14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr.R. GREEN. - I understand that a suggestion has been made that the debates in both Houses of the Parlia- ment on the proposed alterations of the Constitution are to be published in a separate volume of Hansard. If there is not any truth in that suggestion, I ask the Prime Minister whether he will see that something of the kind is done so that people deeply interested in the subject will not require to examine many volumes of Hansard in order to ascertain what has been said on this subject by honorable members?
– All I can say is that the subject is under consideration.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to a statement in the Taxpayers’ Bulletin to the effect that the publication The Sales Tax Law was out of date as soon as it was published and that it shows up in bold relief the complexities and intricacies of the law and also the inconsistencies in its administration? Will the Treasurer take immediate steps to have these complexities and intricacies removed and the inconsistencies adjusted ?
Mr.CASEY. - I understand that some such reference as that referred to by the honorable member was made in the publication mentioned. The Sales Tax Law was issued with a supplement which brought it right up-to-date and arrangements have been made for all sales tax rulings to be made available immediately at the offices of the Deputy Commissionersof Taxation in the capital cities of each State. They can be seen there without charge, or copies can be purchased for a few pence each. In that way taxpayers may keep themselves completely abreast of all decisions in the administration of the sales tax law. As to the complexities and intricacies of the law, I can say that while the sales tax law is not simple, any person should be able without great difficulty to master the law in its relation to his own business, for it would not in that connexion be unduly complicated. Necessarily, however, the sales tax law covering the whole of the trade and commerce of Australia occupies a fair bulk of paper; but it is not necessary for any one individual to master the whole of the law in respect of every business. Taxpayers can certainly understand the law in respect to their own businesses.
-I ask the Treasurer whether it would be practicable for a precis of the various reports furnished to the Government on national insurance by Sir Walter Kinnear and his colleagues, Messrs. Bennett andInnes, and other research workers to be prepared and made available to honorable members so that they may be able to study this important subject in its application to Australia? The period between the rising of Parliament for the Christmas recess and its re-assembly next year would give useful opportunity for such study.
-I am afraid that the material in the hands of the Government at present does not represent a conspectus of the whole subject, and I do not think that it would enlighten honorable members very much to be furnished with a precis of disjointed aspects of it.
Mr.Curtin. - But a vast amount of investigationhas been made during the last few years.
– Has the Government nothing that it could make available to us?
– I do not think that it would enlighten honorable members to be furnished with such information before the Government has formulated some comprehensive proposal on the subject.
– Has Sir Walter Kinnear informed the Treasurer that it will be impossible for him to complete his report on national insurance until his colleague, Mr. Ince, returns to England? Is it a fact that Mr. Ince does not expect to reach England until the middle of next year? If that is so, are we to understand the report will not be available until towards the end of the year ?
– I do not believe that Sir Walter Kinnear’s report is necessarily connected with that of Mr. Ince. The two subjects can be dealt with separately, and there is no reason why Sir Walter Kinnear’s report should be withheld until the return of Mr. Ince.
– Will the Treasurer inform honorable members what is the nature of the report which he expects to receive from Sir Walter Kinnear, and wherein it differs from that which will be made by Mr. Ince?
In view of the fact that Mr. Ince’s report will not be available until the middle of next year, is it the intention of the Government to shelve the whole matter until the end of next year ?
– Sir Walter Kinnear has been engaged to inquire into and report upon the health and old-age sections of national insurance, while Mr. Ince has been devoting his attention to the unemployment side of the matter. The two subjects are quite distinct, and have little relation to each other. I did not make any statement regarding the date upon which it was expected that the report of Mr. Ince would be received by the Government.
– Can the Treasurer say when the Government is likely to receive the report of Mr. Ince on the unemployment phase of national insurance ?
– I cannot give the actual date, but I expect that it will be some time during the first quarter of 1937.
– Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) asked me if I could say when the Government expected to receive the report of the Royal Commission on the Monetary and Banking Systems. I am now able to inform him that it is not likely that the report will come to hand before the end of this year, but we expect to receive it in January or February next.
– Is it expected that that report will be the final, or only a preliminary, report?
– The complete report is expected then.
– Has the Prime Minister received a communication from the Boys Employment League, Perth, regarding the employment of youths. If so, what action is proposed to be taken in regard to it?
– A communication has been received from the organization referred to by the honorable member and it will be considered by the Government in conjunction with other suggestions that have been made to it on the same subject recently.
– Has the Prime Minister received from the Young Peoples Employment Council in Adelaide a suggestion that the proposed conference to deal with the employment of youths should be enlarged to include delegates from representatives of youth organizations in every State? As such organizations probably have a closer knowledge of the real difficulties of this problem, and their possible remedy, than has the Government, will the Prime Minister take steps to ensure that at least one delegate from each State is invited to attend the conference?
– So far, no definite steps have been taken to arrange a conference, although the Commonwealth Government has expressed its willingness to participate if the States are willing. When something definite has been arranged, consideration will be given to the suggestion of the honorable member.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you will have prepared and placed upon the table of the House a statement showing the names, location, rates of pay, dates of appointment, and procedure of entry of the members of the Federal Parliamentary staffs?
– I shall see how far it is practicable to supply the information asked for.
– Is the Treasurer able to inform the House of the details of the arrangement made by the Loan Council to increase the allocation to Western Australia because of the drought conditions in that State? I wish to know whether the allocation was intended to make good a revenue deficit which will arise because of the drought conditions; whether it is intended that the money shall be used to make advances to drought-stricken settlers to enable them to maintain their operations; or whether it is the intention that the State shall be permitted to budget for a deficit to enable it to make grants direct to farmers in cases of hardship on somewhat similar lines to those followed by this Government in recent years?
– The application of the Government ofWestern Australia to the Loan Council was for permission to incur a deficit of up to £1,000,000 in place of the balanced budget that was contemplated. The State also applied for an increase of the amount to be made available for loan works. The Council received very sympathetically the application of the State for permission to incur a deficit, and this, I am glad to say, was agreed to unanimously, the representative of the Commonwealth Government supporting the application. The Government ofWestern Australia is therefore now at liberty, in consequence of the drought conditions in that State, to incur a deficit of £1,000,000 in its revenue account and to employ funds to that extent in whatever way it pleases to for drought relief. The matter is entirely in the hands of the State Government. The application for an increased allocation for loan works was refused to Western Australia, as, in fact, to every other State.
– Has the Minister for Defence observed that the Government of Victoria is reported to have offered an area of 140 acres at Fishermen’s Bend to the company that proposes to manufacture aircraft in Australia ? If so, I should like to know what effect that is likely to have upon the negotiations of the Commonwealth Government with the Government of Victoria for the establishment of an airportatFisherm en’s Bend?
– I understand that the Government of Victoria has offered such an area to the Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation. Similar offers have also been made by the Government of New South Wales of a site near Sydney, and by the Government of South Australia of asite in the neighborhood of Adelaide. The decision of this subject rests entirely with the corporation itself. This subject is quite separate from the proposal to establish an airport at Fishermen’s Bend. In that connexion a conference was held last week and a sub-committee representative of the interests likely to be concerned in the formation of a trust for the establishment of an airport was set up to give further consideration to that proposal.
– Is the Treasurer able to inform the House when the current Federal Aid Roads Agreement will expire, and also when it is expected that the bill for its renewal will be introduced?
– The Commonwealth Government is at present negotiating with the States on this subject. I cannot say exactly what stage has been reached, but a bill will be introduced at an early date to renew the agreement.
– Before the Christmas recess ?
– I believe so.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he will give the House an opportunity before the Christmas recess to discuss Order of the day No. 11, “League of Nations - suggestions for Covenant Reform. - Motion for Printing Paper”?
-The amount of urgent business that must be disposed of before the Christmas recess may prevent such a possibility, but it will largely depend upon the rate at . which the business is considered.
– Has the Treasurer personally received a letter from the Australian Women’s Movement for Social and Economic Research asking for information regarding the last Commonwealth loan? Was that information refused, and, if so, why?
– I did receive such a letter, and while I cannot recall all the details, I remember that I furnished such information aswas available. I received a further letter this morning, asking for additional information, and this request is at present being examined by my department.
– Is it a fact that the Defence Department, in reply to Senator Foil’s suggestion that Australia should maintaina standing army of 50,000 or 60,000 men, has stated that it would rather spend what funds are available on providing modern arms and equipment?
– I have seen such a statement in the press, and I should say that it is a correct presentment of the views of the Defence Department. The proposal of Senator Foll is impracticable on the grounds of expense, apart from other considerations.
Address by Mr. John Lawson, M.P. Mr. WARD. - Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General state whether the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) received a fee for his broadcast address over A class stations giving his impressions of bis travels abroad?
– I have no knowledge regarding the matter, but if the honorable member will put his question on the notice-paper I shall endeavour to obtain the information for him.
Danger of Fire
– In view of the serious bush fires which have raged in the defence area at Georges Heights between the 27th October and the 6th November, will the Minister for Defence make inquiries with a view to ascertaining whether there is any evidence to show that the fires were deliberately lighted? Is the Minister aware that munition dumps, containing nearly 2,000 rounds of 6 inch shells, were stored near petrol tanks, which were at one stage surrounded by the flames? Will he give instructions that no fires are to be lighted in defence areas?
– Notices have been prominently displayed prohibiting the lighting of fires in defence areas. I do not know whether the munition dumps referred to by the honorable member were in any danger of destruction by fire. I suggest that inquiries into the nature of the fires, and steps for the prevention of their recurrence, are rather matters for the State Government than for the Defence Department.
– Can the Assistant Minister for Commerce state what stage has been reached in the negotiations between the Government of Australia and the Government of Great Britain for a longterm meat agreement?
– I have no further information to give at the present time.
– Can the Minister for Defence give any information regarding the agreement between the Defence Department and the Hobart City Council for the removal of the Sandy Bay Rifle Range ?
-This matter has been the subject of negotiation for a considerable time, and I cannot say offhand what stage the negotiations have reached. My last recollection is that the municipal council had a proposal before it, and that the department was awaiting an answer. I shall make inquiries, and supply the honorable member with the latest information.
– Is it a fact that the report of the committee set up to inquire into British shipping in the Pacific has been received by the British Government ? Has the report yet been received by the Commonwealth Government, and if so, has any decision yet been reached as to the action which should be taken to conserve the interests of British shipping in the Pacific?
– The report has not yet been received by the Commonwealth Government.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Nauru - Ordinances of 1936 -
No. 1 - Customs Regulations Amendment.
No. 2 - Customs Tariff Amendment.
No. 3 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.
No. 4 - Appropriation 1936.
No. 5 - Nauruan Royalty Trust Fund Appropriation 1936.
No. 6 - Appropriation (Supplemental) 1935.
No. 7 - Nauruan Royalty Trust Fund Appropriation ( Supplemental ) 1935.
No. 8- Public Health.
No.9 - Laws Repeal and Adopting(No. 2).
No. 10 -Arms Liquor and Opium Prohibition.
No. 11 - Census Repeal.
Motion (by Mr. Patterson) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Lands Acquisition Act, 1906- 1934.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Thorby) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Trade Commissioners Act 1933.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong- Attorney-
General) [10.50]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a very short bill, designed to effect an alteration of the Constitution by inserting in section 51, after paragraph 5, the following words: -
Air navigation and aircraft.
The purpose of the amendment is to add to the legislative powers of the Commonwealth a power to make laws in re spect of air navigation and aircraft, quite unrestricted tointerstate aviation; in other words, to give to the Commonwealth Parliament a general power over aviation. The immediate occasion for the introduction of this amendment is a declaration by theHigh Court of the existing limitations upon the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament. In effect, by the decision of the High Court in the Henry case, given two or three days ago, the Court has declared that the legislative power of the Commonwealth Parliament in respect of aviation is confined to three areas :
It follows, therefore, that there remains an area of power which does not belong to the Commonwealth Parliament, that area having to do with intra-State aviation in so far as it is not the subject of an international air convention. The purpose of this bill is to get rid of that serious and anomalous state of affairs by making the power of the Commonwealth Parliament, in relation to aviation, both specific and unrestricted.
The history of this matter can be mentioned very briefly. In 1920, the Commonwealth asked the State governments to take steps to arm itwith power to deal with aviation, and a resolution was carried at the Premiers Conference of that year to the effect that it was desirable that the Statesshould refer to the Commonwealth power to make laws with respect to air navigation, retaining for each State the right to own and use State aircraft operated within the State for Government purposes, and “ the police powers of the State “ - whatever that phrase may mean. Pursuant to that decision, certain States passed legislation. Queensland and Tasmania passed acts which were in accordance with the resolution. The Queensland act was not to come into force until proclaimed, whereas the Tasmanian act operated upon the date of its passing. The Parliaments of Victoria and South Australia passed legislation in a different form, legislation which, in fact, was never proclaimed, but it is interesting to note that it provided for the handing over to the Commonwealth of power to make laws with respect to aviation, first, within the terms of air conventions, and secondly, within the scope of interstate ; trade and commerce. In other words, those acts intended to hand over to the Commonwealth the very powers it is now seen to possess, and no more.
– As matters have turned out, they gaveus nothing. At that time, as the right honorable gentleman knows, it was not appreciated that the legislative powers of the Commonwealth would go to the distance of carrying out the International Air Convention in all its implications. In fact, as we now know, as the result of the High Court decision, the legislation passed in those two” States would not have affected or added to the powers of the Commonwealth. In the case of J /ew South Wales and Western Australia, bills were introduced into the Parliament, but were not proceeded with.
That was the position in and immediately after 1920. On the anticipation that these referring acts of Parliament would be passed by the various States, the Commonwealth Parliament passed an Air Navigation Act. That act provided that the Governor-General might make regulations for the purpose of carrying put and giving effect to the convention - that power has now been’ upheld - and the provisions of any amendment of the convention, and for the purpose of providing for tho control of air navigation in the Commonwealth and the territories of the Commonwealth. That act has, by the decision of the High Court, been in part invalidated; because the effect of the decision of the High Court is, that while regulations may be made for the purpose of giving effect to the convention and for the purpose of controlling air navigation as between the States in the Commonwealth, they may not be made for the purpose of controlling it generally within the territorial boundaries of the Commonwealth. Consequently, if what was sought to be done by that act is to be made validly competent to the Commonwealth Parliament, a constitutional alteration of the kind that I have indicated is necessary.
– According to yesterday’s Sydney Sun, the Premier of New South Wales is prepared to hand over to the Commonwealth the power that it seeks.
– It is true, as the honorable gentleman knows, that there are two ways by which the Commonwealth might obtain increased jurisdiction over this matter. It might do so by virtue of the process of a constitutional alteration, which process the Government is adopt ing by this bill. It might also obtain the additional power under section 51, paragraph 37, of the Constitution as a matter referred to the Commonwealth Parliament by the parliament or parliaments of any State or States. But. if the latter course is followed and we are to have a universal power within the . limits of Australia, then it will be necessary for every parliament to puss such a law; and as the honorable gentleman will, I think, agree, having regard to the fact that discussions in regard to references of powers commenced as far back as 1920, and that there has yet been no effective reference of power, that method might prove rather tedious and unsatisfactory. Consequently, the Government has decided that it will give to the people the opportunity to say that the Commonwealth ought to have this power; and of course we confidently believe that the State Governments will be willing to co-operate with us in the carrying of such a vote, because on each occasion when the matter has been discussed, they have agreed that aviation ought, to come within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Parliament.
The Royal Commission on the Constitution also investigated this matter subsequently to the decision by the Premiers Conference to which I have referred. At page 206 of its report - which, as honorable members know, was made in 192S-29 - under the heading ‘ Control of Aviation “, the commission said -
Al! the expert witnesses on this subject who appeared before the commission were agreed that the Commonwealth should have control of aviation, and their views may be summed up in the following extract from the evidence of Captain G. F. Hughes, president of the A.o.i-0 Club of New South Wales, which wm expressly approved by other witnesses: -
The very nature of aircraft and their uses, and the nature of the regulation* required, make utterly Impracticable, in my opinion, a control by the Commonwealth, the effectiveness of which would only arise contingently on a particular class of journey being undertaken.
He was referring to a journey interstate -
Where could one draw the line and decide where Commonwealth regulations began to operate? Such en arrangement would, in my view, be hazardous in the extreme, and a menace to all classes of aerial navigation . . . There ia ab»- lutely no other industry or means of locomotion in which control necessitates supervision of the product from the drawing board through all the processes of manufacture to the finished article, and then throughout the life of the machine. There is no means of travel which is so unrestricted by physical boundaries.
Subsequently, at page 248, in making their recommendations, the members of the commission - Sir HalColebatch dissenting - said this -
We recommend that a power to make laws with respect to aviation be conferred on the Commonwealth Parliament.
All the expert witnesses on this subject who appeared before the commission were agreed that the Commonwealth should have this power, and, as is shown elsewhere in this report, the State Premiers at one time passed a resolution that it was desirable that the power to make laws with respect to aviation, with certain reservations, should be transferred by the States to the Commonwealth.
Effect could, we think, be given to this recommendation by inserting in section 51 of the Constitution the following paragraph: - (vib) Air navigation and aircraft.
– Did Sir HalColebatch give reasons for his not agreeing?
– The views of Sir Hal Colebatch are set out at page 298. They are very shortly stated, and, as it seems that they are of interest to the honorable gentleman, I shall read them. He said -
I am of opinion that sufficient uniformity in regard to air navigation can be obtained by arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States, more readily than it has been obtained between contiguous countries on the continent of Europe. At the most it may be desirable for the State parliaments to transfer an aviation power, with certain reservations, to the Commonwealth. Colonel Brinsmead, officer in charge of civil aviation. Defence Department, told the commission (page 278) that a transference of power with such reservations “ would meet with government requirements absolutely “.
In the near future transport by air will play an important part in the ordinary life of the community. Such features of air navigation as intra-state trade and commerce, industrial conditions, and the ordinary police power are better left to the States. The adoption of the recommendation of my colleagues would bring all these under central control, whilst similar matters inregard to other forms of intra-state transportation would remain with the States.
Those were the. views of Sir Hal Colebatch ; but they were not shared by the remaining members of the commission, who consequently reported in the direction that I have indicated.
I have said that the Premiers had agreed in 1920 that they should hand over this power to the Commonwealth. The matter was again considered by the Premiers Conference in 1929. This is an extract from the report of that conference -
It was the general opinion that legislative provision with reference to aviation was defective, and that the position required immediate attention.It was agreedthat the Commonwealth Parliament should draft a bill to he submitted to the governments of the States, transferring to the Commonwealth Parliament full powerto legislate with respect to aviation and matters incidental to aviation. The State governments undertook to consider whether they would submit the bill to their parliaments at an early date.
Then again, in 1934, there was some indeterminate discussion of the matter at the Premiers Conference; and at the Premiers Conference in Adelaide in 1936 it was again agreed by the States that legislation should be passed referring this power to the Commonwealth Parliament.
So that the position is this : We have been told authoritatively that there are certain sharp limits upon the legislative power of the Commonwealth. We have readied on more than one occasion substantial agreement with State governments, that this power should belong to, and be exercised by, the Commonwealth Parliament. The royal commission which investigated the matter came to a similar conclusion, and so recommended. In all those circumstances, the Government does not hesitate to put forward legislation and to invite the Parliament, and subsequently the people, to approve of this very necessary addition to the national power.
The one other matter that I want to mention is this:It may be said that we already have so much jurisdiction under the International Air Convention - which is an elaborate document - that what is left is of no practical moment. Let. me just give to honorable members one illustration to show that what is left is of great practical moment. Article 11 of the Convention provides that every aircraft engaged is international navigation shall, in accordance with certain conditions, be provided with a certificate of airworthiness issued or rendered valid by the State whose nationality it possesses. That is the one provision that I can find in the Convention in regard to airworthiness, and it is confined to aircraft engaged in international navigation. To it may be added that the Commonwealth would have power to make laws and regulations with respect to airworthiness in the case of aircraft engaged in interstate trade and commerce, but not in relation to aircraft engaged in purely local operations; that is, operations within the boundaries of any one State.
– Except in Commonwealth territory.
– Unless, as I have said before, it is within. Commonwealth territories. That, honorable members will agree, is a rather serious gap in power ; because, admittedly, the greatest care should be taken with respect to the airworthiness of aircraft, and I am sure that honorable members and the people of Australia will agree that any rules which apply in relation to the matter should apply uniformly and over every portion of Australia, since the safety of human beings is just as important in one part as in another part of Australia.
That, briefly, is the case for this alteration of the Constitution, and I submit it to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Brennan) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is the bill which deals with the machinery for the taking of a referendum on an alteration of the Constitution. There is on the statute-book at present, and has been for a number of years, an act entitled the Referendum Constitution (Alteration) Act 1906, which was amended subsequent to the date of its enactment. That act provides by section 6a in these terms - I can do no better than read them -
If, within nine weeks after the passage of the proposed law-
That is, the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution - through both Houses there is forwarded to the Chief Electoral Officer-
The policy embodied in this act of providing the elector with some statements, first, of the nature of the amendment, and, secondly, arguments both for and against it, is, I am sure, a sound one. It is, in the highest degree desirable that all of those who vote on a proposed alteration of the Constitution should be in possession of the exact terms of the proposal and of a reasoned argument both for and against its adoption. Otherwise we shall have a vote cast very largely in ignorance if voters fail to perceive the true nature of the issue. Pamphlets were used in connexion with the referendum of 1913 and were printed, but not circulated, in connexion with the referendum of 1915, which was not proceeded with, but they have not been used in connexion with any other referenda. Having regard to the fact, particularly in relation to marketing, that the precise nature of matters of that kind is not to be perceived at a glance, it is proposed by theGovernment on this occasion, that it is desirable to continue the practice followed before the war of circulating pamphlets.
The object of this bill, apart from two trifling verbal alterations to correct the particular sections of the act involved, is to shorten to three weeks the period of nine weeks, which it is now provided must elapse between the passage of the proposed law and the date of the holding of the referendum.
– Does the honorable member think that only a third of the time is necessary?
– I feel, not presumptuously, that I could compose an argument in favour of the bill inside three weeks, and I have no doubt that the honorable gentleman, if he were entrusted with the delicate task of preparing the case for the other side, would be able to do it in the same period. Of course, if we were making a very elaborate series of fundamental alterations of the Constitution it might be well to retain the longer period, but I feel sure that honorable gentlemen will agree that there is no cause for delay in this instance and that a period of three weeks is sufficient.
I have inquired as to the cost of printing and circulating these pamphlets, not that I attach undue importance to that aspect, because, if it is worth while asking the people to alter the Constitution, it is worth while spending a few pounds to let them know what the proposals are. If this cost were twice the amount it would be money well spent. I find, on inquiry, that the estimated cost for the whole of the Commonwealth, on the basis of submitting one question, would be a little under £10,000.
– Including postage?
– There will be no actual postage costs, but the various items covered by the £10,000 include the printing of the wrappers and pamphlets, and the folding and wrapping of the pamphlets. To that sum must, of course, be added the cost of handling this material through the ordinary post office channels. As there are 4,000,000 pamphlets to be distributed in Australia, honorable members will see that this cost is not excessive. As a matter of fact it works out at slightly over a halfpenny a pamphlet. I think I am right in saying that the cost on the last occasion was in the region of £20,000, but, as honorable gentlemen will recall, manymore questions were submitted on that occasion, with the result that the pamphlets were bulkier. The estimated cost of £10,000 will be increased by something like £2,000 as the result of the addition of a second question with the corresponding arguments for it, and, if any, against it.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Brennan) adjourned.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
– I move-
Division, A. - Rate of Tax in Respect of Taxable Income Derived from Personal Exertion.
For the purposes of this division: T = taxable income in pounds.
If the taxable income does not exceed £6,900, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income shall be -
If the taxable income exceeds £6,900, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £6,900 shall be -
and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £6,900 shall be68.85 pence.
Division B. - Rate of Tax in Respect of Taxable Income Derived from Property.
For the purposes of this division : T = taxable income in pounds.
If the taxable income does not exceed £500, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income shall be -
If the taxable income exceeds £500 but does not exceed £1,500, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income shall be -
if the taxable income exceeds £1,500 but does not exceed £3,700, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income shall be -
If the taxable income exceeds £3,700, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £3,700 shall be -
and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £3,700 shall be 81 pence.
Division C. -Rates of Tax in Respect of Taxable lncome Derived Partly from Personal Exertion and Partly from Property.
Division D. -Rates of Tax by Reference io an Average Income.
Division E. - Rate of Tax by Reference to a Notional Income.
DivisionF. -Tax Payablewhere Amountwould othewise be less than Ten Shillings.
Notwithstanding anything contained in the last five preceding divisions, where the amount of income tax which a person would, apart from this division, be liable to pay is less than Ten shillings, the income tax payable by that person shall be Ten shillings.
Division G. - Rates of Tax Payable by a Trustee.
For every pound of the taxable income in respect of which a trustee is liable, pursuant to either section ninety -eight or section ninety - nine of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, to be assessed and to pay tax the rate of taxshall be the rate which would be payable under Division A, B, C, D orE as the case requires, if one individual were liable to be assessed and to pay tax on that taxable income.
DivisionH. - Rates of Tax Payable by a Company.
For every pound of interest in respect of which a company is liable, pursuant to sub-section (1.) of section one hundred and twenty-five of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 to pay income tax, the rate of tax shall be One shilling.
This is the usual motion for the imposition of the rates of income tax payable for the current financial year. As I announced in the budget speech, the Government has decided to reduce the rates of normal income tax payable by individuals by 10 per cent., in respect of income from personal exertion and income from property, and also to abolish the special tax on income from property. Both of these proposals are given effect to in my motion.
The following statement shows approximately the variation in the normal rates of tax provided in the resolution as compared with the 1915-16 basic rate: -
The special property tax was one of the most severe forms of emergency taxation imposed in 1930-31. The original rate was 7$ per cent., which was increased to 10 per cent, in 1931-32, and the latter rate was maintained in 1932-33. In 1033-34, the rate was reduced to 6 per cent., and last year a further reduction to 5 per cent, was made. The Government regards this tax as being a particularly onerous form of taxation, arid is glad it is in a position to have it abolished. It has long been thought, and indeed urged, by many sections of the community, that the abolition of this tax would restore economic health by tending to reduce interest rates and free large sums of money for real estate investment and building activities. The freer circulation of moneys th 118 promoted should work considerable benefit for the whole community - for the wage earner as much as the enterpreneur.
Division A of the motion prescribes the rate of tax on income from personal exertion. in 1931-32 the formula for ascertaining the rate of tax on each £1 of taxable income was revised by Professor Giblin when be was Commonwealth Statistician. This revision was an adaptation of the rai.es applied in the previous year, subject to an allround increase of approximately 5 per cent. In 1933-34 iiic rate of tax on personal exertion income was reduced by 15 per cent, and the rate was ascertained by taking 85 per cent, of the rate provided by the 1931-32 formula. This year the reduction of KI per cent, means that the rate will be 76.5 per cent, of the rate originally prescribed. The rate of tax increases with each £1 of taxable income until the taxable income reaches £6,900: thereafter a flat rate of 68.85(1. is imposed. Originally this flat rate was 90d., hut the reduction of 15 per cent, in 1933-34 reduced it to 76.5d., and the present reduction of 10 per cent, reduces it still further to 6S.8.”)d.
Division B deals with income from property. As no reduction of property rates has been made since the present formula was introduced in 1931-32, the rate for this year is ascertained by taking 90 per cent of the rate as originally prescribed.
– At the same time the tax on property as property has been reduced in this resolution?;
– it am speaking of the normal tax on property. The rate of that tax increases, with each £1 of taxable income until a taxable income of £3,700 is reached ; thereafter a flat rate of Sid. is charged. The flat rate was originally 90d., as in the ease of personal exertion income, and the 10 per cent, reduction explains, the difference. Hon.orable members will see from this that thy curve of taxation of income from property increases very much more steeply than that of taxation on income from personal exertion, and that the actual rate of tax on any given amount of income from property is substantially higher than the rate of tax on a similar given amount of income from personal exertion.
Division C applies to the taxpayer whose total income is derived partly from personal exertion and partly from property. It provides for the separate rates of tax on the personal exertion and property incomes to be ascertained as if the taxpayer’s total taxable income were derived wholly from either personal exertion sources or property sources. Subject to r £le averaging provisions, the taxpayer pays tax on his taxable incomes from personal exertion and property at the rate attributable to his total taxable income.
Division D, relating to averaging, is a new division in the rates act. Previously the substance of this division was embodied in section 13 (2) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1922-34 but, at the suggestion of the Royal Commission on Taxation, the provisions of the relevant section in the 1922-34 act were not repeated in the Income Tax Assessment Bill, which was passed during the last session of the Parliament, the intention being to incorporate them in this year’s Income Tax Bill.
– Is not that more of a condition than a tate; and is the Treasurer quite satisfied about the constitutional authority to enable this provision to be put into the rates bill?
-r-Yes, it has been examined closely first by the royal commission and then by the conference of
Commissioners of Taxation and by the legal advisers of the Commonwealth Government. At the present time the taxpayer’s income is averaged over a five-year period, and the rate of tax which is applied to his taxable income is the rate applicable to his average income over that period. Foi example, if a taxpayer’s actual income for the year ended the 30th June, 1936, were £500, and his taxable income for the five years, 1932 to 1936, were £400, he would pay tax on £500, at the rate attributable to £400. Similarly, if his average income were £600, he would pay tax on £500 at the rate attributable to £600. The division is an adaptation of the draft provided by the royal commission, and, it is considered, expresses the objective in a simpler form than that which is used in the assessment act. As honorable members know, the Government has in. mind proposals for the dropping of this averaging provision at a future date for other than the incomes of primary producers. But as that does not. take effect until approximately three years hence, it does not concern us at this moment.
Division E is also a new division which is due to the adoption in substance of a recommendation of the Royal Commission on Taxation in connexion with the taxation of premiums received in respect of private leases. The principle underlying the taxation of lease premiums is that a premium is nothing more than a commuted rent. However, when several years’ rent is commuted into one single premium, the recipient must pay tax on that premium as income of the year in which he receives it. As the rate of tax increases with the increase of income, it follows that in such a case the recipient, pays a greater amount of tax on that premium than he would have paid if the amount of the premium had been received as rent over the term, of the lease. This is considered to be a hardship, and as a measure of relief the royal commission recommended that the premium should be taxed at a rate ascertained by dividing the amount of the premium by the number of years of the lease with a maximum divisor of five years. That is another method really of applying the averaging provision for that period.
– Why has the Government decided to cut out the averaging provision when quite obviously during the depression period the taxpayer was at a disadvantage? Now we are coming into a boom period the taxpayer will lose the benefit of the lower rate.
– That consideration recommended itself to the Government, which has decided not to cut out the averaging for a period of three years hence. The ‘royal commission recommended that it should be abolished generally, but to be fail1 to taxpayers who are now deriving some little advantage from the averaging, whereas they were at a disadvantage during’ the depression, it has been postponed for three years.
At the conference of Taxation Commissioners, the royal commission’s recommendation in regard to leases was adopted in a slightly modified form. The final decision with which the royal commission was in agreement is embodied in section 86 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, which has been passed by this Parliament. The effect of this section is that the recipient of the premium pays tax on the premium as he receives it, but at a rate of tax on a notional income ascertained by dividing the amount of the premium by one-half of the number of years of the term of the lease. To this notional income is added, of course, any other taxable income derived by the taxpayer for the purpose of obtaining the appropriate rate applicable to the total taxable income. This division is in accordance with the draft which was prepared by the royal commission to give legislative effect to its proposal, and is modelled on the same principle as that adopted in division D. This division will not apply in the assessments of any taxpayers to whom the existing averaging provisions apply, but it is necessary to provide for the isolated case of a taxpayer whose income is not at present averaged. This division, in respect of the spreading of income tax received as rent, over a term of five years, will not, of course, apply to the assessments of any taxpayers to whom the ordinary averaging applies. Taxpayers cannot have the advantage both ways. from the commuted rent proposal as well as from the ordinary averaging proposal.
Division F provides that the minimum tax payable snail be 10s., and needs no explanation.
Divisions G andH deal with the rates of tax to be paid by a trustee and a company respectively, and do not call for any explanation. They are the normal things which have appeared before and there is no reduction of the rate of company tax. Paragraph 3 is framed with the object of enabling assessments to be paid for financial years subsequent to the financial year 1936-37, in those cases where it is necessary to raise such assessments before the rates bill for the subsequent year is passed by Parliament. The taxpayers generally affected are theatrical artists and others who are visiting Australia, and who are required to pay tax on their earnings before their departure, and also tourists who are desirous of paying the tax before leaving Australia.
– Can the Treasurer introduce a regulation to ensure that taxpayers will not receive Federal and State assessments at the same time?
– In certain States in which Federal and State taxes are collected by the one department such an occurrence is inevitable.
– The Commonwealth allows two months after the issue of the assessments for the payment of the tax. In the case of some States the period allowed is one month.
The provisions of the Income Tax Act 1935 relating to individually and severally-owned partnerships have not been included in the resolution. This is made possible by the fact that sections 94 and 102 of the assessment act, which deal with family partnerships and trusts, specify therein how the income tax payable by the partnership or the trustee is to be calculated in those cases which come within the operation of those sections, and, consequently, a declaration of a rate of tax for such cases is unnecessary. As the special property tax is being abolished, the provisions relating thereto in last year’s act have not been included in the resolution.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Hunter do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 9th October (vide page 1002), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill relates to a distribution of portion of the surplus revenue of the Commonwealth last year among the States for the purposeof helping their budgets. The money has been distributed upon a population basis, and, curiously enough, this procedure complies with one of the original practices of the federation, in that the surplus revenues of the Commonwealth were to be distributed to the States on a basis somewhat approximating that which has been used in the allocation on this occasion. The Opposition has no objection to the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Copies of this bill were circulated some time ago. The object of the measure is to appropriate an amount of £2,000,000 from the excess revenue receipts of the last financial year for defence expenditure of a capital nature. An amount of £1,800,000 is to be paid into the Defence Equipment Trust Account established by the Defence Equipment Act 1934, and an amount of £800,000 is to be paid into the Civil Aviation Trust Account established by the Defence Equipment Act 1928. Honorable members may recollect that £4,160,000 was paid from the excess revenue receipts into the Defence Equipment Trust Account in 1934-35, and this amount was drawn upon in the three subsequent years, including the current financial year in order to relieve the burden of defence expenditure on each year. The amount of £4,160,000 will,it is anticipated, be completely expended by the end of the current financial year. I gave an explanation of the operation of the Defence Equipment Trust Account in my budget speech. The purpose of the money now proposed to be paid into the account is to provide for naval constructions, coastal and anti-aircraft defence, modernization of the field army, aircraft, machinery and plant, and defence work, buildings and sites. The amount is to be expended this year and in future financial years.
Mr.Curtin. - How much of it will be left over for expenditure in future years?
– The balance thatis left in the fund at theend of this financial year. At the 1st July of this financial year an amount of £1,931,000 stood to the credit of the Defence Equipment Trust Account. This will be increased by the amount now to be paid into the fund, and the expenditure of this year and of subsequent years will be debited against these amounts.
Mr.Curtin.-I understood that the amount of £8,000,000 required for defence expenditure in this year could not have been made available except for the £2,000,000 now proposed to be paid into the fund?
– That is not so, and I am sorry if I gave that impression. At the end of this financial year it is estimated that approximately £2,000,000 will be left in the fund.
– Then it does not appear necessary to provide this money for this year’s expenditure?
– The amount will be available in the fund if it should be required, but in any case it will be there for expenditure in coming years, just as the amount of £4,160,000 placed in the fund severalyears ago was available for expenditure in subsequent years as required.
– This money will be spent this financial year if it is required.
– It will be available for expenditure. It would not be proper fur me at this stage to embark upon a discussion of the defence policy of the Government, for that has already been fully outlined by the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill). This is purely a machinery measure to set aside £2,000,000 of fortuitous excess receipts in the last financial year, £1,800,000 of which will he credited to the Defence Equipment Trust Account, and the remaining £200,000 to the Civil Aviation Trust Account.
.- But for the fact that this is essentially a machinery measure which arises out of the budget proposals of the Government and merely involves the transfer of surplus funds of the Treasury to trust accounts to provide for expenditure which, in principle at any rate, has already been authorized, I should have asked for the adjournment of the debate. As it is, I direct attention to only one point. Before agreeing to the payment of surplus revenues into trust accounts honorable members should have a clear understanding, not only of the general purport of the trust account, but also as to whether it is actually necessary to use the money in the way intended. If a balance is left in a trust fund at the end of the financial year larger than seems to be necessary for the purpose intended, it means in effect that that amount is not available for immediate public expenditure.While I agree that in existing conditions it is necessary to pay surplus revenue into trust accounts in order that money may be available for expenditure in future years on works approved by the Parliament, I must confess to some doubt as to whether larger sums are not being held in certain trust accounts than are actually necessary for the purpose. It would be unjustifiable to withdraw money from immediate expenditure to too large on extent. .
– I propose to take an early opportunity to make a statement either in Parliament or through the press as to the exact position of the trust funds of the Commonwealth. This,I think, will allay any doubt that the Leader of the Opposition may have in that regard.
– In view of the general difficulties of the position, it appears to be unavoidable to set aside surpluses of Commonwealth revenue in trust funds for expenditure in future years unless we are content to allow a considerable proportion of Commonwealth revenue to be dissipated in a manner which would deprive the Parliament of any real authority over its expenditure. The only alternative to that course seems to me to be the setting up of trust funds, a practice which has been followed for many years. I agree that when the Parliament envisages expenditure on a public work extending over a number of years, it is wise to establish trust funds to ensure the competence of the Parliament to maintain the necessary rate of expenditure on such work, and to render less likely an undue interference with its progress in consequence of a decrease of revenue because of seasonal adversity or some other unforeseen development. At the same lime honorable members should satisfy themselves that trust funds are not unduly inflated, for that course must inevitably deprive Parliament of the opportunity to spend money in other very necessary directions. In the circumstances I rest content with the Treasurer’s assurance that he will make a full statement upon this subject, for I have discussed it with him on other occasions. This bill, like the Invalid and Old-age Appropriation Bills which come before us periodically, is necessary to enable Government policy to be pursued without undue interruption. In this case, as the policy has been approved by Parliament, I shall offer no objection to the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– byleave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
If honorable members have before them the memorandum showing the amendments proposed to bo made by this bill, they will be able to follow my remarks more closely. The purpose of the measure is to amend the Lands Acquisition Act 1906-34, but it does not seek to alter, insubstance, the principles uponwhich compensation for land taken for public purposes shall be assessed. It may be assumed that any person whose land is compulsorily acquired by the Commonwealth for Commonwealth purposes will still be entitled to the same measure of compensation as he would have received under the existing law. The object of this measure is to alter certain machinery or procedural steps that have to be taken. These alterations are proposed to be made in two main groups. The law as it stands provides that -
A claim for compensation shallbe in writing, and shall be served on the Minister, and shall set forth the prescribed particulars, and shall be in accordance with such of the prescribed forms as is applicable to the case.
The proposed amendment reads -
A claim for compensation shall -
be in accordance withsuch of the prescribed forms as is applicable to the case;
set forth the total amount of compensation claimed and the amount (if any) attributable to each item in that prescribed form; and
be served on the Minister.
The purpose of the amendment, and the others which a.re contingent upon it, is to provide that where a man claims compensation, he shall not merely claim a lump sum, but shall itemize his claim by indicating how much he is asking, for instance, for the unimproved land value of the property. It is desirable that that should be done because the decision then given will have some usefulness in the future, whereas, in the absence of such an itemized claim, every case must stand, as it were, on its own feet, and can throw no light on others. There is, of course, a drag-net provision to enable the claimant to make a general claim so that he shall not be deniedanything to which he is rightly entitled.
The second amendment provided for in the bill is intended to avoid a multiplicity of proceedings in relation to the same acquisition. All property that is sought to be taken for public purposes is not necessarily in one ownership, or held in one right. In the case of land, the fee simple may be held by A, the head lease by B, and a sub-lease by C, while D may have a right of easement over it. Each one of these might have some claim for compensation for the compulsory taking of the property. As the law now stands, the owner in fee simple may proceed before the High Court, his head lessee may proceed in the State Court, while the person claiming easement may proceed under another jurisdiction, with the result that there would be parallel proceedings going on involving enormously increased expenditure, while no particular authority would attach to any judgment given. The bill provides that when action is taken in the High Court for the determination of compensation, any action taken in other courts in respect of the same parcel of land shall be stayed, and the whole matter taken into the High Court. We want to provide that where various claims come from various sources in relation to one piece of property, they shall all be heard in one court, the court giving notice to the parties so that they may be brought together for the one hearing. We hope thus to simplify procedure, save time, and make for greater certainty.
It has been felt for some time that amending legislation of this kind was necessary. These very amendments were included in a bill brought down in 1924, but it was not proceeded with to the point of enactment. However, in view of the fact that the Commonwealth is from time to time making resumptions of properties, it is felt that action should now be taken to simplify the procedure.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 15th March, 1935, (vide page 137, vol. 146). on motion by Mr. Paterson -
That thebill be now read a second time.
.- This bill, while it takes a halting step forward in the direction of reform, does not go far enough, and. will not in any way meetthe wishesofthe citizensof Australia. We should, long before this, have taken action to give our own women at leastthose rights and privileges within Australia to which we believe they are entitled. The bill does not do that. Indeed, it hardly makes any difference at all in regard to the nationality of married women. I understand that the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) has foreshadowed an amendment designed to widen the scope of the measure, and if that amendment be accepted, it will go far to make of this bill what it ought to be. We have been mistaken in delaying action in the hope that a general international agreement on this question would be reached. The longer I. live, the more convinced I become that it is useless to hope for complete international agreement on any major question, whether it be peace, disarmament, or anything else. Each nation should effect what reforms it believes necessary in its own laws in the hope that, eventually, international unity will be achieved, in so far as it is necessary. As I have said, I cannot see that this bill represents any improvement upon the existing situation.
– The great advance is that the bill does away with absolute statelessness.
– It should not be necessary for an Australian woman, who marries a foreigner, to renounce her nationality in Australia. I do not propose to discuss the bill further at this stage, but shall wait to see whether the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Lilley is accepted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title and citation).
Amendment (by Mr. Paterson) agreed to -
That the figures “1934,” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “1936 “.
Clause consequentially amended and, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Section eighteen of the principal act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: -
4 ) . Where a man ceases, during the continuance of his marriage,tobea Britishsubject and, by reason of his acquisition of anew nationality, his wife also acquires that nationality, she may, whether her marriage is still continuing or not, within one year from the date on which she so acquired such nationality, or within such further time as the GovernorGeneral in special circumstances allows, make a declaration that she desires to retain British nationality, and thereupon she shall be deemed to have remained a British subject. (5). Where, after the thirty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-five . . .
Amendments (by Mr. Paterson) agreed to -
That the words “ Governor-General “, subsection (4), proposed new section 18, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Minister “.
That the words “ thirty-five “, sub-section (5), proposed new section 18, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ thirty-seven “.
– I again raise the question which I raised when the bill was previously considered, a long time ago, as to what nationality will be assumed by the children of a marriage in the event of sub-section 3 of the proposed new section 18 being put into operation. That sub-section provides that, if a man acquires a foreign nationality, his wife need not, unless she so desires, by reason only of that fact also acquire a foreign nationality. I should like the Minister to state whether children will retain the nationality of the father or of the mother, or will became stateless.
Clause also consequentially amended and, as amended, agreed to.
Motion by Mr. Paterson agreed to -
That the following new clauses be inserted - “2a. The Principal Act is amended as set out in the schedule to this act. 3a. Section seventeen of the Principal Act is amended - (a)by omitting from sub-section (2.) the words ‘ any power which, under ‘ and inserting in their stead the words ‘The power which, under sub-section (4.) of sectionseven of; and
by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section : - (3.) Any other power which, under Part II. of the British Act, is exercisable by the Secretary of State, shall be vested in and exercisable by the Minister.’
.- On behalf of the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron), who is unavoidably absent, I move -
That the following new clause he inserted: - “‘5. After section eighteen of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 18a. - (1.) This section shall apply to every woman who at the time of her marriage to an alien, whether before or after the commencement of this section, was a British subject and who, by reason of her marriage, has acquired the nationality of her husband. (2.) Any woman to whom this section applies, whether her marriage is still continuing or not, may -
The object of the proposed new clause is to remove disadvantages that are suffered by many of our womenfolk by reason of having married persons deemed to be aliens; and having thereby acquired the nationality of their husbands. Those disadvantages have been already specified in this Parliament, and I believe that the general desire is that they should be removed as far as is consistent with international conventions in relation to the status of marriage. The subject has been, considered on different, occasions at The Hague, and the bill that we now have before us represents agreement, so far as it could be obtained, among the different nations. Thus far it has been found impossible to reach an agreement that would give full relief to women who are married to aliens. If the proposed new clause is embodied in the measure, those of our womenfolk married to aliens who are living in Australia will obtain the relief that we think should be extended to women in all countries. They will have the option, shortly, of making a declaration expressing the desire to retain the rights which they would enjoy as British subjects, or they may acquire the nationality of their husbands. The operation of the provision will be limited to Australia and the territories under the control of the Commonwealth. As no international complications - which have previously been feared when such a proposal has been advanced - will be caused, it is hoped that the Government will accept the proposal of the honorable member for Lilley.
– On behalf of the Government I have very much pleasure in accepting the proposed new clause which has been submitted to the committee by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) in the absence of the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron). I may say that the Parliament of New Zealand has already adopted a similar provision. The dominion law adopts the provisions of section 10 of the English act, upon which our proposed new section 18 is founded; but our section, in addition to providing, as a general rule that the nationality of a married woman shall be that of her husband, contains several exceptions in the interests of British women. For example, women who do not acquire, by marriage, the nationality of their husbands, and become stateless, remain British subjects. Similarly, if a husband should lose his British nationality, the wife, unless she acquires the foreign nationality of her husband, may remain a British subject. The New Zealand provision which the honorable member for Lilley has adopted, relates to another class of case, that of a British woman who becomes an alien by virtue of her marriage. The object of the proposed new clause is to enable such a woman still to enjoy, within Australia, all the privileges of British citizenship. Strictly speaking, in law she would still be regarded as an alien outside of Australia ; but so long as she remained in this country she would enjoy every right and privilege enjoyed by a British subject; for example, the exercise of the franchise, and the old-age pension when she had reached the age that would entitle her to receive it. In short, by the adoption of the proposal, we shall go a long way towards meeting, in Australia at all events, the wish of our womenfolk to be treated on an equality basis.
– The declaration is to be made “in the prescribed form and manner “. Is that form to be prescribed at a later date?
-It will be prescribed by regulation, made in conformity with the provisions of the bill.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Proposed schedule (by Mr. Paterson), consequentially amending the Principal Act by omitting the words “ GovernorGeneral “ wherever occurring, and inserting in lieu thereof the word “ Minister agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report -by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of this bill is to amend sections 11, 29, 42, 47, 48, 62, 71, 74 and 84 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922-1934. I think that honorable members will find that the proposed amendments are of a non-controversial nature.
Clause 2 of the bill, which amends subsection 1 of section 11 of the principal act, merely confers the title of “ The Public Service Board” on the Board of Commissioners. Sub-section 1 of section 11 of the act- provides that the GovernorGeneral may appoint a Board of Commissioners, and whilst the term “ The Public Service Board “ is generally used in reference to the Board of Commissioners, it does not appear in the act. It has, therefore, been deemed advisable, for convenience and general usage with statutory authority, to make provision in the act for its recognition.
Clause 3 relates to sub-section 1 of section 29 of the act, which reads as follows : -
The Governor-General may, on the recommendation of the Board, after obtaining a report from the permanent, head -
create a new office in any division in any department;
abolish any office in any department; or
raise or lower the classification of any office.
This is regarded as ambiguous, or, at least, as not expressing the intention of the sub-section. It may be read to mean that the Governor-General is to obtain a report from the permanent head, but the intention is that the board shall obtain the report and then make a recommendation to the Governor-General. The proposed amendment will make this procedure clear.
As regards clause 4, I point out to honorable members that section 42 of the principal act provides that if the Public Service Board is satisfied that it is desirable in the interests of the Commonwealth that the appointment be made, the board may appoint, without examination or probation, any officer of the territorial service, or the Commonwealth railway service, to any officein the Commonwealth Service. Under clause 4 of the bill, it is proposed that eligibility for appointment under section 42 shall be extended to members of the Federal Capital Territory Police Force. I remind honorable members that the clause, if agreed to, will merely confer eligibility on members of the Federal Capital Territory Police Force for appointment to the Commonwealth Service, and that before such an appointmentcan be made it will be necessary for the Public Service Board to satisfy itself that it is desirable in the interests of the Commonwealth that the appointment should be made.
In connexion with clause 5 of the bill, I point out that sub-section 1 of section 47 of the act provides that in special cases appointments may be made to a division other than the Fourth Division of the Service of persons from outside the Service, and that the Governor-General may, on the recommendation of the board, upon report from the permanent head, make such appointments. Under this clause it is proposed to amend subsection 1 of section 47 of the act in order to make clear the procedure to be followed prior to the, board making a recommendation to the Governor-General under the sub-section. The proposed amendment is similar to that embodied in clause 3 of the bill.
Clause 6 of the bill amends section 48, which relates to prior service being reckoned as Commonwealth service, and is complementary to clause 4. It provides that service in the Federal Capital Territory Police Force of a member of that force who may be appointed to the Commonwealth Public Service shall be reckoned as service in the latter.
– Will that interfere with the competitive system?
– No; it is simply an addition to the provision in the principal act which allows for the appointment of outsiders. The amendment provides for such appointment in the case of members of the police force in the Federal Capi tal Terri tory .
– Will such policemen have to sit for an examination?
– It depends on what the board says; the hoard lays down the conditions.
Sub-section 1 of section 62 of the act provides than an officer convicted of a criminal offence against the law of the Commonwealth or of a State punishable either on indictment or on summary conviction may be suspended from duty. Sub-sections 2 to 4 prescribe other action which may be taken if the officer is convicted of the offence. I understand that a criminal offence against the law of a territory of the Commonwealth is not a criminal offence against the law of the Commonwealth. Clause 7 of the bill is, therefore, intended to enable similar action to be taken under section 62 in respect of criminal offences against the laws of the territories of the Commonwealth.
Under section 71 of the act, it is provided that the maximum leave without pay which may be granted to an officer, other than one proposing to serve with the League of Nations, or the governments of the United Kingdom, a dominion, colony, or an Australian State, shall be twelve months. Clause 8 of the bill, if agreed to, mli enable an officer to be granted leave not exceeding three years, for the purposes of study or research work related to the duties of his office. Instances have occurred in which the period of twelve months already provided under section 71 of the act has been found to be insufficient to enable an officer to complete such a course of study or research work, and, as the Commonwealth would derive an advantage from the purpose for which the leave is required, it is considered desirable that provision should be made for leave to be granted in such cases up to a maximum of three years.
Clause 9 provides for an amendment of section 73 of the act, and clause 10 provides for an amendment of section 74 of the act. Several cases have occurred in which officers eligible for long service leave, or pay in lieu thereof, under sections 73 and 74 of the act, have ceased duty without notice and, although their whereabouts cannot be traced, there is substantial reason to believe they have died. A considerable time must elapse before a court will grant leave for the death of an officer to be sworn, and, in the meantime, the officer’s wife and- dependants cannot be paid moneys, under the sections named, which would be payable if death were established. In some cases, the dependants have been in necessitous circumstances. The amendments embodied in clauses 9 and 10 of the bill are intended to enable the Public Service Board, in such cases, without waiting for the sanction of the court to presume death, to authorize payment to the dependants when, in the board’s opinion, it is reasonable to assume, from the facts, that the officer is deceased.
Paragraph c, of sub-section 9 of section S4 of the act relates to the eligibility for appointment to positions of a non-clerical nature of returned soldiers who have not passed the prescribed examination, but have been temporarily employed continuously for not less than two years, and are certified as having performed their duties in a satisfactory manner. Under the existing provision a number of returned soldiers had acquired eligibility, and their permanent appointments were proceeding, as extra staff was needed, alternatively with the advancement of junior officers eligible for promotion. However, owing to the staffing situation brought about by the financial depression it became necessary, unfortunately, to terminate the employment of a number of temporary hands, including returned soldiers who by length of service had acquired eligibility for permanent appointment. In consequence these particular returned soldiers lost eligibility, the Crown law authorities advising that the words in the act “ who have been temporarily employed continuously for not less than two years “ require that tho requisite continuous employment must b? completed during a period of employment which is still existing at the time when the returned soldier is being considered for permanent appointment. With the recent general increase of departmental activities and the consequential expansion of staffs, the stage has been reached at which the Government feels that action might reasonably be taken for the restoration of eligibility for permanent appointment of those returned soldiers who are still within the prescribed age limit, and had lost eligibility when their employment had to be terminated. Clause 11 makes this provision and, if it is agreed to, it will then be possible for the Public Service Board to consider those men for permanent appointment as opportunity offers. It is estimated that about 150 returned soldiers are affected.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Rosevear) adjourned.
House adjourned at 12.45 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Will he statethe total amounts of money granted to the following mines in the Northern Territory: - (a)R. Schmidt (Central Gold Milling Company) .
– The information is being obtained and will be furnished as ea rly as possible.
Trade between Norfolk Island and New Zealand.
en asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Was an embargo in existence against Norfolk Island by New Zealand, precluding the importation of oranges for the two years 1933-34 and 1934-35. and was it lifted against this fruit in 1935-36. when 2,365 cases were admitted?
e. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Island products. NorfolkIsland bananas, however, are competitive in New Zealand with those of the New Zealand dependency of Cook Islands.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that the pensions of invalid pensioners arc being reduced where the hus- band of the pensioner, on relief work, is earning from 27s. to 37s. a week?
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
t asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Duty on Butter Imports.
e asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the average wholesale price of butter for the five years 1930-31 to 1934-35, based on official statistics, was approximately - export (overseas) price, 9¾d. per lb. Australian currency; Australian consumption price, 14d. per lb. Australian currency: and that the excess cost of 4¼d. per lbcharged to the Australian consumers on the quantities they used amounted to £3,480,589 per annum, equal to 10s.6d. for each inhabitant a year, will the Minister refer to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report -
Under paragraphh of section 15 of the Tariff Board Act the question whether the manufacturing industry is taking advantage of the protectionist duly of6d. per lb. British preference, and 7d. per lb. general tariff to charge high prices to the Australian consumer of butter; and
Combined with the above inquiry a reference under paragraph d of the necessity for new, increased or decreased duties on butter?
– As the existing rates of duty are those recommended by the Tariff Board after an exhaustive inquiry into the dairying industry the Government does not propose to make any such reference as suggested to the Tariff Board.
Oil Search in Mandated Territory and Papua.
s. - On the 22nd October, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) asked a question, upon notice, in regard to the issue of permits to search for oil in the territories of New Guinea and Papua. Further information was pro- mised in regard to parts 3 and 4 of the question. I am now in a positionto supply the following information: -
Oriomo Oil Limited -
Oil Search Limited -
A. Freeman,John Mackay, H. G. Foxall. E. L. Walter, A. J. Gibson, W. D. Wharton, S. N. McLean.
Island Exploration Company Proprietary Limited.- Nominal capital 50,000 shares of£1 each. Paid up capital, £1 , 050.
Oriomo Oil Limited. - Nominal capital £200.000 in shares of£1 each. Issued -capital, 160,979 fully-paidshares.
Oil Search Limited. - Nominal capital £500,000 is 2,000,000 shares of 5s. each. Capital issued. 1,1 42.71 3 shares of 5s. each.
s. - On the 5th November, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) asked the following questions, upon notice-: -
I am now in a position to furnish the following replies: -
Central administrative staff.
Territories, correspondence, and records sections.
External Affairs Department.
General organisation of the department.
Sectionalization and functions.
Patent, trade marks, designs and copyright offices.
Courts and Titles Office, Canberra.
Statistician’s branch, Canberra.
Printing office, Canberra.
General matters - use of postage stamps for official purposes.Form of salary registers.
Valuation sections, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia.
Sales tax sections, New South Wales and Victoria.
Income tax and estate duty assessing, Western Australia.
Central administrative staff, Canberra.
Commissariat section, Canberra.
Immigration, passports and naturalization sections, Canberra.
Works and services branches.
Civic branch, Canberra.
Accounts and investigation sections, Canberra.
Tariff administration section.
Tariff revision, trade treaties and agreements branch, Canberra.
Excise branches, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia.
Research, transmission, telephone equipment and costing sections, engineering branch, central staff.
Personnel branch, central staff.
Accounts branches, States.
Mail branches, States.
Engineering branches, States.
Inspection branches, ‘States.
Post offices, States.
Quarantine division, Queensland.
Health laboratory, Launceston.
Administrative sections, Canberra and Melbourne.
Suggestions or proposals which have been applicable to more than one department and which have accordingly been referred to the permanent heads of the departments concerned are indicated in the following: -
Control of lighthouse construction and maintenance work and co-ordination of civil engineering requirements - Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce.
Compilation of trade statistics by machine process and organization for the purpose - Department of the Treasury, Department of Trade and Customs.
Standardization of certain furniture - Department of the Treasury, Department of the Interior.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 November 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19361113_reps_14_152/>.