7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers..
PRIVATE GORDON McDONALD.
Mr. BOYD. - According to this morning’s newspaper, Private Gordon McDonald, to whose case I drew attention last week, has had his passage paid to Sydney, and there has been found wearing the ribbons of the D.C.M., the M.O., the Croix de Guerre, and the D.S.O., showing clearly that his case is a mental one. Moreover, he was sent to this country as a mental case. I ask the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt), therefore, if he will see that this man, instead of being confined in a civil prison, is sent to a hospital or other institution where he can be treated as a mental case?
Mr. WATT. - I was not in the chamber throughout the delivery of the speech made by the honorable member last week, and therefore missed most of his remarks on this case, though from what I did hear, it appeared to me that he had not gone the right way to get it properly considered, and perhaps the case has been, to some extent, prejudiced in consequence. When this morning, I read the newspaper report, to which the honorable member has referred, it occurred to me that the man must be bordering on insanity, or, at least, suffering from temporary aberration. I propose to ask the Minister for Defence to consider the case with me as early as possible.
Mr. TUDOR. - Will the Acting Prime Ministeralso ascertain the names of the persons from whom the ribbons were obtained which it is alleged the man was wearing? It was impossible for him to make them himself, and those who supplied him with them are the persons who should be punished.
Mr. WATT. - The Department does its best to prevent the improper use of military symbols and badges. The subject of the honorable member’s question may form part of the inquiry.
Mr. WATT. - The Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Wise) informs me that immediately on the matter being brought under his notice this morning, he communicated with the Defence Department in New South Wales, asking the Commandant there to have the case dealt with as a mental one, and all the steps necessary to do that will be taken.
– Will the Defence Department consider the advisability of giving to the Anzacs on furlough, to whom reference is made in this morning’s newspaper, at least a sustenance allowance?
– I cannot answer the question off-hand, because I do not know what a promise would involve.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister have the matter referred to the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) ?
– Recently it was announced by advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald that a supply of pine had been received from America, and was available for firewood, of which there was a shortage. Will the Honorary Minister (Mr. Poynton) inquire whether firewood is being imported from America, and if he finds that that is being done, will he take steps to insure that in future the cargo space on board vessels shall be used for the carrying of more valuable commodities ?
– I do not know anything about the matter, but I shall have an inquiry made.
– Some time ago the subject of compulsory national insurance was considered by the House, which came to an indefinite conclusion regarding it. Has the matter been considered by the Acting Prime Minister and his colleagues ?
– I have no recollection of the matter having been considered by Cabinet during my term of office.
– The Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn) knows all about it. He circulated a Bill.
– The Bill has not yet been prepared, though I have a digest ready.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister consider the advisability of emulating Great Britain and Canada by endeavouring to raise in the United States of America loans for war purposes ?
– I do not propose to follow the course suggested. Great Britain has raised loans in the United States of America, not, because of her poverty or her inability to borrow from her own people, but, in conjunction with the French nation, chiefly to provide exchange value which was running heavily against her Allies on the Continent of Europe. Canada, on the other hand, is the neighbour of the United States of America. But Canada, in addition to raising loans from her own people, has become, in one sense, a creditor of Great Britain. I think that Australia should, so far as her circumstances will permit, raise as much money as she needs for war purposes from her own people.
– I am getting rather timid in regard to the wowsers. I ask if it is to-day, and in honour of the soldiers who are returning to-day, that a badge of blue is to be worn on the uniforms of invalided men to prevent them from getting drink? As it seems to me that the regulation requiring this badge to be worn brings the men almost under the Aboriginals Protection Act, I ask whether the Minister for Defence has considered the advisability of having their faces painted black? I have been requested by soldiers themselves to raise this matter.
– In a recent report of the Acting Public Service Commissioner, attention is called to the fact that several of the principal positions connected with the administration of the Public Service Act have been vacant for periods ranging from one to two years. Does the Acting Prime Minister consider that this state of affairs is in the best interests of departmental efficiency, and can he state what are the reasons for the remarkable delay in filling the vacancies ?
– I do not think that important administrative offices should, as a practice, be left vacant, or put in charge of acting officials for any length of time. Broadly speaking, if men suitable for the vacancies present themselves, or are available, they should be appointed as promptly as possible, so that the responsibilities of the administration may fall upon permanent officials who are properly qualified to carry them. The chief reason why this and former Governments have delayed the appointment of a Public Service Commissioner is the need for an amendment of the Public Service Act, and the consideration incidental thereto of the advisability of commissioning the Post Office. If it were decided to put the Postal Department under a permanent Commission of administration, the work of the Public Service Commissioner would be materially lessened. But until the question has been analyzed in the light of all the facts, it has been considered advisable to delay the appointment of a Public Service Commissioner.
Mr.FENTON. - This is part of a communication that I received yesterday -
The dizzy limit in price fixing ! Pint bottles tomato sauce,10d. ; not a pint and not tomato sauce !
Will the Honorary Minister see that when a regulation is made fixing the price of a particular commodity, the quantity and quality of that commodity shall be in accordance with the price fixed?
– I think that the regulations fixing prices govern quantities also, and, if they do not, they can be made to do so. The quality of foodstuffs is a matterwith the administration of the PureFoods Acts of the States; it is one for the State authorities to look after.
– Is it not a fact that the Commonwealth has complete control, so far as quality is concerned, over goods manufactured in one State and sent to another?
– That may be so, but the Pure Foods Acts of the States provide the legislation under which the quality of foodstuffs sold in Australia is regulated.
– In relation to the policy of preference to returned soldiers, and to the possible organization of a scheme for the aerial defence of Australia, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence if he will have prepared a return for early submission to Parliament, showing the number of Australian aviators in the Australian flying units on service and returned, and giving an estimate of the number of Australians - it is a large number - flying with the Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps at the Front?
– I shall convey the request to the Minister for Defence, and no doubt the return will be supplied.
– According to this morning’s newspaper, the note circulation has been increased by an issue of £2,357,704 worth of notes. Has this increase been made to meet the interest on loans falling due ? If not, what is the reason for it?
– The increase is not to meet interest, which is paid out of revenue, not out of loan money nor out of the Note Fund. The expansion of the note issue has been inevitable, and has been due chiefly to the necessity of properly financing our primary productions.
– Did I understand the Treasurer to state that the proposed increase in the note issue was designed to meet the position of primary producers ?
– No. It is not an easy matter to explain, but if the honorable member, who is interested in this question, would call at my Department I ‘should be glad to show him the exact position. The arrangements we have made for financing the primary products is the chief cause for the present expansion of the note issue. I think I have explained to the House that the obligations which we feel we have to undertake in regard to wool, wheat, butter, and related products amount to something like £76,000,000. All these arrangements have to be dealt with by the banks, and in some cases shipments cannot be effected. That is the main cause for the expansion of the note issue.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer whether any refunds from the sale of primary produce will he devoted to the reduction of the loan account, or to what account the money realized in that way will be placed ?
– In the event , of there being a refund from realization or exchange there will be a corresponding shrinkage in the note issue.
Returned Soldiers and a Clergyman.
– Has the attention of the Assistant Minister for Defence been directed to a report in the press that in the salubrious town of Orange, New South Wales, certain soldiers made an attack upon a minister of the Gospel, that they dragged him from his pulpit and were guilty, so it is stated, of other acts of violence, and even sacrilege?
– I desire- and this may satisfy my interjecting friend - to ask whether the Minister will be good enough to furnish us with a report from the appropriate military authority at Orange, who may be taken to be responsible for the conduct of soldiers there, and whether he will also ask that a report be volunteered by the minister of the Gospel upon whom this outrage is alleged to have been inflicted ?
– My attention has not been called to the report, but I will convey the honorable member’s request to the Minister for Defence.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to a paragraph in the Ago newspaper reporting that a riot took place in a church in Orange, New South Wales; and, if so, will he take the necessary steps to preserve law and order in the House of God?
– Order ! A similar question has already been asked and answered this morning.
Employees of Enemy Origin
– In view of the objections to, and the positive danger involved in, the continued employment of Germans in the Defence Department, and having regard to a report that there are still employed in that Department thirty-one persons of enemy origin, including one G. A. Ampt, whose employment was recently denied by the secretary of the Department, I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he will request Mr. Barnett, S.M., who has been appointed to inquire into the employment of persons of enemy origin in the Public Service, to direct his attention first of all to the military Department ?
– The honorable member, as his question indicates, knows that the Government have appointed a stipendiary magistrate to inquire intothe position of persons of alleged or proved enemy birth or descent in the Public Service.
– It is an impertinent question.
– What appears to the honorable member to be impertinent might be quite reasonable in the view of the ordinary loyalist. The object of the inquiry is to ascertain if men of doubtful loyalty are employed in any Department, and particularly in the Navy Department and the Department of Defence. I endeavoured to induce the magistrate to inquire at an early date into one case which upon representations made to me, seemed to be needful of more despatch; but he has laid out his programme of work in a very systematic way and rather objects to any interference with it. I shall see how far the honorable member’s suggestion can be met.
Mr.FENTON. - I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister a question relating to a gentleman whose case has to be inquired into by the magistrate. He came to this country when two and a half years of age; has been thirty years in the Public Service ; and has been under suspension from 1st January last, since when he has received no salary. He is the only public servant in the list of persons of enemy birth who is in this sorry plight. Will the honorable gentleman expedite the consideration of his case so that he may know what his position is ? At present he is not allowed to earn his living in his ordinary capacity.
– I apprehend, from the honorable member’s statement, that he is referring to the very case which I brought under the magistrate’s notice. On the facts becoming known to me, I was induced to ask him to facilitate inquiry and decision in respect of this man. Mr. Barnett is carrying out a very difficult’ work in the best way he can, and he feels that to be called on to deal with individual cases here when he is pursuing his work in a particular State is calculated to seriously interfere with the discharge of his duty. For that reason he objected to deal with this case before others-
– Some time ago, in reply to representations that I made to the Prime Minister’s Department, I was informed that Lieutenant-Colonel Bolle, a German, had been removed from his position. I understand the removal consisted of his promotion to another position. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence state whether that is correct ?
– I do not know. The case occurred before I went into the Department.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until
Tuesday next, at 3 p.m.
Position of Men who have Served with the Australian Imperial Force.
– On the 19th April last, the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley ; asked me -
Whether those men who have served with the Australian Imperial Force abroad, and who would, under ordinary circumstances, be liable for training in the Citizen Forces of Australia, will be relieved from that obligation, on the grounds that their military training and experience abroad more than fulfil requirements?
I replied that the matter was receiving the attention of the Department, and a decision on the subject would be arrived at shortly. I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following answer: -
This matter has been dealt with by Australian Military Regulation 788a, which prescribes as follows: -
Any person who has, beyond the limits of the Commonwealth, served on war service in connexion with the present
Avar, shall be exempt from the training prescribed by Part XII. of the Act during the period of the war, andduring the period of twelve months ending on the 30th June next following the day on which the war ceases; and
The exemption granted under this Regulation, however, does not exempt persons from their liability to notify change of address.
– In answer to some inquiries that have been made by honorable members in regard to the position of returned soldiers on furlough, I desire to announce that the Minister for Defence has approved of the payment of a sustentation allowance of 3s. a day to all non-commissioned officers and privates in the Australian Imperial Force returned, on duty, for furlough; and has decided that such allowance shall be retrospective as from 1st May last.
Appointment of Secretary
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is a fact that, notwithstanding the statement made in the Melbourne Age of 21st ultimo that applications from both inside and outside the Public Service would be invited for the position of Secretary to the newly-appointed Board of Trade, an acting secretary has been appointed; and whether it is intended that his appointment shall be a permanent one?
– I know nothing about the matter; but if the honorable member will give notice of his question, I shall have inquiries made.
Australian Civilians Interned in Germany.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the declaration of the Government that the war aims of the Government include the retention of German New Guinea, what is the explanation of the statement made by the Prime Minister in New York: - “Australia does not want more territory. She is perfectly content that the islands adjacent to Australia shall be held by friendly Powers?” (See daily press, 5th June, 1918.)
– The Government thoroughly indorse the statement by the
Prime Minister. Australia is not seeking territorial reward or extension, but strongly desires that former German Possessions in the South Seas shall not revert to Germany, but shall be retained in the control of Britain or a friendly Power.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I know nothing of the facts concerning the alleged victimization, but shall endeavour to ascertain them from the Premier of Victoria.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Seeing that phosphorus, used principally in Australia for rabbit extermination, is said to be almost unprocurable, and, seeing that it is alleged that there are big stocks of this commodity in England for which there is no demand, will he arrange with the Imperial Government to remove the embargo which prevents phosphorus from being exported to Australia?
– The census taken in February last showed that there were considerable quantities of phosphorus and rabbit poison in the Commonwealth. A request has been made to the Ministry of Munitions to permit the export from the United Kingdom of phosphorus if not detrimental to war supplies.
asked the Post master-General, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the fact that officials of the post and telegraph service delivered certain telegrams addressed to him (Mr. Considine) to officials under the control of Mr. Speaker, subsequently obtained possession of them again without his (Mr. Considine’s) knowledge or consent, and then detained them for about twenty-one hours, the Minister will inform the House what steps he has taken, if any, to ascertain who was responsible for this detention, and the reason for such action being taken ?
– On inquiry, I find that the telegram referred to was released for delivery without submission to the Censor. To enable this to be done, the Despatch Clerk sent the same delivery messenger to Parliament House to ask for its return. It was then handed to the Censor, and subsequently released for issue.
asked the Assistant Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
InCommittee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 4 -
Section 9 of the principal Act is amended -
Section proposed to be amended -
Any officer who acts in the execution of his office before hehas made the prescribed declaration, or who, after making the declaration, divulges any information relating to the affairs of a taxpayer except in the performance of his duty under this Act, shall be guilty of an offence
Senate’s amendment. - After “ amended “ in sert the following new paragraph: - “ (aa) by inserting in sub-section (2) thereof after the word ‘ declaration ‘ (second occurring) the words ‘makes a record of or ‘ “.
Mr. WATT (Balaclava- Acting Prime
Minister and Treasurer) [11.35]. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Cases have arisen where temporary officers while in the employ of the Department have made notes of decisions in reference to the affairs of taxpayers, and both before and after the termination of their employment have sought to make use of those notes against the Department. The amendment will make it an offence for any person in the Department to make a record of any matter except in the performance of his duty as an officer of the Taxation Office. As it should be our endeavour to preserve inviolate the secrecy of the office, the amendment should be acceptable to honorable members.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 6 -
Section 11 of the principal Act is amended -
by adding at the end of sub-section (1) thereof the following para graphs: - “(j) the income of an agricultural, horticultural or other similar society or association, not carried on for the purposes of the profit or gain to the individual members thereof, established for the purpose of promoting by means ofexhibitions and demonstrations the development of the agricultural, pastoral, horticultural, viticultural, stock-raising or industrial resources of Australia.”
Section proposed to be amended - 11. (1) The following incomes shall be exempt from income tax
Senate’s amendment -
Paragraph (d) leave out sub-paragraph (j), and insert in lieu thereof ” (j) The income of any society or associa tion not carried on for the purposes of the profit or gain to the individual members thereof, established for the purpose of promoting the development of the agricultural, pastoral, horticultural, viticultural, stock-raising, manufacturing, or industrial resources of Australia.”
Mr. WATT (Balaclava- Acting Prime
Minister and Treasurer) [11.37]. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
It will not alter the principle of the clause as we sent it to the Senate. We granted an exemption to societies which held demonstrations or exhibitions in connexion with the development of the resources of the Commonwealth. The limitation we imposed has been removed by the Senate, and if the amendment be made, a society which is not promoted for the purpose of individual gain, but is established for any of the objects alluded to in the proposed new sub-section, will not be taxable. No considerable sum of money will be lost by the extension of the exemption.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Section 13 of the principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “ 13. This Act shall not apply to the income derived from personal exertion by any person who is on active service outside Australia during the present war with the Naval or Military Forces of the Commonwealth or any part of the King’s Dominions, or of an ally of Great Britain, from the date of his departure from Australia until the date of his discharge from, or the termination of his appointment with those Forces, nor to the military pay of that person from the date of his enlistment in or appointment to those Forces.” Senate’s amendment -
Leave out proposed section 13, and insert in lieu thereof - “ 13. This Act shall not apply to the income derived from personal exertion by any person who is or has been on active service outside Australia, during the present war, with the Naval or Military Forces of the Commonwealth, or any part of the King’s Dominions, or of an ally of Great Britain, from the date of his enlistment in or appointment to those Forces until the date of his discharge therefrom or the termination of his appointment.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The clause as it left this Chamber has been recast in order to provide for cases in which Australian taxpayers may have enlisted for active service outside Australia. The Government see no reason for granting an exemption from taxation in respect to incomes derived from personal exertion to members of the Australian Imperial Force, and not extending the same privilege to other Australians who have enlisted for any reason whatsoever with the Forces of any of the Allied countries.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 8 -
Section fourteen of the principal Act is amended -
by inserting at the end of paragraph
the following proviso: - “ Provided that when the taxpayer is an employee and premises are occupied by him for purposes of residence in connexion with his employment, the taxpayer’s income shall include the annual rental value of the premises or part thereof used byhim for the purposes of residence.”
Section proposed to he amended -
The income of amy person shall include -
five per centum of the capital value of land and improvements thereon owned and used or used rent free by the taxpayer for the purpose of residence or enjoyment and not for the purpose of profit or gain: Senate’s Amendment. - After “ value “ insert “ to him “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The proviso, as amended by the Senate, reads as follows : -
Provided that when the taxpayer is an employee, and premises are occupied by him for purposes of residence in connexion with his employment, the taxpayer’s income shall include the annual rental value to him of the premises or part thereof used by him for the purposes of residence.
This amendment will cover the case of a man who may possibly be obliged to live in premises much larger than he needs. It is better to assess the value of the premises to him so that he may not be paying more than he ought.
Motion agreed to.
Section seventeen of the principal Act is amended by inserting after paragraph
the following paragraph: - ” (bb) as an alternative to the deduction allowable by the last preceding paragraph, there shall, at the option of the taxpayer, be deducted so much of the income of the financial year as is appropriated for development (the cost of which is not deductible under section eighteen of this Act) and for new plant:
Provided that any of the money so appropriated which has not been expended for that purpose at the end of the year in which it was appropriated shall be liable to tax as income of that year;”
Section proposed to be amended -
In connexion with income derived from mining operations (other than coal mining) carried on in Australia the following provisions shall apply: -
the capital expended by the person carrying on the mining operations in. necessary plant and development of a mining property from which income has been received (less the distributed and undistributed income financial year in and for which income tax is being levied) shall be divided by theestimated number of years during which payable mining operations may beexpected to continue under normal conditions, and the quotient thus obtained shall in addition to any other deductions allowed by this Act be deducted from the income.
Senate’s Amendmen t. - After “ as “ insert “ is expended in that year for development or “.
– I move -
That the amendment bo agreed to.
This amendment must he read in conjunction with the next, which proposes to add at the end of clause 12 the words -
Provided further that no deduction under paragraph (c) of sub-section (1) of section 18 of this Act shall be allowed on any new plant to which this paragraph applies. “
It deals with the question of deductions from the incomes of mining companies. As amended by the Senate, paragraph bb will read -
As an alternative to the deduction allowable by the last preceding paragraph, there shall, at the option of the taxpayer, be deducted so much of the income of the financial year as is expended in that year for development, or is appropriated for development (the cost of which is not deductible under section18 of this Act) and for new plant.
– What will happen if the amount appropriated is not spent?
– That is another matter which is dealt with in the Bill, but not in this particular amendment. The principle of the Bill is to allow mining companies to set aside a certain amount of money out of their income for development. Wealthy companies generally pursue that policy. If the money is not used it is brought to account in the following year, and income tax is paid upon it. That is a perfectly feasible scheme of mining development. The Senate’s amendment is to apply to companies who spend their money as they earn it. Small companies are not able, as a definite act of policy, to say that they will set aside out of an income of £50,000 earned during the year, a sum of £20,000 for development in the following year. As the money comes in they spend it on development work, and at the particular moment it is not earning income.
– What check have we over that expenditure?
– The check is to assume that a certain amount of wisdom will be displayed in controlling the operations of these companies. They will not put money into the ground unless it is used for developmental work. They would just as soon pay it to the Income Tax Commissioner as spend it on unnecessary and useless work. The proposal contained in the Senate’s amendment is a perfectly sound one. It will help smaller companies in a way which Parliament has already decided to help larger companies. Another phase of the matter will be covered by the next amendment.
.- As a primary producer, I protest against this amendment, because I cannot see why mining should be placed in a more advantageous position in this regard than all other industries. Why should mining be favoured in this way?
– It is not favoured. Income taxation seeks to gather a certain percentage of income that is beneficially enjoyed. This is not beneficially enjoyed, but is spent with the object of earning further income ; and, if it is wise expenditure, there will be further income.
– And so it is in every primary industry. In the case of pastoral pursuits, the wax-time profits tax takes up the whole of the profits of a man who developed country just before the war.
– But has he not some assets to show after he has decided to close up the business. What have the mining people got?
– The mining people have the public to live on, and we have only to walk down Collins-street to see it. Now that ores and metals are at such a price, mining companies, by reducing their output, as a great many are doing, escape their share of taxation. I must protest against this amendment.
.- I do not think that the honorable member who has just sat down fully understands the amendment. As the clause left this Chamber it offered a great protection to the big companies who are in the position to appropriate money at the end of the financial year for expenditure in the next year, whereas the small owner or company was not able to make an appropriation as defined by the Commissioner.
– How is it denned?
– The Commissioner has decided that the appropriation must be made at the annual, meeting. This provision will be a protection to the small company, which may be earning £400 or £500 a month, and expending about £700 in development work, with calls for the purpose of providing the balance. .Without the amendment, the Commissioner will not allow for this expenditure, because it has not been appropriated at the end of the financial year.
.- 1 take no exception to some concession being given to mining companies or parties for developmental work. I had a few years’ experience as a working miner, and I know that such a concession is essential. A very vital difference can be drawn between a man engaged in farming or grazing, and the man engaged in developmental work in mining. Notwithstanding the fact that we have very able men, including geologists, in the employ of the Government, to tell us where we may hope to look for success, I have found very often, as a working miner, that their knowledge does not extend far beyond the point of the miner’s pick. While the major part of the greatness of Australia is due to the mining industry, and it is one to be fostered, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Falkiner) is, I think, on perfectly safe ground in calling attention to the fact that some consideration should be shown to the man on the land. No doubt there are high prices for wool and stock and so forth, and we producers are earning, perhaps, better incomes than we did before the war; but it should be remembered that, under present circumstances, we are compelled to neglect the work of permanent improvement and maintenance, owing to the fabulous prices of fencing wire, and all we require in this connexion. So far as I am aware, we are not allowed to set aside a certain proportion of our incomes to provide for these necessaries in the years to come; and in this direction we deserve consideration. Galvanized iron is £100 to £120 a ton in small quantities, while fencing wire is almost unobtainable ; and we ought to be allowed to withold a certain amount or portion of our income today in order to be able to face the lean years and maintain our present standard of production if not of prices.
.- The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lynch) has presented a somewhat good case, but I am always loath to make any exemptions of the kind in a taxation measure. There are other industries besides farming which are burdened with high prices, and the whole subject is a very “ticklish” one. Of course, the mining community has, perhaps, the most pugilistic of representatives in this House, and possibly to that is due the proposal to extend this privilege. In a business with which I am connected in Sydney it was proposed to set aside a certain sum for the purpose of realization in the following year, and it was hoped that some allowance in taxation would have been permitted ; but when I interviewed the Commissioner I found there was no hope at all, although the money was for developmental purposes. Once we “start making exemptions in an Income Tax Bill we never know where we shall be able to stop’.
– The big company is able to make an appropriation at the end of the year, but, unless this amendment is accepted, the little company will be destroyed.
– All the same, the Government ought to be extremely cautious in granting exemptions. Under existing taxation many large exemptions are granted to which, when the Budget is before us, I shall draw attention, in order to expose the state of affairs. Taxation is required now more than at any other period in our history, and nothing should be done to interfere with the revenue. 1. have invested money in mining. As a young man I was fortunate enough to get on to good alluvial and make a few pounds, but subsequently I was persuaded by some agents in Sydney to go into a reef speculation, only to find that I had put my money into a load of stone.
– The honorable member is not alone !
– From all I can gabber, more money has been lost than gained in gold mining. We, on this side, offered some objection to the exemptions in the War-time Profits Tax Bill, but Ave were outvoted ; and I suppose it is only human nature for vested interests to see only one side. I have no desire to discourage developmental mining, if only for the reason that I believe on this will depend the future prosperity of the Northern Territory, if a proper policy is adopted. There is a fear, I am told, that development in the Northern Territory might diminish- land values in the States, and this may be the reason why mining in that part of Australia is being kept back. Under the circumstances, I shall offer no opposition to the amendment, leaving the Government to take the responsibility for their action.
.- There is a great deal to he said for the view put forward by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Falkiner). At the same time I cannot help feeling that the safeguards asked for by interjection by some honorable members while the Treasurer was speaking, would be very difficult to apply in connexion with the general exemption, although I admit that if we are to have an exemption at all, this amendment must be made. The Treasurer says that we are safeguarded against a mining company throwing its money into the ground by the fact that the company would sooner give the money to the Treasury. That is just what such a company will not do. If the Treasurer were managing a gold mining company, and bad the choice of paying £10,000 into the Treasury or spending £10,000 on another hole in the ground - which might yield something, but in which he would not invest unless he were required to pay the £10,000 to the Treasury as an alternative - it is certain that he would apply the money to the new speculation.
– We have decided that question in the main principle of the Bill. The amendment proposes to extend the same principle to small companies as to big companies.
– I have already said that if we allow an exemption at all, we cannot very well deny the force and justice of this amendment. But I am dealing with the general question of exempting mining companies. Much has been heard in this House from time to time regarding the value of the mining industry to Australia. So far as our legislation goes, that industry boils down to gold mining because, in another measure that was dealt with by the House recently, the only exemption granted was to that industry. The statistics prove that for every £1 worth of gold taken out of the ground; 25s. is put into the ground. It is quite true that the 25s. does not all come from Australia, and that whilst the English investor has paid heavily to get the pound’s worth of gold from the ground, the Australian investor has not paid nearly as much. We must remember, however, that money for speculative ventures will become scarce - indeed, Western Australia experienced the scarcity before the war - and in future money for mining purposes will have to come from Australian sources. That being so, I cannot see why we should give any policy encouragement to such an industry. There is a reason for giving a policy encouragement to the primary industries, and those other industries which are endeavouring to convert the primary products into manufactured articles. If that were done, we should greatly benefit Australian production and increase our wealth.
– When a man develops his land, he is creating a distinct asset, which is realizable, although he may not realize on it for a considerable time.
– A man may spend money on a well that will not hold water.
– Is not the mineownerin exactly the same position? I am not arguing in favour of “any exemptions, but if we give them at all, they should go to the industries that are likely to be of most benefit to the country. The mining industry is only a tithe of the importance of, firstly, the pastoral, agricultural, and other big primary industries; and, secondly, the industries which aim at turning out our raw products in manufactured form. Australia has never had a policy which aimed at encouraging those industries.
– The mining industry represents a production of at least £25,000,000 annually.
– What would- the wool industry represent to the country if the wool products were sent out of Australia in manufactured form?
– .The mining industry was the making of Victoria.
– Yes, and it has already failed in Victoria. It was the forerunner of other industries. The trouble with the mining industry, as contrasted with other industries, is that the more money that is made out of it, the more is the national wealth depleted. The revenue from that source is of the mushroom character.
Production from other legitimate industries increases the wealth of the country.
– How could the country have big manufacturing industries without mining?
– It is possible that the Western Australian members may be able to defend this extraordinary exemption for mining, not so much by the force of their arguments as by the fact that they are solid on the question.
.- The amendment embraces a very proper principle, and later I shall ask the Government to extend it to other primary industries. What is proper for one industry is proper for others. The honorable member for ‘Hume claims the extension of the exemption to the pastoral industry. I claim the same advantage for farming. The expenditure on rabbit destruction is an instance. The poison carts may go over the country week after week, and have no appreciable effect upon the rabbits, but an allowance is made for that expenditure. Yet if a man operates in a business-like fashion, digging out the’ rabbits, destroying all cover, and eventually exterminating the pest, he gets no allowance for his expenditure. There is a case in point in New South Wales. The graziers in the Western District found the rabbits swarming in.
TheCHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member is getting outside the scope of the amendment.
– I desire the Acting Prime Minister to understand that the pastoralists claim that the exemption given to mining companies should be extended to them.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - At the end of clause 12 add- “Provided further that no deduction under paragraph (e) of sub-section (1) of section 18 of this Act shall be allowed on any new plant to which this paragraph applies;”
– I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
The object of it is that the mining companies shall not get the exemption both ways. The parent Act makes very fair provision for the wear and tear of machinery whichrepairs cannot restore. We do not desire a company which gets a deduction of the cost of new plant to also get a deduction for depreciation on that plant.
– How far would that apply in relation to new companies ?
– A new or old company gets the benefit of the provision as to deductions for new plant, but if a company adds new plant it is not allowed a deduction for wear and tear on that plant.
– Suppose a wornout boiler is replaced by a. new one, is that allowable?
– Under the existing law the cost of new plant is allowed for by depreciation inthe annual return. It cannot be allowed for again when the plant is worn out. The amendment is regarded as an equitable arrangement between the Department and the companies.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 14 -
Section 18 of the principal Act is amended -
by omitting paragraph (h) of subsection (1) thereof and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - “(h) (i) payments made during the continuance of the present war to any patriotic fund established in any part of the King’s Dominions or in any country in alliance with Great Britain for any purpose connected with the present war, if the payments are verified to the satisfaction of the Commissioner ; and
contributions made to the Department of Repatriation or to any public authority for the purpose of being handed over to the Department ofRepatriation:
Provided the value of the contribution if in kind shall be verified to the satisfaction of the Commissioner; “;
Senate’s Amendment. - After . “ made “ insert “ or gifts purchased and forthwith presented “.
Section proposed to be amended -
In calculating the taxable income . . there shall be deducted -
gifts exceeding Twenty pounds each to public charitable institutions in Australia, and contributions exceeding Five pounds in the aggregate in respect of each object of contribution made during the continuance of the present war, to any public fund . . . for any purpose connected with the present war
. -The object of this amendment is to place gifts in kind purchased and immediately presented to a patriotic fund on a parity in the matter of deductions with gifts in cash. At present a deduction is allowed in respect of gifts in cash to such funds, but not in respect of gifts in kind. It is perfectly clear that that is inequitable. The effect is to induce people to put money into patriotic funds when it might be more advisable that they should invest the money in the purchase of comforts. To illustrate the matter by a case that occurs to me. The Victoria Racing Club, with the assistance of the business men associated with it, are doing very good work by purchasing comforts to advantage for the men at the Front. They might adopt another course, and pay £5,000 or £10,000 in cash into a patriotic fund. They buy well - tobacco, clothing, and other comforts, and no doubt to greater advantage than these articles could be purchased by the patriotic fund.
– That should be encouraged.
– I think that it is well to encourage individuals to purchase comforts for presentation to these patriotic funds. The honorable member for Wann on (Mr. Rodgers) could give us a number of illustrations of gifts in kind for repatriation. For instance, a man may give a block of land, instead of £500.
– He makes a gift which would otherwise have to be purchased with money from the fund.
– Quite so, and in doing so may avoid the expense to the fund of handling and manipulating charges.
– Who will value the gifts?
– The Commissioner of Taxation must be satisfied as to the value. If a man, asin the case of the Victoria Racing Club, buys tobacco for presentation to one of these funds, it may be assumed that he will purchase it as cheaply as possible. This practice of purchasing and presenting gifts in kind to these funds is the means very often of greatly lessening thework of administration of the funds.
I think that this kind of thing should be encouraged, and the object of the amendment is to provide that those who purchase gifts and present them at once to a patriotic fund should receive the same consideration in the matter of deductions from income as those who pay actual cash into one of these funds.
– Suppose a man does not purchase gifts which he presents to a fund.
– Does the honorable member mean that he may have some vague intention to make such a gift ?
– No. Take the case, for instance, of a man who gives to a fund a horse which he has bred himself.
– That wouldnot be covered by the amendment. If a man purchases from his income any gift, in preference to making his contribution in cash, he will, under the amendment, receive the same consideration as if he made a cash contribution. The amendment may not go far enough, but that is as far as it goes.
– We may have cases of gifts of blocks of land, as we have in connexion with repatriation.
– That is the giving of assets, it is not a gift out of income.
– I think it ought to be treated in the same way.
– I remind the honorable member that we are dealing with an income tax. If we were dealing with a wealth tax, a gift of a block of land might fairly be treated in the same way as a cash gift from income, but it is for the Committee to determine whether when dealing with an income tax it will treat in the same way a man who transfers assets as a man who makes a gift from income. The purpose of this amendment, which was carried with the concurrence of the Government in the Senate, is to place a man who purchases things and presents them at once to a patriotic fund, which may often be better than a presentation of cash, in the same position in the matter of deductions as the man who makes a cash gift to a patriotic fund. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I am very sorry that it is proposed to provide for any deduction at all in respect of these gifts to patriotic funds, though I sympathize very much with those who spend their time in endeavouring to secure collections. I imagine that the people who have approached the Government in connexion with this matter are the secretaries to these patriotic funds, who have experienced extreme difficulty at times in getting money from people. They probably thought that if the Government could offer contributors’ to the funds some inducement in the way of exemption from income tax, it might possibly lead to better subscriptions. Personally, I believe that the prospect of an exemption from income tax in respect of a gift to one of these funds does not weigh at all with the average contributor. When a man is asked to subscribe to a fund, and writes out a cheque for the purpose, it does not occur, I believe, to one in a thousand that by making the contribution he will secure a deduction from the amount of his income tax.
– That is no reason why we should not recognise these gifts.
– I think there is a reason. It is a very easy matter to make a deduction in respect of a cash contribution. The income tax officers will have no difficulty in dealing with a stated amount. But take the case of a man who gives a motor car. I remember the case of a man who presented a motor car to the Defence Department. It used up so much petrol that it cost about 9d. a mile to run it. The man was glad to get rid of the thing. It was given for patriotic reasons; but it would have been better for the Defence Department if they had never accepted the gift.
– Did the man ref erred to buy the car as a new car for the purpose of making the gift ?
– I believe that he had found it so expensive that he thought the best thing he could do with it was to give it away.
– Such a gift would not come under the amendment, which refers only to gifts purchased and immediately presented to a patriotic fund.
– If, under the amendment, a deduction is allowed only in respect of gifts where a purchase has been made for the purpose of presenting them to a fund, I admit that that is a different proposition. But I did not understand from the Treasurer’s remarks that that was the proposal.
– The gifts have to be purchased and presented at once, and the voucher for the purchase has to be forwarded to the Taxation Department before the amount is allowed for.
– I did not understand that that was the intention in submitting the amendment. The Acting Prime Minister referred to gifts of blocks of land, and a reference was made to a gift of a horse. I appear to be under some misapprehension as to the scope of the amendment.
Mr.Rodgers. - I should like to have a further statement from the Minister in charge of the Bill on this amendment.
– It has been suggested that it is to apply only to gifts that are purchased and immediately handed over to a patriotic fund.
– That is so.
– Then my remarks in opposition to the proposal will not apply.
– I have been interested in this matter of gifts in kind for a considerable time, and have had many interviews with the Commissioner and several Treasurers on the subject
– They related to repatriation.
Mr.RODGERS. - I was chiefly concerned about gifts made in connexion with repatriation, and, as I remember, the arrangement made was that gifts in kind for the purpose of repatriation would enjoy the same exemption from income taxation as gifts in cash. What arrested my attention when the Acting Prime Minister was referring to the amendment was the statement that where a gift was promised it. must be immediately handed over.
– Where a gift is purchased, it must be immediately handed over to a fund. That is the evidence of bona fides.
– This amendment has no relation to gifts in connexion with repatriation.
– No; they are dealt with in the latter portion of the Bill.
– I understand that, for the purpose of repatriation, gifts in kind are treated exactly the same as gifts in cash. I had. in mind a difficulty such as this: Suppose a man promises an area of wheat. He is putting in the wheat, but he is unable to deliver the gift until the crop matures, and is harvested. How could we have immediate delivery of the gift in a case like that?
– The Department would not attempt to tax him until the crop was harvested, and by that time delivery could take place.
– I am not so much concerned about the amendment here proposed .is about the provision which is to apply to gifts in kind made for repatriation.
.- While agreeing with the principle embodied in the Senate’s amendment, I -think it should go further. I fail to see why a man who purchases something which he afterwards gives to a patriotic fund, should be exempted from taxation, whilst another man who donates something to a similar fund should he taxed upon his gift. I have in my -mind the case of a man who purchases a horse for £25, and presents it to a patriotic organization to be raffled. Under this Bill he will be exempted from taxation on that amount, whilst another gentleman who donates a horse which may he worth £50 - an animal which he has bred himself - will be granted no exemption.
– He may have bought the horse out of income, but if he gave it direct he did so out of capital.
– That is the distinction, of course.
– Similarly, a person may purchase an acre of land for the purpose of giving it to a patriotic society. He will secure an exemption to the value of the gift, whereas another person who owns a much more valuable piece of land and donates it to the same organization will not obtain exemption. I know of a case in which a piece of land was raffled in the innterests of the Red Cross. Very much to his credit, the land was donated by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who received no exemption in regard to the gift. But if he had purchased that piece of land and then presented it to the Red Cross he would have been granted an exemption.
– As Lt.-Colonel Abbott has returned from the Front, and we are desirous of having him sworn in and welcomed, I move -
That progress be reported.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
Motion agreed to; progress reported.
Lt.-Colonel P. P. ABBOTT made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the electoral district of New England.
– ‘I ask the leave of the House to say .a few words by way of welcome to the honorable member.
Leave granted. >
– I nin sure that every honorable member, whether he was a member of this House when Lt.-Colonel Abbott left for service -abroad or not, is particu- larly.glad to see him back, especially after the distinguished service which he has rendered to his King and country. We hope that he has returned in the full enjoyment of health, but we know the stress through which he must have passed. We are anxious that he should know how deeply we appreciate the great sacrifices he has made for his country, and we hope that, for those services, there will be years and years of acknowledgment for him at the hands of the people of this country.
.- I am sure that I express the sentiments’ of honorable members upon this side of the chamber when I say that we are heartily glad to see Lt.-Colonel Abbott back amongst us. We hope that the time will soon come when we shall also see the other members who have gone from this Parliament, and all others who have left the Commonwealth, back here again. We all recognise the sacrifice that has been made by Lt. -Colonel Abbott and others, and we trust that the awful war, which is now overshadowing the world, will soon cease.
Lt.-Colonel ABBOTT (New England) [12.41]. - I appreciate very much indeed the very kind words of welcome which have fallen from both sides of the House, and which have been so well seconded by every honorable member present. It is really delightful to get back to these congenial and quiet surroundings.
An Honorable Member. - Quiet?
.- I do not say they are quiet at all times, but they certainly appear quiet after the strife and turmoil that are involved in the terrible war. The Leader of the Opposition has said that he hopes the day is not far distant when our boys who are now at the Front will return to us. I re-echo that hope. Our boys have done splendidly. They have stuck it out, and will continue to stick it out, but, nevertheless, we all hope that this awful business will come to an end as soon as possible, so that the fine fellows over there - and they are fine fellows - may return to their hearths and homes in Australia.
Sitting suspended from 12.4.5 to 2.15 p.m..
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments resumed from page 5670) :
Clause 14 -
Section 18 of the principal Act is amended -
by omitting paragraph (h) of subsection (1) thereof and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - “(h) (i) payments made during the continuance of the present war to any patriotic ; fund established in any part of the King’s Dominions or in any country in alliance with Great Britain for any purpose connected with the present war, if the payments are verified to the satisfaction of the Commissioner; and
contributions made to the Department of Repatriation or to any public authority for the purpose of being handed over to the Department of Repatriation:
Provided the value of the contribution if in kind shall beverified to the satisfaction of the Commissioner; “ ; .
Senate’s amendment - After “ made “ insert “ or gifts purchased and forthwith presented “. Section proposed to be amended -
In calculating the taxable income there shall be deducted -
gifts exceeding Twenty pounds each to public charitable institutions in Australia, and contributions exceeding Five pounds in the aggregate in respect of each object of contribution made during the continuance of the presentwar, to any public fund . for any purpose connected with the present war…..
Upon which Mr. Watt had moved -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to, and consequential amendment agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - At end of paragraph (f) add the following new sub-paragraph: - “ (iii) gifts exceeding twenty-one shillings each to public charitable institutions in Australia, if the gifts are verified to the . satisfaction of the Commissioner;”
– This amendment by the Senate deals - as did the two previous amendments - with clause 14. An alteration has been made, in another place, to the provision bearing upon gifts to charitable institutions, and the amendment is one which some honorable members, perhaps, will not approve. The original law was that gifts exceeding £20 each to charitable institutions, if verified to the satisfaction of the Commissioner, were deductable under the Income Tax Act. A proposal to make that provision slightly more liberal was not accepted by this Committee in originally dealing with the Bill, due largely, I think, to confusion. The Senate’s amendment now proposes to give exemption in connexion with gifts of 21s. and upwards. That appears too small, and would, if it were enacted, create much trouble and confusion in verifying the amounts in the Taxation Office. I ask that the Committee accept the Senate’s amendment, with an amendment that the sum shall be £5. That would restore the principle hitherto embodied in our legislation, and would give wider scope to it. A person donating £5 could secure a receipt without difficulty, and his bona fides could be easily provable.
– We deliberately left this out altogether, after long debate.
– I move-
That the Senate’s amendment be amended by omitting the words “ twenty-one shillings,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ Five pounds.”
– If the Acting Prime Minister will look up the debate upon the Bill in Committee he will note that the reason why we struck out the subparagraph referring to gifts of this character was that we were informed by the Minister then in charge of the Bill (Mr. Glynn) that it would involve a considerable loss of revenue. In my opinion, however, there should be no exemption. After all - as was pointed out strongly before - one man who donated £.1 out of his small means might be giving relatively more generously than an individual who presented £100. I hope the whole question of exemption in this respect will be kept out of the Bill. We should make no distinctions. If, however, the Minister deems it necessary to re-enact the provision, and to amend the Senate’s amendment, as he has proposed, T shall feel bound to support the Government. I trust that that will not be necessary.
I desire briefly to refer to an incident mentioned by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott) this morning. I have never claimed exemption upon the kind of gift in question, and I did not desire to do so in the present case. When I raffled a block of land for the Comforts Fund I was aware that I ran a risk of being prosecuted by the Crown. But I did not object to that so much, because I thought that that would be a good advertisement for the raffle.
– And not a bad one for yourself, either.
– When I wa3 informed that I could not get permission from the Crown Law Department, I went on with the raffle just the same, without that permission, since I believed that a large number of people would learn that the raffle was being conducted, upon reading press reports of the Court proceedings, which, of course, would be a farbetter advertisement for the charitable object itself than I could secure by paying for an ordinary announcement in the usual way. I might add that the block in question was worth only about £50; but the public subscribed, in sixpences, £430 net for the benefit of the fund. Would it not have been a. rotten position if I had claimed exemption on that £50 gift in such circumstances?
– After all, this amendment does not deal with that matter.
– I am aware of that; but I am merely answering the honorable member for Calare, because I find it necessary to reply to some of the statements that that honorable member makes in this Chamber.
I seriously suggest to the Acting Prime Minister that this is a time when we need to secure nil the revenue possible. By agreeing to his motion, we shall be drawing an undesirable distinction.
.- I object to the proposed exemption for another reason besides that which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has stressed; and it is for exactly the same reason as that we are not granting the benefit of interest to future subscribers to war loans. If the exemption stands, it will amount to this: that the people best able to pay will receive the greatest benefit. The charities will get the money in any’ case, if the whole principle is done away with.
– It is very doubtful.
– I take it for granted that we all give to the best of our ability, and we do not stop to ask whether we are going to get exemption from income tax upon our donations.
– Charities are having a very bad time all over Australia, because patriotic funds are encroaching upon their ordinary sources of receipts.
– I realize that; but, to insert the amended’ amendment will not bring in any more money for charitable purposes. When the Bill was before the Committee originally it . was almost unanimously agreed that it was an invidious distinction, to grant an exemption of this character, seeing, also, that the people best able to bear taxation would be the most extensively relieved; and, moreover, that philanthropic people generally were not looking for exemption.
.- Having introduced the amendment originally, I remind honorable members that I pointed out that discrimination was being given in favour of patriotic funds; but not in connexion with gifts to charities, such as hospitals. I also stated that it was relatively as much for a poor man to give £1 as for a rich man to give £20 ; and, therefore, that there should be consistency, at any rate in the matter of exemption.
– But that was not agreed to.
– But the principle is being re-enacted by the Government’s proposal. The concession should be the same, whether in relation to. charitable or patriotic funds. Hospitals require as much consideration as patriotic funds.
– Look at the trouble it would give the Taxation Department.
– One has only to satisfy the Commissioner by securing a receipt from the hospital authorities, when one can obtain the deduction without trouble. The intention of the Committee originally was that the exemption should be granted, whether for charitable or for patriotic donations.
– The intention of the Committee was to make no deduction or allowance of any kind. That was the effect.
– The reason for the Committee arriving at its ultimate decision was that Mr. Glynn told us there would be a loss of revenue.
– No. There were two crosscurrents in the Committee. First, there were those honorable members who objected to any deduction for charitable gifts; and then there were those who thought the exemption was not low enough. The two forces joined for the excision of the whole paragraph.
– But for the statement of Mr. Glynn, that it would mean a loss in revenue of £50,000, honorable members would have accepted a compromise, and have done away with the wrong principle.
– They did not compromise ; they struck out the provision.
-It is an undoubted fact that but for the statement of Mr. Glynn the Committee would have allowed the matter to go through; but as that could not be done, honorable members did away with what was deemed a wrong principle, namely, in giving a rich man a concession to which a poor man was not eligible. I advise that the principle should be the same in connexion with charitable gifts as for patriotic donations.
– Strike it out altogether.
– No. Whatever- a man pays into a hospital fund should be exempted from income taxation.
– There appears to be a conflict in the Committee upon this matter. First, there are some honorable members who believe we should put this deduction on exactly the same footing as that in connexion with a gift to a patriotic fund. That is one school of thought - if I may so put it.
– There is only one pupil in that school.
– Then he is a most precocious and persuasive pupil.
-Rather,I am the professor.
– The main objection appears to be as to the difficulty of satisfying the Taxation Commissioner with respect to the verification of donations, because, in country districts, for example, many working men do their bit towards the upkeep of country hospitals by paying their half-crowns into the funds. Those persons, in many instances, come within the ambit of taxation. The idea has been to fix a minimum, which would be easy of verification by the taxation officials; and that is why I have proposed that the sum should be £5. The main objection comes, however, from quite a new school of thought within this chamber.’ I refer to those honorable members who say, “ Why grant any remission of income taxation at all?”
I may say that I have had experience upon this subject. We introduced an amendment of this kind into the Victorian income tax laws many years ago. It was the first of the nature in Australia; and I assure honorable members that it had a pronouncedly harmful effect upon contributions to charitable institutions. The Crown thereupon took the attitude that in granting deductions for donations of that kind it could afford to lose the revenue providing that the destination of the money was the coffers of the charitable institutions of the State. If that held good at that time, it is even more emphasized to-day. Charities are having a very bad time with respect to their funds. State revenues, if they have not been depleted altogether, are, at any rate, shrinking. The incomes of private individuals are having more and more demands made upon them for patriotic purposes. Altogether, honorable members should not resist the proposal of the Government. From the stand.-point nf expediency it has been found advisable, because it has acted as an incentive, inducing people to give more generously to charitable institutions. I hope, therefore, that the amendment before the ‘Committee will be considered in this spirit, and that honorable members will accept the suggested amendment with the amendment I have made.
– I hope the Committee will not adopt the amendment of the Treasurer (Mr. Watt), because it will have the effect of granting an exemption to a person who makes a charitable gift of £5, whereas another man who may give £1 to twenty different institutions and therefore contributes four times as much, will not be permitted to make the deduction. I am quite with the honorable member for Ed’en-Monaro (Mr. Chapman) that the sense of the Committee is against the Treasurer.
– I am satisfied with the explanation given by the Treasurer, and I shall back him up in his amendment.
– I think that if exemptions are to be allowed, the poorer man, who may be able to contribute a guinea to charitable institutions, should be in exactly the same position as the man who gives a donation of £5. Let me take the case of a member of Parliament as an illustration. We all know that, in some of the large country constituencies, with a number of hospitals and other charitable institutions, the ordinary member could not afford to put down his £5 here and £5 there all round, but he could give a guinea here and a guinea there and thus spread over the whole of his constituency a very wide charitable vote.
– You do not call giving bribes to a constituency a charitable vote, do you?
– I do not regard it in that light. I merely mention the case of a member of Parliament as an illustration of any individual in the community. The -position of any member of a shire council is very much the same. I learn that the member for Eden-Monaro is now going to back up the Treasurer in his proposal, but I am quite certain he was on better ground on the last occasion.
– But the Treasurer has pointed out that the charitable institutions will be benefited; and he ought to know.
– I admit that the temporary embarrassment - and I regard it as only temporary in regard to our charitable institutions throughout Australia is certainly caused by the diversion of charitable donations from one object to another.
– It is not temporary in all cases, because debts are being piled ‘up, and the institutions will take a long time to recover.
– That may be so. For a long time I have held that our charitable institutions have not been on a proper basis, and I believe that in every State to-day there is in contemplation legislation which will have the effect of placing the burden of supporting these institutions upon the shoulders of the whole community. I regret to know that the position is not satisfactory with regard to them, but if I can get another member to call for a division with me I shall vote against the proposal of the Treasurer, because I think it will have the effect merely of wiping out one system and putting in its place something worse.
– I am not wiping out one system. The present provision is for £20. I am making it £5 and upwards.
– In my judgment, the most equitable thing to do is to recognise everybody who is prepared to give £1 ls. to charitable institutions. I would like to see the provision wiped out altogether, because I think that those who contribute to our patriotic and charitable funds will always be big-hearted enough to do their duty by the community so far as they have been prospered by it.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Watt) has, in my judgment, put his finger on the value of * the concession which the Act allows by pointing out that if funds are not raised voluntarily, there will be an obligation on the Commonwealth and States for the support of the funds of institutions referred to. In the many public appeals that I have made, I have found it was a great incentive to the people when I was able to say that no tax would be levied on the amount of gifts. There is another reason for the proposal, namely, to influence, if possible, the man who is not in the habit of making contributions. Unfortunately, this class of man is to be found everywhere. He sits back and never assesses his own conscience as to what he owes to our patriotic movements or war movements; but I am bound to say that, right throughout Wannon and Corangamite, there are very few of these men.I remember, however, that on one occasion, when I was. appealing to the people of one town to beat a neighbouring one which had raised £475, and I wanted only a few more pounds, that, alalthough almost every man, woman, and child in the town had contributed, there was one, the wealthiest man in the whole community, from whom I could not get a “bob.” In a sense, this amendment will givea small relief to the generous giver, and the other man will have to make up a little more by way of taxation. I am sorry to know that, in . all of our taxation proposals, we have never yet been . able todevise a scheme which would particularly hit the man who will not give voluntarily tocharitable institutions.Some time ago, we did bring down a Bill imposing certain financial obligations on a section of the community; but it was so completely distorted in this House, that finally it took the shape of a bachelor tax - a proposal which was advocated on- more than one occasion by the ex-member for Oxley (Mr. Sharpe). However, I do not want to pursue that subject further. I think the Committee would be well-advised , to accept the proposal submitted by the Treasurer.
.- It seems to me a remarkable argument that we are going to inspire gifts to the charitable institutions by’ granting exemption from income tax upon the amount fixed by the Treasurer’s amendment. If that reasoning were sound, then I say that the lower the amount is fixed the wider will be the inspiration to give. By the exemption from income tax on gifts to charities of over £5, a comparatively small section of the community will be affected, but if exemption is made allowable in respect of gifts of £11s., the field will be widened.
– Nobody suggested that.
– That is the argument of the Treasurer (Mr. Watt).
– He simply said, in effect, that the amendment would act as a stimulus to those who gave oftheir own free will.
– The Treasurer said that it was based on the experience of Victoria in regard to contributions to charitable institutions, and that, with the remission as provided for in the amendment, gifts to charitable institutions would be accelerated. Personally, I take the view - and I think it was the attitude of the Committee when the Bill was previously under . discussion - that donations to charitable institutions should be regarded . as a legitimate charge on every individual in the community.
– On the taxable income ?
-No, on the gross income. I cannot imagine that the sources of charity are going to be dried up, because the givers will not be permitted to make any deduction in respect of them in . their income tax returns. I cannot imagine that this consideration will determine the size of any man’s donation to charitable institutions.
– . Supposea man with £1,000 a year had determined to put aside £100 a year for charitable donations, and his taxation subsequently became £100 a year, would you expect him to put bv another £100?
– In that case undoubtedly charitable institutions would suffer. He would not give a donation.
– That is what we want to avoid.
– I say that the proposal will grant relief to the man least entitled to it, and I point out that the charitable institutions of this country do not derive their revenue so much from large donations as from a large number of small givers. It is this multitude of donations . which is so much to be desired, because it widens the constituency of charitable institutions, and awakens public interest in their welfare. I think that the Government’s intention will probably be misunderstood, because it does appear to be a concession to the man who is able to give a big donation as against the man who is not able to give so generously. Probably few honorable members will be prepared to go, as far as I am, because I take practically the same view with regard to all patriotic donations. I know that many people would consider it contemptible to include their charitable donations in their income tax returns, in order to get relief from income taxation, but in this amendment an inducement is being held out to men who are able to contribute a larger amount to do that. I do not think men estimate the size of their contributions to charities by the extent of their prospective freedom from income tex.
– Why, then, allow the reduction in the case of contributions to patriotic funds?
– I do not agree with it in that case either, but the patriotic funds are temporary and the others are permanent institutions, which will always appeal to us. The man who gives £5 deserves the concession perhaps less in proportion than the man who can -give only £1 ls. I should like to see the whole thing wiped out, and no deduction allowed for donations to charitable institutions.
– I am inclined to support the view of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) as regards donations both to charitable institutions and patriotic funds. I do not believe one man out of a hundred thinks about a possible exemption from income tax when giving a charitable donation, but if the argument of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) is correct, then the wider the field is extended the greater the benefit conferred. The only argument put forward by the Acting Prime Minister was that certain experience in Victoria went to show that donations to charitable institutions were multiplied because they were recognised by the Land Tax Commissioner. I am sorry » that those people were not willing to trust the recording angel rather than the taxation authorities to keep the accounts for them. I hope the chastening effects of the war, together with that development of the higher virtues which privations always bring to nations as well as to individuals, will evolve a higher standard among Victorian taxpayers. I trust that their example, as quoted, will not set the standard for the rest of Australia. Let us at least show that we have the grace to be ashamed of ourselves, and not put forward selfish reasons to buttress people’s promptings towards right-doing.
– Are you speaking for New South Wales?
– I am speaking for the sense of right. I hope the honorable member is not altogether a stranger to it. I therefore ask the Acting Prime Minister if bo cannot conform to the higher standard of virtue which it is our duty just now to inculcate.
– When did you adopt it ?
– I hope I ‘ inherited it. If the Committee cannot go so far as I would like, I trust the Senate’s amendment will be agreed to rather than the proposal made here, which, I am afraid, right-thinking people will consider condemnatory of us as a people who ought to be alive to our responsibilities.
.- The Acting Prime Minister has a large reservoir from which he can supply a great amount of plausibility, by means of which he seems able to electrify honorable members on the other side to such an extent that they break away from principles to which they originally adhered. I oppose this proposal, not on account of the plausibility of the Acting Prime Minister, but purely on principle. When the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) was speaking, the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) made a remark about honorable members giving donations as a bribe. I may inform the Committee that I gave donations long before I ever sought a seat in this House. I was a prospective candidate fo!r over thirty years, for, in the opinion of a large number of people in New South Wales, I was fit to hold the position of a member of Parliament. However, I always refused their request. Every honorable member who has spoken on this question has tried to show the Acting Prime Minister that the person who gives a guinea may be just as deserving of the concession as the person who gives £5, and yet will get no exemption from taxation. I do not think the Acting Prime Minister will be very pleased with himself when he comes to review his decision on this .point, because there are many people in the community who continuously give small amounts to hospitals out of their small means purely for the sake of charity, while a large number of people who give larger donations have an ulterior motive.
– That argument means that virtue lives only in the pocket below £3 per week, which is absurd.
– The- Acting . Prime Minister’s mind is very small on this matter, but I have a large and open mind. The public outside will view the question in much the same way as I do, because I do not think there should be any exemptions at all for donations of this kind. Any person who is in a position to give £5 ought to do so without any other motive than that of pure charity. No reason has been put forward for increasing the amount from 21s., as proposed by the Senate, to £5, other than what is running through the mind of the Acting Prime Minister; . butthere are people with bigger . minds, who cannot see that the alteration is going to be of any benefit. My view is that no taxation benefit should accrue to any one simply because he gives a donation to charity. An American once defined charity to me as the raising of £1, taking 17s. 6d. for expenses, and giving the remaining halfcrown to charity. The Acting Prime Minister seems to think that this concession will make some people in the community more liberal, and there may, perhaps, be something in that point, especially in the case of those whose incomes are taxed on the higher scale. If the war goes on we may see our income tax as high as 10s. 6d. in the £1, and, if that happens, a man who gives £5 to charity and gets credit for it in his income tax schedule will really only have given about half. The Acting Prime Minister will be in accord with the mind of the people of Australia if he gives way to the arguments which have been advanced here today. We are advocating a sound principle, and, although sentiment is very good at times, Parliament should in all its actions be governed by some principle. The proposal to exempt only amounts of £5 and over undoubtedly does an injustice to the man who can afford to give no more than £11s. The Acting Prime Minister will be wise in his day and generation if he allows himself to be so swayed by argument as to accept the Senate’s amendment, instead of sticking hard and fast to the ideas he has enunciated.
.- The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) asks for a principle. The principle has already been given by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), who showed that there is a per fectly natural desire on our part to equalize as far as possible the position of those people who have been in the habit of giving liberally to charitable and other institutions, as compared with other people with equal means who have consistently refused to give anything whatever. The Committee accepted that principle when it agreed to allow deductions from the taxable income for contributions for patriotic and war purposes. I want to put the point of view of hospitals, particularly country hospitals. They have performed, and are performing, magnificent service, and it is owing largely, I understand, to representations made by the managers of those institutions that the Senate has tried to replace in the Bill the provision which was struck out in this Chamber in a careless moment, and without real intention. I have pleasure in supporting either the Senate’s amendment or that proposed by the Minister, entirely in the interests of the hospitals, and particularly the country hospitals, of Australia.
Question - That the Senate’s amendment be amended (Mr. Watt’s motion) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s amendment amended accordingly.
Question - That the amendment, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative!
Senate’s amendment, as amended, agreed to.
After section SO of the principal Act the following sections are inserted: - “ 50a. ( 1 ) In any case where any taxpayer employed by or receiving a pension from any person, local authority, corporation, board, commission, or body has in any year failed to pay the incometax payable by him within sixty days after he has been required to pay the same pursuant to the provisions of this Act, the Commissioner may declare such person,, local authority, corporation, board, commission, or body to be the agent of such taxpayer so far as respects the income by way of: earnings, salary, wages, allowances, pension, or stipend paid or allowed by him or it to the taxpayer. 50b. Where the Commissioner is of opinion that a person in receipt of income is liable to pay tax, and that it is difficult to ascertain the whereabouts of that person or to collect thetax from him, the Commissioner may require any person making payments to that person -
to deduct from any payment which is or will become due to that person such an amount as will be sufficient to pay the income tax which the Commissioner may assess to be paid by that person: and
to pay the amount to the Commissioner forthwith.”
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out proposed section 50a.
– The proposal of the Senate in this case is to omit proposed new section 50a, which was discussed in this House, and which dealt with the collection by employers and others, including corporations, of income tax due by employees on certain notice having been given. The Senate has Omitted that provision and incorporated portion of it in a subsequent one. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
I shall explain at greater length when we come to the next amendment what this incorporation amounts to.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out proposed section 50b, and insert in lieu thereof - “’ 50a. ( 1 ) Where the Commissioner is of opinion that it is difficult to ascertain the whereabouts of a taxpayer or to collect the tax from him, the Commissioner may, by notice in writing (a copy of which shall be posted to the last known place of address of. the taxpayer), declare any person, local authority, corporation, board, commission, or body making payments or owing money to the taxpayer to be his agent, and may require the agent; -
– This amendment by the Senate incorporates the provisions of proposed new sections 50a and 50b for which the Bill, as it left this House, provided.It practically contains nothing new to the provision passed by us; but it modifies in some respects the general effect and area of the original clause. The object of the amendment is to embrace the agency provision with the employer’s provision, to which we ‘agreed. The notice which honorable members - and particularly honorable members of the Opposition - asked should be given is now embodied in the amalgamated provision inserted by the Senate. I think it will be useful and workable, and will not inflict hardships on either employers or employees. It will enable recovery of the tax in certain cases where the whereabouts of the . taxpayer are difficult or impossible to ascertain. In such a case the responsibility of obeying the order of the Commissioner will be thrown, after due notice, upon the agent for the taxpayer, I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
.- This question was discussed at considerable length when the Bill was previously before us. As the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) has pointed out, the amendment made by another place modifies, to some extent, the proposed new section passed by us. During the discussion in Committee it was pointed out that it was most unfair to throw upon an employer the responsibility of collecting income tax due by a defaulter. I do not know how the . Senate’s . amendment will work in practice, but it seems remarkable that we should provide that, where the
Taxation Department does not know the address of a defaulting taxpayer, after due notice has been sent “ to the last known place of address “ of that taxpayer, any person making payment to, or owing money to him, shall be regarded as his agent, and be required to retain from his earnings the amount due to the Commissioner.
– We have already decided that principle.
Mr.CHARLTON.-I admit that; but I opposed the principle, and it was chiefly as the result of my opposition that the discussion took place. While this Amendment modifies, to a certain extent, the original provision, it is difficult to understand how an employer can be expected to locate a defaulting taxpayer when the Commissioner cannot.
– The Commissioner might know where the man was employed, and yet be unaware of his private address. He might see his name in a list of employees furnished to him. The notice might be sent care of the employer.
– And the Government say that, because the Commissioner sees a certain name on a list of employees furnished by an employer, he is to assume that that person is liable to income tax.
– Notnecessarily. It might appear, from the list furnished by an employer, that a certain employee was prima facie entitled to pay income tax ; but after deductions had been made he might not be so liable.
– But the Department will consider that a prima facie case is made out where the employee has not furnished an income tax return.
– Not at all. I promised the Committee, when the Bill was before us on a previous occasion, that the Commissioner would not assess such a person without first asking him to send in a return. In that return an employee would set out his own deductions.
– Let us assume that a return is sent in. The Commissioner does notknow the man’s address - he merely knows that he has been working for a certain person ; but, on the issue of the notice, for which this amendment provides, the employer is to be held responsible for the payment of the tax due.
– That is not the procedure. The honorable member would be entitled to make these deductions from this amendment if he were not aware of what took place when this question was last considered by us. I showed then that what was already the practice of the Department would operate in cases of this kind. I pointed out that employers, under the present law, furnished lists of employees receiving over a certain amount per annum. The Commissioner, looking down these lists, sometimes sees the names of what appear to be prima facie taxpayers. I promised, however, that, before taking any of the steps for which the clause provides, he would issue a notice requiring such persons, who were prima facie taxpayers, to furnish returns. I said that when such a return was submitted, the Commissioner would assess the amount of tax payable, and that this machinery “would then come into operation. If, on the other hand, after demand to send in such a return, default is still made, this provision will provide the Commissioner with a lever to secure the amount at which the taxpayer is assessed. That is the procedure followed in many cases, and it iwill facilitate the collection of the tax in a number of instances without duress or hardship to any individual.
.- If the intention of the Department is that’ just set out by the Acting Prime Minister, there is much to be said for it; but the wording of the Senate’s amendment would hardly bear the construction he has placed upon it.
– I admit that.
– I had to be guided in my criticism by the wording of the amendment. If the amendment read that -notice shall be sent to the employer of any person who is a defaulting taxpayer, pointing out that he is a defaulter, and requiring the employer to deduct from his wages the amount of the tax due, I could understand it; but the amendment, as it stands, does not provide for anything of the kind. It says that a copy of the notice shall be sent “ to the last known place of address of the taxpayer.”
-It is difficult to draft an amendment at the table while the Committee is sitting, but I will undertake to draft a special provision in the regulations in regard to that matter.
– I shall be satisfied with such an assurance. The statement of the Treasurer shows clearly, I think, that I was justified in drawing attention to this matter.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 35 -
After section 52 of the principal Act the following sections are inserted: -
Senate’s amendment. - At end of clause 35 add– “ 52c. Whereany income of any person outside Australia is paid into the account of that person with a banker, the banker shall be deemed the person’s agent in respect of the money so paid so long as he is indebted in respect thereof, and shall be subject to the provisions of section 52 of this Act, and entitled to the benefits conferred by that section.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is an amendment which is somewhat similar to the preceding one. It enables a banker who is the agent for any person to pay the tax for that person and deduct it from his account. This provision has been agreed to by the banks. It will facilitate prompt payment of the tax on behalf of absentees.
Motion agreed to.
Section 57 of the principal Act is amended by inserting before the word “ Fifty “ the words “ Not less than Five pounds nor more than “.
Sectionproposed to be amended -
Penalty: Fifty pounds.
Senate’s amendment. - Leave out the clause.
– This is one of five amendments to which I propose that we do not agree. It is not an absolutely vital matter, but it appears to me that the House of Representatives took the wiser course in providing minimum penalties in this Bill for the first time. The Department’s view is that there should be minimum penalties fixed, in order to give an approximation to uniformity in the matter of penalties in minor cases. In one State a magistrate may inflict a nominal fine of 5s. for some offence, whereas in another State the penalty for the same offence committed in exactly the same circumstances may be fixed at £5. The Department has information showing that there is an extraordinary and inexplicable disparity in regard to penalties, probably arising out of the idiosyncrasies of magistrates throughout Australia.
– As a matter of fact, does that not occur in all Court proceedings?
– I think it does. At any rate, the States are recognising it more and more by providing minimum and maximum penalties- In making provision for so wide an area as we have in Australia, it seems to me that magistrates, in adjudicating on cases of default, ought to be guided by the legislature as to the gravity of the offence. We provide a maximum to show how far he can go, and we consider that there ought to be a minimum, to show that he cannot go below a certain amount. In one provision of the Bill we have made the minimum £2 and the maximum £200, and in this particular case we made the minimum £5 and the maximum £50; and, as it is desirable to preserve some due relationship between the minimum and maximum penalties, I propose to amend the clause as it left this House by reducing the minimum penalty from £5 to £1. With that object in view, I move -
That the Senate’s amendment be not agreed to; butthat in place thereof, the clause be amended by omitting “Five pounds” and inserting “ One pound.”
Motion agreed to.
After section 57 of the principal Act the following section is inserted: - “‘57a. (1) Any person who fails or neglects to duly furnish any return as and when required by this Act or the regulations or the Commissioner shall be liable to pay, by way of additional tax, on demand by the Commissioner, a sum of £1 for each month or part thereof during which the failure or neglect to furnish the return continues.
The Commissioner may, in any particular case, for reasons which, in his dis-‘ cretion, he thinks sufficient, remit the additional tax imposed by this section or any part thereof.
If the Commissioner considers that the circumstances of any case warrant action being taken to recover the penalty provided by the next succeeding section, such action may be taken by the Commissioner, and in that case the additional tax payable under this section shall not be charged.”
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out the clause.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This clause, which deals with the penalty inflicted for a minor default, caused a good deal of debate in this Chamber. A large number of senators opposed it, and as there was no hope of carrying it, the Minister compromised by agreeing to delete it, and effect an amendment in clause 41, which would render a delinquent in the matter of lodging returns liable to a penalty of £1, or 10 per cent, of the tax, whichever should happen to be the greater.
.- I am much interested in the attitude of the Treasurer. It shows that if honorable members will only bring sufficient pressure to bear on the Government they will back down very quickly.
– The honorable member should not make an insulting observation of that kind without some reference to the merits of the question.
– The Senate have decided that a penalty fixed by the’ Governmentshould be struck out.
– They objected to this type of penalty - £1 per month - for a certain class of default.
– On this side we raised our objections to the same thing as emphatically and clearly as we could, but honorable members opposite took no notice of us. The action of the Government would appear to support the contention of those who consider that there should be a second Chamber to supervise legislation passed by what some people term the Lower House.
– The honorable member’s argument is that we should get our own way every time against the other House. This is a question of give and take.
– My argument, I hope, will induce the Ministry, and those honorable members who follow them so faithfully and so blindly wherever they care to lead them, to pay some attention to the attitude and criticism of honorable members on this side of the House. If honorable members will really be serious about an amendment, and stick to it, they will get their way from the Government. The principle in the clause is a new one. I am afraid that if we attempt to insist that a magistrate must inflict some penalty, the provision will prove abortive.
– That has nothing to do with this clause.
– It is proposed to make the penalty £1.
– Yes; in cases where fines are inflicted by the Commissioner, but not where there is a prosecution.
– The idea of providing a minimum penalty is a wrong one. The Bill is not consistent. In the provision dealing with employers who fail to carry out a garnishee, no minimum is provided.
– This is not a prosecution ; the Commissioner levies this penalty.
– Why have more confidence in a Commissioner than in a magistrate ?
– Because his are the decisions of one person, and not of halfadozen.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 40 -
Section 58 of the principal Act is amended -
by inserting in sub-section (1) before the words “ One hundred pounds “ the words “ Not less than Two pounds nor more than “…
. , . .
Section proposed to be amended -
( 1 ) Any person who -
Knowingly or wilfully makes or delivers any false return . . . shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: One hundred pounds.
Senate’s amendment. - Leave out para graph (c).
.- This is one of several amendments involving minimum and maximum penalties, and is the first I propose to ask the Committee to disagree with. The magistrates in the various States have inflicted widely varying penalties for exactly similar offences, and, in order to . secure approximate uniformity, a minimum penalty is desired to prevent ridiculously low fines. I move -
That the amendment be disagreed . to.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s amendment. - At end of paragraph (e) add - “ (4.) It shall he a defence to a prosecution for an offence against paragraph (c) of sub-section (1)of this section if the defendant proves that the false particulars were given or the false statement was made through ignorance or inadvertence.”
.- I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Honorable members will recollect that we had some difficulty in determining whether a man who does not wilfully make a false return shall be prosecuted. The Senate has taken the middle course of allowing a prosecution although the Department, may not be prepared to’ prove that the offence has been wilful, and to put the onus on the defendant to prove that he has acted through inadvertence, a fact which in most cases he will be able to show. The new clause has apparently been copied from the Industries Preservation Act. This is not, perhaps, a very desirable principle of legislation or jurisprudence, but in certain cases it has been found desirable, under the Customs Act, for instance, and the factory laws of the States. ‘It is adopted in certain cases where the knowledge of the act and intention is more in the control of the defendant than of the prosecuting authorities. I think this amendment will protect the taxpayer who might have suffered under the stringency of the original provision.
Motion agreed to.
Verbal amendment, clause 41, agreed to.
Amendments in clauses 42, 43, and 46 disagreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) agreed to - ‘
That Mr. Webster, Mr. Poynton, and the mover be appointed a Committee to draw up reasons for the House of Representatives disagreeing to amendments of clauses 40, 42, 43, and 46.
Mr. Watt, on behalf of the Committee, brought up the following reasons, which were read and adopted: -
The magistrates in the different States had inflicted widely varying penalties for exactly similar offences. In order to secure . approximate Uniformity in the infliction of penalties on taxpayers in the different States a minimum penalty is desired. The fixing of a minimum penalty will prevent the infliction of ridiculously low . fines.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and money bemade for the purposes of a Bill for an Act relating to the payment of a bounty on the export of evaporated apples from the Commonwealth.
I hope honorable members will permit this Bill to be advanced to the second reading. If the Minister in charge is ready to give his explanation, we shall have it now, so that it may be considered for treatment next week. If not, the Bill will be set down for early next week, when the Minister will explain the necessity for the appropriation.
– I think we should have the Minister’s explanation on the message now.
– It is not the best way.
– It is the plan that has been adopted in the House for some time.
– This is only a small matter.
– I do not think so. We are establishing a precedent, and the people in Tasmania are apparently to get great advantage in the export of evaporated apples:
– No more than will any other State which has apples to export.
– The proper time for the Minister’s explanation is on the Bill.
– I think it should be on the message, because I shall object to the money being voted.
– Then vote against the motion.
– Do not crush the little State.
– The people of Tasmania are receiving more than the people of any other State. They are getting £100,000 a year now, and they are allowed to carry on a gambling institution, though I- do not desire to say anything about thelatter at the present moment. I have nothing to say against the State of Tasmania, but we should hear from the Minister at this stage the full facts regarding the proposal.
– They will be given at the second-reading stage.
– No, now.
– The honorable member will not.be allowed to dictate the order of business.
Mr.TUDOR. - I am not attempting to do that. But I suggest to the Government that it would be far better to inform the Committee of the facts now.
.- This is the first year of many in which there has been no export of apples from Australia. For many years past the Commonwealth has been exporting from. 1,000,000’ to 1,250,000 bushels of apples, but this year, owing to the lack of shipping space, there is- no outlet for the fruit. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), acting in conjunction with the Ministers of Agriculture in the applegrowing States, represented to the Imperial authorities that this industry was practically crippled, and offered to supply the Home Government with evaporated apples. The Imperial authorities agreed to take so many tons of evaporated apples at a price of 7d. per lb. Fifty pounds of apples are required to produce six pounds of evaporated fruit, and the fruit-growers throughout Australia represented to the Government that the price offered by the Imperial authorities was not sufficient to enable them to carry on their industry. The- Government, therefore, having regard to the position in which the fruitgrowers are placed through being unable to export, decided to assist the industry by offering a bonus of 10 per cent, on dried fruit.
– Will the growers get the bounty ?
– The whole of it will be given to the growers in all the States that are interested - not to the evaporators. Attached to the bounty are certain conditions regarding labour and wages. The bonus is to be paid only for the current season, and must be applied for within three months after the date of the shipment of the dried fruit.
– Will people put their money into an industry that may last for only one year ?
– They have already invested their money. At present appledrying is only a struggling industry.
– If people choose to put their money into machinery for the evaporation of fruit, that is their concern. Already evaporating machinery has been erected, and I think hundreds of thousands of bushels of apples have been treated in Tasmania. Even with the assistance of the bonus, the price of ‘7d. per pound will not pay the apple-growers. The last season has been for them the worst on record. Good apples were obtainable in the market at 3s. and 3s. 6d. per case. I believe that there is no precedent for such prices at this time of the year. The representatives of the applegrowing States asked the Prime Minister for some assistance for their industry, because they have been unable to export the untreated fruit, and because the price offered by the evaporators is so small, and the Government thought it necessary to give them some help, if only to the extent represented by the bounty.
– In how many States are there evaporating plants?
– So far as I know, only in Tasmania.
– There is one at Hurstbridge, in this State.
– There have been evaporating plants in South Australia for years.
– I know that evaporating plants have been established in Tasmania because of the serious position of the fruit-growing industry during the last two or three years. This bounty will be for the benefit of every State which produces apples for export.
– Has the Minister any guarantee that the evaporators will not reduce the price paid to the growers by the amount of the bounty?
– I am certain of that, because a price was agreed upon before the Government had promised to give a bounty. The growers are only to receive ls. 6d. a bushel for their apples.
– Has the Minister any idea of the quantity to be dealt with?
– I know that there has been a good moderate crop in Tasmania this year. One advantage in the evaporation of apples is that second class, or spotted, fruit may be utilized. The apples are peeled, and are just as good as the best quality apples’.
– If they have bitter-pit or codlin moth they cannot be evaporated.
– The codlin moth has been almost stamped out of Australia. I wish I could say the same of bitter-pit.
– What is the estimated amount involved by the bounty?
– I think the quantity of fruit to be evaporated on Imperial account is 300 tons, and the bounty will amount to about £12,000.
– If this is a good proposal, can the Minister explain why its operation is to be limited to twelve months ?
– Yes, because next year there may be shipping space available.. I am one of the biggest applegrowers in Tasmania, and if I could ship apples to England I would never dream of sending them to the evaporators. The Government are proposing this assistance only to meet the very serious circumstances that have arisen in connexion with the industry owing to the want of shipping space.
-Can the Minister say what will be the return to the growers under this provision, as compared with the return to them from the shipment of apples in the ordinary way? I am aware that, although only the very best apples have previously been shipped, the returns have been very low.
– Many growers in Tasmania have shipped apples to England year after year at a loss. Now and again they strike a fairly good market in Sydney at the end of a season, when they receive from 8s. to11s. per case, and that is what keeps them going. There are many who have sent fruit to London who have realized splendid prices, and yet the same fruit by a different shipment has brought a very poor price.
– It should be remembered that there is at present very great difficulty in securing space even for the Inter-State markets.
– That is so.
– Has not some special concession been made to fruit-growers in Western Australia.
– I believe that prior to leaving Australia the Prime Minister received a deputation from fruit-growers in Western Australia, who pointed out to him that they were at present seriously handicapped by freight to Melbourne and Sydney, which are their markets. I understand that the Prime Minister consented that if their fruit did not realize a certain price the Treasurer would come to their assistance to the extent of 9d. per case, the difference in freight between Tasmania and Sydney and Fremantle and Sydney. But this Bill does not deal with that matter in any way.
– Will not some financial measure be necessary to give effect to that understanding?
– That will have to be submitted later on.
– Is the Minister aware that the oversea freight on fruit from Western Australia is probably less to Sydney than is the road and rail freight from the Batlow fruit area in New South Wales?
– I am now aware of that.
– We have a soldier settlement at Batlow, and it seems extraordinary that the Prime Minister should make a concession to fruit-growers in Western Australia which will place soldiers settled at Batlow at a disadvantage.
– All that I have to say with regard to this, proposition is that even if the bonus be agreed to the fruitgrowers will derive but very little assistance from it. The position is that the growers must evaporate their fruit or let it rot, because they cannot obtain shipping space. They are forced by the stress of circumstances to send it . to the evaporators at1s. 6d. per bushel, and the proposed, bounty of 10 per cent, on that will amount to a mere nothing.
– At Hurst Bridge I found that the growers received only1s. per bushel.
– They receive1s. 6d. per bushel in Tasmania.
– I ask the Minister to agree to report progress.
The following papers were presented : -
Quarantine Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 116, 135.
The War - Internment of Seaplanes, &c, salved on the High Seas and brought into Netherlands Jurisdiction - Correspondence respecting. (Paper presented to the British Parliament).
Enlistment of Minors: Notice of Amendment.
.- (By leave) - I communicated with you, sir, as you know, and notified the Acting Prime Minister some days ago that it was my intention to move a certain amendment in connexion with the Defence Bill. You informed me about an hour ago that it is necessary for me to give notice of an instruction to the Committee on the Bill to enable me to do so, and I now ask the leave of the House to give that notice. On the second reading of a Bill it is competent for an honorable member to move an instruction to the Committee on the Bill to insert any relevant amendment. I now desire leave to give notice of my intention to move that it be an instruction to the Committee on the Defence Bill to insert a provision to the effect that sons nineteen years of age shall not be enlisted for service abroad without the consent of their parents.
– If the honorable member for Yarra had given notice of his intention to move the amendment to which he has referred in an earlier part of the sitting he would have been quite entitled to do so. He neglected to do so then, and, as the Bill to which his. notice refers is likely to come up for discussion on Tuesday, he desires leave to give notice now. As there is no objection, leave is granted.
Returned Soldiers: Vocational Training - Fixing of MeatPrices.
Motion (by Mr.Webster) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn!
.- In connexion with the repatriation of returned soldiers, I wish to mention a matter which has been brought under my notice, and, perhaps, under the notice of honorable members on both sides, by returned soldiers in Victoria. A number of them have been sent, under the provision for vocational training, to the premises in
Collins-street of the Australian Estates and Mortgage Company.. They were sent there for instruction in wool classing or wool sorting; they have been there now for a. fortnight, and all that they have been doing is picking burrs out of wool and piece picking. They have asked for instruction in wool classing and wool sorting, and have not so far received any such instruction at all. They are not receiving a penny in wages, and as they are doing work for which the company would otherwise have to pay they feel that the company is receiving an advantage for which they receive no corresponding return in being taught any part of the business of wool classing and wool sorting..
– The men are being paid by the Repatriation Department.
– Yes; they are getting a sustenance allowance, inclusive of their pensions. The man who spoke to me on the subject is a constituent of mine, who was away at the Front for two years.
– -Could not the honorable gentleman ask a question on the subject of the Minister for Repatriation?
– I promised the men concerned that I would bring the matter under the notice of the House. I could not put a question to the Minister for Repatriation until next week. The men feel that advantage is being taken of them, and, if that be so, the sooner it is put an end to the better.
– A large number of men are involved.
– That is so, because this training will, no doubt, be sought not only in Victoria, but throughout the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Falkiner), who knows all about this business, will recognise that if these men are engaged only in picking burrs out of wool and piece picking, they are not learning wool classing and wool sorting.
– They cannot pick burrs out of wool.
– They say that that is what they are doing.
– Then they say what is not correct.
– It is quite possible that, from lack of knowledge of the business, they have not accurately explained what they are doing. They feel that advantage is being taken of them, because they are doing work for which they are not paid, by the company, which would have to be done by ordinary tradesmen if they were not employed. At the same time, they are not learning anything.
– As a matter of fact, is not every available piece picker and wool sorter employed now?
– I do not know.
– I think the honorable member will find that that is so.
– I wish now to refer to the report of the Inter-State Commission upon the question of fixing meat prices. We have been told that Cabinet will meet to-morrow morning, when it will probably arrive at a decision on this matter. But it must not be forgotten that the question of the fixation of the prices of meat was referred to the Inter-State Commission on the9th August last year, and that on the 3rd October of that year the Inter-State Commission furnished their first report dealing with prices in Victoria. On the 20th December of the same year Messrs. Piddington, Swinburne, and Mills made a report upon it, dealing with New South Wales and Queensland. Yet these reports were not made available until the 25th April of the present year. Now, there is a feeling abroad that this all-important question is being utterly lost sight of by the Government. It will be recollected that at the inquiry conducted in New South Wales a very strong Bar, consisting of eight or ten members, represented the interests of those persons who are concerned in keeping up the prices of meat, whilst the consumers were not represented at all. The people feel keenly upon this matter, and I ask the Postmaster-General to urge upon the Acting Prime Minister the necessity for early action being taken by the Government, particularly in view of the present extraordinarily high prices of meat. As a matter of fact, the report of the Inter-State Commission conclusively proves that to-day the meat producers are receiving £27,000,000 per annum more than they would receive if they were obtaining pre-war prices.
.- I think that the first matter referred, to by the Leader of the Opposition is worthy of prompt attention. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and myself have been interviewed by several of the returned soldiers who are employed in this city by the Australian Estates and Mortgage Company. In two instances the men have been station workers for most of their lives, and they thought that the present afforded them a splendid opportunity of learning wool sorting and wool classing. But they say that they are only being employed in picking burrs out of the wool. I trust that something will be done for them.
– I know some of the students, who are making great progress in that particular work.
Dr.MALONEY. - But, under existing conditions, the men are not receiving a dog’s show. Is it worth while employing men for eight hours a day to pick burra out ofwool? I would further point out that these returned soldiers are only receiving 42s. per week, less their pension of 15s. - in other words, 27s. per week. I do not think they should be kept upon their feet for eight hours a day, especially in view of the fact that the majority of them have been wounded.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 June 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19180607_reps_7_85/>.