that small municipality, concerning a comparatively trifling matter,Here the amounts involved may be very large, and since it is impossible that the High Court could deal with all of them it is obvious that the Courts which must deal with them are the High Court - if we include the High Court in its original jurisdiction - the Supreme Court, District, and County Courts of a State, and such other Courts as may be proclaimed. Having specified the Courts to which these cases may be submitted we must leave it to the discretion of the Executive to name such other Courts as convenience may seem to dictate. To meet the honorable member for Adelaide’s objections, I am prepared to include the High Court in its original jurisdiction. That Court will probably be appealed to on questions of law from the decisions of all or any of the lower Courts, and if my amendment of the amendment be adopted, it will be able to hear a case in its original jurisdiction, and in its appellate jurisdiction may decide matters of law arising out of any or all of these appeals. That should meet the honorable member’s objection. We include the High Court, and specify the Supreme, County, and District Courts. To these citizens refer matters of first importance j and we should not hesitate to refer to them all questions of this kind. As to the Courts to be proclaimed, I agree that we should not specify a tribunal lower than a District or County Court; but it may be desirable to have a Land Board, or any similar tribunal proclaimed as one which may hear certain appeals in some obscure part of the Western District of New South Wales, North Queensland, or the Northern Territory. Subject to the approval of the honorable member for Adelaide, I shall move to amend my amendment so that the words to be inserted will be “to the High Court in its original jurisdiction, Supreme,
County, or District Court of a State–
– Better use the word “ local.” ‘Those Courts are called Local in South Australia.
Amendment, leaving out the words “ a Justice of the High Court,” agreed to.
– I understand the same Courts are called District in New South Wa;les, County in Victoria, and; Local in South Australia. If Local Court in South Australia means the same as County Court here, I presume there will be no objection to specifying it. I therefore move -
That the following words be inserted :- “ the High Court in its original jurisdiction, the Supreme Court or a County, or District, or
Local Court of a State, or such other Court as is specified in that behalf by proclamation.’
.- It would be advisable to add after “ Local Court” the words “ of full jurisdiction.” In South Australia the Local Courts are of two kinds. One deals with cases of £20 and under, and may be a Court composed of a special magistrate or of two justices of the peace without a special magistrate. The other is a Local Court of full jurisdiction, which must consist of either a Judge of the Supreme Court, or of two justices of the peace sitting with a special magistrate. The special magistrate is a trained man, but not always a lawyer. If we want the Local Court with the special magistrate it would be better to say “ Local Court of full jurisdiction.” Several of our Acts do not say that.
.- There may be other forms of Local Courts in other States. I want to enter my emphatic protest against including the Local Court of full jurisdiction of South Australia in this clause. It may consist of the ordinary magistrate, who is not always a lawyer, with two honorary justices of the peace. 1 object to such a Court trying appeals of this description, and I hope that the Attorney-General will strike it out of the amendment. The inclusion of those words is only a subsequent thought on the part of one honorable member, and in the amendment without them we have gone to the full extent to which we were originally asked to go by the honorable members for Darling Downs and Bendigo. We have no County or District Courts in South Australia analogous to those in New South Wales and Victoria, but our Supreme Court Judges travel at times, and Courts are proclaimed to be held in different parts of the State. The appeals could be heard there.
.- There is not going to be such a very large number of these cases, nor will there be an immediate hurry for hearing them. We ought, therefore, to keep away from Local Courts, whether consisting of magistrates or justices of the peace. There is always local influence, of which, as the honorable member for Wakefield says, we should try to avoid even the suspicion. I agree with’ the honorable member for Adelaide that a very much more experienced and independent person, and of much higher standing than the ordinary magistrate, ought to try these cases, even if it means waiting a little while for the holding of a proper Court.
Our Judges generally have wide experience and considerable knowledge of matters affecting land, but the local magistrates have to deal mostly with smaller cases,, such as come within Police Court proceedings. I do not like the suggestion of the honorable member for Angas, which might lead to these appeals being heard by justices of the peace. No doubt these local justices do a lot of good work generally, but they are apt to take local views of matters, and would not take the independent view that is likely to be taken by a visiting Judge who is free from local bias.
.- Over and over again the fact has been brought out that in the Victorian Local or Police Courts, honorary justices, who know very little of the law, have outvoted the police magistrate, who does know the law. I am content to see the appeals go to a police or stipendiary magistrate_ if thought necessary, but it would not be right to leave the matter to. local justices. I hope the Attorney-General will take a little time to draft an amendment which will meet with the approval of the whole Committee.
– There seems to be some doubt as to what the Local Court in South Australia is like. The more we hear of it the worse its reputation becomes, and in the circumstances I ask leave to amend the amendment by striking out the words “or Local.” If found advisable that Court may be included by proclamation.
– I do not know why we should leave these things to be proclaimed when we could put in the names of the Courts in force in all the States now. We have a land tax in Western Australia, and a Court of review is established, consisting of a magistrate specially intrusted with the work. It would be of no use to leave the work “to the Supreme Court Judges, because they would not have the time to do it, except on rare occasions. A stipendiary magistrate appointed for the purpose is an excellent tribunal, because he has so much local knowledge. There are no County or District Courts in Western Australia. There is the Supreme Court, and there are Local Courts, and, in the case of the land tax, the Court of review. I hope the Attorney-General will specify the names of the Courts which are to. hear the appeals, so that _ trouble and misunderstanding may be avoided.
– Under the Local Government Acts throughout Australia I think an appeal can be made either to the Supreme Court, the County Court, or a stipendiary magistrate. The honorable member for Maribyrnong suggested the inclusion of the latter in this clause. I am not in favour of leaving these appeals to the local justices, who may be influenced, quite unintentionally, one way or the other. I should leave them to the paid officers, who are trained men. The resident magistrates in Australia are accustomed to hear appeals in reference to municipal assessments ; and I assume that the difficulties in regard to assessments under this Bill will not be any greater than in the former case. The Courts of Appeal should be as near as possible to the doors of the appellants; we have no desire to bring a man and his witnesses from Western Australia to Melbourne or Sydney, or even to Perth. Even in the case of Victoria there are places on the South Australian border from which it would be most difficult and expensive to convey, perhaps, a dozen witnesses to Melbourne. Such a condition of affairs would make appeals so expensive as to confine them to rich men.
– There are County Courts in every district.
– The County Courts have a limited area; for instance, in the Western District of Victoria, the County Court sits only at Portland, Hamilton, and Casterton, although there are such places as Serviceton, 50, or perhaps 80, miles away. In the stipendiary magistrates we have paid public officers of legal training, independent and impartial, whose appointments do not depend in any way on the local residents.
– Does the honorable member guarantee the independence?
– I guarantee no one, not even the Justices of the High Court; but I can say that I was for three years Solicitor-General of Victoria, and, in my experience, the police magistrates honestly endeavour, to the best of their ability, to do justice to all- to the Crown, to the accused, and private persons. I am not going to assume that men who in the past have honestly performed their duties will act dishonestly on questions submitted to them under a measure of this kind.
.- We should make -the Courts as convenient as possible, and I agree, in the main, with what the honorable member for Balaclava has said. That honorable member,. however, suggests that the tribunal should be similar to that used in the case of municipal assessments, and I remind him that associated with the stipendiary magistrates are honorary magistrates.
– I expressly excepted honorary magistrates.
– I have seen some very peculiar things in connexion with assessments under municipal valuation ; and honorary magistrates have overridden the decisions of the stipendiary magistrates.
– Both the honorable member for Maribyrnong and myself restrict the appeals to police magistrates.
– Unless special provision be made, the clause will permit of appeals to honorary magistrates, who may be land-owners or business men in small towns dependent on land-owners.
– Is it the pleasure of the Committee that the AttorneyGeneral have leave to amend his amendment by leaving out the words “ or Local “ ?
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
.- I still desire to press on the AttorneyGeneral the fact that the right of appeal is limited to the amount of the assessment.
– I have since satisfied myself that the clause covers all the matters of which the honorable member spoke.
– In the New South Wales Act, it is provided that there shall be the right of appeal on the ground that the appellant is not liable, or on the ground that the amount is excessive.
– I shall look into the question, and make the provision cover all the matters referred to. I now move -
That the following new sub-clause be added - “ (2) When an appeal is to the High Court or a Supreme Court it shall be heard by a single Justice of the Court.”
– I think there is a slight difficulty in this proposal. The Constitution enables us to invest Courts of the States with Federal jurisdiction, but it must be “Courts” that are so invested. We cannot invest a Judge of a Supreme Court or a Judge of a State County Court with Federal jurisdiction, nor can we, if we invest a Court with such jurisdiction, prescribe that one Judge of the Court shall sit. Each Court will be guided according to its own rules, whatever they may be. For example, we may invest a Supreme Court with Federal jurisdiction, but we must leave that Court to determine its own procedure - to determine what number of Judges can sit, and so on. In all probability, of course, a Supreme Court would make rules to enable one Judge to act.
.- I quite appreciate what the honorable member for Flinders has said, and, personally, I think that by appointing a Judge we are really creating a Federal Court under the Constitution.
– It will be nugatory; we cannot compel a State Judge to act as a Federal Judge.
– I mentioned before that all this is nugatory. We have provided in a great many of our Acts that the Courts of the States shall exercise Federal jurisdiction, but, of course, these Courts need not act unless they are permitted to do so by the Governments of the States. When it is found what the work is under this Bill, the Judges may ask for payment, just as some of the registrars and magistrates have done in regard to electoral and old-age pension matters, though I believe that the payment has not yet been made.
– I direct the attention of the honorable member for Flinders to section 79 of the Constitution -
The Federal jurisdiction of any Court may be exercised by such number of Judges as the Parliament prescribes.
– I do not think that covers the case.
– I understood the honorable member to say that, while we might confer Federal jurisdiction on any State Court, we could not direct that State Court as to the number of Judges by which cases should be heard, and so forth. I take it, however, that section 77 of the Constitution, which gives us power to define jurisdiction, and section 79, which deals with the number of Judges, are conclusive; and that the point taken by the honorable member is not a valid one.
– I do not like to be positive on these points without further consideration; but I think that the words “ any Court “ probably refer to Federal Courts.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 41 agreed to.
Clause 42 - (1.) On the hearing of the appeal the Justice may make such order as he thinks fit, and may either reduceor increase the assessment, and his order shall be final and conclusive on all parties. (2.) The cost of the appeal shall be in the discretion of the Justice.
Clause consequentially amended.
-Ihave given notice of an amendment to provide for the statement of a case in writing for the opinion of the High Court. To that end I wish to insert, after the word “order,” the words “subject to subsection 3,” and I propose to add a new sub-section 3, as follows -
On the hearing of the appeal, the Justice, if he thinks fit, may state a case in writing for the opinion of the High Court upon any question arising in the proceeding which, in his opinion, is a question of law.
In this I follow the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act on the same point. This, of course, does not take away the powers . of prohibition. I would suggest an alteration of sub-clause 2. If the Attorney-General agrees to a special case, under the circumstances I mentioned, I suggest that we should add these words -
And subject to sub-section 3 his orders shall be finaland conclusive on all parties.
– I should like to have an opportunity to consider the matter, and, if necessary, shall propose an amendment on recommittal. We should not put any obstacle in the way of the speedy determination of cases.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That the following words be added to subclause 1 - “ except that an appeal therefrom shall be to the High Court on questions of law.”
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the word “ Justice,” in sub-clause 2, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Court.”
– As there is now a possibility of two appeals, one to the primary Court and the other to the High Court, the sub-clause should be amended to read, “ the cost of such appeals.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 43 (Rules of Court).
– Will these rules be made by the Justices of the High Court?
– I shall consider the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Natimuk and Goroke Mail Service: - Allowances, Non-Official Post Offices
– The Deputy Postmaster General for Victoria has furnished the following information in reference to the Natimuk and Goroke mail service, about which the honorable member for Wannon asked two questions yesterday -
The following is the revised scale for fixing the remuneration of persons in charge of all offices in my Department below official status, about which the honorable member for Cowper asked a question -
Postal Articles, posted at the office concerned - 2,000, or under, allowance of £$ per annum.
Over 2,000 up to 3,000, allowance of £6 per annum.
Each i,ooo, or part thereof over 3,000, allownnce of xos. per annum.
Mails (including private bags), i.e., bags received and bags despatched - 312 per annum, or under, £3 per annum.
Over 312 up to 624 per annum, ^5 per annum.
Each additional 312 over 624 per annum, £1 per annum.
Night attendance for receipt and despatch of mails - -
For each weekly attendance between hours laid down for closing and opening, £1 per annum.
For each necessary and regular attendance on Sunday, £1 per annum.
Telegrams - Despatched,’ 2d. each; received and delivered, 3d. each.
Telephone, id. per message, received or despatched.
Money orders,1d. per transaction (issued or paid).
Postal notes, ad. per complete £1 worth sold.
Savings Banks, 4s. per cent, on amount of deposits and withdrawals.
Minimum allowance, £10 per annum.
Total annual payments to be made to the nearest 5s. -
Allowances are subject to annual revision.
Special cases of offices in remote localities or cases where difficulty is experienced in obtaining postmasters, &c, are dealt with on their merits apart from the scale, full consideration being given to their peculiar local surroundings. Similar action is also taken in cases of officers where the revenue is disproportionate to the proposed allowance.
Note. - The above scale was issued to take effect from ist July, 1909, for all new offices, and all offices where an increased allowance would be . payable under it, but where any reduction would be involved by reasons only of the action of the new scale, the latter applied on change of the postmaster only.
*6 p.m. to 9 a.m., as amended by decision of 13th September, 1910.
There is no fixed scale of payment to semiofficial postmasters other than that the allowance (including£78 for personal service, the provision of quarters or rent in lieu thereof, and an allowance for lighting, maintenance, Sc.), shall not be less than£110 per annum.
Melbourne, 13th September, 1910.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- From the reply given by the PostmasterGeneral to a question I asked yesterday regarding the sale of postage stamps at railway stations on Sundays, I think the honorable gentleman is not entirely conversant with the circumstances. Some honorable members may think that I was moved to ask the question because of my Sabbatarian opinions, which are fairly strong, but my object was really to secure relief for the officers of the Railways Department, who already have too much to attend to, and honorable members know the proverb about the last straw breaking a camel’s back. Many of the railway officials are overworked, and have to take advantage of the smaller train service on Sundays to make up their books. Often when a man is half-way up a column of figures, there is a tap at the window, and some one asks for a stamp. At one station the officer in charge had to answer between fifty and sixty such calls in one evening. As the public are able to buy stamps at the railway stations up to midnight on Saturday, surely it is not too much to expect them to provide themselves with their requirements against Sunday. I contend that it would be wise for the Postmaster-General, with a view to relieving deserving officers, to prohibit the sale of stamps at railway stations on Sundays.
– When will the Postmaster-General be able to lay on the table the report of the Postal Commission, which, I understood, was to be presented to-day ? Are we likely to get it this week?
. I have not yet seen the report. It will go first to the Governor- General, and then to the Prime Minister
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 September 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19100930_reps_4_57/>.