14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Lease of Area to Private Company
– Will the Minister for the Interior state whether there is any truth in the press reports that the Government is considering the leasing of 100,000 square miles of the Northern Territory to a private company, and the granting to it of a loan of £1,000,000 for developmental purposes? If so, can the honorable gentleman furnish details of the proposal?
– A proposal of this nature was made to the Government about two years ago. The Government felt itself unable to adopt it, and I am quite at a loss to understand why the matter should now have been raised in the press as though it were new.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 2.30 p.m. to-morrow.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral state whether steps arc being taken this session to complete the amendment of the Bankruptcy Act ?
– This matter has been under consideration by Cabinet, but finality upon it has not yet been reached. If the honorable member will place a question upon the notice-paper, I shall endeavour to supply him with definite information.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General give the reason for the refusal of the Postal Department to register as a newspaper the publication War and Fascism?
– Having received information that a questton of this nature was to be asked, I endeavoured to obtain information in relation to it, but was unable to do so. If the honorable member will place a question upon the notice-paper, ho will be furnished with a reply to it.
– In view of the holding of the centenary rifle matches in South Australia next year, will the Minister for Defence consider the restoration of the grants to rifle clubs which were made prior to the passage of the financial emergency legislation, for the benefit of visiting riflemen from all the States of the Commonwealth who will be attending these matches?
– This question relates to the Commonwealth rifle-shooting competition. An application has been made by the South Australian National Rifle Association in connexion with the centenary that is to lie held next year. The matter is being considered.
– Will the Attorney-General state when the consolidation of the statutes, which was promised for September of this year, will be completed ?
– It is hoped that it will be ready by the beginning of next year. Certain discussions are still proceeding in relation to one or two measures which it had been hoped to include in the consolidation.
Exports to Japan
– Can the Minister for Commerce give the percentage of the exports of Australian flour purchased by Japan? Further, has the right honorable gentleman received from Japan any information that would lend colour to the statement of the Premier of South Australia that so soon as a homeconsumption price is fixed for Australian wheat steps will be taken to prohibit the importation of Australian flour into Japan ?
– Although Japan is a considerable purchaser of Australian wheat, it is not a purchaser of Australian flour; at least, no purchases are recorded in the statistics. I have received no information of an intention to prohibit the importation of Australian flour into Japan, nor do I think such action ia likely in view of Australian-Japanese trade relations.
– “When does the Acting Leader of the House anticipate that legislation will be brought down to give effect to the imposition of sanctions against Italy?
– I hope to make a statement upon this matter later in the day.
– Has the attention of the Minister for External Affairs been drawn to the press reports of tension said to exist between Manchukuo and the adjoining provinces of China leading to a complaint of the harbouring of seditious organizations? Has the Government any official information as to whether the dispute is likely to be brought under the notice of the League of Nations?
– Speaking for myself, I have no. information of the subject; but I shall make an inquiry about it from the Minister for External Affairs and convey to the honorable member any information that I receive.
– The Minister for the the Interior told me last week that a letter was in transit to the Commonwealth Government from the Government of South Australia relating to the proposed Port Augusta to Red Hill railway. Has the Government yet received that letter, and, if so, can the Minister inform me whether any arrangement has yet been made with the Government of South Australia with the object of avoiding litigation on this subject?
– A letter has been received from the Government of South Australia, but the Commonwealth Govern ment has not yet had time to consider it.
– I have received a letter from a person styling himself “A plain speaking gentleman “, and also the manuscript of a speech which that gentleman was prevented from broadcast ing over a certain B class station. I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether he considers it a fair use of ministerial authority to prevent such a speech from being broadcast?
– I have received two lettersfrom the person calling himself “ A plain speaking gentleman “, but as he has not signed his name and has had recourse to anonymity, I do not regard him as a gentleman. A letter which I received last week from him was in most offensive terms, and I handed it to the Postmaster-General. What action has been taken in regard to it I do not know.
– I wish to know whether the Postmaster-General accepts the responsibility for preventing this gentleman from broadcasting his speech?
– I merely represent the Postmaster-General in this chamber, and, consequently, take no responsibility in this matter whatever; but I am aware of the conditions appertaining to the broadcasting of speeches over B class stations. The matter of such speeches is subject to the supervision of the Postmaster-General, who is entitled to ask for the manuscript of any speech proposed to be broadcast. The PostmasterGeneral has authority to prohibit speeches from being broadcast ifhe considers it wise to do so.
– Is the Minister aware that the gentleman who styles himself “ A plain speaking gentleman “ has broadcast speeches from time to time attacking the policies of the Premier of New South Wales, the Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and the Minister for Commerce? Does he not think it strange that the first, proposed broadcast by this gentleman to be prohibited was one which contained an attack on the administration of his own department?
– The person who makes these broadcasts speaks from station 2SM, which is a station not. much listened to-
– Is the Minister justified in making that statement?
– I do make it. It is a matter of perfect indifference to me what this person says and the fact that he has attacked people from this station does not alter the position to any extent.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether he will secure for honorable members information with regard to the speech proposed to be broadcast by “ A plain speaking gentleman “-
– Several question? have been asked and answered already on this subject, and I do not think that flu1 honorable member can justify another question on the ground of urgency.
– I suggest sir, that as I have not yet asked the question, you cannot be aware of the nature of it.
– I amnot fully aware of the nature of it; but obviously it has to do with previous questions that have been asked and answered. However, I shall allow the honorable member to ask the question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to obtain information for honorable members respecting the infringement that “ A plain speaking gentleman” might have been guilty of in connexion with his proposed broadcast ?
– If the honorable member will put his question on the notice-paper I shall submit it to the Postmaster-General with the object of obtaining the information he desires.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is a fact that Belgium, has withdrawn from the agreement made with Australia under which it was entitled to export a small quantity of glass to this country, and also whether any steps have been taken by the Commonwealth Government to regain the export that Australia formerly had with Belgium in meat and barley?
– As announced previously in the House, Belgium has given notice of its intention to terminate its temporary agreement with Australia; but whether another agreement will be made or not depends upon negotiations now being carried on with Belgium by the Minister directing negotiations for trade t reaties.
– Will the Minister inform the House what quantity of meat, if any, Belgium has purchased from Australia. under the terms of the treaty ratified by this Parliament some little time since under which Australia agreed to admit certain quantities of Belgian glass to this country in consideration of the liftingof the embargo on the export of Aus- t ralian meat to Belgium ?
– The embargo affected both meat and barley. Our exports of meat to Belgium, have been negligible for some time, and during the last year or two a very . small quantity indeed of Australian meat has been sent to that country; but the Australian barley exported to Belgium is valued at about £250,000 a year.
Debate resumed from the18th October (vide page856), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This ‘bill, which consists of 42 pages and contains a mass of de- rail, appears to be much more im portant than it really is. Honorable members have been supplied with a memorandum giving information of the additional exemptions to be granted from sales tax, and it would seem that these exemptions are comprehensive. One might assume from the appearance of the bill and the accompanying list of exemptions that considerable relief from this unpopular form of taxation was to be given to the taxpayers. But the fact is that the relief will amount to only £150,000 for the remainder of this financial year, and about £200,000 per annum for succeeding financial years. The total revenue from sales taxation last year was £8,500,000. It will be seen, therefore, that the relief proposed by this bill is not very great. The Opposition regrets that relief to a much greater extent is not being given, but nevertheless it will, support the bill. The aggregate receipts from the sales tax during the period the “people of this country have been subjected to this form of impost show that it has been a prolific revenueproducer. The amounts received are as follow: -
The amount of relief from this tax outlined by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) in the budget speech - a mere £200,000 - is infinitesimal, considering the huge remissions of land and income taxes. The Labour party would “ like to see the revenue sufficiently high to enable the Government to wipe out the sales tax. It is a vexatious measure, which was introduced only as an emergency impost. There is a clamour throughout Australia that it should be abolished. It was brought in when the Commonwealth was faced with a deficit of £10,000,000, and a prospective deficit of £20.000,000.
This form of taxation is in operation in all European countries except Great Britain and Scandinavia. On several occasions, the central government ofthe United States of America attempted to pass a law providing for a tax of this description, but it was rejected by the
Senate. Yet about half of the States of North America have some form of sales tax. Four or five of the South American States have had sales tax schemes in operation since about 1923. Canada has had legislation of this kind in operation sin.ee 1920. At first it was a limited turnover tax, but in 1924 Canada changed over to the present system, which provides for a production tax. When ihe tax was introduced in Australia, it was largely based on the Canadian plan. Several sales tax measures are in operation in Indo-China and China. Tn Japan a very complicated business tax isimposed, and one form of it is a. tax on sales. All have been introduced since 1918 except that of Mexico, which has had a form of sales tax since 1S90. The measure was introduced in this Parliament when conditions were abnormal. Members of the Opposition claim .that, before any reduction of taxes occurs, a complete restoration should T)e made of the cuts in invalid and old-age pensions and social services. The federal land tax has been reduced by the present Government by one-half, and at the same time the iniquitous flour tax has been imposed, exacting payments averaging £1,000,-000 a year from the masses of the people, chiefly the poorer sections on whom the burden falls most heavily. I would say that the first duty of the Government is to restore social services and, secondly, to reduce the emergency taxes that fall most heavily on the shoulders of those least able to bear them. The federal land tax has been in operation since about 1912, and its reduction was unjustified, although a .number of honorable members opposite have claimed that the reduction has given relief to struggling primary producers.
This bill does not deal with the land tax.
– It deals with a form of taxation which is being continued because land tax was reduced by half and I am pointing out that relief given by the Government from certain taxes cannot be justified. I claim that the Government has not dealt equitably with the people in its amendments of the taxation laws. The land tax is not an emergency impost; two-thirds of it is paid by city landholders. The fact that there was an exemption of £5,000 shows that the remission did not give relief to the struggling primary producers. This act was imposed for the purpose of bringing about the subdivision of large estates.
– The honorable member is going beyond the scope of the bill’ before the House.
– I direct attention to the Government’s lack of regard for the welfare of the poorer sections of the community. It boasts of the fact that it has remitted taxes to the amount of £10,300,000 since assuming office, and I maintain that the bulk of that relief has been given to its wealthy friends - thu large landholders and those who pay large sums in income tax.
Insofar as this measure will remove anomalies from the sales tax legislation, it will receive the support of the Opposition. I am glad to observe that at last the Government has acceded to the request made by honorable members on both sides of the House for the exemption of goods used in public hospitals and benevolent institutions. The Government has been frequently urged to exempt the pipes used in the provision of irrigation works and water supplies. Although that remission is somewhat belated, it is nevertheless welcome ; but before the Government makes any further remissions of this tax it should bear in mind its definite promise that, as soon as the revenue permitted, invalid and old-ago pensions would be completely restored to their former level. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), in 1931, when Leader of the Opposition, pledged himself tn make this restoration immediately the financial position warranted it. There has been a world-wide improvement of trade, but it cannot be said that the Government has honoured the definite promise which it made to a very deserving section of the community. The Government ended the financial year 1931-32 with a surplus of £1,314,000; but, instead of making a restoration to the invalid and old-age pensioners, another £1,000,000 was taken from them. In 1932-33, the surplus amounted to £3,500,000. The surplus for 1933-34 amounted to £1,300,000 and in 1934-35 it was £711,000. Despite all this no re- storations were made to that most deserving section of the people, the invalid and old-age pensioners. We, as a party, contend that the first duty of the Government is to make a complete restoration of all the cuts in social services that were made because of the depressed conditions. An examination of the figures on page 12 of the budget shows an increase from indirect taxation of £11,000,000 since 1931-32, when the collections from those sources amounted to £36,500,000 compared with £47,500,000 which it is estimated will be collected in 1935-36. In the same period the total direct taxation has been reduced from £17,100,000 to £11,450,000, a reduction ‘of £5,560,000. Hence, instead of there having been a net reduction of taxation since the Government has assumed office, there has been an increase of £5,500.000 between 1931-32 and 1935-36, the indirect taxation having been increased by £11,000,000 and direct taxation having been reduced by £5,500,000. All the efforts of die Government have been aimed - at giving relief to the wealthy sections, including the wealthy payers of land tax and income rax. The Labour party is totally opposed to that aspect of the Government’s policy. Proceeds from income tax have fallen from £13,481,000 in 1931-32 to an estimated return of £8,S00,000 in 1935-36, whereas had the income tax remained at the level of 1931-32, proceeds from that source would have returned £16,263,000 more to the Treasury. Payers of income rax, therefore, are contributing an average of £3,253,000 a year less to Commonwealth revenue than they would have been doing had the 1931-32 rates remained iai operation. A similar state of affairs (exists regarding the federal land tax. Land tax collected in 1931-32 amounted vo £2,100,000, but in the current year, t he estimated collection is only £1,100,000. The Government, while remitting an aggregate amount of £10,300,000 to payers of income and land tax, has imposed a heavy flour tax, which returned £1,253,000 in 1933-34.
– Order ! The honorable member is distinctly departing from the provisions of the bill.
– Other forms of taxation are affected by this measure, but
I shall not proceed further on those lines, apart from saying that the Government has imposed iniquitous forms of taxation, whose burden has fallen most heavily on the people who cannot afford to pay taxes. The sales tax is an unpopular measure paid by people irrespective of their income. It was introduced originally as an emergency tax, and I believe that the time has arrived when the Government should give full consideration to the whole question of this form of taxation. The rate of the sales tax has certainly been reduced from 6 per cent, to 5 per cent., and I know that the Government will argue that it is not in a position completely to repeal the tax, but I contend that it could give a further substantial measure of relief from sales tax by further reducing the rate. It was never intended to be a permanent tax, yet from what we can gather to-day, the Government intends that it should continue indefinitely, as a sort of poll tax on every head of the community. Rather than have the sales tax continue indefinitely, tie Opposition believes in an equitable form of income tax that will fall on the shoulders of those best able to bear taxation. In the present circumstances, it believes also that the federal land tax should be restored to its former rate. Before remitting millions of pounds of income taxation to its wealthy friends, the Government should honour its definite promise that at the first opportunity a restoration would be made of the amounts by which social services were reduced in the dark hours of Australia’s financial history. The Opposition supports the bill, but believes that it does not go far enough. It hopes that the whole system of taxation will be reviewed at an early date by the Government.
.- The proposals brought down by the Government in this bill are in my opinion totally inadequate. The sales tax was introduced because of the depression, but in the present circumstances, it, is iniquitous and totally unfair in its application. It is mainly a tax on the clothing and commodities used by the poorer sections of the community. In dealing with items of food and clothing used by. the workers, the Government should give more careful consideration to the effects of taxation on them. The sales tax does not take into consideration the ability of the taxpayer to meet the commitment. Many small business firms and people are harassed and persecuted because of their difficulty in making sales tax payments. At the same time, professional men, including doctors and solicitors and persons whose incomes are’ derived from property, are not affected. The super tax on income from property was imposed at just about the same time as the sales tax legislation was passed through Parliament. It has been abolished because conditions have improved, and, for the same reason, the sales tax should be removed from the statute-hook. The severity of the sales tax and the harsh way in which it operates in many instances are demonstrated by a recent case of a man being made insolvent because he was unable to pay the small amount of £50. He offered the Taxation Department instalments, but in the end he was imprisoned as a result of the unyielding attitude of the department. The many other cases of persecution include the case of a man who was told by the Taxation Department to charge sales tax on invoices. After a period of years, the inspectors said that, the tax should be included in the price of the commodity, and tax paid on that. This man had to pay a considerable amount in arrears, and was fined as well. It is a most complicated system, and many small traders who are not accountants are not capable of keeping the records which the department requires. As a consequence they often find themselves in trouble. Small traders should not be required to register at all, but should be allowed to pay tax on the goods as they are purchased. I am sure that the public pays a great deal more under the guise of this tax than ever finds its way into the ‘Treasury. Many traders, it is true, charge a price for their goods, and simply add the tax to that, but others include the tax in the price, and include a good deal more as well. If the sales tax is yielding £8,000,000 a year to the Treasury, it would be safe to Bay that it is costing the public an additional £2,000,000, which is retained by the traders. “We have always been told that one of the cardinal principles of sound taxation is that it should bear upon those who are in a position to pay, but the sales tax bears most heavily upon the small trader who is often least able to pay. As I have said, many retailers, known ‘ as retail-wholesalers, under the act, have to pay tax on the sale price of the goods, including the tax, but wholesalers are allowed to add the tax on to the invoice price as . a separate item. Such discrimination is unfair. Many of these small retail-wholesale firms are struggling hard to keep in business against the competition of the big wholesale houses, and, in an endeavour to keep their custom, are sometimes unable to pass on the tax. They try to pay it themselves, and that has resulted in many of them becoming insolvent. In the case which I mentioned a little while ago, the trader, although ho went insolvent, and thus secured protection from his other creditors, was not protected against the demands of the Taxation Department, which took legal action against him and had him sent, to prison.
Originally, there was a . provision in sub-clause d of clause 20 of the Sales Tax Bill to the effect that tax should not be payable on goods made to the order of individual customers by persons who sell exclusively by retail. Such traders, most of whom are in a. small way, were to be excluded from registration, and were to pay tax only upon the materials used. However, when the bill went to the Senate, an amendment was agreed to providing that sales tax should not be payable, only in the case of -
Thus, goods made for human wear were made subject to the tax, so that a man on the basic wage has to pay tax on the clothes that he and his family wear, while items such as rugs for horses are exempt. That is a strange anomaly, and it is time that the Government re-considered the matter with a view to rectifying it.
The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) said that sales tax had been removed from articles used by the poor, but I do not agree with that. It is true that exemptions have been granted in respect of certain food items, but that has been done for i lie benefit of the primary .producers, and not with the idea of helping the poor. Moreover, while remissions have ‘been granted in respect of some food items, the tax is still charged on clothing. The cost-of-living figures prepared by the Government Statistician show that, of the total household expenditure of workers on the basic wage, 42.7 per cent, is devoted to clothing and miscellaneous items apart from housing and food, and those items are subject to sales tax. Moreover, not less than 22.5 per cent, is spent on clothing alone, and on the whole of that expenditure tax must be paid.
I have looked through the list of exemptions, and some of the items would be humorous if it were not that the matter is so serious. While tax must be paid on the clothing of the poor, covering for pigs and other animals is exempt. Surely it is a. disgraceful thing that the Government should think more of pigs than of human beings. Coffins, cremation caskets, &c, are exempt, so that a person must die before he is able to obtain any relief from this burden of taxation. The covering a person wears when he is dead is exempt from taxation, but the covering he needs to keep him alive is taxed. Although these things appear very small, to us they mean a good deal. This bill shows that the Government has paid very little regard to the fact that 22.5 per cent, of the basic wage actually goes in the purchase of clothing alone.
Exemption is provided in respect of goods for use in charitable institutions, ii nd it is specifically provided that they must not be for re-sale by any public organization established and maintained for the relief of unemployed persons. Any organization which has for its object the relief of the unemployed, and which buys supplies on a collective system for distribution to the unemployed on a cost basis, deriving its income partly from subscriptions and partly from direct sales to the unemployed, should be granted relief from the payment, of sales tax. In introducing this measure, the Government should have given more sym pathetic consideration to the tax imposed on c lothing required by the poorer sections of the community, and should have taken steps to relieve the burden imposed on the smaller trading section.
Another aspect of the sales tax legislation which I frequently brought before the House, by way of questions early this year and towards the end of last year, is that to which country wholesale merchants have drawn attention. They claim that certain competitive disabilities which they suffer as the result of the application of sales tax to freight should h? rectified. The country wholesale merchants asked that inward freight incurred in placing goods in stock at their country branches be eliminated from the sale value of taxable sales made from those stocks. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey), in a letter addressed to me on this subject dated the 29th July, 1935, wrote as follows: -
It was hoped, when the representations were first considered, that something could bo done to alleviate the position of country wholesalers. A careful examination shows that nothing can be done short of a recasting of the sales tax legislative measures, which is not intended. Any amendment of the law would, of necessity, have Commonwealth-wide application. The elimination of freight from the taxable sale value would, in effect, cause the tax to be levied, in the case of imports at the customs, and in the case of goods of Australian production at the factory.
Certain wholesale merchants made sales from branch stocks , on the basis of one quotation for the goods and a separate quotation for the inward freight. Dealing with this matter, the letter continues -
Tt was thought that this method of selling might provide a solution of the country wholesale merchant’s difficulty, in that the freight would not, under such circumstances, form part of the amount for which the goods a:sold.
From the time the sales tax was brought, into operation in August, 1930, until September, 1933, the practice suggested by the Minister of invoicing goods at the actual cost, making inward freight a separate item and charging sales tax on the price of the goods only, was permitted by a ruling of the department. But about the end of 1933, the department made a different ruling governing thi3 matter. Sales tax rulings form one of the great difficulties which merchants experience .in connexion with the operation of the sales tax legislation. Because of contradictory rulings given from time to time, the trading community generally has been placed under a grave disability. I understand the department is now demanding sales tax on freight in respect of goods sold between the 1st August, 1930, and the end of 1933, when the new procedure was adopted by the department. In view of the fact that the department was aware of the procedure formerly adopted and acquiesced in it, these people should not be called upon to pay retrospective tax over a period of three years. The Government is not justified in demanding such an impost. A recasting of the act would not be necessary to remedy the position; an exemption to cover freight in Australia would overcome the difficulty. Freight can, and is, escaping tax in most cases, because the -city wholesalers sell f.o.b. or f.o.r. capital cities. If they desire to do so, they may prepay freight for the convenience of clients, and that freight does not attract tax. Country residents are given extra service ‘by having stocks available in country centres, and merchants must, of necessity, pay freight before the sale is made. The point at issue is that if, say, a Sydney merchant supplies goods at ‘£6 a ton, the freight to a country centre might be £6 a ton. If the goods are bought in Sydney, the freight is not taxable, but if the goods are supplied by a country merchant, sales tax must be paid, not only on the cost of the goods, but also on the freight ,as well. Thus the country ‘ merchant has to pay sales tax on £12. The further traders are removed from the seaboard, the heavier this tax upon them becomes, and the result is that no encouragement is given to set up branch supply houses in the country. This has a retarding effect on business generally, diminishes employment in country centres, and is a wrong practice to adopt. The Government should do something immediately to remedy this anomaly. Because of that extra service, the freight on the goods is taxable, whereas if the buyer buys in Sydney, the Sydney supplier has an advantage over the country supplier. I hope the Treasurer, even at this juncture, will be prepared to take steps to exempt freight from the incidence of the tax.
The Sales Tax Acts are most inequitable measures, which press unduly on that section of the community least able to bear taxation. For that reason, the
Government should be prepared to g<> much further than it has done; it should extend the list of exemptions to cover the needs of those entitled to relief. Furthermore, in this bill opportunity should be taken to remove many of the anomalies to which I have drawn attention. The Treasurer claimed that many anomalies had been removed. I maintain that a considerable number still exist, and that their removal by this measure would make the tax more reasonable in its application.
– Representations for the exemption of certain items have been made comparatively recently, but those items do not appeal- to be included in the list embraced by this measure. On the whole, the Government has made a sincere attempt, consistent with its obligations, to meet £bp needs of tax-payers. Notwithstanding that, however, I urge the Treasurer to lend a sympathetic ear to the requests for ‘Specific exemptions that have been made and that relate principally to articles manufactured in n. country centre and used mainly for agricultural, mining or pastoral purposes. I have submitted requests to bini, “but I shall cite only one. Some of the constituents of a certain manufactured article - a tank - are exempt from the tax when they are affixed to it at the works, but if the tank is not built at the works but erected in the country and the constituents are affixed there, then they are subject to tax as separate items. This is an anomaly which, while not involving any principle, proves irritating and troublesome. I suggest that the Treasurer might well consider an enlargement, of the list of exemptions to include these recent representations before the measure is passed. Admittedly he has to meet pressure on all sides for additional expenditure and must therefore keep taxation at a level sufficiently high to meet; necessary expenditure. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), who spoke of the harassing and oppressive nature of this class of tax, should remember that it was originated by a previous government, which was compelled to impose it to obtain the revenue that it required. Naturally, it is not a tax that is likely to find favour with any one. 1 have never yet known of any tax to he received with acclamation. But we have to disregard those considerations and look at the matter from the viewpoint of stern necessity.
It is interesting to note what revenue has been raised by means of this tax from its inception. In the first year of it3 imposition, 1931-32, the amount was £8,425,067. The receipts in subsequent years have been -
The estimate for this financial year is £8,850,000. During the period covered by the operation of the tax, additions have more than once been made to the list of exemptions, the loss of revenue to date being £3,740,000, including £1,350,000 in 1932-33, when the tax was reduced by 1 per cent., and £2,190,000 by exemptions. The estimated reduction under the proposed exemptions amounts to £200,000. The collections have been maintained purely by reason of the improvement of business activities.
.- I am opposed to this tax, lock, stock and barrel. It is the most infamous that has ever been passed by any parliament. At its introduction I pointed out that 18 separate measures were needed to impose it and that I should have great pleasure in supporting its abolition. I welcome the measure under consideration as a means whereby the evil of the tax may be lessened. Clauses 4, 6 and 7 each effect 68 alterations, clause 5 effects 69, and clause 8 effects 66, the total being in the vicinity of 340. I have never been so greatly troubled with complaints in regard to any other tax. I hope that I shall live sufficiently long to vote for its removal. I do not care what tax is imposed, so long as it operates fairly. This does not do that; it is passed on to the worker in every case. Had the power of the initiative, the referendum, and the recall, been reposed in the people, no government would have dared to propose such an infamous blot on our legislative escutcheon
.- While congratulating the Government for its proposal to make further exemptions from the sales tax, I point out that many anomalies still exist. This tax was introduced as an emergency measure. .1 am amazed at the statements of .some honorable members opposite, seeing that it was the party to which they belong that first imposed the tax.
– The party to which the honorable member belongs opposed it.
– I am pleased that it did.
– It now has the power to repeal it.
– Honorable members must know that a tax, once imposed, cannot easily be removed.
– The honorable member means that, as a Government, it is difficult for his party to live up to its professions as an Opposition.
– This Government has consistently moved towards the elimination of this tax. With the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) I hope that very shortly it will no longer exist. The collections at the present time are in the vicinity of £3,000,000 annually. I suggest ‘ that what would be lost by the entire removal of the tax could probably be balanced by greater receipts from other taxes, economies, and financial adjustments between the States and the Commonwealth. I hope to see the progressive reduction of the tax in the near future.
I support the remarks of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark). This tax weighs heavily upon country people, and has a distinct tendency towards’ centralization. I cite the tailoring industry as an example. The exemptions granted to the building industry, it is claimed, have been mainly for the encouragement of employment. The tailoring industry employs a considerable number of persons in country districts; yet many orders for tailored goods are sent to the cities, because country tailors have to pay this tax not only on the manufactured article but also on the freight charged on the material. Competition is so keen at present that these tailors cannot reimburse themselves by an extra charge, and many of them have had to dismiss a number of their employees. On several occasions I have mentioned to the Treasurer the case of tailors in Warrnambool, some of whom continue the tailoring side of their business only with a view to the attraction of ‘other trade. One manwhose operations are confined to tailoring would have to go out of business but that he owns the property in which his concern is established. According to his income tax returns, he is making less than the basic wage. Action should be taken to lighten the burden in such cases, if complete exemption is not practicable, the Government should at least exempt the freight charged on the goods that these persons sell.
I suggest that an increase be made in the amount of turnover necessary before tailors are required to register. At present the amount is £1,000. If it were increased to, say, £2,500, it would be a great help to tailors in country towns, for in any of them would not then be subjected to sales tax on freight charged on the goods received for manufacture.
Although I have referred specially to the tailoring industry, those engaged in many other industries in country districts are also adversely affected by having to pay sales tax on freight.
Substantial relief could be given from this form of taxation by the exemption from sales tax of all goods used by public bodies for the public benefit. Such an exemption would considerably reduce the revenue, but it would also contribute to the relief of unemployment. It is gratifying that hospitals, charitable institutions and certain institutions engaged in providing work for the unemployed are being given general relief from sales tax on the goods they use; but if similar relief could be given to municipalities, and authorities in charge of sewerage construction works and the like, it would help to improve the employment position generally.
The numerous objections made to this form of taxation and the extraordinary number of rulings given in connexion with it by the Commissioner of Taxation indicate clearly that it i3 an unfair form of taxation. I support the view of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) that the tax bears most heavily on the poorer sections of the community. 1 trust that the list of the exemptions will be extended still further before this bill is passed.
Mr. BERNARD CORSER (Wide pleased that the list of goods exempt from sales tax is to be extended. Gradually the fangs are being drawn from this serpent which has been biting the general public. I regard sales taxation as the “ Burglar Bill “ of the Commonwealth statutes, and I congratulate the Government upon having granted relief from this form of taxation from time to time. Prior to the introduction of this bill, relief by way of increased exemptions had been given to the extent of £2,190,000. The reduction of the rate of taxation from 6 per cent, to 5 per cent, relieved the public of the payment of a. further £1,350,000. The relief now proposed by the extension of the list of exemptions is estimated to amount to £200,000 for a full financial year. This will mean that when this bill becomes law this Government will have provided relief from sales tax to the amount of £3,740,000 annually.
This form of taxation was introduced by the Scullin. Government. Although certain honorable members now sitting in Opposition opposed the passage of the original sales tax bills, it cannot be gainsaid that it was a Labour government, acting on the advice of certain Canadian sales tax experts, which originated this form of taxation in Australia. Though the present Government has so far found it impossible to repeal the sa.les tax legislation, I hope that it will give close consideration to the possibility of doing so at the earliest possible date. I believe that, if an analysis was made as to the degree of relief that the entire abandonment of the sales tax would afford to the people, it would concentrate its energies upon achieving that highly desirable end. At present some of the States with relatively small populations are being voted doles by the Commonwealth Parliament, but if this practice were abolished, the Government would, find that it could discontinue the sales tax without any disadvantage to the States now receiving these payments.
Close consideration should also be given to other measures which have been adopted to assist certain sections of the community. For instance, in the last few years, the wheat-growers of Australia have been assisted by grants from revenue amounting to millions of pounds; last year to the extent of £3,300,000. Australia’s greatest burden is taxation. By discontinuing doles to certain States and assistance from revenue to wheat-growers, a reduction of between £5.,000,000 and £6,000,000 in taxation annually could be effected to the benefit of the whole community. The wheat-growers could get all the assistance necessary by adopting a system of co-operative organization.
We are all anxious to do everything possible to relieve unemployment. If the sales tax were abolished, more money would be available to private industry to increase the amount of employment available to the people. The Government has done a great deal already in remitting taxation in various directions. I am glad, for instance, that the land tax has been reduced by two-thirds. Everything possible should be done to assist our wheat producers, sheep and cattle producers, dairymen, beekeepers, and others engaged in various branches of rural industry. Certain anomalies in the operation of the sales tax law which will be eliminated by the passage of this bill, will contribute to that end, but this should only be one further step towards the complete overthrow of this system of taxation. Whenever budgetary conditions make relief from taxation practicable, the interests of the primary producers and the people in provincial towns should be considered.
One sales tax anomaly that i3 particularly irritating is the application of the term “ manufacturer “ to certain soft goods business men, who, in the ordinary course of their business, particularly in country towns, employ people to hem sheets, pillow slips or a few mosquito nets, or to do other work of a like nature. To my mind it is not fair to apply the word “ manufacturer “ to such people. I trust that this anomaly will be rectified without further delay.
I urge the Treasurer to give his personal attention to the examination of ways and means of lifting this unfair method of taxation from the shoulders of the community in general. The adoption of the suggestions I have specified would make the budgetary position such that the evacuation of this field of taxation would be possible, and the Government should evacuate it.
– Taxation of any kind is irksome; but taxation is necessary in order that the work of government may be done. The question that we are called upon to consider is: What forms of taxation bear most equitably upon all sections of the community? A general and widelyaccepted principle of taxation is that the imposts should f all upon the shoulders of the people best able to carry them. Bearing that maxim in mind, I invite honorable members to review the circumstances under which the sales tax was introduced into Australia. The Government of the day was faced with a financial crisis unprecedented in the history of the Commonwealth, and it was called upon to honour certain financial obligations, particularly in relation to the payment of interest charges, which it could not possibly meet from the resources at its disposal. A general financial collapse had occurred, and the government of the day had to devise some new method to meet a situation of unparalleled severity. Under those conditions, a sa.le3 tax, though foreign to this country, was looked to as a means to help the country to pay its way. Honorable members of the present ‘Government parties who were then sitting in opposition protested vigorously against the introduction of the original sales tax bills. I shall not occupy time in citing passages from the Hansard reports of speeches they delivered at that time. Their general attitude is too well remembered to make that course necessary. I have no doubt that honorable members opposite who were not in Parliament at that time were just as antagonistic to this form of taxation ‘as their colleagues who were in the Parliament. It follows, therefore, that if honorable members opposite have any desire to be considered consistent and logical, they should be using their best endeavours to cause the Government to abandon this method of taxation.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) congratulated the Government upon having extended the list of goods exempt from sales tax, but I remind him that it is four years since the first Lyons Government assumed office. In that period there has been ample time for honorable gentlemen opposite, both those in the Ministry and those sitting as private members, to make a comprehensive survey of all available fields of taxation with the objective of entirely evacuating Hie field of sales taxation. Yet this method of taxation is still in vogue. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) was therefore justified in charging the Government with having used the depression as a justification for the ‘continuance of a form of emergency taxation that was never intended to be permanent in Australia. A sales tax as a means of raising revenue was objectionable even to the members of the Government which first adopted it. He said, in effect, that this legislation was introduced to meet an emergency, yet the Government has taken advantage of the revenue derived from it to make remissions of taxes to wealthy land-owners and others. That is a definite charge which the Government’ must answer. It has granted remissions of taxes which were in operation long before the depression arose, and which were accepted as just and equitable. Ministers have used the sales tax, which they condemned when (hey were out of office, to help their wealthy friends who have no reasonable claim to receive a reduction of their taxes. .
From time to time legislative provision for exemptions from this tax has been made, and it seems that the amount of support obtained for applications for exemptions depended upon the strength of the bodies by whom the representations were submitted. We note a tendency to grant -wholesale exemptions with regard to goods used by primary producers, whereas similar consideration is not shown to other sections of the community. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) established an unanswerable case in favour of the exemption of clothing. Let us consider the position of those families who to-day depend for their existence on the earnings of men employed on relief work, which is granted perhaps for one week in three, or for two weeks in five. Those men must pay sales tax on every article of clothing required by themselves or by the members of their families. In their cases, such an impost is anything but just. Unfortunately, a large section of the community depends for its support upon relief work, and consideration should be shown to the poorer sections in the granting of exemptions from the tax. Those on the lowest rungs of the social ladder are entitled to fair and equitable treatment under a law which members and supporters of the present Government considered unfair when it was introduced.
It seems almost incredible that persons living in country districts are charged sales tax on sums paid by way of freight. I am advised that soon after the tax was imposed a certain departmental ruling was given, and, because of a subsequent alteration of the decision, a number of persons have been called upon to make retrospective payments. I can well imagine that the individuals concerned have made very little, if any, profit upon the sale of the goods upon which tax was paid according to the original ruling of the department, and it will be particularly hard on them if extra payments, because of a retrospective application of the ruling, are demanded. The Government should at least stand by the original decision of the department.
Mr. PROWSE (Forrest) [4.38 J- I congratulate the Government upon its several attempts to reduce the severity of the sales tax which was imposed during the regime of the Scullin Government. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) claims that this tax imposes a special burden on the poorer sections of the community. I remind him that the community was poorer when this impost was introduced by the Government of which he was a member than it is to-day. There seems to be an impression that Australia is now free from depression; but, .as a matter of fact, it has a greater national debt than it had when the sales ‘tax was introduced. Reference to Hansard, will show that when the Seullin Government imposed the tax I expressed the opinion that it was acting unwisely. Honorable members opposite have stated that, whilst the rich land-owners have been relieved of taxes, the sales tax falls chiefly on the poorer sections of the community. The reason “why the Scullin Government found it necessary to introduce this tax was that it had given tariff embargoes and unnecessary protection to the wealthy manufacturers of Australia, and thereby lost revenue that should have been received through the customs houses. The masses of the people were never poorer, nor have there ever been more unemployed, than when the honorable member for West Sydney was a member of the Scullin Government.
I am glad that the Treasurer has made this third effort to increase the exemptions from the sales tax. I thank him for having included sewerage and reticulation pipes used in country districts. The Government should take serious note of the additional burden which this measure has imposed on country purchasers. Freight should not be added to the amount upon which the tax is imposed. I hope that a reduction of the hurden in this direction will be the next step taken to render the measure less irksome. I shall welcome the time when it can be removed from the statute-book. I.f any credit is to be given for the exemptions it belongs to the Government that succeeded the Ministry that imposed the legislation, because it has consistently relieved the taxpayers of this impost to the tune of millions of pounds.
.- I am astonished to hear expressions of adulation from ministerial supporters over this third instalment of remissions in respect of the sales tax. The circumstances that have operated since this mea* sure was imposed, and the conditions that obtained in the year when it was introduced, are entirely different. An examination of the facts will disclose that the Government adjusted the sales tax, not in order to remit taxes to the community as such, but in order to prevent this impost from yielding so much revenue that it would have money in excess of th at which it desired to expend. This year it proposes to remit £300,000 by means of the exemptions provided for in this bill, yet the revenue which the budget proposals are expected to produce through the sales tax will be higher than that actually collected last year. Whilst the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) has spoken of the remissions of tax which this measure contemplates, the fact is that but for the remissions’ contained in the bill the revenue from this source would have been much greater than last year.
This tax was imposed in a year in which the customs and excise revenue had fallen drastically.
– Through the action of the Parliament itself.
– Through the curtailment of world trade, and the fact that there were not sufficient credits overseas with which imports could be paid for, without reducing the money available overseas for meeting Australia’s financial obligations abroad. A considerable proportion of the fiscal measures which the Scullin Government introduced and applied were put into effect on the distinct recommendation of the Commonwealth Bank Board, and a memorandum which has been cited in this House more than once, .shows that in that year the customs and excise revenue fell steeply. The budgetary position of the Commonwealth Government was such that a deficit of very large dimensions was in prospect. In 1931-32, when this Government was in power, revenue from customs and excise amounted to £28,400,000 and the sales tax contributed £8,400,000. The revenue from sales tax then was almost as great as that which it is estimated will be received this year. In fact, the sales tax this year when the budgetary position is ever so much better, will yield £400,000 more than it yielded in 1931-32, despite the remissions that have since been granted by this Parliament.
Let us take cognizance of what has taken place. In 1932-33 customs and excise duties returned £32,900,000 instead of £2S,400,000 the amount yielded in the previous year, and sales tax revenue was approximately £900,000 more in 1932-33 than in the previous twelve months. The benefit of greatly increased customs and excise revenue and also much larger returns from the imposition of sales tax came to the Government in 1932-33.- Customs and excise revenue continued to increase, and in 1933-34 it contributed £34,200,000 to Consolidated Revenue. In 1934-35, the amount swelled to £37,800,000 and this year it is estimated that the same sum will be received. Had revenue from customs and excise duties remained in the years to which I have referred at the same level as in 1932, namely, £28,400,000, the result would have been £29,100,000 less than the actual realization. By the 30th June next, customs and excise revenue received during the last four years will have exceeded by approximately £30,000,000 the amount which would have been received, had annual collections from that source remained at the 1932 level.
– That is the point that I tried to make.
– It is the point that the honorable member did not make. The point that the honorable member should have made is that not only has about £30,000,000 been added to Commonwealth revenue, but the Treasurer has also been able to budget for the maintenance of sales tax revenue instead of for diminished returns. Instead of prejudicing the revenue, the remissions provided for in this bill merely prevent the sales tax from yielding more than the amount estimated in the budget.
The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) spoke about the primary producers, objected to this class of taxation and pilloried the Seullin Government for having introduced it. But, in order to produce a better return for the interests lae represents, he does not object to a sales tax on flour. His attitude is that the sales tax on flour is perfectly legitimate, while other similar taxes are not. In the past he has supported it and this year I have no doubt he will support a measure which will have similar results and give the wheatgrowers a better return. Because the flour tax now is. politically undesirable, he will alter his attitude. ‘ By what process of logic do primary producers object to paying sales tax on machinery for the equipment of their farms while at the same time they readily consent to the sales tax on the commodities that go into the workers’ homes? The country should be made aware of that contradictory attitude.
The Opposition is disappointed at what the Government proposes to do in this measure, particularly because of the declaration made by many Government supporters that the class of legislation represented -by the sales tax would disappear with the adequate restoration of customs and excise revenue. The sales tax was imposed to compensate for lost customs and excise revenue. The attitude of the present Government is that the sales tax, instead of being an alternative to lost customs and excise revenue, is supplementary to greatly increased revenue from that source. Despite remissions, direct and indirect taxation will yield, this year, an estimated amount of more than £59,000,000 compared with £54,000,000 in the year ended the 30th June, 1932.
Although the Government has made various remissions of direct and indirect taxation, it is taking £5,000,000 more in the aggregate from the Australian public; yet it is being congratulated by the honorable members sitting behind it, for its success in reducing taxation. To me, that is an extraordinary outlook. The per capita taxation imposed on the Australian people, is much higher now than any per capita taxation imposed by the Scullin Government in any year in which it held office. In view of that fact, I confess that I am surprised that the Government has not been more generous in granting exemptions from sales tax.
I find fault even with the character of some of the exemptions provided for in this bill. For example, the Government proposes to exempt sulphite wrapping paper for use by proprietors or publishers of newspapers in wrapping newspapers What about this material being used for wrapping articles sold by other persons ? Why is this exemption limited to newspaper proprietors? Who are they that they should be singled out from the rest of the community? I confess that they have a tremendous influence on public opinion in Australia, but that is no justification for exceptional treatment.
Among the items not included in the list of exemptions are biscuits. It is true that certain types of biscuits are in former lists, but, in the main, biscuit manufacturers have to contribute £100,000 a year in sales tax, and they will continue to make that contribution. The manufacture of biscuits is an important Australian industry, if for no other reason than that it provides a market for the wheat industry.
– Are these people making losses ?
– No, because the tax is ultimately passed on to the consumer.
– If the sales tax were removed, would the prices be reduced?
– I think so. I remind i.lie honorable the Treasurer that under mother measure, which this House has not yet had an opportunity to debate, but which none the less is in operation - I refer to the tariff schedule - the protec tion which was formerly given to the Australian biscuit, manufacturer is removed. He has now to depend solely on the protection afforded him by the exchange rate. I concede that the importer of biscuits also has to pay sales tax; but, in. whichever way you look at it., it is unfair that biscuits are not included in the list of exempted goods. Their inclusion, I agree, would involve loss of revenue amounting to £100,000; but, if the Government is not prepared to reduce the sales tax to a reasonable level and thereby maintain symmetry in taxation, it should look at the question from the viewpoint stated this afternoon by the .Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde). The effect of his remarks was that the class of taxation represented by the sales tax was essentially devised to meet a national emergency. Collateral measures were also introduced. The general result of these measures was not only imposition of taxes, but also reductions of the payments made by this Parliament to certain persons. If the Government had not chosen to remit the £300,000 of sales tax revenue provided for in this measure, it would have been able to pay £1 a week to the invalid and. old-age pensioners, who have no other income. If the Treasurer makes a calculation, he will discover that this is so ft appears that there is a case for the Government to answer.
The maintenance of the sales tax, however, is unjust, having regard to the fact that customs and excise revenue has increased so substantially. It is incongruous tha t a tax imposed to counternet a serious decline of revenue from customs and excise should not only be retained after that decline has been reversed, but should also yield approximately £S,000,000 in each year of its existence and should be estimated to yield in. the current year as much as it ever yielded, except in 1932-33 when the pro- reeds rose to £9,300,000. Since then the list of articles exempted from the operation of the tax has been greatly extended. Yet in the current year the Treasury will benefit by an amount which is only £500,000 less than that collected in 1931-32. The bill must be a profound disappointment to the public, which was led to expect a considerable reduction of the amount of sales tax. Instead of adding to the list of exemptions, it would have been wiser if the Government had reduced the rate of the tax.
.- It is not correct to say that the Government has increased the per capita taxation. The buoyancy of the revenue is due, not to increased rates of taxation, but obviously to the fact that there has been a return to normal conditions, a return to something approaching the prosperity that we formerly enjoyed. The people have a greater purchasing capacity. More money is being raised from customs and excise and more is being raised from the sales tax because of the increased business activity. It is a matter for congratulation that the public has been able to buy more and that government revenues have accordingly been, more buoyant. As a matter of fact the Government has not imposed any new taxation apart from the flour tax, which is a temporary measure only. Far from imposing new taxation, the Government has reduced some taxes and abolished others. The sales tax is one of those it has reduced, and the reductions have been designed to assist those classes which are most directly affected. The Scullin Government, when it brought in the sales tax, was criticized because it had introduced a new form of taxation, but very soon it was realized that the Government had to raise more revenue. I think that if honorable members opposite were -to content, themselves with defending the action of the Scullin Government they would be justified, but now they are seeking to criticize this Government for continuing the tax. I ask the members of the Opposition whether, if they were in power, they would continue the sales tax or abolish it? Would they support tie principle of a home-consumption price for wheat? Of course they would. Members of the Opposition have criticized the Government in respect of those things because they have the effect of increasing the cost of living, but they know well that if they were in power they would have to continue them, just as they had very reluctantly to impose the sales tax in 193<>.
A certain amount of revenue must be raised. Members of the Opposition have asked for increased .pensions, and for the restoration of Public Service salaries. The Government has partially restored salaries, and has made a small restoration of pensions. The Leader of the Opposition wishes to see the grants to States continued so that “Western Australia may receive its £800,000 a year, and other members of the Opposition desire the Commonwealth to continue making grants for the relief of unemployment. These services cannot be rendered by the Commonwealth unless it has the revenue, and the Government cannot obtain the necessary revenue without the sales tax.
– Where would the revenue have been obtained in 1930 if the sales tax, which the honorable member opposed, had not been instituted?
– I think that the Scullin Government did the proper thing in 1930 in instituting this tax. It had to obtain revenue, and I am sorry that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) did not stand by the Scullin Government when it did the honest thing. If we abandon the sales tax, what other form of taxation can be suggested to produce the revenue to enable the Government to meet its commitments? There is no great margin of saving with regard to the commitments of the Commonwealth Government. The Commonwealth raises about £60,000,000 a year in taxation, but practically all of that is devoted to meeting commitments which cannot well be varied. There are the pensions bill, the interest bill, and payments to public servants, all of which have to be met out of revenue. Savings can be effected only at the expense of large classes, such as the pensioners and public servants, or by cutting down grants to the States for unemployment and other purposes. Members of the Opposition cannot have it both ways. This Government reduced income tax, and immediately the ground that was abandoned by the Commonwealth was taken up by the States. The same thing would happen with practically any other form of taxation which the Commonwealth gave up. The Commonwealth made some reduction of land tax, and surely that reduction was called for. Land values have fallen greatly, and the majority of those who hold land are not obtaining anything like a ‘reasonable return for the capital invested. It is quite incorrect to describe the sales tax as a charge upon the poorer sections of the community. When it was introduced by the Scullin Government, it was general in its application, and bore equally upon both rich and poor; but this Government has so adjusted it thai it has ceased to bear with any severity upon the poorer people. Practically al! those articles defined by the Statistician as necessaries of life have been exempt.
– Does not clothing constitute one of the necessaries of life?
– I said that most of such necessaries were exempt. Tin: other large class which has benefited by sales tax exemption is made up of thos*1 on the land. There is no doubt that, next to the unemployed in the cities, th’1 country people are the worst off. Generally speaking, rural dwellers have smaller incomes than have those in the cities. Thus, the two most deserving classes of the community have been specially provided for by amendments i.” the Sales Tax Act, resulting in remission s to the extent of £2,000,000 a year.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (M.r. Corser) suggested that the need for the sales tax might be removed to some extent if the Government would cease making grants to the wheat industry and others of the kind, and institute instead a marketing system which would assure the growers a home-consumption price for their products. I remind th.’ honorable member, however, that the effect of a home-consumption price for wheat would be to increase the cost of flour and bread to the people.
– Not necessarily.
– If it would not have that effect, then all the objections to ;i sales tax on flour fall to the ground, because all the opposition to the tax was; based on the ground that it would increase the price of the people’s bread. Actually, the effect of the honorable member’s scheme would be to transfer some of the sales tax, which now falls mostly on the richer sections of the community, to the bread and other foodstuffs consumed by the poor. In my opinion, the Government has followed the proper course. It recognizes that the retention of the pales tax is necessary because no other form of taxation has been suggested, or can bc found, which would produce £8,000,000 a year. The Government has altered the incidence of the tax so as to give relief to. the poorer sections of the community, but it cannot abolish the tax if it is to maintain those services upon which members of the Opposition so strongly insist.
– I do not agree with the statement of the honorable member who has just sat down that the sales tax bears more lightly upon the workers than upon the wealthier sections of the community. For my part, I am very disappointed with the bill now before the House, and I feci sure that many thousands of business people had expected something more from the Government. I have myself received numerous requests from business people in my electorate, and have submitted them to the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) for consideration. While I am pleased that the Government has enlarged the list of exemptions, and has exempted somearticles regarding which I made representations, nevertheless I believe that a. considerably longer list of exemptions could have been accepted. Nearly three years ago, I submitted one case to the Treasurer, that of a soft drinks manufacturer in Brisbane trading under the name of Horitz Fruit Drinks. This man manufactures drinks from pure, fresh fruit, and, in the course of a letter to mc, he states -
As you will have observed. I am a manufacturer of pure fruit juke drinks. The application of the sales tax is proving a very serious obstacle to the extension of this class of industry, as the charge cannot be passed on and successfully compete with the many drinks on the market, which are produced from essence only, and are much inferior from every point of view. My requirements of pure fruit per annum’ are - Oranges, lemons, passion fruit and pineapples. I use approximately 200 tons per annum, which provides n market for local fruit-growers.
I submit that the Government should protect a manufacturer who is not only putting on the market pure fruit drinks, but is also assisting the great fruit industry of Queensland. I ask the Trea surer to see if it is not possible to have these articles included in the present list of exemptions or in some subsequent list.
The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Scholfield) and the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) complained of the position in which local authorities and shire councils are placed as the result of being called upon to pay sale. tax. On a number of occasions, I have brought this grievance under the notice of the Minister, claiming that a local authority should be granted the same measure of relief from the incidence of the tax as a Commonwealth or State government. The Brisbane City Council, which employs a large body of men on relief work, and during the last few years has employed many thousands of unemployed relief workers on sewerage works, has to pay sales tax on all materials used on such work and on that which it manufactures for its own use. In a letter addressed to me by the Town Clerk of Brisbane, appears the following paragraph :- -
The council feels that, in general, it is in a position somewhat analagous to Commonwealth and State Governments, and particularly so in view of its co-operation with thu State Government towards the relief of unemployment by its intermittent and rotational relief schemes, and its water extension and sewerage construction . undertaken, on which one-half of the council’s expenditure is borne by the Government by way of subsidy.
I hope that the Government will give careful consideration, not only to the request of the Brisbane City Council, but also to similar requests which I understand have been made by all city councils, local authorities and shire councils throughout the Commonwealth.
Some two or three years ago, a deputation from the Brisbane and Suburban Shopkeepers’ Association waited on every Queensland member and urged that their grievances be ‘brought under the notice of the Government. The consensus of opinion seems to be that the small shopkeeper is hit more heavily by the incidence of the tax than is the large shopkeeper, because the small man sells a number of articles in respect of which the tax cannot be passed on. The Brisbane and Suburban Shopkeepers’ Association submitted to me a list of articles i n respect of which this difficulty arose, which I, in turn, passed on to the Treasurer. These articles are paper bags, ice-cream, cordials, confectionery, schoolbooks, writing pads, barley, rice, jellies and biscuits in packets. Practically all of these are so small that it is difficult for the shopkeepers to pass on the tax.
– Yet the manufacturer charges it.
– Yes; but the shopkeepers say it is impossible for them to pass it on.
– And it represents their profit on the sale of the article.
– Yes. It means that the tax has to he paid out of the pockets of these small traders. It has been suggested that the sales tax should be abolished and should be replaced by a turnover tax. I agree that the time is ripe for the repeal of the tax altogether, but if the Government cannot see its way clear to do that, the tax should certainly be drastically reduced. True, the rate has been reduced from 6 per cent, to 5 per cent. When the alteration was made I did not regard the reduction as sufficient, nor do I consider it sufficient to-day. It should be reduced to as low as 2£ per cent., if not wiped out altogether. Conditions to-day are altogether different from those which operated when the Scullin Government, in order to carry on the finances of this country, was compelled to impose this tax.
I agree also with the remarks of the honorable members for Wannon and Darling respecting the tax imposed on tailors. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn), who contended that the incidence of the sales tas was falling more lightly on the workers than on any other section of the community, omitted to take into consideration the fact that master tailors are compelled to pay tax not only on the materials used in their trade, but also on wages anc! overhead charges. The master tailors of Queensland, whilst they do not complain of the tax generally, resent very much the way in which the acts are administered by the department, and contend that they should pay tax only in respect of the material used in the making if a suit, and not on the manufactured article.
– They pay only in rasper* of a proportion of the value of the manufactured article.
– -They claim that they are assessed, not only on the cost of the material used, but also in respect of overhead charges, including wages.
– If a man pays £10 for a suit of clothes, he is charged the full rate of tax on that amount.
– That is not entirely correct.
– The manufacturers themselves have informed me that that is so.
– They are assessed only in respect of two-thirds of the cost of the suit.
– Once they pay the sales tax on the material, their liability should be at an end. I hope the Treasurer will go into this matter and ascertain whether master tailors arp charged the full tax on the suit as I have stated. If that is so, I trust that he wi’l see that this unjust imposition is withdrawn as soon as possible.
I am very disappointed with the very small list of exemptions which the Government proposes in this bill. Many thousands of people were expecting a very much larger list. I trust that the time is not far distant, however, when the Government will see its way clear to abolish the tax altogether. In its incidence, the tax is most iniquitous, and presses more heavily on the poorer section than on any other section of the community. Eather than make reductions of land tax, which has been iu force for 25 or 30 years, the Government should first: abolish the sales tax, which was imposed only as an emergency measure.
.- I am in agreement with other honorable members in taking exception to this class of legislation. The sales tax has an important bearing on the life of every person in the community, and apart from that is a continual source of irritation to the business community throughout Australia. I have had extended experience of the operation of the sales tax acts, and can safely say that it adds something like 1 per cent, to the overhead charges of business concerns. In view of the continued trade improvement, it seems that the estimates of sales tax will be largely exceeded during the next twelve months. Because this is a painless tax, there is no reason why its collection should be continued, and it is to be hoped that by a re-arrangement of the finances it may be reduced or wiped out altogether. I realize, however, the difficulties that confront the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) in the absence of some other constructive proposal. When the budget is under discussion, an opportunity will be given to deal more fully with constructive proposals and with the petrol tax, the income tax, and other forms of direct taxation. I congratulate the Treasurer Oil the exemptions which have been made, particularly ( among others, in respect of building materials and pipes for drainage and water and sewerage purposes. The exemption of these articles will have a practical bearing upon the development of industy and will also result in greater employment. I desire, however, to point out an apparent anomaly in respect of the exemption of pipes for water, sewerage and drainage purposes. While all pipes used for this purpose are exempt, the materials used for the construction of new pipes, in situ, apparently are not. This has a very important bearing upon construction works, particularly those carried out by water and sewerage and other municipal bodies. I suggest the exemption of all materials used in such works.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has urged the exemption of biscuits, and I support the representations made because this foodstuff also has to bear the burden of the flour tax and is used by all sections of the community.
The matter of photography has been referred to, and it has been argued that the case put forward is open to question. [ consider, however, that as one class of photography is exempt, consideration should be given to the other. I urge that an exemption he granted to this industry.
.- The Hansard report of speeches delivered by honorable members opposite when a
Labour Government introduced the sales tax *shows that they opposed it without exception and claimed that it would be detrimental to this country, yet when the opportunity is presented to them to relieve the people of this burden they decline to avail themselves of it. The fact that, despite the exemptions that have been made, the collections have not been lowered, proves that real relief has not been afforded. I believe that the tax should be wiped out. Honorable members opposite applaud the Government on the ground that exemptions have been granted in respect of foodstuffs. Whatever relief has been afforded in this way has been completely offset by the imposition of the flour tax. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) and the honorable member for’ Watson (Mr. Jennings) that biscuits should be placed on the list of exemptions. The local biscuit manufacturers have to face severe competition from biscuits imported from England, and they should be given every encouragement to expand their operations. The Government has materially assisted the primary producer, but the worker has been shown very little consideration. A married man with two children who obtains occasional relief work receives £1 lis. a week. How can he feed and clothe his family on that amount, when every article that he ha3 to purchase is subject to this tax? It is an undoubted fact that the tax increases the price of clothing, boots and other necessaries. Contrast the attitude of the Government towards the worker with its attitude towards big firms like David Jones Limited and Farmer and Company Limited. The balance-sheet presented by David Jones Limited this year shows that its profits are larger than they have ever been previously. Yet its financial difficulties were supposed to be so burdensome that the Commonwealth had to remit an appreciable proportion of its land tax to enable the firm to meet its liabilities.
There are one or two anomalies which I should like the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) to consider. Certain persons in my electorate cut up discarded motor tubes for the purpose of making “ sleeves “. These are regarded by the department as new manufactured goods, and sales tax is charged upon them. The reply received from the department to representations upon the subject reads as follows : -
The matter referred to by you has been tully considered in this office, and it has been decided to adhere to the decision given by the deputy commissioner, Sydney. The sleeves and re-liners (full circle sleeves) produced by Blower Brothers are regarded as goods having a commercial character distinct from the raw material from which they are made. Such articles arc manufactured goods, and therefore not exempt from sales tax as secondhand goods.
I hope that the Treasurer, will remove that anomaly immediately.
Every week-end the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) delivers an address outside this House upon one subject or another. He has embarked upon a campaign for the improvement of the health of the people generally and for an increase of the population of Australia. I suggest that his desires in these directions are being frustrated by the levying of the sales tax upon perambulators, and I look to him to support my plea that they be exempt from it.
I have brought to the notice of the Treasurer the demand of the department for the payment of £50 sales tax by a man whose partner disappeared leaving him to face all the liabilities of the partnership. He was not only forced into bankruptcy, but was also arrested and imprisoned. I made representations on ids behalf, as a consequence of which he was released from prison. He is now in work, and earns £4 5s. a week. The department would not accept his offer to pay £1 a week, but is pressing for payment of the whole amount in a lump sum. The poor unemployed have obtained no relief whatever from sales taxation. I agree with honorable members who have said that it is unjust to charge sales tax on freight as well as on the goods on which the freight is paid. The proposal that country tailors should be exempt from registration has a great deal to justify it; at any rate, the amount of £1,000 turnover should be increased to at least £3,000 for country tailors. Existing conditions are such that country tailors cannot make a living. The practice of sending suit measurements to tailors in the city has grown’ to an extraordinary degree. The limit of £1,000 is of no value, for £300 of it would be represented by labour, £300 by material, and £300 by overhead, which leaves the tailor practically nothing. I trust that the Government will see that relief is given to this class of the .community in particular.
Mr. RIORDAN (Kennedy) [5.47 J. - One of the main complaints voiced against sales taxation is that the Government has not honoured the promise given at the inception of this class of legislation, that immediately the budgetary position improved, the sales tax would be abandoned. The community looks to Parliament to honour the promises made by preceding governments, particularly in regard to emergency legislation. The circumstances surrounding the introduction of a sales tax into Australia are fresh in the minds of honorable members. It will be recollected that the Prime Minister of the day promised that, immediately conditions improved, the Government would restore social services to their former standards and repeal the sales tax. But this Government is collecting more from this tax to-day than has been collected at any previous time. The original rate of sales tax was 2i per cent. This was increased to 6 per cent., and subsequently reduced to 5 per cent. The Government, however, is still collecting more than £8,000,000 a year from this source, and the relief now proposed would amount to only £200,000 a year. In view of the fact that social services have not been restored to their former standard, and that many of our fellow citizens arc still out of work, I suggest that the Government should not reduce taxation. The first step towards the rectification of our position should be the restoration of social services and the provision of employment. Instead of following that course, the Government has seen fit to make special concessions to its wealthy supporters. City newspaper proprietors, for instance, are to be helped by the granting of exemptions on their wrappers, yet newspapers generally are still being sold at the war-time price. This is an inequity. The claim of the Government, that it has reduced taxation, will not bear close examination, at least from the point of view of the man in the street. The emergency measures adopted during the depth of the depression are being continued by this Government although the emergency situation has been eased. It is not correct to say that the working people do not have to pay sales tax on their clothing. Everybody knows that tailors include in the price of each suit they sell an amount for sales tax. As men with limited business cannot take advantage of certain provisions of the law, they simply add the equivalent of the sales tax to each suit they sell. In this way the working people are taxed on their clothing. The exemption of £1,000 of turnover is of no practical value. Country business people are feeling the burden of the sales tax law to a much greater extent than hig city firms. I have in mind at the moment a person who was in business in Cloncurry. When metal prices declined the business of this man fell away to such an extent that he had to ‘become a hawker. He travelled into the Northern Territory with his goods, but when he got in the neighbourhood of Tennants Creek he had to pay 4s. a gallon for petrol. He met similar circumstances when he was travelling towards Mount Isa. A man in that position is a retailer and should not be taxed. When mining at Cloncurry declined, the proprietary of a certain newspaper sold it to a widow who’ had been left a few pounds on the death of her husband. She was assured that the business was sound. Eventually she discovered that she could not make a living at it, and she leased the undertaking. The lessee, in turn, found that he could not make a living and the business reverted to the widow. Yet she was expected to pay sales tax on the various transactions. Subsequently she went to Hughenden but drought and the low price of wool made it impossible for her to operate successfully there. Nevertheless, she was pursued by the officials of the Sales Tax Department, and ultimately taken to court and mulcted in heavy expense for failure to pay the tax assessed to her. Such instances are not fair. The sales tax is a definite irritant to the community in general. I suggest that the Government should substitute for it a turnover tax, which, we are told, would be less costly administratively and otherwise. At any rate, the time has come for the abolition of the sales tax. The only justification for the continuance of this method of taxing the people would be a declaration by the Government that it proposed to use the whole of the proceeds to provide employment for the people. When the present Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) was sitting on this side of the chamber, he said that if ever his party came into power it would reduce taxation by £20,000,000 in one act. The present Government has claimed that it has reduced taxation by £10,000,000; but the working people have not received any benefit whatever by what has been done in this direction. All the advantage has been reaped by the wealthy city landholders. The net result of the administration of this Government has been that the burden of taxation has been shifted from the shoulders of the wealthy people, who should bear it, to the poor people, who are unable to bear it. In the interests of small business people, the Government should carry out the promise given, when the sales tax was introduced, that it would be repealed as soon aa the condition of the finances would permit it. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes ) supported the passage of this legislation, and said that it was purely of a temporary nature, designed to enable Australia to meet its overseas commitments. No matter what political party happened to be in power when the measure waa introduced, effect should be given to the promise that was made. If the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) had been a member of thi-. House when the original bill was brought down, I think he would not now hi’ favouring the continuance of this impost. The Government is prepared to grant remissions of the tax to newspaper companies and other wealthy organization?, so there is no excuse for refraining from honouring the promises made to tinpoorer sections of the community, upon whom this tax falls with great severity.
When the financial emergency legislation was passed, a definite promise wm* given that immediately prosperity returned the invalid and old-age pensions and the maternity allowance would b’fully restored. The sum of £200,000, the amount of the proposed remissions of sales tax,, would place the infant and maternal welfare scheme outlined by thu right honorable member for North Sydney on a sound footing; but does he expect mothers to raise children on an income of 31s. a week, whilst the Government which he supports remits the taxes of wealthy newspapers such as the Sydney Morning Herald and the powerful group in Melbourne, which dictates the policy of this Government? The right honorable member advocates an increase of the birth rate. Let him first help to raise the standard of living of that section of the people which has always contributed by far the greatest proportion of the natural increase of the population. Although I consider that the sales tax should be removed, I would not entirely eliminate it until the poorer sections of the people are assured a decentstandard of living.
The Government has been congratulated upon this measure to extend the list of exemptions from sales tax, but it would deserve greater congratulation from a large section of the community if it provided employment for the vast numbers of boys and girls who, on- leaving school, have no hope of finding work. Many of them even reach adult age without having done a day’s labour. Many men engaged on relief work have to support large families, and even if they have five children to feed and clothe they are not paid more than the dole rate of £111s. a week.
– The honorable member is referring to a matter which concerns the States, and is not relevant to the bill.
– The Government has submitted measures for the payment to certain States of grants from Commonwealth revenue.
– Bills dealing with t hat matter were disposed of some days ago.
– In view of the fact that portion of the revenue for which the Treasurer has budgeted for the ensuing year has been allocated to certain States, it, is time the national Government accepted responsibility for the employment of the youth of the nation. It has no right to grant exemptions from the sales tax or any other impost when a large proportion of the people are practically starving. During the last four years, the Government has made the following tax reductions: - Income tax, £3,100,000; land tax, £1,200,000; entertainments tax £140,000; sales tax, £3,740,000; primage, £945,000; custom? and excise, £1,205,000. These concessions furnish no comfort, to those families who have inadequate shelter, and are living on £111s. a week. Yet the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) who has the motherhood of Australia in his care-
Honorable members laughing,
– The honorable member’s remarks may be amusing, but 1 have already directed him to confine his remarks to the bill.
– The Government is now proposing a further reduction of £200,000 by increasing the exemptions from the sales tax. It may appear amusing to you, Mr. Speaker, but it is not amusing to me.
– I cannot allow the honorable member to continue in that strain. His reference to the Chair is quite improper. I am not in the least amused at the honorable member. I have already asked him to confine his remarks to the subject-matter of the bill, and 1 now request him to refrain from further digression.
– I understood that you had made a reflection on me during the course of my speech.
– If repeatedly calling the honorable member’s attention to the fact that some of his remarks were irrelevant, and that he had not obeyed the Chair, is regarded by him as a reflection, he may accept it as such. I again ask him to address himself to the bill.
– The proposed remission of sales tax is not justified in the present circumstances. More revenue is to be derived from the tax this year than last year, and it will be taken from a section that can ill afford to bear the burden. Articles of food and clothing, which are the main items purchased by the working classes, are not found in. the list of goods exempted under the bill.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to8 p.m.
.- In the debate on this bill, honorable members have traversed the full field of taxation. No class of taxation is popular, but when the original Sales Tax Bill was introduced in 1931, the country was in the depths of depression, and in dire need of revenue. Some new form of taxation was necessary; and the Government of the day felt that a sales tax would be an easy way to collect revenue. It proved to be an easy method. By means of it the Commonwealth has been able to collect millions of pounds. “When it was introduced, however, I felt that the Government was not proceeding along the right lines, and that it- was a tax that would bear harshly on the people, and hamper business and trade. Events have proved that my fears were well based, and I, for one, want to take the earliest opportunity to see that the sales tax is removed from the statutebook. I realize that the money collected has been well spent, and that it was absolutely necessary to collect it, and in the easiest way possible. From all those aspects, the sales tax has been a good thing for Australian government.
When the bill providing for the reduction of the tax from 6 per cent, to 5 per cent, was introduced, I gave it my heartiest support, believing that it would afford relief to which the people were justly entitled. It gave that relief. The computation of a 6 per cent, tax was difficult for the business community; the reduction to 5 per cent, made for an easier method of calculation. In order to assist rehabilitation in the rural industry agricultural implements were subsequently removed from the incidence of the tax, and rural industries thus received benefits amounting to thousands of pounds. Most honorable members gave their support to those exemptions.
We are in the position to-night of having to vote on the exemption from sales tax of a number of articles. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) and previous Treasurers, have received numerous requests from honorable members for extensions of the list of exempted articles. I do not suppose that there is one honorable member who has not made at least one such request. The Treasurer has given favorable consideration to them, and I am pleased to note that at least one or two of my requests have been granted. 1 intend to do my best to see that other exemptions that I have requested art; allowed.
I am pleased that the Government has seen fit to take sales tax off many articles used in the building industry. It is pleasing to note an increase of building operations. In the various capital cities, many important buildings are in various stages of erection, and houses are being built throughout the cities and country to supply a long-felt need for housing. That movement will be assisted by the exemption of articles used in the building industry.
I desire to congratulate the Ministry for having included in the list of exemptions dehydrators and evaporators, and parts thereof, for use in the dried fruits industry.
I feel that the Government should endeavour to remove the sales tax from foodstuffs as soon as possible. I notice that shortbread biscuits and shortbread products are now exempted, but I consider that the biscuit industry should be wholly removed from the operation of sales tax. In an interjection while another honorable member was speaking, the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) said that the sales tax paid by that, industry amounted to £100,000. Calculated at 5 per cent, that shows that biscuit making is worth to Australia something like £2,000,000 per annum. This important industry is able to cope with overseas competition, and I want to safeguard industries of a like character, I, therefore, regret the lack of provision in this bill for the removal of the sales tax from biscuits. The industry has a further burden in the shape of the flour tax, and it is thus doubly taxed. Furthermore, the duty on imported biscuits was reduced when the last tariff schedule was introduced. That was a severe blow to the biscuit industry. I do not know whether an amendment can be inserted, but when this bill is taken into committee, I will look into the possibilities of having biscuits exempted.
In general, I am in agreement with the bill. I hope that in the near future, it may be possible for the Government to avoid the use of a sales tax in raising its revenue, because of the hampering effect it has on industry generally.
.- Every one will admit that the sales tax is inequitable. It was imposed originally in an attempt to correct the financial drift which Australia experienced in 1931. It was estimated then that the tax would bring in revenue amounting to £4,000,000 per annum as a contribution towards balancing the budget. Those early estimates were greatly exceeded by the results. The budget recently introduced shows that the sales tax returned £8,425,067 in 1931-32; £9,369,276 in 1932-33; £8,695,689 in 1933-34; approximately £8,500,000 in 1934-35 ; while it is estimated that in the current year, it will contribute £8,850,000. Therefore, even after the making of numerous exemptions in favour of agricultural interests, the i ax still yields about £8,000,000 a year. When considering exemptions, this Government seems always to regard most favorably the claims of those representing rural industries. I do not begrudge those industries their good fortune, but I maintain that other sections are just as deserving of favorable treatment. Rural representatives must be able to bring tremendous influence to bear on the Government in order to secure this preference. Practically every branch of rural industry, including dairying, dried fruit-growing, grazing, &c, has been provided for, and now I see that even brooms are exempt. Other exemptions have been made in respect of covers for farm tractors, fruitpicking bags, baskets, hoes, hay forks, and like implements. It is now proposed to exempt rugs for sheep and pigs, in addition to the existing exemptions in respect of rugs for cows and horses. Surely it is time that the Government gave some consideration to the needs of human beings as well as to those of the lower animals. Thousands of people in the cities have no income at all except a miserable dole. They need rugs with which to cover themselves, and I cannot follow the reasoning of those who are prepared to exempt from taxation rug3 for sheep and pigs, while continuing to tax the clothing of necessitous human beings.
Some time ago, I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) to exempt from sales tax tools of trade and explosives used by miners in the course of their work. Action was taken by the Government in response to those representations, but I find thai, while the exemptions cover tools purchased by the owners, they do not apply to the case I have particularly in mind. The mine-owners purchase tools for use by daily-wage workmen, but the miner who is working on contract must purchase his own tools from the local storekeeper. A miner uses probably three shovels a year, and when I was mining a shovel used to cost £1 ls. Besides shovels the miner has to buy picks, boring machines, drills, wedges, &c, and some buy explosives as well. Such men do not benefit from the sales tax exemptions on tools of trade used by miners. Perhaps, if the storekeeper applied to the Commissioner of Taxation, he might be able to obtain exemption in respect of those goods, but. in practice, this course is not followed, and is, indeed, hardly practicable in the circumstances. It would be better if the tools were specifically enumerated in the schedule of exemptions.
Miners have to wear boots made of specially treated leather that will resist the destructive effect of the highly mineralized water encountered in the mines. These are known as pit boots, and I maintain that they are just as much tools of trade as the miner’s pick and shovel, and. as such, should be exempt from sales tax. I do not seek this exemption for miners only; it should apply to the booti and other clothing used by workmen in any trade or calling, if such clothing must be purchased specifically for the purposes of their work. In many industries the men, when the day’s work is over, bathe at their place of employment, and change into other clothes in which to go home. In such oases, the clothes worn while the men are actually at work should surely be regarded as tools of trade.
I have previously mentioned in this chamber the special claims of tailors to consideration in regard to tax exemptions. The mining industry has suffered perhaps worse than any other as the result of the depression, and in the mining districts there has been a marked falling off in the demand for clothes, particularly for clothes made to order. The result is thatmany tailors work at their trade for only part of the time, and are employed as relief workers for the rest of the time.
Their turnover as tailors is not sufficient ro require them to he registered under the Sales Tax Act, hut they pay tax on the .cloth which they buy from the wholesale merchants. However, the taxation authorities in Sydney have been threatening some of these men with prosecution because they have been conducting a business and have not furnished returns for sales tax purposes. The department will not .accept their assurance that their total turnover is below the amount specified in the act, and they are required to produce dockets showing the amount of their cloth purchases from the wholesalers. “When these dockets cannot be produced, the tailors are compelled to pay tax on their turnover. This is not fair to the tailors, who are already sufficiently hard hit by conditions on the coal-fields ; nor is it fair to their customers.
In view of the fact that the Government has seen fit to make substantial remissions of taxation to wealthy sections of the community, it, is time that it seriously considered the wiping out of the sales tax altogether. When the sales tax legislation was first introduced I have a very vivid recollection of the bitterness with which the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett), the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill), and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) attacked the government of ihe day for bringing down legislation which they claimed would impose hardship upon the struggling working community. Yet to-day when those same honorable gentlemen are in a position to do so they do not see fit to remove this legislation from the statute-book. Instead of alleviating the hardships imposed upon the working community, they raised the sales tax from 2% per cent, to 6 per cent.
– I think the Government which the honorable member supported did that.
– It was done under the Premiers plan.
– The Treasurer says that the Government which I supported raised the rate of the tax. Honorable members will recollect that, owing to the defection of eighteen of its supporters the government of the day had not sufficient numbers to put the Premiers plan into operation, and only with the aid of hon orable members then sitting opposite was it .placed upon the statute-book. The people who have received the greatest benefits from the present Government are those who did not in any way contribute to the success of the Premiers plan, while on the other hand, the workers who, after all, have bo pay the sales tax, have suffered in- turn reduction of salaries and wages, reduction of social services, and other reductions which have left them in a very unfortunate position. These people are crying out for relief. Though the farmers, most of whom are working their own farms, are able to secure exemptions for all of their implements, the miners and other workers who are forced to buy tools with which to pursue their trade, are completely forgotten. While the taxes imposed upon wealthy sections of the community have been reduced, the workers have had to suffer a tax upon the very bread they eat.
– The honorable member’s remarks are irrelevant to the question before the chair.
– -While, “owing to the precarious state of the finances, there may have been some justification for the imposition of the sales tax, there is not now any justification for its continuance. Surely the people have suffered enough under the emergency legislation.
It is pleasing to note that the Government, following an amendment I moved for the exemption of the flour tax on unemployed organizations, has made some provision for the exemption of goods for the use .of an organization for the relief of the unem-ployed. Included in the list of exemptions are goods for the use of, and not for re-sale by, any public organization which the commissioner is satisfied is established and maintained for the relief of unemployed persons. I should like to see the Government go still further and make the provisions of this exemption more liberal. As many of the unemployed are now engaged on relief work, the necessity for relief organizations does not exist to the same extent as formerly. The Treasurer has provided that before exemption can be claimed the commissioner must be satisfied that purchases were made through a genuine unemployed relief organization. It is a tragedy to see the thousands of girls in the coalfields area waiting in queues at the police station for relief dockets. They are to be seen waiting in the rain and sun for a miserable pittance which amounts, I think, to only 6s.1d. a week. These girls cannot obtain the benefit of the exemption of tax on commodities which they are able to purchase with the relief docket.
– Practically none of those commodities would be taxable.
– Many of them are taxable, and the Treasurer knows it. In the West Wallsend district in my electorate, the mines have been closed for years, and no relief work is being carried out. The unemployed there are in receipt of relief dockets, and no genuine unemployed relief organisation is estab-. lished there. Can. the Treasurer in any way justify the imposition of the tax on clothing? Exemption should be granted in the case of men receiving under a certain income. People in affluent circumstances can well afford to pay the tax but the Treasurer surely does not attempt to justify its imposition on clothing required by the man on the basic wage or on relief work. The Government has demonstrated its willingness to meet the wishes of the Country party members by granting exemptions on what I might term the wearing apparel of pigs, cows, and other animals, but no consideration is given to the wearing apparel of human beings. Here again we have evidence of the strength of the Country party in the councils of the Government. Its members have but to make the demand and the Government readily accedes. No consideration is given ‘to anybody outside of those industries directly represented by the Country party. Members of the Country party have undoubtedly thrown over their principles and at the last election-
– Order !
– It was formerly a question of principles before jobs, but jobs became the paramount consideration before many months passed.
– Order, order!
– I should like the Treasurer to explain whether denominational schools are covered by the exemption of “goods which are for the official use of, and are not for re-sale by a techni cal school, the expenditure of which is wholly or partly borne by the Government of the Commonwealth or the government of a State “. If they are not, they should be. Many denominational schools are giving very useful educational service to the nation.
I should further like the Treasurer to state what is meant by “substance” in the item “ substance for use in mining industry “.
I again request the honorable gentleman to consider anew the exemption of food, clothing and other wearing apparel purchased by persons who receive less than a specified income, and particularly tools of trade, such as picks and shovels, used in the mining industry, as well as the wearing apparel and boots of the miners, which deteriorate rapidly on account of the nature of the work in which the men are engaged.
– The time has arrived to discuss briefly the principles underlying this legislation. One has only to consider the seriousness of the debate to-day to understand the feelings of the public generally in regard to it. Probably no other piece of legislation is so irritating or has aroused so much concern among shopkeepers and manufacturers, as well as among the primary producers of Australia and the workers - who, in the last analysis, have to carry practically the whole of the load. It is therefore fitting that we should examine the policy of the present Government and its predecessor. It is true, as other speakers have said, that the sales tax legislation was introduced in this House in an atmosphere of considerable hostility, a? an emergency measure, to overcome a particular difficulty, and was never intended to become permanent. The objects of the Government which introduced it. were to raise revenue by this and otherunorthodox methods in order to overcome quickly the serious overseas trade balance against Australia, and to apply it as uniformly as possible. That Government made the definite promise that the revenue raised under it. would not be used to remove any existing tax burden. All parties definitely understood that the revenue derived from this tax and others should be devoted first to the restoration of the cuts made and the lightening of the sacrifices necessitated under the emergency legislation. What has been the policy of. the present Government? During the five years in which the tax has been in existence, the amount raised under it has totalled £43,000,000. In addition, during i he last three years, this Government has raised £3,000,000 by means of the flour tax, which is a full brother to the sales tax. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has, in clever and masterly fashion, while gradually affording some measure of relief, kept the average receipts up to. over £8,000,000 per annum. To a close student, it is quite obvious that the honorable gentleman intends permanently to continue this method of raising money, and to maintain the receipts from it at approximately £8,000,000 per annum. Any increase, as the result of greater business prosperity, will be utilized in the giving of relief to those who can exert the most pressure or have the best case, in the first year of the tax, when a real emergency existed justifying such extraordinary legislation, the income derived from it was less than it has been in any subsequent year. Obviously, therefore, there was no substance in the opposition offered to it upon its introduction by honorable members who now occupy the Government benches. Had there been they would not have continued to swell the revenue by this means, but would have Abolished the tax.
Another cause of irritation - and it is not indicative of good government - is that, instead of the spread of the tax having been made more uniform, it has gradually and consistently been made more classy in its incidence. Of that which has been restored, 90 per cent, has gone to one section only of the community. If those who were pressing the Government had not made the task impossible, the height of the tax would have been reduced uniformly, so that all sections would have had some relief. Instead of that, the primary producers have been practically the only persons to benefit.
I wish to emphasize at this stage, so that I may not be misunderstood, the great difficulty which in this House is attendant upon any effort to .induce mem bers of the different parties to give each other credit for anything that is done. That stage has been reached to-day. If we were big enough to examine fairly the altitude of the different parties, or of the individuals of which they are composed, we should have to admit that, despite the sectional nature of the exemptions from sales tax, the Labour party has on no occasion voted against the relief proposed, even though its members may have been dissatisfied and at times disgusted at the lack of uniformity in the proposal. The biggest part of the money needed to pay bounties and subsidies has come out of taxes of this class for which members of the Country party pretend that they do not stand. Is it a matter for wonder that several members of that party have to-night congratulated the Government upon being able to make further exemptions? What other course would one expect them to take, seeing that every remission has so far gone their way?
This legislation is most unsatisfactory and is even hateful to small storekeepers and many other sections of the community. Elements of unfairness creep into the administration of the law because some people are not able to pass the tax on, and others who could pass it on will not do so for the reason that by not doing so they can undercut their competitors. We all understood that this was to be emergency legislation; but the Government apparently intends to rely upon getting a regular- £8,000,000 a year in revenue from this source. If this is so, and the Government is not prepared to abandon the tax altogether, it should at least reduce the rate of the tax in preference to making concessions to a few sections of the community while others receive no consideration whatsoever. I have always voted in favour of the granting of relief to distressed people engaged iu primary industries, but the time has arrived when the thousands of small storekeepers and people engaged in the secondary industries of this country should also be considered.
A few of the items that appear in the list of exemptions call for comment. I am astounded that the Government proposes to grant relief to the large newspaper proprietors of Australia, by exempting sulphite wrapping paper. T understand that this is used almost exclusively for the purpose of wrapping newspapers, and, apparently, only the wealthy newspaper proprietaries will benefit to any extent by the exemption. Why should relief be given to these concerns? The newspaper proprietors did not, during the whole period of the depression, reduce the price of their paper publications to the general community. If there are reasons that justify the inclusion of this item in the list of exemptions I hope that the Treasurer will state them clearly in his speech in reply. It is greatly to be regretted that, although upwards of £46,000,000 of revenue has been received from the sales tax and the Government has been able to make remissions of taxation to the wealthy classes of this community, it has not yet seen fit to incur additional expenditure to the amount of about £1,500,000 to restore the rate of invalid and old-age pensions to £1 a week. Surely it is not asking too much to request that this shall be done without delay. In my opinion the granting of concessions by means of increasing the list of exempt goods is quite wrong. This is class legislation of a most objectionable kind. If the Government still feels next year that though it must draw £8,000,000 of revenue from the sales tax it can make certain concessions, I trust that it will do so not by adding to the list of exempt goods but ‘by reducing the rate of tax, always bearing in mind the desirableness of abolishing the tax as soon as possible.
– in reply - I propose first to discuss the suggestion that has run through the speeches of several honorable members that additional groups of exemptions should he granted, and then to deal with some remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin).
I can claim with a degree of modesty, that I could make as eloquent and moving a speech in favour of additional exemptions as any other honorable member ; but that is not the point at issue. A bill of this description is brought down to Parliament with a certain history behind it. The government of the day first determines whether it is able to surrender any of the revenue that it has been receiving, and, if so, the amount that can be surrendered. Having agreed upon an amount, it then seeks to make such con cessions in various forms of taxation as will bear equitably on all sections of the community. The Government decided that it could afford to surrender £350,000 in super-tax on property and sales tax. It was decided, in regard to sales tax, that the list of exempt goods should be extended in such a way as to afford the greatest degree of relief to the community. I regret that the Government cannot agree to any addition to the list of exemptions that has been placed in the hands of honorable members, first, because it cannot afford to surrender any more revenue; and, secondly, because it ‘ realizes that exemptions agreed to during the course of a debate in Parliament, and without careful investigation by the technical officers of the department, have invariably led to increased trouble and th’; creation of many anomalies. Exemptiongranted in this way may be an evidence of good will on the part of the Government, but the policy has been proved to be unwise. Therefore, while the Government may have great sympathy with the submissions of honorable members, it cannot, at this stage, accept any proposals for further exemptions.
I am not one to attempt to take debating points in the House; and I suggest to honorable members of the Opposition that it is unwise for them to attempt to make political capital out of points that they may take during a debate. I am led to make that observation by reason of the fact that several honorable member? opposite have attacked, with great eloquence, the proposal of the Government to add to the list of exempt good* “ sulphite wrapping paper for use by proprietors or publishers of newspapers in wrapping newspapers “. Certain honorable members opposite have lashed themselves into a fury in asserting that by proposing this exemption the Government is “ playing up “ to its newspaper friend =. It may surprise the honorable member* concerned to know that this exemption was first granted by the Scullin Government. For technical reasons, which I bad proposed to explain at the committee stage of the bill, it has now been thought desirable to clarify a position that hitherto has been subject to some degree of legal doubt. In 1930, the Commissioner of Taxation, by direction of the Scullin
Government, granted an exemption on this item, which has been continued ever since, but in consequence of a doubt as to the legal position it has been thought desirable to include a definite item covering this class of paper, and to make the exemption retrospective.
Certain honorable members have directed attention to the fact that sales tax is charged on” freight in certain cases. When sales tax was first imposed in 1930, a number of taxpayers were informed by the department that freight and similar charges, where charged separately on the invoice, would not be subject to tax. I remind honorable gentlemen that this ruling was given in the early days of the operation of this tax, when the whole procedure was new to the department, and the officers were working under very great pressure. It is not to the discredit of the departmental officers that under such conditions they made a few mistakes. These, however, were corrected as soon as the officers had breathing space to consider details of administration. It appeared shortly after the giving of the ruling that I have mentioned that the procedure was contrary to the law. An attempt has been made to devise a procedure which would make it possible to avoid taxing the freight on goods in the circumstances referred to by honorable members, but the most careful investigation has shown that a workable method is not practicable. To attempt to make any separation in such cases would lead to an intolerable number of anomalies. It has been suggested that the position would be met if this system of taxation were abandoned, and what might be called a production tax imposed in its stead; but to adopt that procedure would involve a complete reversal of tho whole policy of both this and the preceding Government, and it is not felt that this is justified in order to deal with the cases in which sales tax is charged on a certain amount of freight. It is one of those considerations that appear to have more merit at first glance than on closer examination.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) mentioned the hemming of sheets, and said that the Government should give way on this matter, because it was a very small point.
He claimed that sheet-hemmers should not be classed as manufacturers. But points like this arise at every turn in sales tax administration, and a line has to be drawn somewhere. A most irritatingly small amount of tax is collected from a very large number of people, and the department has not yet found a way out of the difficulty without creating further anomalies. The difficulty is to draw the line between minor manufacturing operations that are carried on in a small way, and those carried on on a larger scale and in a wholesale manner.
The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) made representations to me a few weeks ago from a manufacturer of goods used in country districts. Of course, a bill of this character, and of the physical size of this measure, has to he completed many weeks before it is introduced in this House. Unfortunately, the honorable gentleman’s representations reached me a week or two after the measure had been finalized. The point raised by him is now receiving close consideration by the department. It appears to have merit in it, and if, possible, the Government will seriously consider the inclusion of the goods referred to when the next list of exemptions is being prepared.
When the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) was speaking of the sales tax paid by tailors, I was, unfortunately, unable, by way of interjection, to convince him of the correctness of the departmental attitude. Where a tailor’s turnover is over £1,000, and he is making tailored goods for sale by retail, he is charged tax, not on the full amount of the turnover, but on twothirds of the price to the public. He does not also pay tax on his raw_ material.
– He pays it on wages as well.
– Not at all. The tax is levied on two-thirds of the price to the public, and on nothing else. Of course, the cost of wages, raw material, and overhead expenses are covered by that price.
– The price of a suit includes profit.
– Yes; but the honorable member for Brisbane tried to establish that the tailor pays sales tax on the cost of the raw material, and then, finally, on the total price of the suit. The tax is paid only on two-thirds of the price to the public.
Reference was made by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) to the sales tax paid by men who buy secondhand motor tyre3 and convert them into sleeves and liners for other tyres. These men must have a turnover of more than £1,000 a year, provided they sell, as I imagine they do, direct to the public. In any event, they are making goods which are directly competitive with those produced in a regular wholesale way on a commercial scale, so I cannot see that they have any serious cause for complaint.
– Their turnover is under £1,000 a year.
– Then, if they sell direct to the public, they are not subjected to the tax.
I confess to a certain amount of surprise at the fact that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) thought fit to compare certain items of taxation imposed in 1930-31 with taxation in operation to-day. 1 believe that piece-meal comparisons between financial years that are five years apart, when conditions have varied considerably, are of doubtful value. I direct the attention of tho Leader of the Opposition to the fact that there is a great deal of difference between the financial obligations of the present Government this year and those of the Scullin Government in 1930-31. If we take merely the expenditure on defence, invalid and old-age pensions, new works from revenue and payments to the States, we find that there is roughly between £6,000,000 and £8,000,000 more to be made up by this Government this year than was required of the Scullin Government in 1930-31. At that time the budget was in deficit to the extent of £10,750,000, so there is a difference of from £16,000,000 to £19,000.000 between 1930-31 and 1935-36. This seems to eliminate any useful comparison between the sales tax and income tax collected in those two periods. Unfortunately, the Government is pledged this year to collect a larger amount in taxes than was received by the Scullin Government in 1930-31. Taxpayers’ organizations are pressing for the reduction of all manner of imposts, and it serves no useful purpose to suggest large remissions unless at the same time an indication can be given as to obligations of which the Government can be relieved in order to compensate it for taxes remitted. The national income and the taxable profits are such to-day that only an intolerably high rate of direct taxation, which would be a crushing load on industry, and which would create unemployment right and left, could make up for any serious lifting of the sales tax as it now operates. It is merely raising a political debating point to say that the Government should let up to a large extent on the sales tax. and make up for the deficiency of revenue by increasing direct taxes, such as the income tax, because the effect on industry of such an action would be paralysing. I suppose that rash statements are made on both sides of the House from time to time, and I believe that a very rash remark was made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) when he said that 80 per cent, of the sales tax was paid, in the final analysis, by the man on the basic wage. The honorable member has no means of substantiating that statement.
– Wage-earners and salaried employees are not included among those on the basic wage.
– Well, the honorable member said that in an endeavour to help the men on the lower rates of wages we should reduce the rate of the tax generally, and not make individual exemptions. I contend that that would be an entirely wrong way of helping them. I endeavoured to point out, in the course of my second-reading speech, that when this tax was brought down by the Scullin Government, it provided a wide range of exemptions immediately, in order to lift the tax from the principal lines of food and tho inescapable purchases of men on the basic wage and on the lower ranges of pay. That, I suppose, exempted from tax about one half of the purchases made by the man on the basic wage. Ever since that time, in an attempt to make this indirect impost fall as lightly as possible on those least able to bear it, this Government like the previous Lyons Government has framed its exemptions with the object of easing the burden of the man on the basic wage. Various exemptions introduced by the present Ministry and the previous Lyons administration have resulted in a reduction of 25 per cent, of the amount of tax paid by this section of the community. That statement is based on a careful calculation made by the department from the Arbitration Court’s regimen. The man on the basic wage is paying very few pence a week in sales tax. and any suggestion that he is contributing a considerable proportion of the tax is erroneous.
– Five per cent, of his total earnings might not bo considered a large sum to pay by way of tax, but it would involve hardship.
– I have put the contribution down at a few pence a week.
– That is a bald statement.
– I have not the exact figures with me at the moment, but I can give the honorable member an assurance that I have given the result of careful calculations made in the department in the last month or so. The Government is constantly seeking to exempt from the tax the goods which must be purchased by the man on the basic wage. The majority of the goods essential to the existence of the classes least able to bear taxation is now exempted from sales tax.
Much mention has been made of the amounts of taxation remitted to various interests described as “our wealthy friends, the newspaper proprietors and their like,” and to less fortunate members of the community. Reference to the list of the remissions of direct and indirect taxation, amounting to £10,330,000, granted by this Government since 1931-32, will show honorable members that the remissions of direct taxation amount to £4,300,000, and that the remissions of indirect taxation amount to £6,030,000. The ratio is roughly 43 to 60, and not the slightest reason exists for the suggestion that the Government is endeavouring to placate those interests whom honorable members to-night described as the wealthy friends of the Government. The evidence shows a con trary tendency. To those who pay indirect taxation, we have given two-thirds of the remissions, and to our so-called rich friends we have given about a third.
– Does the honorable member approve of remitting taxation which was in existence prior to the depression before remitting taxation which was imposed to meet an emergency?
– I presume that the honorable member is referring to the land tax. That is a capital tax paid by city and country interests.
– Mainly by city interests.
– Two-thirds of the payers of land tax, I concede, are situated in the cities, but who have suffered more than these people, who are trying to live on small rents in the cities?
– Order ! I cannot, on this bill, allow honorable members to discuss the incidence of the land tax.
– I shall let it go at that. If I have failed to answer points raised by individual members, an appropriate opportunity to do so will be presented in the committee discussion.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, and clear up the apparent misunderstanding which the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has of remarks made by me earlier to-night. I suggested two or three times that the wage workers and salaried employees make up 80 per cent, of the total earning population. Therefore, they pay80 per cent, of the sales tax. I made no reference to the basic wage. The Minister knows that there is a tremendous difference between the number of men on the basic wage and the total number of workers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Exemptions - Sales Tax Assessment Acts (Nos. 5-8)).
– This clause is designed to extend to goods imported from Papua and New Guinea the same degree of exemption as is granted to goods imported from Fiji and New Zealand. In other words, it frees from sales tax imported goods of a similar class to tax-free Australian goods.
It will involve no loss of revenue, and, in actual fact, the only articles affected will be a few coco-nuts imported from New Guinea. Our own territories are placed on a similar footing to New Zealand and Fiji.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Each of the following schedules, that is to say, the First Schedule to the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 1) 1930-1U34, as amended by the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 1) 1935, the Schedule to the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 2) 1930-1934 and the Schedule to Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 3) 1030-1934, is amended -
On this clause, I will permit honorable members to discuss the clauses up to clause 8, as they deal with cognate subjects.
– I desire to know why ambulances for use by hospitals are the only ambulances exempted under this clause.
– The clause extends the exemption granted about two years ago to ambulances purchased by ambulance societies. Until now ambulances purchased for the use of hospitals have been the only ambulances not exempted.
– No other purchasers of ambulances are likely to be subjected to the tax?
– I know of no others.
– I should like to know w hy it is proposed to limit the exemption to paper bags used for the marketing of cement, lime, fertilizers, &c.
Paragraph ac proposes to exempt -
Goods for use of, and not for re-sale by, ii public hospital, or a public benevolent institution, or any public organization which the Commissioner is satisfied is established and maintained for the relief of unemployed persons.
Why has the word “ public “ been introduced? Why should not the exemption extend to goods used by private institutions engaged on similar work?
– The purpose is to distinguish public institutions from those which are run for profit. A private hospital run for profit would not benefit by the exemption.
– At a later stage I propose to move an amendment to paragraph ao, tthe effect of which would be to exempt biscuits of all kinds from sales tax. I am informed that to grant this exemption would involve a loss of revenue of about £100,000 a year. According to particulars published in Production Bulletin No. 28 for the year 1933-34- the latest year for which particulars are available - wages amounting to £418,000 were paid in that year to employees engaged in the biscuit-making industry, of which £160,000 was paid to females, and £25S,000 to males. It seems extraordinary that an industry, in which the total salary and wages disbursements amount to just over £400,000, should be called upon to pay £100,000 in sales tax. The total value of the products turned out by the industry for the year under review was £1,900,000, while the value of containers, &c, including canisters, boxes, wrappings and printed labels, was £123,000. For materials used in the industry £804,000 was paid, most of them being the products of important primary industries. The cost of power, lighting and fuel was £57,000. It must be apparent that an industry which pays £800,000 for primary products and over £400,000 in wages each year, while the total value of output is just under £2,000,000, must be one of great importance in the economic life of the country. As the original sales tax legislation exempted basic foods in principle, and as further extensions have been made to include arrowroot biscuits, and other biscuits suitable for infants and invalids, there would appear to be a good case for the general exemption of all kinds of biscuits. I refuse to regard biscuits as a luxury. As a matter of fact, they are a household economy. They save the housewife from having to bake scones or cakes for the entertainment of casual Visitors, and, moreover, a biscuit with the ordinary morning or afternoon cup of tea is a reasonable amenity in the homes of the poor. Many youths and girls from the age of sixteen years and upwards are employed in this industry, the proportion of female labour being comparatively high. I have no objection to the employment of female labour in certain industries, and this is an appropriate one. All women cannot be stenographers and secretaries, and it is not desirable that we should limit the vocational opportunities of women. I dissent entirely from the view of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) that woman’s rightful place is necessarily in the home. I cannot, see why a woman should not determine for herself whether she will go to work in an office or a factory, or become some one’s wife and the mother of his children. I deny the right of any one so to adjust economic factors that a woman will be prevented from following ker own inclination in these matters, and will be compelled to become the wife of some man - particularly when I recall to mind some of the men I know.
.- 1’aragraph aao of this clause extends the exemption to pipes for drainage, sewerage, water supply and irrigation purposes, and pipe fittings therefor. I should like’ to obtain an assurance from the Minister that the exemption shall also extend to all materials used in the construction or maintenance of water, sewerage, drainage and irrigation works controlled by public bodies.
, - -The Leader of the Opposition referred to paragraph ac which exempts from tax goods for the use of public hospitals, &c., and on this point I think some further information is desirable. I have particularly in mind the fact that there are some public hospitals with private wards attached. For instance, about half the Lewisham hospital in Sydney is a public hospital, while the other half consists of private wards.
– There has been no difficulty in administration. As the people most concerned are not complaining I imagine that they are satisfied.
– The position probably is that the commissioners consider that institutions which are registered as public hospitals come within the category.
– Probably that is so. (ad) by inserting . . . the item - .
Goods which are for the official use of, and arc not for re-sale ‘by, a technical school the expenditure of which is wholly or partly borne by the Government of the Commonwealth or the Government of a State.
.- I move -
That the words “or institutions for educational purposes” be added.
The object of this amendment is to extend the benefit of the exemption to all schools, whether run by a government or not. It is my desire to place all such educational institutions upon an equal footing.
– I regret that the Government is unable to accept any widening of the list of exemptions as indicated in the amendment moved by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden). The exemption proposed in the bill affects a relatively “limited class of goods, for only comparatively few of these schools exist in the Commonwealth.
– The item refers only to technical schools.
– As a considerable amount of revenue is involved, I regret that the Government cannot accept the amendment.
– Books for education should be exempt.
– They are already exempt. The item covers materials used in technical schools.
– I cannot understand the unwillingness of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) to grant this moderate request. It is not fair for him to make the sweeping statement that it would involve a considerable loss of revenue. The honorable gentleman has just told u3 that, in the case of only a limited number of technical schools, is a part of the cost borne by the Government of either the Commonwealth or a State, and the balance by other persons.
– That is so.
– If most of the technical colleges and schools in Australia are directly under the Commonwealth or the States, an extension of the exemption to cover the others would not affect the revenue seriously. I have in mind a private technical school at Rozelle, in my electorate, which is conducted by the Christian Brothers. The extension of the exemption to cover such schools would not greatly affect the revenue.
– Is the school referred to in receipt of a subvention from any government ?
– No. I ask the Minister not to reject the proposal without giving it further consideration. The amendment could be introduced in the Senate if the Minister, after considering it, so desires.
– Without careful investigation, involving considerable time, it is impossible to ascertain the implications of an amendment of this nature. It is typical of other amendments, the acceptance of which has caused this Government and its predecessor a good deal of trouble. Patient and long investigation would be necessary to ascertain all the facts. It may be that the further exemption sought is fully justified; on the other hand, it may open the floodgates to a number, of anomalies, and cause further trouble. The limited exemption proposed in the bill is designed to cover those technical schools which are maintained partly by governments, either Commonwealth or State, and partly by other means.
– The need for assistance is greater in the case of schools which receive no assistance from any government.
– The request will be carefully investigated; but at this stage I cannot give any undertaking that the exemption will be extended to cover the schools referred to in the amendment.
I am not satisfied with the cavalier manner in which the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has treated this moderate request. The honorable gentleman cannot escape by saying that this tax is not a tax on education. It is definitely a tax on education, and, as such, is wrong. If the amendment were accepted, the effect on the revenues of the Commonwealth, would not be great ; but it would confer a great coon on institutions to which every penny is a consideration. The Treasurer’s remarks indicate clearly the unwillingness of the Government to grant this exemption. It is not a matter of revenue. If the Treasurer is sincere in his desire to make these exemptions as wide as possible, he will accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden). I am not satisfied with his explanation, and I hope that a vote will be cast by the committee. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) put a very reasonable case for the acceptance of the amendment, but th’1 Treasurer turned it down flat, and held out no hope that these institutions would be relieved of this tax. The Treasurer is a hard taskmaster anxious to exact the last penny from every possible source.
– The honorable member is departing from the clause.
– The Treasurer brings to his consideration of this request the psychology of the Jewish money-lender out to exact the last penny. His attitude does credit neither to himself nor the Government. We know that a Minister has only to raise his hand and the honorable members who sit behind him will slavishly follow his dictates.
– Order ! The honorable member must not persist along those lines.
– The Treasurer has full responsibility for accepting or rejecting this proposal. I am not attempting to cast any personal reflections upon the Treasurer’s character, but rather am “I taking him to task for not granting thismall boon to these institutions. I urge the Government to accept the amendment. If not, the vote of the committee will record the names of those who do not desire this tax to be lifted.
.- Most people in country districts are not living near technical and secondary schools, and therefore have to send their children to boarding schools foi’ higher education ; and as government and subsidized schools make no provision for the boarding of such children, the privately conducted schools which do cater for them should not be penalized. In my electorate at Charters Towers, there are three denominational schools, the Church of England, the Christian Brothers and the Thornburgh School. In all of these schools, boys are not only educated to become bank clerks and civil servants, but also receive training to fit them of participation in rural industries. These schools receive no government subsidy for the work which they are carrying on. As the States do not provide boarding schools, the same position exists all over the Commonwealth. Parents of children living in country districts provide taxa- tion for the establishment of government subsidized schools within the city areas at which children living at home are educated; but the country people, so often referred to in this Parliament as the backbone of this country, are denied the privileges of secondary school education for their children unless they are prepared to accept the expense of sending them to boarding schools established, by the different churches and maintained without government subsidy. The teachers at the three schools I have mentioned are not working under awards of the Arbitration Court, and the schools are not paying dividends; the churches are prepared to make these sacrifices for the betterment of country children in the interests of the nation. But the Government does not recognize the value of their work sufficiently to be prepared to forgo the tax imposed upon them. In fairness to the country child, the Government should, if it persists in the collection of these taxes, provide for the housing of country children who are desirous of receiving a higher education. People are always being advised to go on the land, and to place their children on the land in order that they may become land-minded. Of what use is it to advocate such a policy, if, when people go on the land, the Government is not prepared to assist them by setting up boarding schools for the higher education of their children. Surely the people living in country districts have the same rights as those living in the largo heavy- voting centres of the cities. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) should have the support of every country member of this Parliament, because it is of vital importance to country people. I know of children attending secondary schools in Sydney who come from the far western portion of Queensland. Children from far up in the Gulf country, from the Atherton Tablelands and from Cape York Peninsula, attend the schools at Charters Towers. The expense of sending these children to school, and of paying their fares home for the Christmas vacation imposes a severe burden on the parents.
– Do the schools which tho honorable member has mentioned pay rates and land taxes?
– Yes, though for a long time they did not pay rates. Quite recently the Southport Council in Queensland proceeded against the churches for rate3 due, and on the cases being taken before the High Court a decision was given in favour of the council. Thus these schools have to pay rates.
– And land tax!
– Yes. In Queensland, schools which are situated on perpetual leasehold land do not pay land tax, but schools which are situated on freehold land are obliged to pay that tax. Honorable members at times appear afraid to debate .the matter of subsidizing these schools. I point out that if these institutions were closed to-morrow the responsibility for housing the scholars catered for at present by the various religious denominations, would be thrown upon the State governments, and I do not think that the State education authorities would attend to this branch of secondary and technical education as efficiently as the churches are doing it now. The Treasurer declines to accept this amendment because he claims that it will mean a loss of revenue to the Government. Surely this Government is not so bankrupt that it is dependent upon what little revenue it can secure by taxing the educational accessories of the children of the primary producers, the pioneers of this country. Whilst the Government is prepared to exempt big newspaper companies, which are paying big dividends, from sales tax on sulphite paper, it refuses to exempt from a similar tax equipment needed by secondary schools. Many things which are used by newspaper companies, such as linotypes and matrices have been exempt from sales tax. Could not the Government reimpose sales tax on such materials as one means to enable it to exempt equipment needed for secondary schools?
– The party of which the honorable gentleman is a member exempted sulphite paper from that tax. This Government is merely. ratifying that exemption.
– It is not right to exempt such goods from sales tax, and at the same time refuse to exempt equipment for secondary schools; in such a case it does not matter which government made the exemption. I point out that that sales tax was imposed to overcome financial difficulties of the Government arising out of the depression. Originally it was imposed as an emergency measure which, it was promised, would be removed as soon as prosperity returned. Repeatedly we have been told that prosperity is around the corner; that prosperity has returned; yet this Government continues to levy sales tax. I appeal to honorable members representing country electorates to support’ the amendment moved by the honorable member for Cook particularly for the reason that country people cannot send their children to technical and secondary educational institutions subsidized by the Government. The Treasurer says that the proposed exemption would involve prolonged examinations by officials of the department. Any one who has had dealings with in-come tax departments knows that, where it is evident that the taxpayer owes a few shillings, officials of the department do not waste much time in bringing the taxpayer to book. They very speedily ask for their pound of flesh. In the interests of the secondary and technical education of children who have finished their primary education at primary schools subsidized by the State, I ask honorable members to support the amendment.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
Italo- Abyssinia n Dispu te - E mplo y- ment of Youths -War Service Homes: Case of C. Holloway - Federal Capital Territory: Rural Lessee, GeraldSheehan.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to make a statement on the Italo-Abyssinian dispute. The position in regard to sanctions is as follows: -
Proposal I. - Arms Sanction. - As previously indicated, this sanction was accepted by the Commonwealth Government, and action was taken on the 17th October to put it into effect by administrative instruction of the Department of
Trade and Customs under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1935. The first schedule of the regulations, covering all the arms, munitions and war material which could possibly be exported from Australia, was made operative, but technically this list did not coincide with the completed list now received from the League Co-ordination Committee. This list is as follows: -
Vessels of war of all kinds, including air craft carriers and submarines.
Revolvers and automatic pistols of weight in excess of 1 lb. 6 oz. (630 grammes) and ammunition therefor.
Consequently, an amending regulation is now being prepared to cover the completed list.
A new proposal was adopted by the Co-ordination Committee on the 19th October, and was transmitted to Australia by wireless from Geneva on the 20th October. This proposal is an extension of the application of paragraph 2 of the Arms Sanction, namely: -
The governments of the members of the League of Nations will prohibit immediately the exportation, re-exportation or transit to Italy or Italian possessions of arms, munitions and implements of war enumerated in the attached list.
List (c) includes all crude forms of the minerals and metals mentioned and their ores, scrap and alloys.
Having regard to the importance of collective, and so far as possible, simultaneous, action in regard to the measures recommended, each government is requested to inform the Co-Ordination Committee, through the SecretaryGeneral, as soon as possible and not later than the 28th October of the date on which it could be ready to bring these measures into operation. The Committee of Coordination will meet on the 31st October for the purpose of fixing, in the light of the replies received, the date of the coming into force of the said measures.
The Commonwealth . Government has decided that action will be taken to bring this extended list of prohibited arms, munitions and implements of war to Italy under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1935.
Proposal III. was also adopted on the 19th October by the Co-ordination Committee. This proposal deals with the prohibition of all imports from Italy or Italian colonies, with certain exceptions, by members of the League and is as follows : -
As in the case of the other sanctions, governments are to inform the Coordination Committee by the 28th October of the date when the measures’ could be brought into operation. This question is now receiving consideration by the Government, and a decision will be announced immediately it is reached.
It was previously announced that Proposal II. dealing with financial sanctions had already been accepted in principle by the Commonwealth Government. Draft legislation to give effect to the five financial measures enumerated in the proposal is now being prepared. Proposal III. may, however, affect the nature of the legislation to be submitted to Parliament.
.- A serious position is developing in regard to the employment of the youth of Australia. The unemployment returns in Great Britain for July and August of this year show that while there was a decline of 2 per cent, in tlie figures relating to adult unemployment, there had been an increase of 20 per cent, of unemployment in relation to hoys and girls. This staggering increase, it was found, was due to the addition to the labour market of youths who were born in the first year after the termination of the Great War. As was to be expected, there was a considerable lowering of the birth rate during the war years. In the year immediately following its conclusion, however, it rose sharply. The birth figures for Australia provide an interesting study. In 1914, the births numbered 138,000. That figure had dropped to 122,000 by 1919, but jumped to 136,000 in 1920. Next year, therefore, the number who will reach the age of sixteen years will be approximately 14,000 greater than reached that age this year. This addition will seriously accentuate the difficulties already experienced in the placing of young men and women in employment. This Parliament should consequently take definite steps for an investigation of the matter, and, if possible, co-operate with the States with a view to the adoption of remedial or palliative measures to meet the situation that is likely to arise.
. - Last week, by letter, I brought under the notice of the Minister in Charge of War Service Homes (Mr. Thorby) the case of a returned soldier named C. Holloway, of Sutherland. The reply that I received was a complete denial of my statement that an official of the War Service Homes Department had visited this man’s home, and placed a summons in his hand while he was in a delirious state suffering from pneumonia. The reply reads -
When I attended applicant’s home for the purpose of serving a default summons on 15th lay, 1935, I interviewed Mrs. Holloway and explained the nature of my visit. That lady informed me that her husband was in bed and invited rae inside to see him. I did so, and Mr. Holloway discussed the matter with me in quite a calm and rational manner, and at no time did he indicate, nor did I have any cause to observe, that his illness was other than very mild.
I have received from the wife of this returned soldier a letter enclosing a dozen statutory declarations, one of which is signed by the doctor who was in atten dance upon the man at the time. In it she says : “ This enclosed evidence is sufficient to at least make a confirmed liar of the officer concerned “. I shall read those declarations that are material. The first statutory declaration reads -
I, Cecil Herbert Holloway hereby declare that I have no knowledge ‘of being served with a summons relating to a War Service home on 15th May,. 1035. I was informed some days later by my wife. (Signed) C. Hollow at.
That declaration was declared at Sutherland on 15th October, 1935, before Mr. O. Matson, Justice of the Peace. The next one reads -
I, May Rose Waldron, Baton Street, Sutherland, hereby declare chat I was present at the bedside of Mr. C. Holloway when a gentleman served a summons On him relative to a War Service home. Mr. Holloway was suffering from pneumonia and on 15th May, 1935, was delirious and incapable of discussing rationally any affairs with any one, his temperature being over 104 degrees, according to tho doctor on that date. The man serving tlie summons stated that it was a painful duty to perform in serving a summons on Mr. Holloway in that condition, but if he did not he would only have to serve it at work among his work-mates and so the gentleman put the summons in Mr. Holloway’s hand in the presence’ of myself and Mrs. Holloway. (Signed) M. R. Waldron
That was declared at Sutherland on October the 14th, 1935, before the same Justice of the Peace. The next is from the doctor, which reads -
About the 15th May, 1935, I was attending Mr. C. Holloway who was suffering from congealed pneumonia, and his condition about this time was such as to prevent him from attending to his affairs.
Another from the same person reads -
During the last eight years I have attended Mr. Cecil Holloway lor neuralgia, neurosis associated with chronic otitis media (L.). He has required medical attention several times every year, and on two occasions has become debilitive
The correspondence explains how all these persons happened to be present. There are six sworn declarations and also others of which I have only copies, showing that this officer of the War Service Homes Department placed a summons in the hands of a delirious man. That Mr. Holloway was seriously ill is borne out by the doctor’s certificate. The report from the War Service Homes Department states that Mr. Holloway discussed hi3 affairs in a rational way with an officer of the department, who said that Mr.
Holloway was suffering only from a mild illness. The doctor’s certificate states that he was not in a fit condition to discuss his affairs.
– That is not what the honorable member said just now.
– I have quoted the doctor’s certificates. I did not suggest chat the doctor was present on that date. That is all I propose to say on the subject, at present, but on another occasion I. shall deal with the treatment which this man has received in connexion with his “War Service home. At present I am confining myself to the report which the Minister received from an officer of the department to the effect that the illness from which Mr. Holloway was suffering was only of a mild nature, and that he was able to talk rationally. This is contradicted by the doctor, who indicate, that the man was suffering from a severe illness. The action of this officer showed a callous disregard of returned soldiers, mid it is scandalous that an occupier of ti War Service home should be so treated. The Government should do what it intended to do and release the man from his obligations. I shall bring this matter before the House at a later date when I have had time to analyse the long report I have received on the subject. I received the letter only to-day, but regard it as of sufficient importance to bring it under the notice of the Minister and to ask that he will have inquiries made. The persons who have submitted the sworn declarations are prepared to give their evidence on oath in any court. I ask, in all seriousness, that such treatment should cease immediately. The documents quoted contain a complete denial of the information contained in the letter from the department. I trust that, the fullest investigation will be made, and that this mau will receive just treatment.
.- I apologize for delaying the House at this late hour, but if the Department of the Interior insists on its present attitude, within 14 days from to-day a man will be evicted from a property in the Federal Capital Territory. Earlier in the day I asked the Minister (Mr. Paterson) if the Government proposed to evict, by warrant, a rural lessee in this Territory, and the Minister asked me to give notice of my question. I discussed this matter with him on Friday last, so he is fully aware of the facts. This man, whose name is Gerald Sheehan, has no Parliamentary representative and therefore I feel it my duty to place the facts submitted to me bef ore the House. Sheehan has a property at Kambah in the Federal Capital Territory and is the last of 36 original lessees who took up leases in 1926. In that year he took up 1,500 acres at a rental of 6s. 3d. an acre or £472 17s. 4d. a year. Towards the end of 1930 the rent wa3 reduced to 2s. 5d. an acre. I have been informed that Sheehan has paid all instalments since the reappraisement, but fell into arrears on the higher rate to the amount of £1,000. I am also informed that this is not an isolated case in the matter of arrears. Mr. Sheehan became financially embarrassed for two reasons. During the first year of the lease his wool realized £512 which was only £40 more than the rental of the land he leased. He also erected expensive improvements on the understanding that the Federal Capital Commission, which was then controlling affairs in the Federal Capital Territory, would make advances to meet the cost of these improvements. He has since paid a fee of £2 2s. to have the improvements inspected, and he advises me that they have been approved but that no money has been paid to him. The department endeavoured to force him to maintain the netting fences of over three miles frontage to the river although two or three other lessees were concerned in it as <i mutual boundary. The river frontage W his block is fenced off and this prevents him from using the land sloping towards the river, yet the lessee on the opposite side of the river has the use of similar land. He has applied for the use of this particular frontage on which another lessee is grazing sheep, but his application has been refused. He is also handicapped owing to the fact that his lease runs to a point at the Kambah picnic ground where gates on the road are frequently left open which gives rabbits access to his property. When he was granted his block in 1926, he had to erect half the netting fence across the road from his lease and. the lessee of the adjoining block netted the other half.
This meant that there was a netting fence across the road from Sheehan’s boundary, but the road was on his property, and as the gates were left open continually, he was not free from rabbit infestation. The department has now erected a wire fence on Sheehan’s side of the road, but has not netted it. There has apparently been a good deal of friction between Sheehan and the Department of the Interior, and this came to a head when he Was advised on the 15th August, 1935, that his lease had been determined from that date. This notification was signed by the Assistant Minister (Mr. Hunter). On the 21st September Sheehan was served with a notice signed by the Minister for the Interior, to deliver up his leased land by the 8th October. On the 30th ‘September, Sheehan forwarded a cheque for his quarter’s rent, but this was declined by the department on the 2nd October, as the department stated that his lease had been determined on the 15th August.
On the Sth October, Sheehan was handed a copy of a warrant which authorized officers of the Commonwealth to enter and take possession of his lease within 30 days from that date. The warrant, which was issued by Mr. A. G. Hardwick from the Court of Petty Sessions, in Canberra, contains the following instruction to the police officers: -
Now therefore this Court of Petty Sessions doth hereby under the powers conferred by the Recovery of Land Ordinance 1329, authorize and command you on any day, except Sunday, between the hours of nine o’clock in the forenoon and four o’clock in the afternoon within a period of 30 days next after the date of this warrant to enter on the said land by force and with such assistance as is necessary and deliver possession thereof to the Commonwealth and for so doing this shall be your warrant.
No doubt Sheehan had had financial troubles, but he advises me that there were no arrears of rent until 1929, although a tremendous fall of wool values had occurred, and he was paying a shockingly high rental. Since the reappraisement of his lease and the reduction of his rent, he had met his rental charges.
The position now is that within 30 days from the Sth October, Sheehan, who is a married man with three children can be summarily ejected from his lease, his improvements forfeited, and his life irretrievably ruined. At present Sheehan has 1,800 sheep on the lease, and 120 acres under crop for wheat and oats. I cannot understand why he should be so harshly and summarily treated, specially as he proposed to commence shearing bis 1,800 sheep this week, the wool from which must be worth a considerable amount. He claims that it is because he has refused to do certain fencing which he considers he is not liable to do. He feels that this is very definitely victimization.
The Government is the landlord of this and other lessees, and should not bc as harsh and peremptory as a private landlord is sometimes obliged to be. The Government is the trustee of the people of Australia, who own this land, and I am convinced that the Australian people do not desire the adoption of such methods as I have outlined.
Mr. Sheehan saw me on Friday last. He has no parliamentary representative, but is a member of the New South Wales Graziers Association, of which I, at onetime, was an officer. I spoke about his case that day to the Minister for the Interior, but the Minister refused to see him, and told me that he should see Mr. Brown, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior.
– If the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott) will furnish rae with a statement of the case that he has just outlined. I shall inquire into it; but if he will visit my office and examine the files relating to the matter, I think he will agree that the department could take no other action than that which it has taken.
– The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) has directed attention to a specific case involving the purchase of a war service home, and has complained about the manner in which an officer of the department carried out his duty in serving a notice on the occupant of the home. I do not think that the honorable member was quite fair in suggesting that the officer, went to this house with the deliberate intention of upsetting the patient.
He went there in the ordinary course of his- duties.I can only pass on to the honorable member the information supplied tome dealing with the case; but I invite his attention to the following statement on the matter by the officer concerned : -
When 1 attended applicant’s home for the purpose of nerving a default summons on the 15th May, 1935,I interviewed Mrs. Holloway and explained the nature of my visit. The lady informed me that her husband was in bed and invited me inside to see him. I did so,and Mr. Holloway discussed the matter with me in quitea. calm and rational manner, and atno time did he indicate nor did I have any cause to observe that his illness was other than verymild. There was certainly no evidence that he was running a high temperature, and neither he nor his wife seemed to be at all disturbed because of the illness, As a matter of fact, Mrs. Holloway expressed gratification when she was made aware that the summons was to be served and said that she would see to it without delay.
– The persons concerned say that the officer’s statement is not true.
– I am informed that the officer served this summons in the ordinary course of his duties. The honorable member forWerriwa must realize that there is a considerable history behind the service of this summons. The occupier of this home entered into possession of it in February, 1929, and by October of that yearhe was £36 19s. in arrears. In March, . 1935, he was £124 12s. 6d. in arrears. I understand thai he made a definite statement at one stage that he did not intend to make any payment to the department. Considerable leniency has been extended to him. During the time he was in residence in the home, he was drawing a substantial wage. He fell into arrears immediately after he entered into occupation of the home. I do not know whether the honorable member proposes to deal with that aspect of the subject.
– I shall do so at a later stage.
– When the officer of the department arrived at the house, he was not informed that the occupier was ill and unable to be interviewed.
-I am told that he was so informed.
– My information is quite different. The doctor’s certificate which the honorable member has produced says that the condition of the patient “was such as to prevent him attending to his affairs “.I do not know whether that is intended to mean that he could not be interviewed, or that he was not able to carry . out his ordinary duties; but I shall make inquiries on the point.
– Twelve persons have made sworn declarations that he was delirious.
– I shall be glad if the honorable member will allow me to peruse those declarations. I have no desire to protect any officer who has been guilty of wrong conduct. No one is more ready than I am to deal with an officer who does wrong. If this person has a definite grievance I am quite willing to inquire into it; but I believe that he has received every consideration from the War Services Homes Commission in connexion with ‘the purchase of the homo he occupied.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.59 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’sques- tions are as follows: - 1.Yes. 2 and 3. The departmental view is thata dry dock or floating dock at Fremantle, ifof suitable dimensions, would be an undoubted advantage, but that the constructionof docks is primarily a question for the States and Uncommercial interestsconcerned, and that the financial position of the Commonwealth precludes funds being made available for a dock at Fremantle.
ek asked the Minister for
Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Average quantity of wheat used in Australia during live years ending 1933-34 for -
Cadets for New Guinea Service.
e. - On the 18th October the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) asked me a question without notice in regard to the appointment of cadets to the Administration of the Territory of New Guinea.
I am now in a position to advise the honorable member that the Commonwealth Public Service inspectors in the several States have been asked to interview and report upon a number of applicants who appear to be the most suitable for appointment. The applicants are located as follows: -
Sixteen cadets are required and three havealready been appointed. The final selection of the applicants for the remaining thirteen vacancies will be made after the receipt of the reports from the inspectors.
Post Office Regulations.
l. - On the 16th October, the honorable member for
Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) asked, without notice, a question relating to postal packets endorsed “ merchandise “.I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following reply to his inquiries: -
The sealing of packages transmitted at merchandise rate of postage is required only in thecase of packages containing jewellery, bullion, &c. sent by registered post. Packages of samples posted under special permit in lots of not less than 5,000 may also be sealed.In each case, the department reserves to itself the right to have the packages opened for examina tion at the time of posting, and the measures, taken are regarded as adequate to prevent the revenue being defrauded.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 October 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1935/19351022_reps_14_147/>.