20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. Bowden presented a petition from certain electors of the Division of Gippsland praying that immediate action bc taken to construct a railway line from Orbost via Cann River, in Victoria, to Bombala, in Kew South Wales.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Minister acting forthe Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that the Premier of South Australia has not yet responded to an offer by the. Australian Government to make available to the South Australian Government/on reasonable terms, ;u; immigrant hostel so that kitchenettes may be erected there? If the Premier has responded to the offer, what is the nature of the response?
-L As I announced in the House on the. 12th September, I have bad discussions with the South Australian Premier on this matter, but I have received no fresh communications from him up to date.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration to inform me of the present practice of the Government in relation to hostel charges for unemployed immigrants. Formerly the practice was to pay an unemployed single immigrant an unemployment benefit of 25s. a week and to take back £1 of it for his keep, leaving the immigrant with 5s. a week pocket money. What is. the present position now that unemployment benefit has been increased ?
– I believe that the practice is the same as it was before with respect to certain immigrants in hostels and other holding centres, although I speak subject to correction. I shall have the matter examined and let the honorable gentleman’ have the information he requires.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. .Some time ago the. Minister told the House of an agreement that had been entered into for the intake of skilled German immigrants. Has he any further information to give honorable members about the number of such immigrants who may be arriving in Australia this year, and also in following years?
– I shall answer the last part of the honorable member’s question first. There arc no fixed numbers of immigrants for years after this year. The number to be brought in will depend on the wish of the Government and the circumstances then existing. With respect to this year’s quota, I recollect that I told the House some days ago that not more than 4,000 skilled German immigrants and experienced rural workers would enter Australia up to the- end of this year. I now find that that number was too high and that not more than about 2,800 will enter Australia. There will be about 700 skilled metal and electrical tradesmen, including tradesmen required by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, about 350 experienced rural workers and about 650 dependants of people in Australia and of the new immigrants themselves. There will also be about 70 single women domestics.
– Has the attention of the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration been directed to a statement by the New South Wales Minister for Immigration that 40 German immigrants are on their way to Australia and expect to be employed in the transport services of that State, but that work may not be available for them? Can the Minister give the House any information about the position of those workers? Did the Australian Government arrange for them to travel to this country?
– The German immigrants, to whom the honorable member for North Sydney has referred, fall within the class called project workers, and it is a well-known fact that the Australian Government has no responsibility for them.
– Of course the Australian Government has a responsibility for them.
– The Australian Government did not pay their fares, or arrange for them to be brought here. The only respect in which this Government is involved is that) naturally, it arranges for the screening of immigrants, before they leave their homeland, for health and security reasons. I noticed a report that 40 German immigrants were on their way to Australia, and I felt some anxiety about them, because they had been brought hero by a promise’ of work and now they were told that there was no work. I can only say that this is one of the things that happen when economic circumstances involve a change of immigration policy. A few months ago, State governments and instrumentalities were clamouring for project workers from abroad. The New South Wales Minister for Immigration sent one of his officers overseas for the purpose of. recruiting such immigrants. New South Wales required approximately 6,000 of them. However, circumstances have changed, and now, of course, it is difficult to find work for them. I can only hope that, as the immigrants have been brought here in such circumstances, it will be possible for the New South Wales Government to find employment for them.
– Does the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration, and the Government, realize that
Australia’s prospects of attracting immigrants in the future will be determined by our actions at the present stage? Does he also realize that we shall not be able, to get immigrants suited to this country unless the Government faces up to its responsibilities at the present time? Further, does he realize that unemployed German immigrants-
– The honorable member is not asking a question. He is conducting an argument, and not a very good one, either.
– Order ! Does the honorable member for Perth desire to ask a question ?
– I have been asking questions. “Will the Minister say whether it is a fact that unemployed German immigrants, unemployed British immigrants and other unemployed persons are not only a responsibility of the Government-
-Order ! The honorable gentleman does not appear to me to be asking a question.
– I shall complete my question in a few moments. Does the Minister realize that unemployed persons are members of producing units and that, if they are given jobs, they will increase production in Australia? If the Government and the Minister realize those facts, have they any programme to provide work for immigrants, for whom we have a responsibility, and thereby raise the production levels in this country?
– The honorable member for Perth knows perfectly well that the Government recognizes, and is fulfilling its responsibilities completely in this matter. The answer I gave to the previous question served to indicate that the obligation in such matters is shared, and that State governments and instrumentalities, which directly bring persons to this country and promise them jobs, also have their duties-
– Why does not the Government steep immigration?
– The States will be able to employ immigrants if the Commonwealth provides them with adequate amounts of money.
-Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Lalor are interjecting too much.
– I believe that State governments and instrumentalities recognize that they have duties in respect of immigration, and are endeavouring to fulfil them.
– Will the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service say whether the Government has received any proposition from the Premier of South Australia about taking over an immigrant hostel in that State for the purpose of building kitchenettes in it?
– The answer to the question is “ No “.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether he stated recently that the Australian Hide and Leather Industries Board might well be abolished? Did a representative of the farmers on the board say in Adelaide that it would wind up in a short time? Is the board interfering with free choice by leather purchasers? Are the allocation of charges causing serious criticism and are parcels of hides allotted arbitrarily while the farce of an auction system is still proceeded with? Was any decision made at a meeting of the board yesterday in this regard?
– I did not use the actual words that the board “might well be abolished “. I cannot recall the exact words that I have used in the House, as well as outside it, but they were to the general effect that because the local price of hides did not now differ very greatly from the export price, the case for the continued existence, of the board was not strong and in my opinion the question of whether it should be continued would warrant examination. I think that was the substance of my remarks. In any event it expresses my opinion. The honorable member should understand that the board exists for the purpose of enabling prices control to operate in respect of complex commodities- like hides and leather, when the local prices control seeks to establish a very different level of values from that which prevails in relation to the same goods for export. Obviously, without export control, when export prices are higher than those, that can be obtained for hides and leather sold on the home market, the available hides and leather would be exported and there would be none left for the local market. This Government is in the business of maintaining the board only in order to enable the States to operate their constitutional responsibilities in relation to prices control. Unless the Commonwealth exercised a form of export control the States could not operate prices control in respect of this commodity, and merely to operate export control by deciding that somebody could export hides and leather, whilst somebody else could not, would be an intolerable situation. The board rationalizes the position as between all users* I repeat, I believe that in the present circumstances there is little justification, if any, for continuing the board.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Certain grazing interests desire the abolition of all prices control on hides and tallow, and believe that Commonwealth participation in present State controls prevents it. Is the Australian Government prepared to withdraw its enabling legislation and export control if the States agree to discontinue prices control of those products? “What would be the effect on producers if the Commonwealth had not associated itself with State price fixation of hides and tallow?
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture may answer the question if he wishes to do so, but the matter obviously is one of policy.
– I believe that if the States were to de-control hides and leather, there would no longer be a justifiable reason for the retention of the Hides and Leather Industries Board. The honorable member has asked for my opinion on the effect that would ensue if producers in the States had not maintained prices control on hides and tallow. In recent years, the result would have been that producers would have received very much higher prices, for until a few months ago, the States had pegged the price of hides at the 1939 level. Hides were the only commodity in Australia that were still pegged at that level.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether consideration has been given to the. holding in the Dominions of some of the future conferences of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers? The adoption of such a proposal would be valuable in many ways. It would help in the maintenance of firm relationships among the nations of the Commonwealth. Would the Prime Minister, when he is in London attending the next Commonwealth conference of Prime Ministers in November, consider extending the necessary invitations so that the next conference may be held in Australia?
– I think there is a great deal of merit in the honorable gentleman’s suggestion. The point has been discussed before, on a variety of occasions, but it is not always possible or practicable to hold such conferences in one of the Dominions. However, the matter is one which will certainly continue to receive my attention.
– In view of the fact that the adequate maintenance provisions of the Social Services Consolidation Act have been repealed in order to enable invalids between the ages of sixteen and 21 years to qualify for a pension in their own right regardless of the income of their parents, will the Minister for Social Services follow up applications made previously by such persons but which were rejected before those provisions were repealed ?
– It is true, that the adequate maintenance provisions in respect of such invalids have been repealed. The honorable member’s suggestion that the department should follow up applications that have previously been rejected but which might now be granted is sound, and I shall see what can be done in the matter.
– Supplementary to a question that was asked by the honorable member for Robertson yesterday, can the Minister representing the Minister for National Development inform the House of the. overtures that the New South Wales Government is alleged to have made to this Government to proceed with the construction of the Blowering dam, which is both necessary and complementary to the diversion of the Snowy River and its tributaries? The task of completing that dam is beyond the physical capacity of the State Government, but is within the capacity of this Government through the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority.
– I have no information that would enable me to supply a fuller answer to the honorable member’s question that the Prime Minister gave to the honorable member for Robertson yesterday in respect of the same matter. 1 shall direct the attention of the Minister for National Development to the honorable member’s question and see that he obtains a reply as early as possible..
– Having regard to the unreasonable delay on the part of the Government in dealing with the application of Queensland cane-growers and the Queeusland Government for an increase of the price of sugar, I ask the Prime Minister whether it is correct that tho Government intends to postpone consideration of this matter until after the Flinders by-election?
– Order !
– If that suggestion is correct, will the right honorable gentleman state whether he considers the winning of a by-election to be of greater importance than the interests of the sugar industry as a whole? If he is of that opinion, will he say so frankly in order that the cane-growers will know exactly where they stand with this Government?
– I assure the honorable member that I have heard of no proposal to postpone consideration of the application that he has mentioned. 1 further assure him that it is not only possible but also certain that the Govern ment will win the Flinders by-election and, at the same time, look after the interests of the cane-growers.
– Recently, I adildressed a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture that related to a request that the present embargo on merino rams be lifted, and he replied that the. industry was canvassing the subject in order to ascertain its attitude on the matter. Has he been advised of the result of that canvass? If so, has the Government made any decision in this matter ?
– I have not yet received any advice from the industry with respect to the subject that the honorable member has raised. By a coincidence, a few days ago, I met a leading representative of the industry, who is sponsoring the campaign for the lifting of the embargo and he gave me to understand that the campaign was proceeding. That is all that I am able to say about the matter at present.
– Can the Minister for the Army say whether it is the intention of the Government to train and equip troops for bush fire fighting duties in the forthcoming summer? If the answer is in the affirmative, will army observation aircraft be available for fire spotting, and will paratroops be available to be dropped in remote areas?
– I do not want the honorable member to be under any misconception. The obligation to deal with fire fighting in remote parts of, or in any country districts of the States, is a matter for State governments, whose obligation is to ensure that they organize and strengthen fire-fighting organizations in their own States, such as fire brigades and so forth, for bush fire fighting purposes. If a State government should invite the Australian Government to co-operate in the event of a major bush fire, we shall always readily assist in every possible way with the provision of plant, equipment and signalling apparatus and men to operate- such equipment. I can hold out no hope that we shall take over a task that is rightly one for the States. It would not be possible to maintain without interruption an intense army training programme if we should follow the suggestion made by the honorable member. The Army has no aircraft, and therefore it cannot carry out spotting duties. I suggest that the honorable member should direct that part of his question to the Minister for Air. Wo are training paratroops, and if they should be required for fire fighting they will be available when their training has been completed, should a request be made through the State government.
– Will the Treasurer inform honorable members of the reason for the Government’s restriction upon the remittance of money orders to sterling countries from £10 to £5 a week? Conscious of the fact that it would take many such orders to amount to £1,000,000, would it be pertinent to assume that this restriction is the first step to prevent the flight of capital from this country because of a fear about the exchange rate?
– I do not know that the fear the honorable member has stated exists. The remittance of money is a matter of policy that is decided by the Commonwealth Bank Board.
– My question to the Minister acting for the PostmasterGeneral relates to the cancellation of orders for copper cable for the telephone branch of the Postal Department. Is it a- fact that one third of the number of men who were employed at the Austral Standard Cables Proprietary Limited, of Port Kembla, have been dismissed because of the action of the Government in cancelling orders that had been placed with the company for copper cable ? Is it also a fact that, whilst orders for Australian copper cable have been cancelled, we are still importing such cable from England? Will the Minister have this matter investigated at once with a view to giving preference ,to Australian firms and thereby keeping Australians in employment?
– I assume that the honorable member’s questions refer to the lead-covered cable that is made at
Port Kembla and Maribyrnong. There is a firm standing order for the supply of 180,000 pair-miles of this material every year. Last year, a total of 230,000 pairmiles was ordered and used, but the quantity that I have mentioned is a standing order and it will be purchased this year. I shall try to ascertain the effect of this system of ordering cable on the employment position at Wollongong, but I point out that no orders have been cancelled.
– Will the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration give consideration to refusing re-entry into Australia to the two persons who possess British passports and who recently left this country in order to attend the so-called peace, conference at Peking in Communist China? By way of explanation, I point out–
– Order ! No explanation is necessary. The honorable member has asked a clear question.
– My recollection of the facts is that the two gentlemen to whom the honorable member has referred are Australian citizens who are normally domiciled in this country. In those circumstances, the law appears to be that the Government has no power to refuse them re-admission.
– I ask the Minister for Air whether it is a fact that the Government has ordered a cessation of the training of Citizen Air Force trainees in certain instances? If so, is this an economic measure, and how many trainees are affected by it? Is it true that many trainees have spent approximately £150 of their own money in order to qualify for and obtain private pilots’ licences and that some of them have flown as many as 35 hours in Wirraways and have only 40 hours more flying to do in order to qualify for their wings, after which normally they would be allowed to transfer to jet aircraft? Are these trainees to be lost to our air services and are they to be .denied the opportunity to win their brevets, for which they have worked so hard? Does the Government intend to half-train the youth of the nation and then discard them? Will the. Minister examine this matter with a view to allowing Citizen Air Force trainees to complete their courses if they have begun their training?
– Some reduction has been made in the training of members of the Citizen Air Force this year. I cannot tell the honorable gentleman the exact extent to which the reduction has been affected, but I shall obtain the information for him. I do not think that any person in the Royal Australian Air Force has a knowledge of the details of expenditure by trainees, for which the honorable gentleman has asked, but none the less, I shall consider the matter, and give him detailed advice of the position at a later stage.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Air. Some time ago, it was reported that the Royal Australian Air Force was to be reorganized on the basis of command functions instead of on the present regional system. Can the Minister indicate whether the re-organization is being undertaken? If it is proceeding, will he inform me of the progress that has been made ?
– The maucer mentioned by the honorable member for Indi is one of five major changes that have been or are to be made in the organization and administration of the Royal Australian Air Force. While the change to which the honorable member has referred is the least important from a practical point of view, it is by far the most difficult because it involves the whole internal organization of the force. I can assure the honorable member that we are proceeding with the matter, although slowly. Only recently a staff committee investigated the problem and submitted a report to me and my senior colleagues who have endorsed the proposals. We shall proceed with the matter in a methodical manner.
– As all State governments are in need of great assistance to provide adequate educational facilities, will the Treasurer take action to have donations that are made to government and other educational establishments for educational purposes allowable as deductions for income tax purposes?
– The matter obviously is one of policy.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware of the direction that was issued from Head-quarters, Eastern Command, Victoria Barracks, Sydney, on the 5th September last, that in future all permanent soldiers of the Australian military forces will be discharged on reaching the age of 55 years and that this order affects about 200 men? If so, will the Minister reconsider this matter as the men concerned, who are doing a good job for their country, face certain unemployment? Is the Minister aware that many of the men were re-engaged fora term of three years about twelve months ago, and that that agreement is now being broken? Is the Minister aware also that more than 60 Italian immigrants were engaged this week by the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps, at Moorebank, New South Wales? Was their engagement the result of the revolt at Bonegilla? Will the Minister consider the employment on that work of the Australians who face retirement?
– The situation to which the honorable member has referred is difficult to explain in reply to the question that has been asked without notice. Th? men who reach 55 years of age are required to retire from the Army under the provisions of the Defence Act 1903- 1949 and regulations thereunder. No order to that effect was issued by Eastern Command. It is the law and it must be carried out.
– They were engaged for three years about a year ago.
– The age of 55 years is the retiring age for those members of the Army to whom the honorable member has referred. The immigrants who are employed at Moorebank are engaged on work which is entirely dissociated from Army activities. They are engaged mainly in keeping the establishment clean and overhauling the place. The work that they are doing would not be carried out in any circumstances by regular soldiers.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether, in view of the fact that the victim of the brutal murder that was committed in Brisbane last Friday night was an employee of the Department of the Interior, he will recommend to the Government that immediate consideration be given to the desirability of an offer by the Commonwealth of a suitable monetary reward for information leading to the arrest of the murderer?
– I believe that everybody was shocked, if not appalled, by the brutality of the murder. I was not aware until very recently that the victim was a highly respected, popular and efficient member of the staff of the Department of the Interior. That fact brings the tragedy a little nearer home. I shall consider the suggestion that has been made by the honorable member, but I feel that the apprehension of the criminal or the unravelling of the crime is entirely a matter for the Queensland authorities. The investigation of the crime is in the very capable hands of the Queensland police force. I am afraid that if the Commonwealth attempted to step into a State sphere of activity, many complications might arise apart from establishing a precedent.
– Can the Minister acting for the Postmaster-General indicate when radio station 2CN, which will provide listeners in Canberra and adjoining districts with a choice of Australian Broadcasting Commission programmes, will be put into operation?
-Station 2CN will occupy the site of the present regional station in the Australian Capital Territory. It will have a frequency of 1,540 kilocycles per second and a power of 2,000 watts. We expect that it will be ready for operation by the end of the year. It will be used partly to broadcast the proceedings of the Parliament.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport.
In view of the recent decision by shipowners in the northern hemisphere to reduce United Kingdom to Australia freights, will pressure be exercised by the Minister for Shipping and Transport to secure a. reduction of the fantastic timber freights between Australia and New Zealand? Is it a fact that the freight on timber shipped from Australia to New Zealand is approximately double that on timber shipped from Vancouver to Australia, although the distance from Australia to New Zealand is approximately one-fifth of that from Australia to Vancouver ? These high freights are contributing to the out-pricing of New South Wales hardwoods sent to New Zealand.
– I shall bring the question to the notice of the Minister for Shipping and Transport, and ensure that an answer is supplied.
– Doubtless the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration recalls that, recently, the honorable member for Watson said that a statement made by the Minister about a soldier who was alleged to have served in Korea was incorrect. The Minister asked the honorable member for Watson to produce the soldier’s discharge papers. Has the honorable member yet done so? If not, has he apologized for his allegation ?
– After I came into the House to-day, I was handed a letter from the honorable member for Watson. I gather from the letter that he is not able to produce the soldier’s discharge papers.
– Read the letter.
– I gather from the letter also that the honorable gentleman, to say the least of it, was in error when he made the statement to which the honorable member for Gwydir has referred. The honorable member for Watson has invited me to read the letter. I shall do so to-night on the motion for the adjournment of the House. Honorable members will be able then to form their own conclusions about the honorable gentleman.
– In view of the deterioration of the employment situation and the considerable increase of the number of unemployed people in the Watson electorate, will the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service say whether the Department of Labour and National Service intends to establish a Commonwealth employment office at Maroubra Junction, in order to facilitate registrations for the unemployment benefit by persons who live in that district? At present some of these unfortunate people have to travel distances of up to eight miles to register for the benefit.
– The Department of Labour and National Service is making a survey of the Commonwealth Employment Service, which it controls. It intends to establish employment offices in some districts, where the situation warrants such action.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. How long is it since the right honorable gentleman first discovered what he has alleged is a nest of traitors in the higher ranks of the Public Service? What action did he take after his alleged discovery? Were any officers dismissed, transferred to other duty or disrated as a result of that action? If so, will he furnish the House with the relevant details ? Or was the whole story a figment of his imagination, designed to revive the flagging public interest in the Communist bogy?
– I have nothing to add to the replies that I have already given on this matter. The question is becoming a little moth eaten. I hasten to add that it is the question, not the questioner that is becoming moth eaten.
– In view of the fact that the Minister for Supply stated recently that a certain mining company would mine uranium ore at Rum Jungle and other places on behalf of the Commonwealth, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has considered the establishment of an atomic energy com mission in Australia to deal with research into and the control and use of atomic energy 1
– The Government has had this’ problem under active consideration for some time. At an appropriate stage, I shall inform the House of the steps that we propose to take.
- by leave. - Recently I made some statements in the House about Kylie Tennant. They were based upon my belief in her continuing association with communism. During the last few days, I have made some inquiries. I have ascertained that I was mistaken, that her association with communism was only ephemeral and took place many years ago, and that her break with. Communist associations is a genuine one. Therefore, the statements and implications that I made in this chamber, based on Kylie Tennant’s recent association with communism, were wrong, and should be withdrawn with apologies.
The privileges of members of this House are absolute. I understand that honorable members cannot be called to account outside the House for what they say within it. Nevertheless, on this occasion I propose to waive that privilege. Hence, the statements that I have referred to may be considered as having been made without privilege, and Kylie Tennant will have the ordinary legal right of redress against me for ‘any financial or other loss that she may have sustained. In saying this I do not intend to derogate, in any way, the privileges of this House. I wish to make it clear that I believe that the rights and privileges of members of the Parliament are just and proper, and should be sustained. The fact that in this instance I intend to accept personal responsibility does not presuppose that 1 consider in any way that the privileges enjoyed by this House are wrong or should be lessened. Nor do I desire to withdraw the implications that I have made that there were undue pro-Communist influences operating in relation to the Commonwealth Literary Fund. Other honorable members and I have directed attention to this matter before and, quite apart from this case, my statements in relation to which I have withdrawn, there is still ample evidence of these undue proCommunist influences. I do not think that the general conclusion is in any way invalidatedby my present statements. As I have said previously in this House, the importance of naming Communists and their associates is very great, because it is only by this means that the influence of these people throughout the community can be sterilized and diminished. The Communists mobilize all their forces against proposals for such public naming of Communists and their associates. They attempt in every way to engender prejudice against the naming of individual members of the Communist party and their associates. They use smear words such as “witch hunt” and “bogy”. I point out to the House that both those words imply that there is something unreal in the quarry that is being pursued. In this case I have made a genuine mistake, but the quarry still remains. It is not unreal. The identification may have been wrong, but the principle remains. Communists are not imaginary, and anybody who uses the term “ witch hunt “ or “ bogy “ in relation to a genuine, honest attempt to expose Communists is in fact co-operating with the Communists.
Mr. Bryson interjecting,
– Order ! I do not intend to permit interjections to continue. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) asked for, and was granted, leave to make a statement. That leave is unqualified, and it is entirely within the province of the honorable member for Mackellar to make the statement that he was granted leave to make. Honorable members must restrain themselves and cease to interject.
– Some people tell us that it is better to do nothing in these matters. It is said, plausibly, that it is preferable that ten guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer. That might be a fair principle if no innocent people were to suffer, but, in this instance, are no innocent people suffering ? Are the people who are dying in Europe, Korea and elsewhere, as the result of Communist aggression, not innocent? Are they not suffering? A decision not to act is as much a decision as is a decision to act, and it carries the same moral responsibility. I shall not accept the principle that we should paralyze all our efforts against communism. Indeed, even with respect to the Commonwealth Literary Fund, it is desirable, in the interests of the innocent, that the guilty should be exposed. People who have no improper connexions with communism, but are connected with the fund, have every personal interest in having the Communists fully exposed.
There are two things which I think we should do. The first is to collate, and make available to the public and to honorable members, all published materials regarding Communists and their associates. The power of the Communists, particularly in these literary matters, is exercised through the pink fringe. If we make it unprofitable for people to associate with Communists then we shall reduce the power of communism. The second thing is that we must find some machinery which will enable us to name members of the Communist party. I myself consider that that machinery should be in two parts. I think first that there should be a means of confidential inquiry so that baseless accusations should not come to the light of day. I believe, however, that everybody named as a Communist or as an associate of Communists should have the full right of redress through the public courts. That is a principle to which I adhere. It is obviously unsatisfactory that individuals, whether they be members of the Parliament or not, should have to bear the responsibility for doing the things that must be done in this regard, and I repeat that although I have been wrong in this particular instance, that fact will not dissuade me from pursuing in relation to other cases a course that I believe to be right. As evidence of my bona fides in this matter I waive, as I have said, my privilege as a member of this House in regard to this case of Kylie Tennant.
– I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– Is leave granted ?
Government Supporters. - No!
– Is leave granted?
Government Supporters. - No !
– Order ! The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) is out of order, and his statement is not exactly original.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is possible for a member of this House to. waive his parliamentary privilege?
– That is a question which I shall examine. I shall answer it to-morrow.
– I again ask for leave to make a short statementon the Commonwealth Literary Fund.
– by leaveThe honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) asked for leave to make a short statement with respect to the Commonwealth Literary Fund in order to repair damage, which, unfortunately, is irreparable, in relation to a smear that he applied to the well-known Australian writer, Miss Kylie Tennant. He withdrew all the allegations that he had made previously against that writer, and his action in that respect was acceptable to every honorable member. But then, of course, he could not let the matter rest there. He proceeded to make a general attack upon the Commonwealth Literary Fund, for which attack he had no basis whatsoever. I am sure that if honorable members had known that he intended to make such an attack, they would not have granted him leave to make his statement. The attack that the honorable member made originally upon Miss Kylie Tennant was a painful incident. Yet, after the honorable member had proved himself to be wrong, he spoke about dispensing with his privilege as a member of this House. He knows, as every honorable member knows, that if he wants to get himself into a libel action he need only make outside this House statements similar to those that he made previously in it. It is most regrettable that after making a sensation in this matter he should come here and eat his words, and yet be not man enough to eat them and retire, but proceed to make another smear.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted?
Government Members. - No.
– All I want to say is that I had nothing to do with the original attack that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr.Wentworth) made upon Miss Kylie Tennant. The honorable gentleman has withdrawn the statements he then made and, therefore, I have nothing to do with the matter.
– Order ! The honorable member was refused leave to make a statement.
– I rise to order. I make it clear that if leave to make a statement is going to be granted to one honorable member and not to another, I think that in the future honorable members ought to exercise their own judgment in such a matter.
Conversation being audible,
– Order ! There is too much conversation in the chamber.I call the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member forWatson (Mr. Curtin) to order.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Wheat Export Charge Act 1948.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
-Is leave granted?
– Yes, leave is granted.
– Leave was refused.
– I did not say “ No “ to the request of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) for leave to move the second reading of the bill.
– I do not know who called “No”; all I know is that one honorable member called “ No “.
– I rise to order. As it might appear that an honorable member called “ No “ irrelevantly, would you, Mr. Speaker, be prepared, for the purpose of clarifying the position, to submit the request again?
– No, I am not prepared to put the request again. I distinctly put the request, and I distinctly heard one honorable member call “ No “.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to with the concurrence of an absolute majority of the members of the House -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the second reading being moved forthwith.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Wheat Export Charge Act of 1948 in order to give effect to the Government’s decision that an export tax will not apply to wheat of the 1952-53 season shipped overseas. The Government’s policy in this connexion was announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the 28th March last. The operation of theWheat Export Charge Act is part of the wheat stabilization plan under which, in consideration of the Government’s guarantee on wheat exports, there is withheld from the realizations from export sales certain moneys that are obtained by way of an export charge which may not exceed 2s. 2d. a bushel.
The amount in the Wheat Industry Stabilization Fund, which has resulted from the collection of a tax on wheat exports, is at present £14,000,000, and by the time payments from the 1951-52 wheat crop are completed the fund is expected to reach about £19,000,000. This will be sufficient to provide for any possible contingencies for the balance of the current five-year wheat stabilization plan which will terminate with the marketing of the 1952-53 wheat crop. There is, therefore, no necessity for the collection of the export tax on wheat of the coming crop and the effect of the amendment proposed in the bill is to exempt wheat of that crop from any such collections. The growers, therefore, will receive the full benefit of the export prices that operate during the next export season.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from the 23rd September (vide page 1930), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved, by way of amendment -
That all words after “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ the Bill be redrafted to provide for -
greater reductions and concessions in relation to the subjects of taxation;
a broader definition of the concession in respect of money paid or expended for educational purposes;
a liberalization of the means test; and
the increase of the amount granted by way of deduction from assessable income in respect of the spouse and dependants of taxpayers “.
.- It is clear that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) submitted his amendment solely for party political purposes. Probably, he would not have submitted it but for the fact that, when he did so, proceedings in this House were being broadcast; and, undoubtedly, he also had in mind the fact that a byelection is soon to be held for a vacancy that exists in this House. Every honorable member would desire that provision be made in the bill in respect of the matters that are set out in the amendment. However, for at least four reasons, Government supporters could not justify such action because they recognize that a greater need exists for increasing expenditure in respect of other matters. The first reason is that this year the Government will expend the sum of £200,000,000 on defence, it is significant that members of the Opposition remain silent about the fact that the Chifley Government, during its last term of office, expended only £50,000,000 on defence with the result that the present Government, when it assumed office, found our defence preparations in a poor state. Secondly, the Government estimates that during the current financial year it will expend £163,000,000 on social services, whereas the highest amount that the Labour Government expended in any one year under that heading was approximately £80,000,000. In passing, I congratulate the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Townley) upon the increases of social services benefits that are being made this year. Thirdly, the Government is obliged to make available vast sums of money for capital expenditure on schemes, such as the Snowy Mountains scheme and the improvement of the railway system in the Northern Territory, and on public works which are being carried out by the States, but for which this Government must provide the requisite finance. Fourthly, the Government is effecting considerable reductions of taxes during the current financial year. Having regard to those commitments, the Government, at this juncture, cannot make provision along the lines indicated in the amendment although, as I said earlier, Government supporters would be only too ready to do so if circumstances permitted.
As the matters that are covered by the bill were discussed in a general way during the debate on the budget I propose to deal with specific provisions of the bill. Whilst I welcome most of its provisions I must say frankly that I am disappointed with one of them in particular. I welcome the Government’s decision to permit victims of fire and flood who had forced sales as a result of such disasters to spread the proceeds from such sales over a period of five years instead of being obliged to include them as income in one year, and, as a consequence, being obliged to pay tax at considerably higher rates. Honorable members may recall that I spoke on this matter in this House shortly after disastrous bush fires occurred in the Riverina last summer. I pointed out that in my own area over 3,000 square miles of country had been devastated by bush fires and that about 36 homesteads and some human lives had been lost. In addition to those tragedies hundreds of thousands of stock perished and enormous areas of grass and large quantities of hay were burnt. Under the provisions of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act, as it then stood, any reimbursements by way of insurance were regarded as taxation assessment liabilities. According to that act people put their stock on their books at the cost value, and any natural increase in the case of sheep was considered at 5s. a head. Therefore, many growers were in the position of having stock shown on their books at from 8s. to 10s. a head, and normally they sold a certain number each year and paid income tax on that number. The people who suffered from the bush fires that I mentioned had insured their stock at replacement cost, which in one case was about £4 a head, and when they received their reimbursements from their insurance companies they were faced with paying taxes on the difference between the book value of the stock and the amount that they received by way of insurance. Therefore, under the system that then prevailed, a person could suffer one of the greatest financial disasters of his life and have to pay heavy income taxes as a result of that disaster.
Deputations which waited on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) were received sympathetically, and as a result of the representations made, the relevant sections of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution. Assessment Act were altered to meet their circumstances. Now there has been a further liberalization in respect of fire damage, so that if a person should suffer from bush fires and can no longer hold his stock because of the loss of fodder or fences, lie can obtain a taxation concession by writing down bis profit over five years. Thus be will pay tax only on one-fifth of his profit which will leave him with the bulk of the money, that he received by way of insurance, for re-stocking and re-investment in his property. That’ is an excellent provision, and this is the first time that this matter has ever been dealt with by the Australian Government, although there must have been numerous cases in the past of tremendous loss suffered by primary producers through bush fires. I commend that provision to the House.
I am frankly disappointed by the attitude of the Government towards taxation in the Northern Territory. I think it may be said at the outset that all honorable members, whether they be supporters of the Government or of the Opposition, are anxious that the greatest possible development shall take place in the Northern Territory. Wise use of taxation powers can greatly assist that development. The use of taxation for that purpose is probably only second in importance to the provision of transport in the territory. I am glad that the Government has already taken action to improve transport, and. I am sure that such action will greatly assist in the rapid development of the Northern Territory. However, I believe that the taxation instrument can also be used as a means of encouraging such development. In 1937 the Payne report on the Northern Territory made that perfectly clear. I shall quote from that report, because although it is rather old. it is by far the most thorough survey of the Northern Territory that has ever been made. It was compiled by two gentlemen of excellent qualifications, Mr. Payne, and Mr. Fletcher. The latter has recently retired from the Commonwealth Bank Board, where he proved himself most capable.. With regard to taxation the report stated -
Under the Commonwealth constitution, the Commonwealth Parliament is empowered to make separate laws for Territories in such matters. The exercise of this power by granting industries exemption from taxation would mean the temporary abandonment of a little: revenue, but the stimulus it would give to the introduction of new capital, to development, and to production would be very great. The effect would go right beyond the monetary value of the concession. It would tend to maintain morale, to stimulate enterprise, to foster big operations, and to bring out every element of initiative and resource that is inherent in the people.
The report continued in section 59 -
Unfortunately, the second recommendation was not adopted, and an act of the Parliament to make the Northern Territory a tax-free area for the following twenty years was not passed. It has been left to Australian governments to increase taxation exemptions for short periods. In 1923, long before that report was written, an exemption from taxation for the pastoral and mining industries in the territory had been made. I believe that when the Payne report was made in 1937, the total annual receipt from taxes in the Northern Territory was £2,200, and the cost of collecting that money was £1,200 a year. Therefore, it was perfectly obvious that the Commonwealth revenues would have been reduced only slightly if the Northern Territory had been made a completely tax-free area. Since 1937 the only thorough report about the development of the Northern Territory was a report made by Mr. Beattie, who ‘is a scientific officer of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. He is the same gentleman who addressed honorable members within the precincts of this House last year. His recommendations were on the lines of the recommendations of the Payne report. He wrote, in his Survey of the Beef Cattle Industry of Australia, which was published in 1952-
Revenue laws can be so designed to play a ‘ considerable part in stimulating development and this Dingle could well be considered aa part of a complete plan aimed at building up this important industry in northern Australia. Apart from the food value of any extra production, the industry supplies a vast quantity of raw materials for a variety of secondary industries, an angle that has been neglected in the past but is worthy of the fullest consideration.
As ii great deal of the development that has taken place in the more settled parts of Australia occurred in periods of low taxation, it would seem not only equitable hut probably necessary to provide for taxation exemption for money spent on permanent improvements (this being of benefit in the long term to the national income) . . .
That will be done by this measure. The report continued -
I have mentioned two of the accepted authorities on the Northern Territory, and both recommend that because of the poor living conditions of many people there and the fact that they have to live miles from civilization, they should be given some encouragement and incentive in addition to those enjoyed by people in other parts of Australia. Unfortunately, the Government has not accepted that view. Instead, it has accepted a view which it would appear was put forward by the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. I cannot find any record of a report made by this committee to the general public. The Commonwealth Committee on Taxation consists of five accountants, mostly .gentlemen from Melbourne and Sydney, and one Queen’s Counsel. I am not aware that they visited the Northern Territory or devoted nearly so much time to the study of its problems as did the two authorities whose reports I have quoted. From the statement on taxation made by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), it would appear that one of the main reasons for the abolition of the tax exemption in the Northern Territory was that companies were able to register in that territory and escape taxation although their directors might be residents of the southern States or even England. If that be so, I should think that it would have been possible to enact special legislation to provide that tax exemptions should apply only to resident owners of property in the Northern Territory. A resident owner could be defined as a person who lives for six months or nine months of each year . in the Northern Territory. That would ensure that the exemption would apply only to persons who were developing the Northern Territory, not to persons who were taking profits out of it.
I come nearer to home and refer honorable members to Mansard of the 13th May, 1947, when the last measure that provided for a tax exemption to be extended to residents of the Northern Territory for a period of five years was debated. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) made these comments on the subject -
Under this measure, people in the Northern Territory are to be exempt from taxation for another five years. That period is not long enough. If we want to induce people to go out to this territory and undertake the hazards and difficulties of settlement, there must be some better method of giving, a longranee exemption from taxation than is provided in this bill. … I believe, however, that a certain percentage of the money that accrues to settlers through exemption from taxation should be used to improve their properties. Anybody who goes to the Northern Territory is entitled to taxation concessions because he goes out to work under conditions that are entirely foreign to those operating in the southern part of the Commonwealth.
I agree entirely with those remarks of the honorable member for Barker. I regret that, under this bill, there will be little difference between the advantages that will accrue to a person who takes up a block in the Northern Territory, where nineteen blocks will soon be allocated by ballot, and those that will - accrue to a person who takes up a block, say, in the western district of Victoria, Gippsland, or the Riverina.
Under this legislation, a person in the Northern Territory will be able to write off over a period of five years the cost of plant and machinery purchased since the 30th June last. That advantage will be available also to farmers in the southern States. A taxpayer in the Northern Territory will be able to write off the cost of structural improvements either in one year or over a period of five years. What are structural improvements? In the Northern Territory, they consist mainly of fences and bores. The cost of a rabbit-proof fence in the southern States will be deductible for taxation purposes in the year in which it is erected. Again it appears that the Northern Territory resident will have no advantage over a farmer in the southern States. He will obtain a slight concession for the cost of constructing dams and drilling bores. However, a farmer in the southern States will be permitted to write off labour costs for such work and, therefore, the advantage enjoyed by the Northern Territory producer will be very slight. That is the situation in a nut-shell. Primary producers who go to live in the distant outback in the Northern Territory, and thereby incur enormously increased expenses, will be offered very little encouragement. What are some of the additional expenses that they will incur? The report by Mr. Beattie, from which I have quoted, refers to holidays. It is obvious that men and women cannot live throughout their lives in the remote parts of the Northern Territory unless they have occasional holidays. But the cost of going south for a holiday would certainly amount to a few hundred pounds for one person. Schooling involves another heavy expense. I met a public servant at Darwin who told me that he paid £500 a year from his income of £1,000 in order to send his three children to school in the south. The return air fare alone from Darwin to Adelaide is about £160. Obviously, a person with a large family is not in the race to give his children the sort of education that is available to most children in the southern States merely by walking only a few hundred yards every day.
For these reasons, a greater degree of differentiation should be made for taxation purposes between residents of the Northern Territory and residents of other parts of Australia. People should be assured that exceptional returns will be available to them if they put up with the hardships of life in the Northern Territory. I ask the Government to reconsider this matter. There are two ways in which the situation can be rectified. Zone allowances are granted to residents of the Northern Territory, but they are inadequate. In the northern zone, which lies north of the tropic of Capricorn, a deduction of £120 a year is granted. In the southern zone, the deduction is £20 a year.
– Does the honorable member consider that workers in the Northern Territory should be taxed?
– I shall make my views clear if the honorable member will remain silent. My answer to his inquiry is that the Government should increase the zone allowances considerably. 1 remind the honorable member that hia former leader, Mr. Chifley, did not see fit, when he was Treasurer, to grant a tax exemption to workers in the Northern Territory except in relation to the small zone allowances. Workers are badly needed in the Northern Territory, and, therefore, I consider that the Government should fix zone allowances of, say, £400 in the northern zone and £200 in. the southern zone. Alternatively a proportion of the profits earned by residents of the two zones should be exempted from tax. The higher of the two concessions should apply. I have no particular proportion in mind. That is a matter for the Treasurer to consider. An exemption of 40 per cent, in the northern zone and one of 20 per cent, in the southern zone might be appropriate. The amount of revenue sacrificed by the Government would not be large. Honorable members probably are aware that there are only 118 productive leases in the Northern Territory. Many of those are held by companies, and my proposal is that a tax concession be granted, not to companies, but to resident owners only. The total amount of revenue lost to the Treasury would be negligible. For the information of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, according to Mr. Beattie’s report, there are 917 employees in the primary industries in the Northern Territory. If they were granted an exemption of £400 or £500 a year, the loss to the Treasury would be slight. The rest of the Australian continent was developed during a period when taxes were low, and primary producers were able to use their profits for the development and improvement of their properties. The Government should give to residents of the Northern Territory an equal opportunity to develop their holdings. Under this measure, it is being penny wise and pound foolish. I ask it earnestly to reconsider its decision.
.- The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has claimed, in hi3 second-reading speech, that in conformity with the recommendations of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, a new approach is made in this bill to the taxation of private companies. One can have the greatest sympathy with the right honorable gentleman when he refers to the tax imposts evolved in 1934 in connexion with the undistributed incomes of private companies. He claims, at all events, that the principles which underlie this new approach are- based on two motives which are, first, to protect the revenue; and, secondly, to provide for the development margins of private companies. When the matter is analysed more closely, we see that only the big private companies can profit substantially from the new system, whilst the small companies will not gain anything from it in the way of an incentive. Again, it must be recalled, and recorded, that companies which may even serve to cause a lack of balance in the economy will be placed on exactly the same basis as those companies which are of basic and vital importance to the national economy.
I shall quote an example in order to illustrate my meaning. A company which, has an income of £6,000 per annum is allowed, at the present time, £2,050 free of impost, apart from the basic rate of company tax. The Treasurer and the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation have pointed out that this figure represents 34.16 per cent, of the income of the company, which is,- regarded as a reasonable holding amount. But a private company which has an income in excess of £6,000 is to be subject to a flat rate of 25 per cent. Therefore, it is clear to me, at any rate, that big business can shelter under the provision that is now being made, whether or not its products are of any real value to the economy of the country. Above all, the proposed alteration seems to me to stress the fact that primary producers, who, in reality, need a real incentive to increase production in order that our overseas balances may be improved, are treated in a niggardly manner in comparison with private com panies. It has been emphasized repeatedly in various debates that have taken place in the House since the presentation of the budget last August that our greatest hope of acquiring overseas balances to pay for our imports of raw materials rests in the primary producing industries. I consider that if an incentive is to be given to any section of industry, it should be granted to those who will improve our overseas balances. This bill will not have that desirable effect.
The Treasurer cannot claim that he has accepted the recommendations of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation in respect of the allowance of certain education expenses as deductions for income tax purposes. The right honorable gentleman, in this matter, has acted contrary to the recommendations of the committee in making provision for a tax concession of up to £50 on expenditure incurred on school fees, board and text-books. A reference to this matter may be found in the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. The minute submitted to it by the Treasurer requested it to investigate and report on the following matter : -
Whether it is desirable that the provision of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1036-194!) relating to concessional allowances should be extended to allow a further deduction to taxpayers who incur expenditure in providing education or training for themselves or their dependants.
The committee, in its report to the Treasurer, makes it clear that it has understood precisely the meaning of the minute, because it states in its report -
These representations are generally directed towards the allowance of income tax concessions on school fees (including boarding fees), expenditure on school books and equipment and donations to schools not conducted for private gain.
In dealing with this subject, the committee referred to the deductions of the Royal Commission on Taxation 1932-34, because it quoted the following passage from the commission’s report: -
We appreciate and sympathize with the motive underlying this allowance but we suggest that Income Tax Act is not the place in which to give effect to it. We consider that any concession that is made to a taxpayer for whose children the State does not provide suitable educational facilities should be given through the education department of the
Statu, and not indirectly as a concession of tax. This would be of more value to the individual who had no taxable income.
The committee made the following finding : -
The Committee respectfully agrees with the views of the Royal Commission quoted above. It sympathizes with the taxpayers concerned, lt recognizes that State Governments have been saved considerable expenditure by parents sending their children to non-government schools. The income tax law, however, is not the proper place to provide relief or assistance for such persons.
The committee proceeded to give its conclusions, which were as follows : -
The Committee, therefore, is unable to recommend allowance of income tax concessions for educational expenses. . Examination cif this matter indicates that assistance to the schools is more justified than to the parents, if it is desired to give assistance to non-government schools, the committee considers that it should be given by way of a direct subsidy to the schools not conducted for private gain.
Therefore, notwithstanding that recommendation, and the boast of the, Treasurer that he is giving effect to the recommendations of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, the right honorable gentleman has determined to adopt a new principle, and proposes that certain expenditure incurred by parents on the education of their children shall be allowable deductions for income tax purposes. I do not say that the new principle is not desirable in some ways, but I consider that it is true to say that the change is sectional to a marked degree in more ways than one. Everybody realizes that only wealthy parents will derive benefit from the concession. Less than 10 per cent, of the people affected can gain any real advantage from it.
The other point which I emphasize is tha.t 110 real relief is given to the nongovernment schools. Some benefit is offered to (parents in respect of expenditure incurred on the purchase of textbooks and accessories, but it is limited to a marked - degree, and has only a sectional application. This concession will be granted only when the books are purchased .at the colleges or uni.versities. It should .ako ‘be remembered that this provision will .grant an additional concession to the parents of children attending such educational centres. Much ‘of the profit made .by stalls conducted within State secondary schools is absorbed in the provision of sporting facilities and equipment chat normally would have to be provided by the parents of the children attending those schools. Therefore, the concession that is to be given will be confined to wealthy people, in the main, who will obtain two concessions. The first relates to expenditure incurred on school fees, board and the purchase of text-books, and the second relates to expenditure on the purchase of sporting equipment.
The parents of children who attend primary schools will not find it easy to acquire advantages from this provision, even with respect to expenditure incurred on the purchase of text-books. According to my understanding of the position, only text-books issued by the education departments of the various States are obtainable from the primary schools. Therefore, the amount of the concession that will accrue to parents of children attending such schools, through the purchase of text-books, may he regarded as completely negligible.
– It is not nonsense. My statement will bear the closest examination. The only books tha’t are sold in the primary schools, either State or registered, aase test-books “that .are issued by the education departments .of tike Status. Therefore, the amount of money that chu accrue from that source to the advantage of tike school sports fund is extremely limited. The concession that is offered will assist only wealthy people who send their children to schools of that nature.
Many educational, concessions are required in the States. There :are ^numbers of non-State schools in the primary division. The -fees for such schools for each child would not amount to .more than £5 ;a year amd the -tax remission in (respect of that amount ‘would be negligible. Parents are called upon to assist “the schools by -levies or donations, but those amounts cannot be claimed as -deductions for .income tax pu,r- poses. In many States, and particularly in Victoria, .many -of the prima-ry schools are in danger of closing unless -they ca-n -get urgently needed support. I .-know education conditions in Victoria very well. If the schools have to close, the State will be caused acute embarrassment especially in the metropolitan area. State schools could not receive the children who would be forced out of the schools that were closed, nor could the State provide teaching staffs to cope with the additional children. The result would be chaos. The problem is real, because events over the past 50 years have shown that the people concerned intend to continue the alternative type of education. They believe conscientiously that a currie ulum wider than that which, is provided in the State schools is essential. Those people have already paid taxation for normal educational requirements. They believe that they have a legitimate claim for a concessional allowance from the Australian Government.
The other side -of the problem is just as serious because education is wider than actual teaching in the schools, and extends to .the purchase of books. There is no such thing as education without books. Many education systems are said to be free. Nothing could be further from the truth. When parents have to buy the accessories of education, particularly text-books, education cannot be said to be free. In addition, proper buildings are essential, but they do not exist at many schools because of inadequate funds. Many buildings that are used are unfit for educational purposes. School buildings in mF.:;y instances are built or improved with money that is raised on a 50-50 basis between the State and the people who live in the district where the schools are situated. Sometimes a shelter pavilion has to be built. In other places, a library is required. Assembly halls are needed at schools but in the primary division often they do not exist in any form. Sporting facilities form another branch of education in which the parents are called upon to assist. The schools are suffering the lack of these facilities because of inadequacy of funds that are made available to the States through the Australian Government.
Health is another important aspect of education. In Victoria, very little development has taken place in the dental services which should be provided foi every child. Care should be given to each child’s mouth as soon as he or she begins at school, and it should continue until the child leaves, but dental care in Victoria is on a very limited scale. No reference is made in the bill to dental care, nor is there any provision for health inspection in the schools and the medical treatment that should follow if required. When we consider all the necessities that are incorporated in the field of education, it is obvious that the small concession that is provided in this bill, though good in itself, does not go far enough. The concession that is offered will b& acceptable and worthy of acceptance, but it will be of real value only to those who are favorably placed in the community. The Treasurer has established a new principle and I welcome it, but it does not go very far, and honorable members hope that there will be an extension of the educational grants that are made to the States so that educational facilities suited to a civilized community will be provided.
When relief is given it should be granted to the school rather than to the parents of the children who are attending the school. The Commonwealth Committee on Taxation indicated clearly that it believed that any relief in the way of educational grants should be given directly to the schools so that advantage would accrue immediately to those attending the schools and those who had the burden of providing education facilities. Relief should be given f,c> the schools and it should not be sectional as. this concession appears to be. I not believe that it is intentionally sectional. A case was presented to the Treasurer and ho has taken cognizance of the arguments that were developed at the time, but the concession has turned out to be sectional and only a limited number of people will be able to derive advantages from it. The fairest method would be to provide some type of endowment on a per capita basis and pay it to the schools to which parents elect to send their children. In those circumstances, no accusation of sectionalism could properly be made, and a fair per capita sum would be paid to the schools, which would ensure that a reasonable education should be given to school children throughout the Commonwealth.
The Treasurer, having accepted the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation in one respect, has decided to give incentive tax concessions to private companies, irrespective of the value of the industry in which a company is engaged. I admit that the Government would have encountered great difficulties if it had attempted to discriminate between industries, but I take the view that, if it were right to give an incentive to ordinary companies, it would have been equally right to give a similar incentive to primary industries. There is a wide divergence between the incentive that the Government is offering to private companies in this measure and that which was offered to primary producers. I regard an incentive to primary producers as being more important than ah incentive to private companies. As I have said before in this chamber, we rely upon our primary producers to increase their production, so that we shall be able to strengthen our overseas balances and purchase from abroad the raw materials that we need to expand our secondary industries. But the Government has decided to treat primary producers less favorably than private companies.
The Treasurer has decided to reject the recommendations of the committee in relation to educational expenses and has exhibited again a bias in favour of those sections of the community which need tax concessions least. His proposals appear to be somewhat sectional. Therefore, I believe that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) is well founded, and that the clause which deals with educational expenses should be withdrawn, and then re-drafted in such a way that it will not be sectional in operation, but will assist the States to improve the educational facilities that they provide and to raise them to a standard more commensurate with the standards of an advancing civilized country.
.- There is no doubt that the most unpopular task of any government is to levy taxes, because none of us likes to be taxed. The debate upon an income tax assessment measure affords a grand opportunity for an opposition to say how much more it would expend upon this or that purpose than the Government proposes to expend. [Quorum formed.] Such a debate gives to an opposition a chance to make irresponsible suggestions. Let me say that I am not different from any other person in the community, and that I dislike taxation. I am opposed to high taxation. So also is this Government, and I propose to show that it is doing everything in its power to reduce taxes. It is necessary to do so, because high taxes are not beneficial either to this country or to. the people of it. High taxation, by destroying incentive, would ultimately cause a reduction of our standards of living.
Last year, taxation in Australia was at the highest possible level. It reached that level because this Government inherited a political structure that was built during nine years of Labour rule. Unfortunately, some parts of that structure are still standing. We could not tear down the whole of the structure in, so to speak, five minutes without doing irreparable harm to the country. But we are engaged in the process of reducing the cost of government and of altering certain things that were done under Labour rule. When that process has been completed, we shall be able to reduce taxes. No one will deny that a great deal of our present expenditure is due to the aftermath of the’ last war. In addition, we must expend enormous sums upon defence preparations- and national development. Therefore, there is no doubt that, at this stage of our history, a certain degree of high taxation is necessary in the interests of Australia.
The personal criticism that has been levelled at the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) in connexion with taxation is most unfair and cruel. I do not believe that those responsible for such personal criticism are playing the game. The right honorable gentleman has been criticized by members of the Parliament, by the public at large, and by newspapers. The press has made a habit of publishing criticisms of him. The Treasurer does not determine national commitments. He plays a part in fixing them, but he is not entirely responsible for them. When those commitments have been determined, the
Treasurer is asked to raise the money required to meet them. Therefore, if there be cause for complaint about taxation, it is unfair and cruel to lay the blame at the door of the Treasurer. If the right honorable gentleman has, in conjunction with other members of Cabinet, made an error - and doubtless he makes errors sometimes, in the same way as other people do - he must accept his share of the blame for it, but it is wrong to level all criticism about taxation against him, as many people in this country are doing. The Government of the day must accept responsibility for its taxation proposals. This Government does not wish to evade that responsibility.
The Government must decide what course of action it considers will serve the best interests of the country. This Government, having committed the country to a certain expenditure, has presented this income tax assessment measure, which is designed to raise the money that it needs. But the real bone of contention is, not the taxes that the Government proposes to levy, but the expenditure that renders those taxes necessary. If the Government were not committed to its present .expenditure, it would not have to levy taxes of this magnitude on the people. Criticism should be directed to expenditure, rather than to taxes. I believe that if the people analyse the budget fairly, they will agreethat it is impossible for the Government to present to the Parliament any taxation proposals different from those contained in this measure. There is a howl that taxation is too high, and that it should be reduced. I agree that it is high - it is too high for me - but that is necessary because of our commitments. The Government proposes, under th,. terms of this measure, to raise a sum of approximately £863,000i,000 this year. “When we analyse the position, we find that £200,000,000 of that sum will be expended upon defence; £300,000,000 upon social services, repatriation, and similar objects; almost £30,000,000 upon the payment of bounties and subsidies; £178,000,000 upon payments to the States; £106,000,000 upon Commonwealth capital works; and £10,000,000 upon Commonwealth territories. All that is left for expenditure upon other governmental activities is the sum of about £40,000,000.
In those circumstances, one wonders how taxes could be reduced in the present circumstances. I should like the Opposition to say upon what items it considers expenditure should be reduced. Will honorable gentlemen opposite say, for instance, that £200,000,000 should not be expended this year upon defence ? . Is there any one in Australia who will say that we should not expend £300,000,000 this year upon social services and repatriation benefits ? During the brief period that I have been a member of the Parliament, there has been a continuous demand for an increase of expenditure upon social services and repatriation benefits. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot have our cake and eat it too. If we ask for expenditure upon certain services to be increased, we must be prepared to accept measures of this kind. It is of no use to dodge the issue, because we have to be practical in these matters. There is no doubt that the Government could have further reduced taxes had it been influenced by the claims of certain sections of the community, particularly the Communist party, that too much money has been allocated for defence purposes. We could indeed have reduced taxes by another £50,000,000 by the simple expedient of cutting defence expenditure by that amount, but who in this country who has any care for Australia and its future would be prepared to take the responsibility of reducing the defence allocation of £200,000,000 for this financial year? Anybody who reduced that allocation would be knowingly doing something of a destructive nature. _ The bill contains some excellent provisions, for which the Government deserves congratulations, in addition to the provision for a reduction of income tax by 10 per cent. For instance, the system of advance payments of tax by companies, which was instituted last year, is to be discontinued. The abandonment of that system will be of great assistance to companies even though the total amount involved is not great. I am sure that companies will see in this proposal an effort by the Government to give to them at least some breathing space. The distributable income in excess of £6,000 which a private company may retain free of tax is to be increased. That provision will be helpful to private companies generally and small business organizations in particular. Honorable members opposite who have spoken in this debate have claimed that this bill has been introduced mainly for the benefit of rich people. The last provision that [ have mentioned will be of great help to small industries and will enable them to plough back their profits and use their money to much better advantage than they were able to use it before, because they will not be obliged to pay tax on undistributed profits.. I congratulate the Treasurer for having dealt with this matter in this way.
Some honorable members opposite have had a great deal to> say about allowable deductions in respect of expenditure on the education of dependent children. In my opinion not many of the honorable members opposite who have spoken on this subject knew what they were talking about. The outstanding fact is that a Labour Government did nothing, during its nine years of office, to extend to the people the concession that this Government is extending to them in that respectIn this instance it remained for a non.Labour government, as in other cases in the past, to introduce improvements of social services and other benefits that, had been established by previous nonLabour governments. The Labour party has left its political opponents to do such things although its members claim that they are the protectors of the poor. The Government has broken new ground in relation to allowable deductions for education expenses. No doubt as the years go by this concession may take different forms. It may require amendment, but, in the meantime, let credit be given where credit is due, that is, to the Government and the much-criticized Treasurer who has introduced this splendid piece of legislation.
There are many thousands of aged people in this country who may confidently look to this Government for the protection that was denied to them by the Labour party when it held office. I refer particularly to the fact that the Government has each year accorded some benefit to elderly people,, who are often the forgotten people of the community because their votes are not considered to be important. The Government proposes that an elderly couple, whose combined income does not exceed £507 a year, shall be free of income tax. Surely honorable members opposite should give credit to the Government for that provision.
The Government’s proposals in relation to payment of tax on the proceeds of the sale of goodwill of a property are to be commended. The taxing of goodwill has been a very sore point with business people for many years. It has been an unfair tax which has tended to destroy the incentive of people to develop businesses, for the reason that if they should be forced to dispose of such businesses later they would find themselves heavily taxed on account of the goodwill in the business that they had developed through their energy, capacity and hard work. The Treasurer has seen fit to extend relief to such people so that goodwill will be free of tax unless the parties to the sale and purchase of a business make an agreement in that respect. Sometimes a part of the transaction of acquiring a business is that the purchaser wishes the purchase price to be shown as a deduction from income. For businessmen generally, and particularly for small businessmen, however, this provision will prove to be very acceptable. Again it has been left to this Government to break new ground in respect of this matter. The Labour party could well have taken such action to encourage business people. It did not see fit to do so, yet. its members are now mean enough to withhold credit from the Government for this action. These remarks may also be applied to the reductions that are to be given in respect of non-profit clubs and organizations. Such reductions should have been brought into operation a long time ago in order to encourage the sporting activities of young people.
I am glad that the matters that I have mentioned have been covered in the bill. There are other matters to which I might refer, but I do not wish to traverse ground that has already been well covered. One matter,, however, to which I wish to direct attention, is the double taxation that is imposed in relation to the profits of companies. That is a matter about which there has been a great deal of press publicity. I agree that, on the face of it, such taxation does not appear to be fair. It has been stated in many press reports that the practice of taxing the profits at the source and then in the hands of the shareholders, is not followed in other countries. I believe, however, that much misunderstanding could occur in relation to this matter. Provided such a tax were operated in a certain way it could be a very fair kind of tax. After all, the matter is one not of the system that is followed, but of the sum total of the taxes levied on the .profits of companies in the first place and, in the second place, on the shareholders as individual taxpayers. The taxpayer to-day pays income tax in accordance with the source of derivation of his income. If the whole of his income is derived from dividends he pays his tax accordingly. If, on the other hand, as happens in most cases, his income from dividends is additional to other income, he is taxed on a different basis. It is obvious that the amount of tax paid by shareholders on dividends varies in accordance with the amount of other income that they may receive, and therefore, the poorer people pay less on income from dividends and rich people pay more. The principal thing to be considered in this matter is the total amount of tax that is levied on the profits of a company in the form of the tax on the company’s profits added to the tax on the amount that the shareholders receive in dividends. When these two, added together, are an unreasonable amount,, then something has to be done in the way of reducing tax in either form, or both forms.
If the maximum total amount of tax that the Government wished to levy on the profits of companies were first set, then the shareholders might not be liable to so heavy a tax, because the direct tax on the company’s profits might have amounted to almost the required maximum. Many other countries adopt that practice. Some adopt the practice of a reduced scale of taxes in relation to dividends received by shareholders. However, let there be no misunderstanding about this matter. The tax on dividends and company profits is not so unfair as many people try to make it appear to be, because the rate of tax on company profits is much lower than in this country than in many other countries. Even when the two forms of tax on company profits are added together the total is not higher, than the rate of tax on company profits in other countries that I could name. So whilst I do not approve, as a matter 6f general principle, a system which appears to involve double taxation of profits I consider that the matter could be handled in such a way that it would not really be double taxation but would mean that the people best able to pay would pay the most. Many honorable members on this side of the chamber may disagree with my views on this matter, but I do not consider this form of tax to be so cruel as many people would have us believe it to be.
There are other forms of taxation which are more obnoxious. I refer particularly to the pay-roll tax. I believe this to be an iniquitous tax which should be removed at the earliest possible moment. The point is, how can the Government remove such taxes unless at the same time it can reduce its expenditure? That is the crux of the matter. I suggest, therefore, that we should apply ourselves not only to achieving a more equitable form of levying taxes, but also to reducing expenditure and, in particular, reducing the cost of government. I have spoken on previous occasions about the high cost of government, which is getting out of all proportion in this country, but if we, as a people, insist on great expenditures on ali kinds of services then we have to pay for them by means of high taxes. Nobody wants high taxes, so let us apply ourselves to the task of reaching a point at which Australian governments, Federal,. State and local, will operate as efficiently as they should but at the lowest possible cost. In this way only can we achieve a reduction of taxes. I believe that taxes are now at the highest possible level and that we must attempt to bring them down. I believe also that this Government will do so, because such an objective is inherent in its policy. It is committed to an expenditure of £200,000,000 for defence this year to which it will, not be committed next year, and so the people of the future can look forward, with this Government in control, to still lower taxes.
– I doubt whether honorable mem bers have ever been charmed with a speech of less fire than that of the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer). I can only assume that his oration was a means whereby he tried to skirt round the issues at stake by making statements that he does not believe to be true. The honorable member for Bennelong said that members of the Opposition should not attack the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) as though he were solely responsible for the budget. I propose to criticize the right honorable gentleman in respect of glaring inconsistencies between statements that he made when introducing the budget on this occasion and when he introduced the budget last year. He must accept responsibility for statements that he himself has made. In any event, Government supporters have not been diffident in making unfair comparisons, particularly in respect of defence expenditure, in their attempts to present Labour’s record in an unfavorable light. The honorable member for Bennelong had the decency to acknowledge the fact that even at this late hour the Australian Government has the responsibility of meeting expenditure that arose directly as a result of. World War II. Would not the Chifley Government, which was in office during that conflict, have been confronted with expenditure on defence of an amount greatly in excess of that which confronts this Government seven years after the end of that conflict? The honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) said that whilst Government supporters would naturally desire to make provision along the lines of the amendment they could not do so because they recognized that the Government had to meet additional expenditure in respect of more urgent matters. He instanced additional expenditure for the current financial year in respect of defence and social services. That argument was, to a degree, reasonable, but other Government supporters claimed that Labour had failed to make adequate provision for defence. Furthermore, the Treasurer has sought to justify the continuation of high taxation by comparing tax rates in this country with those in Great Britain and. New Zealand. Members of the Opposition have no alternative but to answer such arguments. If the honorable member for Farrer were justified in claiming that the Government is unable to reduce taxes further because of its increased expenditure on defence, surely the comparison that the Treasurer made between tax rates in this country and those in Great Britain and New Zealand was totally irrelevant to a consideration of the budget proposals. I recall that the. honorable member for Farrer, when he was speaking in the budget debate on the 10th October of last year, said -
At present, Australia is spending 5.9 per cent of its national income on defence, America is spending 8.2 per cent, and the United Kingdom 9.9 per cent.
Having regard to statements of that kind by Government supporters, the Opposition is fully justified in regarding the Treasurer’s speeches on financial measures as merely pretexts for the Government’s failure to honour the promises that it made to the people during the last two general election campaigns. The honorable member for Farrer told only half the story when he said that the Chifley Government, during its last year of office, expended only £80,000,000 on defence. I shall refutethat claim by quoting the following statement that was made by the late Mr. Chifley when he introduced his budget for 1949-50-
On the basis of existing commitments that expenditure on Defence, and War (1939-45) Services is estimated at £154,000,000 as compared with £195,600,000, in 1948-49.
The Chifley Government’s expenditure on war and post-war commitments amounted in 1948-49 to £195,000,000. So much for the claim that that Government expended only £50,000,000 on de- ‘ fence during its last year of office. Government supporters have also contended that the Government cannot afford to reduce taxes further because it has to meet an expenditure on defence this year of £200,000,000. In view of such statements, it is important to examine the degree to which Labour was able to reduce taxes in a financial year in which it met an expenditure of £195,000,000 on war and post-war requirements. When this Government assumed office the basic wage was £6 9s. a week. Let us see how a taxpayer on the basic wage fared under Labour. When tax rates -were at their highest during World War II., a taxpayer, with a wife and two children, whose income was £350, paid £31 2s. in tax. From the 1st July, 1946, to the 1st July, 1949, the Chifley Government progressively reduced the tax that such a taxpayer had to pay to £26 15s., £21 3s., £5 5s., £3 15s., and £2 4s. The last reduction was made in a year in which the Chifley Government budgeted for an expenditure of £195,000,000 on war and .post-war requirements. The Treasurer, when introducing this measure, said -
When I explained the Government’s plans for financing its operations in the financial year 1 952-53, in the budget speech delivered by me on the 6th August, 1952, I announced the Government’s intention to reduce taxation by approximately £50,000,000 in the current financial year.
The Government is not giving effect to that intention. It is merely lifting the 10 per cent, flat rate levy that it imposed on personal and company incomes last year. The statements that were referred to in the budget speech show that last year the tax payable by a taxpayer with an income of £600 was increased from £18 16s. to £20 14s., and ti at this year, after allowing for the reductions to be effected under this measure, such a taxpayer will pay tax at the rate that applied to him before the 10 per cent, flat rate surcharge was imposed. If the Government intends to increase taxes in one year and to remove the increase in the following year, it will be able every alternate year to claim that it has honoured its promise to the people to reduce taxes. The honorable member for Bennelong said that the Government was makng a substantial concession to companies, but all that it is proposing to do is to hand back to them the amount of tax that it filched from them last year. In respect of company taxation, the Treasurer has completely reversed the attitude that he adopted last year. When he introduced his budget for 1951-52, he explained the reason for the introduction of the system of advance payment of a portion of company tax in the following words: -
Since the tax payable by companies is not assessed until some months after the close of the year of income, there is, in the opinion of the Government, a clear case for some advance payment by companies of part of the tax t<> which the earned profits are liable.
Since the system of pay-as-you-earn for wage and salary earners and collection of provisional taxation from individuals was introduced, companies have been at some advantage as regards payment. That advantage is found in companies being able to use, for long periods, the money represented by the tax due by them. In the current financial year the aggregate sum will exceed £100,000,000.
Those words were uttered not by any member of the Australian Labour party, but by the Treasurer when he was introducing his budget last year. He continued -
There is also some inherent danger to revenue in the delayed system of company taxation. In some cases money held by largo companies runs into six figures, and should misfortune overtake the company there may be total or substantial loss to revenue, notwithstanding the priority of the Crown in liquidation, which applies only as against, unsecured creditors.
If there is one section of that speech that calls for the severest criticism it is the passages that I have just quoted. If the Treasurer was justified in making those statements, how can he justify his attitude to-day, only eleven months later? In introducing his current budget, he said -
The system of advance payments by companies instituted last year will be discontinued. This means that in the current financial year companies will not be required to make any advance payments based upon the income of “ the year ended the 30th June, 1052. The advance payments imposed in respect of the income of the year 1950-51 will be credited against company tax assessable during the current financial year. The cost to revenue in the current financial year is estimated at. £14,000,000.
Whereas, last year, the Treasurer said that the 10 per cent, flat rate levy would yield an additional sum of £11,200,000 in company tax, he has now told a totally different story. Tet, the honorable member for Bennelong claims that members of the Opposition could not justify criticism of the budget. The Treasurer said that the main effect of the legislation will .be to remove the special .levy of 10 per cent, that it was found necessary to impose on individual taxpayers last year. He said that the benefit to individual taxpayers in the current year will amount to £23,000,000. Last year he .said-
Hence although ‘the proposed change would, on the basis of current incomes, yield £38,000,000 in a full assessment year, it is estimated that the extra collections in this financial year will not exceed £25,000,000.
Surely a responsible Treasurer who reports on a matter in 1951 and on the very same matter in 1952 should be sure of his information. The Treasurer has shown that he was not sure about his figures, yet honorable members on the Government side have complained that he is being criticized. The Treasurer has com- pletelydisregarded the statements that he made in 1951, and honorable members on the Government side have completely misunderstood the statements of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) about the taxation of wage-earners. The right honorable gentleman said that wageearners would be taxed more heavily this year because of basic wage increases, yet because he said that ridicule was heaped upon him by the Treasurer, whose own assessments of revenue have proved to be wrong. The basic wage earner in any country of the world may be considered to be the worker on a subsistence living standard. When the 1951-52 budget was brought down, the Australian basic wage was about £500 a year. If a basic wage earner in 1951 had a dependent wife and two children his income tax would have amounted to £8 14s. By the time the 1951-52 budget was introduced that was increased to £9 lis. Honorable members should remember that the O series - index is an index that relates to purchasing power, so that no. matter what the basic wage may be the basic wage earner can buy only the same quantity of goods with it. However, because the basic wage has been increased by about £2 a week 6ince September., 1951, a New South Wales basic wage- earner now receives about £611 a year. The Treasurer has not reduced the basic wage earner’s income tax to the rate that prevailed in 1951-52 ; he has increased it from £9 lis. to £1S 16s.
The Treasurer has tried to hide that fact by suggesting that, after .all, Australians are - not taxed so heavily as are the people of New .’Zealand and Great Britain. The Treasurer’s taxation schedules in relation to income tax in Great Britain are as unreliable as his other .figures. Let us carefully consider taxation in Great Britain in order to see how erroneous the figures given by the Treasurer really are. I have investigated taxation figures as .set out in Britain, a reference handbook issued in 1952 by the Central Office of Information, London. I refer honorable members to page 210 of that book, where certain “ working conditions in practice “ are set out. Among other things, honorable members will perceive that the normal hours of work and the average wages earned in respect of British workers are set out. The Treasurer tried to impress upon honorable members that in the United Kingdom the income tax levy on a person with an income of £600 a year is £24 18s., whereas in Australia it will be £18 16s. The fact is that because this Government is incapable of handling our financial affairs and because the currency of Australia is more highly inflated than is that of any other country of the world, whether it be in the dollar area or in the .sterling area, we have reached a stage where we can favorably compare the general position of the average wage-earner in Britain with that of the average wage-earner in Australia. Because I know something of the conditions and rates of pay of railway men in Australia, I have selected from page 111 of the volume that I mentioned figures relating to the average wages of railway men in Great Britain. In April, 1950, the average wage of such workers was 139s. 2d. Since that time it has been increased by 1 per cent, and that increase has raised the wage to about £7 10s. a week. If the Treasurer were honest he would regard that sum as an average figure-
– Order ! The honorable member must not call into question the honesty of another honorable member.
– Then I shall put the matter in this way : If the
Treasurer desires to put a. factual picture before the Parliament, he should have considered1 this information, which is just as easily available to him as it is to me. Moreover, he has many more officers to collect information for him than have honorable members on this side of the House. If he had done as I have done he would have discovered that the average wage of a British railway wage-earner was about £7 10s: a. week or £390 a year. On that income the worker has to pay £11 18s. a year as income tax and social services contribution - and I remind honorable members that the British social services are of much more value than are the Australian social services. The average earnings of an Australian railway worker are the basic wage plus half the margin applicable to a tradesman. Therefore,, in New South Wales the average wage paid to a railway worker is about £670 a year. On that sum the worker has to pay about £21 for income tax. In view of those facts, the Treasurer should not’ have tried to sidetrack honorable members by saying that after all the Australian worker is better off than is the British worker. An average wage-earner in England pays £11 15s. as income tax but receives; many more social benefits than this Government ever dreamed of. An Australian worker who is in the same relative position has to pay £21 as income tax, yet his wages have the same purchasing power as have those of his British counterpart.
Now let us consider New Zealand. The position is not so clear there as it is in England, but honorable members must remember that the New Zealand Government, which ‘ is of the same political colour as this Government, has had the courage to maintain prices control and has restricted wage levels. When the New Zealand Government introduced a minimum wage it did not take any power from its arbitration court, it merely set the minimum living standard. At present the minimum standard wage is £6 lis. 8d. a week, and that is comparable with the £11 15s. that now operates in New South Wales, because both wages have the same purchasing power. If honorable members study the information that is available to them they will discover that what I have Been saying is quite correct. However, they have not bothered to do so because they have not sufficient interest in the Australian worker. The document presented’ by the Treasurer sets out rates of income tax in New Zealand compared with those in Australia. Let us consider the case- of a person who has: a dependent wife and two children. I refer honorable members to The Taxpayer, the official organ of the Taxpayers: Association of Queensland, dated June,. July, August, 1952. At page 13, referring to New Zealand income tax and social security charge, it reports -
Basic rates of tax were fixed by the Land* and Income Tax Amendment Act 1940. . . - The starting rate is 2s. 6d. in the £1 upon, the first £100 of taxable balance.
The taxable balance is the amount thai remains after a. deduction has been made of £100 in respect of the taxpayer, £100 in respect of his wife and £50 for each child. Therefore, in New Zealand not Id. is paid as income tax by a man with a wife and two children who receives £300 a year. Yet the Treasurer has asked honorable members to treat seriously the contents of his document, which are completely erroneous. In New Zealand a taxpayer who receives tha minimum wage pays £25 10s. for social services, whilst a similar Australian worker pays £20 as income tax. However,, honorable members should remember that the New Zealand worker has many more social benefits than has the Australian worker. He has universal superannuation and age, widows, orphans, family, invalid, minors, war, unemployment, sickness, and emergency benefits. In the field of health he ha3 medical,, hospital, maternity, and pharmaceutical benefits.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I rise to support the bill and to oppose the amendment. I express my gratitude to the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser), who has provided me with this opportunity to enter the debate. It is not generally known that every honorable member on this side of the House wants to address himself to the bill, but that, because of the time factor, it will not be possible for all of us to do so. The honorable member for Wide Ray was entitled to receive the call from the Chair on this occasion, but he has graciously given way to me.
We have just heard a diatribe by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) that was typical of all the speeches that have been made in this debate by members of the Labour party. The mathematics of the honorable member, to put it kindly, are not all that they might be, and honorable members on this side of the House can only treat them with the compassion that they deserve. He repeated all the arguments against this bill that were used by other members of the Opposition. They can he condensed into a phrase of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who said that the proposed 10 per cent, reduction of income tax was valueless. The honorable member for Blaxland took great pains to endeavour to demonstrate that the unguarded statement made by his leader was true. However, a comparison of the taxes paid by an Australian with a dependent wife and two children with those paid by a man in New Zealand in similar circumstances proves positively the nebulous character of the arguments used by the Opposition. For the purposes of comparison, I shall refer first to a man with an income of £600 a year. Very few Australians will be interested in smaller incomes than that, although, for the greater part of my life, I received only a fraction of that amount each year. A New Zealander in the circumstances that I have mentioned will pay income tax amounting to £57 lis. 3d. this year. An Australian on the same footing will pay only £18 16s. Thus, the Australian will be better off by an amount of £38 15s. 3d. Yet the Leader of the Opposition said that the 10 per cent, reduction would be of no value !
A taxpayer with a wife and two children, who has an income of £800 a year, is required in New Zealand to pay income tax amounting to £105 7s. 6d. His counterpart in Australia will pay £46 6s., which represents a saving of £59 ls. 6d. Yet the Opposition argues that taxation in Australia is too severe and that it is unfair to compare it with taxation in our sister dominion ! A New Zealander with three dependants who receives £1,000 a year will pay £158 8s. Sd. in income tax this year. In Australia, those of us who receive £1,000 a year will pay £83 4s., which represents a saving of £75 4s. 9d. Yet honorable members opposite argue that the Government’s tax concessions are of no value I The. New Zealander, if he earned £1,500 a year, would be called upon to pay £315 123. 6d. The Australian on the same salary will pay £208 3s., which represents a saving of £107 9s. 6d. The comparison could be extended indefinitely, but I shall deal finally with an income of £2,000 a year. The New Zealander on that salary will pay £510 12s. 6d. The Australian will pay £375 17s., which represents a saving of £144 15s. a year,, a sum on which many men of my generation have reared families. Thus, the argument that the proposed reductions will be of no value must be discounted. The contention that income tax in Australia has reached an intolerable level is obviously fallacious. Rates of tax in Australia are far below those that apply just across the Tasman Sea, where both primary and secondary production are increasing.
The arguments that have been used by honorable members opposite in condemnation of the bill and in support of the proposed amendment have been based on the shibboleth that the Government ought to put value back into the £1. I, in common with all. honorable members on this side of the House, believe it to be necessary to restore value to the £1 and that, until we succeed in doing so, very little can be done to extricate the country from its present fabulous situation. Under the Constitution, certain courses of action that might help to restore value to the £1 are beyond the power of the Government to take, but the Labour party, because of its industrial character, could do much to put value back into the £1. It must be obvious to everybody who has made even an elementary study of our economic situation that the present condition of comparative prosperity in Australia is entirely due to the misery of the rest of the world and the demand for our goods that results from that misery. However, we are doing nothing to justify our prosperity. If we had any true national spirit, we should be taking advantage of our extraordinarily fortunate circumstances in order to increase all classes of production so that we should be in a position to meet the emergencies that must inevitably beset us when the miseries of other countries pass and a condition of tranquillity is restored. Instead, we are taking advantage of our prosperity in order to indulge in all sorts of industrial excesses and abuses. The whole economy is imperilled because we are not in a position to withstand reverses.
The views that have been expressed by members of the Labour party during this debate and in earlier debates are not typical of the views that were constantly expressed by distinguished members of the party in former years. I propose to quote the statements of a man who was, perhaps, one of the most distinguished of all Labour party leaders. In November, 1946, he said -
Weshall be wise, I believe, to pursue a. steady course, taking advantage of favorable conditions as they occur, striving for greater output in all industries.
In 1947, this leader of the Labour party laid particular stress on the exchange shortage and said -
This means, among other things, unremitting efforts for greater production.
In a broadcast from London in July, 1948, he made this declaration -
Hard work is not only a national duty, but the stern responsibility of every Australian if we are to survive.
After his return to Australia, he went to Cessnock, New South Wales, in September, 1948, and told the miners that he was ashamed to find Sydney suffering deprivations as bad as those of conquered Berlin. He also said -
Every member of the community who fails at this stage to do his job only cheats his fellow-workers. Vote for whom you like, but for God’s sake do your best for your country.
The passages that I have quoted have been extracted from speeches made by the late Right Honorable J. B. Chifley. No visible gains resulted from his exhortations, and they have not been repeated by his successors. No members of the Labour party have repeated those sentiments, although it is obvious that the courses of action that he advocated are even more important to-day than they were when he made his pronouncements.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has attempted to bolster his criticism of the bill with the statement that the last budget of the Chifley Government aggregated a sum of approximately £504,000,000. At the same time, members of the Opposition have argued that the value of money has depreciated until our currency to-day is almost valueless. If it be reasonable to find merit in a budget that amounted to £504,000,000 in 1949, on the ground that the £1 was worth its full face value then, and if it be true that the value of money has since depreciated to the degree that has been suggested by the Opposition, this Government’s budget for 1952-53, of approximately £1,000,000,000, must be a comparatively humble budget. Those of us who have any sense of responsibility must take advantage of every opportunity to warn the community as a whole that a budget of £1,000,000,000, or any sum approximating that fabulous figure, can be sustained only if our export industries’ are prosperous. Should the vagaries of seasons cause production in those industries to fall, or should the miseries of other countries, on which our national income is based, pass, it might not be financially possible for the people of Australia to maintain budgets of such vast proportions. Therefore, I take this opportunity to say that we must work harder now than we have worked at any time during the last decade. We must put the people to work on effective production regardless of the political consequences. I believe that the 40-hour week was the greatest single disaster ever visited upon an intelligent community. Our experiences since that spurious industrial standard was established have led us to believe that it is not possible to carry on the normal services of our nation with a 40-hour week and that, the sooner this abomination is eliminated from our economic system and people are given the opportunity to use their energies and their ingenuity for the everlasting good of the country regardless of hours of work, the better will it be for the whole of mankind.
Mr.CURTIN. - The old squatter!
– I have repeatedly been referred to in this House as a “ tycoon of the squattocracy “ and “ the old squatter “. No other honorable member lives in more humble circumstances than I do, and that includes the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin ) .
I shall now deal with other aspects of the matter. Like most people who are not personally interested in private or public companies, I may be pardoned for thinking that company taxation is no great concern of mine, and that companies are fair “ game “ to this Government or any other government. That view is held by Opposition members, who perhaps are interested in companies, and by persons who are not interested in them, and perhaps it was held by me until it became necessary for me to inform myself of the true position. The Government is to be commended for the amelioration of the circumstances of, and for the reduction of the tax that has been applied to, companies in the past, even if the reduction be only of a minor character.
The value of the lowly investor - the men and women who, by their own thrift, have saved a few pounds and invested the money in industry - has never been appreciated in this country. On the contrary, they have been constantly the objects of reproach and blame. Had it not been for the lowly investor - the men and women who have husbanded their resources aud invested their small savings in companies - democracy could not have survived and industry could not have functioned in our country. Not a single industry could operate if it were not for the many persons who invested their all in industrial activities likely to yield to them some advantage after the initial periods of establishment. Yet those persons are constantly blamed by Opposition members, and constantly taxed by successive governments. In my humble opinion, a tax that takes from companies 1 s. in every £1 of profit up to £5,000, and 9s. in every £1 of profit in excess of that sum, is most severe.
– The Government should tax companies on that scale.
– Had it not been for the lowly men and women who were courageous enough to invest their savings in the engineering industries, the honorable member for Watson would not have been apprenticed as a boilermaker, and would never have been a satisfactory member of the industrial community. After the Government has taken its toll, the shareholders, when the residue of the profit is distributed among them, pay tax on their dividends. That is an additional impost, and should be recognized as such. All honorable members have cause for gratitude in the fact that there are persons who are willing, and sometimes eager, to invest their savings in companies. Yet those investors are frequently the objects of blame and reproach, not only applied to them personally, but also applied to their operations in the financing of public and private companies.
I now propose to deal with a matter that is, to me, a “ burning question “. The Treasurer, in his second-reading speech, made the following statement : -
A most important amendment proposed in this bill is the allowance, for the first time in the history of Commonwealth income tax, of a concessional deduction in respect of expenses incurred by parents in educating families. Having regard to the ever-increasing costs of education, this concession will represent a very acceptable and practical form of taxation relief at the present time.
I entirely agree with that view. The right honorable gentleman continued -
Taxpayers will be allowed a deduction as from the 1st July, 1952, of amounts pair! to schools, colleges or universities for the fulltime education of dependent children under the age of 21 years. The allowance will be subject to a maximum deduction of £50 for each child. I emphasize that the allowance will include tuition fees, board, text-books and extras, so long as the amounts claimed have been paid directly to the educational institution in connexion with the full-time education of the child.
I must confess that such a statement wa3 a disappointment to me, because I had listened with great interest to the welcome news announced by the Treasurer when he presented his budget to the chamber. On that occasion, the right honorable gentleman said -
Because of increasing costs of education, representations have been received from a wide cross-section of the community for some relief on account of expenditure incurred by parents in educating families.
It is proposed accordingly to allow parents a concessional deduction for education expenses incurred up to a maximum of £50 for each dependent child under 21 years receiving fulltime education.
This concession will commence to apply on and from 1st July, 1952, at an annual cost t;j revenue of approximately £1,500,000. There will, however, be no cost to revenue in the current financial year 1952-53.
I was one who welcomed that information as I welcomed no other information given to me since I have had the privilege to be a member of this House, because education is a “ burning question “ in the country, and particularly in rural New South Wales. The educational facilities available to our people there to-day are not comparable with what were available a quarter of a century ago. In truth, there are no educational facilities for many children in rural New South Wales. The correspondence course conducted by the Education Department of that State is a satisfactory arrangement, but it requires, of necessity, some one to supervise the pupil in the studies sent to him under that system. But apart from that, no educational facilities are available for hundreds of children in the electorate of Riverina, unless they are removed from their homes and established, with board and lodging, in a country town or provincial city. Because of that, education has been a penalty on country men and women, and a constant and recurring penalty on country children. I, for one, welcome the information that this Government is willing and eager to accept its responsibilities in this matter, and at least to allow a deduction of £50 for taxation purposes in respect of expenditure incurred on the education and board of, and purchase of text-books for, each dependent child under the age of 21 years.
Though we should he thankful for small mercies - and I am - this is not only a small mercy but also an exclusive mercy. It is a mercy that is exclusive to those persons who send their children away to schools that require the parents to pay fees. That provision excludes the parents of countless hundreds of country children who are sent away to State schools in distant towns or cities, because their parents cannot afford to educate them at private schools. Because the parents do not pay fees to the State schools, they do not qualify for the propose 1 deduction for education purposes. Yet they are burdened with the cost of the board and lodging of the children, wherever they may be. It is a burden that has become almost intolerable to country people. Whilst I welcome the Government’s intention in this matter, I hope that the scope of the provision will be broadened in order to include a parent who’ has to pay for the board and lodging of children who attend schools in -distant towns because no State educational facilities are available near their homes. This provision is a major step forward. Although it is exclusive at the moment, it is one of transcendent importance to country life and living. If we can remove the senseless penalty that i3 imposed by the education problem on country men, women and children, we shall do much to bridge the gap that lies between the urban population and the rural population. At present, that gap is almost too wide to be bridged. Apart from those reservations, I consider that the Government is to be commended for having introduced its “ convalescent “ budget in a courageous way.
.- I listened with great interest to the various speeches made on this bill, and particularly that of the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer), who said that the Government was opposed to the principal of high taxation and, as a matter of policy, was opposed to the imposition of high taxes. As he was speaking, I recalled that the last budget presented to the Parliament by the late Mr. J. B. Chifley provided for a total revenue of £504,387,000. Last year, this Government, which is said to believe in tax reductions, introduced a budget that made provision for the collection of £919,000,000. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), when he presented that -budget to the Parliament, explained that the additional revenue was sought because the Government wished to relieve the community of its surplus spending power and, in that way, grapple with the mighty problem of inflation. In order to give effect to that policy, the Treasurer made provision for the imposition of a special levy of 10 per cent, on all taxes payable by individuals. That impost brought the total to £919,000,000 but this year there has been a remarkable change and the total is back to £863,650,000. That is 71 per cent, more than the total in the last budget of the Chifley Government and apparently it is supposed to be indicative of the low taxation policy of the present Government. The Treasurer in his budget speech referred to a reduction of taxation by £50,000,000. Actually the Government is removing only the 10 per cent, surcharge. An examination of the estimated revenue of the Government this year indicates where its so-called low taxation policy has taken the nation. If the Government had been grappling with the problem of taxation and inflation since it took office instead of waiting for something to turn up, the honorable member for Bennelong might have had some support for the argument that he has advanced.
The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) made a comparison between the tax that is paid by certain taxpayers in Australia and New Zealand. The honorable member did not tell the House of the difference between costs in New Zealand and those in Australia1. He made no reference to the -comparative basic wage levels in the two countries or to the fact that the basic wage in Australia i3 now approaching £600 a year because of the inability of the Government to control commodity prices. Prices have risen and wages are chasing them. The result has been a fall of living standards. When this Government was in Opposition, it would not support the Labour Administration in its request for powers for the Parliament to deal with the problem of inflation.
Clause 6 of the bill is a fairly long one, but the Treasurer has indicated that he proposes to have it omitted. The Commonwealth Committee on Taxation filled sixteen foolscap pages with reasons why the proposal incorporated in that clause should be introduced. As the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has stated, the omission is intended because of pressure of public opinion or, perhaps, of certain newspaper interests. The only other possible explanation is that the Cabinet did not give to the matter the consideration that it deserved. There can be no middle ground.
For the first time, I find myself of the same opinion as a member of the Australian Country party. Our meeting ground is clause 15, which relates to education expenses. The honorable member for Riverina spoke about the provision of educational facilities in his electorate. He drew a correct picture of the situation, and his statements are applicable to many districts of Queensland. This clause was inserted for the benefit of those persons who can keep their children at school until they are 21 years of age. Obviously, the concessional allowance of £50 will apply only to payments that are made to some of the Greater Public Schools and the universities. In the backblocks, where some members of the Australian Country party have never been, many children are able to attend only State schools and denominational schools. Branches of the Country Women’s Association of Australia have established hostels where children from nearby country properties may stay from Monday until Friday in each week. Actually those hostels are maintained by the parents of the children. They are workers on the nearby properties who will never be in a position to send their children away to the larger centres of education and to boarding schools. They welcome the opportunity to send their children to hostels so that they can get a primary education. Those pa rents will not be able to take advantage of the proposed allowance for income tax purposes. The honorable member for Riverina spoke of children who stay with private families while attending school. In some centres, private people conduct boarding establishments for children from neighbouring stations and farms. The parents of those children will not receive any tax benefit from the board that they pay-
This principle involves not only payment of board and school fees, but also the purchase of books. When I attended a primary school, most of the pupils bought second-hand books from other children. “ A person who buys second-hand books will not come within the provision of this clause. The cost of books that are bought from a private bookseller will not be included in the allowance. In Queensland, the Education Department does not act as a bookseller. Practically every child attending a State school in Queensland, whether it be primary or secondary, has to buy school books from a stationer or a bookseller. Parents will not be allowed to include the cost of those books in the deduction for taxation purposes. If the Australian Country party had more intimate knowledge of events in country areas, it would broaden its activities and have the expenses of children who go to neighbouring towns for education included in the provisions of this clause. Honorable members may say that the children can be educated by correspondence. I know that a better education is provided in the primary schools, no matter how seriously the parents may attempt to assist their children with correspondence lessons at home. The Treasurer should listen to the honorable member for Riverina, even if he will not take heed of honorable members on the Opposition side, and should extend the terms of this allowance for the benefit of the parents of children who cannot be sent to boarding schools and universities.
Clause 18 refers to private companies. The Treasurer stated in his budget speech -
We are, therefore, making certain adjustments and proposing certain reductions in taxation which will serve as an incentive to investors and businessmen and the community at large.
Ever since this Government has been in office, honorable members have heard frequent references to incentives. Government supporters have harped on incentives to the workers to produce more. Honorable members know what happened to that proposition. There was also to be an incentive to the primary producers, but the primary producers who might have produced more were precluded from taking advantage of bad years to offset the effect on their income tax assessments of the flush years because of the abolition by the Government of the averaging system. Now the Government has pro duced the greatest incentive of all and claims that it will assist investors and businessmen and the community at large. The Treasurer said that the bill provides incentives for all companies, that it makes radical changes in private company taxes and that the Government is implementing a unanimous recommendation of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. The bill is remarkable for its omissions rather than for its contents. The portion that deals with undistributed income of private companies is clause 18. The radical changes mentioned by the Treasurer provide for a retention allowance in relation to the distributable income of a private company. In the case of companies with a reduced distributable income exceeding £6,000, the Government proposes to increase the percentage that may be held as a retention allowance.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), the first paragraph of which asks that the bill be re-drafted to provide for greater reductions and concessions in relation to the subjects of taxation. Such reductions and concessions would give a real incentive to workers, businessmen and primary producers. Consequently, production would increase, and we should be able to send more exports abroad and to strengthen our overseas balances, which have been so sorely depleted as a result of the incompetence of the present Administration. If we increased our exports and strengthened our overseas balances, we should be able to import the petroleum products that are necessary for our transport system, and the raw materials that are required by our secondary industries. Then we could prevent further unemployment from occurring, and perhaps provide employment for those persons who are unemployed now.
The second paragraph of the amendment asked the Government to provide for a broader definition of the concessions .in respect of money paid or expended for educational purposes. Such a definition would give to workers who send their children to primary schools an opportunity to participate in the concessions. It would give a similar opportunity to parents of children in the outback. This House should not leave this matter where it stands. As the bill is drafted, it will confer a benefit only upon wealthly sections of the community. A concession of this kind should not be based upon sectional interests.
The third paragraph asks that the bill provide for a liberalization of the means test. That would give to people who are living on superannuation benefits, annuities and pensions paid from private sources a small measure of the assistance to which they are entitled by virtue of the social services contributions that they paid while they were working. The amendment asks, finally, that the bill provide for an increase of the amount granted by way of deduction from assessable income in respect of the spouse and dependants of the taxpayers. We all know that the cost of living to-day is very high. We know also that the present Government parties contributed to the high cost of living in the days when they bitterly opposed the grant to this Parliament of the powers necessary to enable it to control prices. If the amount granted by way of deductions in respect of the spouse and dependants of taxpayers were increased, that would be an admission by the Government that open confession is good for the soul. That, coupled with political deathbed repentance, would result in a small benefit being given to a section of the community that has been hit hardest - the family men.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Section twenty -three of the Principal Act is amended -
Section proposed to be amended. -
.- I move-
That paragraph (d) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph :- “(d) by omitting from paragraph (m) the words ‘ One thousand nine hundred and fifty-two ‘ and inserting in their stead the words ‘ One thousand nine hundred and fiftythree ‘, and “.
This amendment, if carried, will have the affect of renewing the exemption from income tax of incomes derived from primary production in the Northern Territory. That exemption has been allowed to lapse, but, if this amendment be carried, it will operate until the 30th June, 1953. The main object of the amendment is to postpone final action by the Government on Northern Territory taxation policy at least until all aspects of that policy have been studied in the light of present developments in that area, especially in the light of the views and experience of members of the Parliament who have visited the territory recently and have seen the conditions there for themselves. The honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) has said that he considers that this bill reflects the views only of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. I concur with the honorable gentleman. I consider that the measure does not reflect the political views of the Government.
I wish to make it quite clear that neither I nor other members of the Labour party want this exemption to be restored for the purpose of permitting existing primary producers in the Northern Territory, especially those engaged in the pastoral industry, to continue to make bigger profits than those that they are justly entitled to make. We believe that the exemption which expired recently had m!any features that were far from desirable. Under that exemption, it was too easy for certain primary producers to evade their responsibilities, especially absentee companies which made the minimum of improvements on their properties, but earned the maximum profits from them, regardless of the interests of the territory. No provision was made for the incomes of wage-earners to be free from income tax. I consider the zone allowance of £20 a year in the south of the territory and £120 a year in the north to have been totally inadequate. Let me remind the committee that all industries depend for their profitable operation and their existence upon an adequate supply of efficient labour. All the concessions in the world given to primary industries and other industries would be of no avail unless an adequate labour force were available. Worthwhile inducements must be given to the men who are responsible for the profitable operation of an industry, and they must share in concessions granted to that industry. But the Government has not adopted that policy in the Northern Territory, either in previous measures or in this one. It is most important that proper consideration be given to that aspect of taxation in the territory. The Government has not. taken into consideration the future effects that its legislation will have on the attraction of capital and suitable labour to the country. It seems to me to be a grave error of judgment on the part of any government to introduce legislation of this nature at a time when the whole attention of Australia is fixed on the Northern Territory. Keen interest is being shown by members of the Parliament in the possibilities that exist there. A forward move such as the territory has never experienced in all its history is about to begin, yet the Government chooses this particular time to introduce a proposal of this nature which is enough to destroy confidence in investment in the territory and to dissuade people from seeking to make their homes there. I realize that some of the provisions contained in the bill are good, hut that is not the point. They do not go far enough. They do not cover the whole field of taxation in the Northern Territory. I contend that it would be better to allow the existing exemptions to continue for another twelve months than to alter them as is proposed in the bill, so that all aspects of taxation may be examined in the light of our present and future requirements.
Another consideration that is overlooked in the measure is the lack of any policy in respect of businesses of all kinds which are most important in a primary producing area such as the Northern Territory. The success or failure of businesses generally in the territory is bound up with the success or failure of primary production. Primary production and general business in the territory are complementary to each other. It is obvious that primary production will play an important part in the territory, yet no provision is made for the eventual treatment or processing of the agricultural products of the territory or for encouragement to secondary industries to establish in the territory plants for the processing of its primary products.
I turn now to the provisions of the bill that relate to mining, which is the most important activity in the territory. It is true that some attempt has been made to cushion the mining industry’s transition from exemption to non-exemption from taxes. These provisions of the bill will also have a bad effect on mining activities in the territory. The bill makes provision in relation to mines that are already in production, but it gives no consideration to the prospectors who go out and find mineral-bearing lands. Every honorable member knows the debt that Australia owes to its prospectors. Many benefits have been derived by all States from their activities. Under the law as it stands a prospector who makes a strike may have most of the reward of his labour taken from him. Only by encouraging prospectors and keeping them in the field shall we be able to ensure an increased development of mining in the territory. Special tax provisions must be made to enable prospectors to be kept in the field.
In conclusion I shall quote some of the statements that were made in this House by members of the present Government when they were in Opposition in 1947 at a time when the Chifley Government sought to extend the tax exemptions that relate to the mining industry for a further period of five years. The PostmasterGeneral and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Anthony) had this to say, according to Hansard, vol 191, of the 14th May, 1947, at page 2323-
In order just to preserve the Northern Territory and to maintain the White Australia policy, and in order to have an answer to the teeming” millions of the East who want to know what we are doing with our empty spaces, we are expending upon the territory approximately £1,000,000 a year. That is the cost of the territory to the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth must be prepared to bear it; but the insignificant amount of total taxes which can be collected in the territory makes the imposition of tax hardly worth while, particularly if such imposts discourage settlement in those remote areas of persons who would otherwise go there. A possible inducement to settle in the territory . . .
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I compliment the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) in relation to the exemptions provided in clause 4, which include - . . the income of a public hospital, or of a hospital which is carried on by a society or association otherwise than for the purposes of profit or gain to the individual members of that society or association ; “ ;
I consider it to be high time that such an exemption was introduced, and we must give due credit to the Treasurer and the Government in that connexion. This exemption has been awaited by the people for a long time. I know that it meets with the secret approval of members of the Opposition but, of course, not having introduced it themselves, they voice no praise of it. I should like the Opposition to voice its praise in relation to the provisions of this bill that it regards as sound.
– I expressed my appreciation of this clause.
– I was referring not to the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), but to the Opposition in general. The attitude of members of the Opposition, when something good is done in a measure, is to ignore it while they search through the rest of the bill to find whether they will be able to link some part of it with the alleged unfair treatment of some section of the people. The second exemption provided in clause 4 relates to - . . the income of a society, association or club which is not carried on for the purposes of profit or gain to its individual members and is -
Those exemptions cover activities that have been the subject of debate in this Parliament for a long time. Peoplewho are associated with associations or clubs established for the promotion of the arts, music, science or literature help the community to get away from the humdrum of daily life. It is a credit to the Treasurer and the Government that the incomes of such bodies are now to be exempt from tax. Let the Opposition voice its approval of that exemption. Honorable members opposite condemn the Treasurer on other counts, so surely it is fair that they should commend him now. I ask honorable members opposite not to refrain from praise just because the Labour Government did not think of this provision or, having thought of it, did not put it into operation. Clubs established for the encouragement of athletic games and sports are also to be exempt from tax.What could be better for this nation than the development of our young people? Members of the Labour party have been keen advocates of all kinds of athletics and healthy activities, but when it came to removing a tax from people who engaged in such activities they did not care about anything except continuing to pull out of people’s pockets money that they needed for other purposes.
Mr. Bryson interjecting,
– I know that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) does not like my remarks. Interjections are provoked when I touch a soft spot. I shall proceed when the din dies down. Let us pay a full meed of praise to the Treasurer for these concessions, which are not intended to profit any one section of the community, because the whole” community takes part in and enjoys music. The whole community is also anxious to be associated with the arts. Interest in athletics and other sports has been stimulated by Australia’s participation at the recent Olympic Games. In 1956 the Olympic Games are to be held in Melbourne and, by exempting sporting bodies from payment of taxes, we may be assisting this country to do well on that occasion. I am astonished at the attitude of the Opposition to this clause when I consider that its deputy leader, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) is the chairman of the trustees of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Although the Government proposes to exempt sporting activities from payment of tax, the honorable member for Melbourne does not accord it one word of praise. I suggest that if he is not prepared to praise the Treasurer for such a concession on behalf of the sporting activity he represents, he should resign as chairman of the trustees of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. That would be a fair proposition, because he represents the trustees of the Melbourne Cricket Ground in this chamber, even if he misrepresents the electorate of Melbourne in it. Let us hope that the few hints that I have given will induce the Opposition to give praise where praise is deserved.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), because the future of the Northern Territory is the important matter that is before the committee at the present time. We have to do something more about the
Northern Territory in the near future than we have done recently or over a long period of years. The Opposition believes that the Government was wrong in allowing the exemption that was to expire on the 30th June last, to expire on that date. W’hen the Chifley Government introduced the existing provisions, members of the Australian Country party supported an amendment that was submitted by the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) that they should operate for a period of ten years instead of five years. Now, the Leader of the .Australian Country party (Sir Arthur Fadden), in his capacity as Treasurer, introduces a proposal to terminate the exemption at the expiration of that period of five years. If members of the Australian Country party were consistent - members of the Liberal party will agree with me that they are notwe should expect the Treasurer to agree to the modest proposal that the honorable member for the Northern Territory has made. The object of the amendment that he has proposed is to continue the period of exemption for another year in order that the Government may examine the whole subject of the taxation of the produce of the Northern Territory with a view to introducing an improved system next year. However, the Government proposes to substitute for the exemption system a system of allowances in respect of depreciation. I cannot see how the proposed new system will encourage production in the Northern Territory, which is the most neglected part of our great Australia. That part of this continent which is north of a line drawn across it from Carnarvon in the west and Bundaberg in the east is isolated and vulnerable territory. As the amount of taxation that the Government would derive from residents of the Northern Territory, who have lion hearts and have gone to that region in order to do something in the interests of Australia, would be insignificant, the Government should be prepared to forego any loss of revenue that might result if it accepted the proposed amendment. If we wish to protect the southern parts of Australia, we must pour millions of pounds into the development and defence of the Northern Territory. I cannot see why the Treasurer needs to present to the committee pages of legal jargon in order to explain the Government’s new policy in this matter. It is difficult for laymen to wade through the legal terminology of the bill. However, the fact remains that what is being granted under the Government’s proposal will, in any event, be obtainable by most of these people, regardless of their place of residence.
– Provided that they live long enough.
– All of us hope io live for a long time physically, even if some of us are due for an early political demise. Tinder pressure from wealthy executives whose interests are in the capital cities, the Treasurer has circulated an amendment, the object of which is to omit clause 6 of the bill as drafted.
– The honorable member can repeat that statement when clause 6 comes under consideration.
– I make that remark in passing in order to illustrate the concern that the Government feels in respect of one section and its lack of concern for the interests of people who are really doing something for Australia. The population of Darwin is, approximately, 8,000, and that of Alice Springs is 3,000 or 4,000. Approximately 13,000 persons of our blood are holding a territory which is over half a million square miles in area, or one-sixth of this continent, and the Treasurer devotes two pages of a bill to telling them how much they shall have to pay in taxation. We should do our utmost to encourage the development of the Northern Territory. Those honorable members, representative of all parties in this chamber and in another place, who visited the Northern Territory recently at the invitation of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), had an opportunity to see at firsthand - and seeing is believing - just how much has to be done for the Northern Territory in the years that lie ahead. But this is not a matter of to-morrow. The Indonesians are in possession of islands that are situated only 300 miles from Darwin and, generally speaking, they are antipathetic to white people and are riddled with Communist as well as nationalistic ideas. It will be a retrograde step if the Government terminates the present exemption system and substitutes for it a system that will not give a better deal to the people of the Northern Territory. The honorable member for the Northern Territory has urged the Treasurer to accept his amendment in order that the Government may have an opportunity to formulate an overall taxation policy in respect of the Northern Territory. In the meantime, the Government could appoint a special committee, or entrust the task to an existing committee - it could constitute honorable members and honorable senators who recently visited the territory a committee for this purpose - to examine the affairs of the territory and to make a report to the Parliament. A report from a committee of that kind would be more valuable than that which the Treasurer has accepted from the committee of experts that he set up to advise him ou taxation, and upon the recommendations of which the provisions of clause 4 are based. I appeal to the Treasurer to do for the people of the Northern Territory what he is prepared to do for other sections of. the community. I urge him to withdraw paragraph (d) with a view to re-examining the matter and improving his proposal. [ trust that he will not be stiffnecked about the matter and merely say that he will not accept any amendment other than one that is forced upon him by interests outside this chamber or that may be proposed by Government supporters.
– The Government does not need to be lectured with respect to the necessity to appreciate the urgency of developing and protecting the Northern Territory. Immediately the Government assumed office it appointed a special Minister to administer Commonwealth territories, and that gentleman, during the brief period that he has been Minister, has laid a firm foundation for the development of the territories, including the Northern Territory. Much has been said about the existing exemption provision that applies in respect of residents of the Northern Territory, and the Government has been urged to extend the period of that exemption. Experience is the best guide in such matters, and the Government, as a result of its experience in this matter, is unable to accept the amendment that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has proposed. The Government’s proposals offer a real and permanent inducement for the re-investment of profits in the territory. Experience of the present exemption provisions during the last 30 years has shown that they have failed to fulfil the objective of stimulating settlement and developing the territory. That cannot be denied. The Government appreciates the importance of promoting primary production in the Northern Territory, but it is convinced that the proposals it has embodied in this measure offer the most practical means of achieving that objective. It is unnecessary for me to enumerate the taxation concessions that are being provided in respect of mining operations and primary production in the Northern Territory. They are well known to honorable members who have examined this matter, and such honorable members will admit that they are fair and practical. I am firmly convinced that the concessions that the Government now proposes to make will prove to be more effective than the existing exemption provisions in promoting the settlement and development of the territory. Consequently, the Government cannot accept the amendment.
– I should like to reply to some of the statements that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) made when he refused to accept the amendment that I have proposed. I admit that the existing exemption provisions have not been completely effective in the past. Certain loopholes became apparent, and ‘they should have been closed. However, that was not done and, consequently, certain persons were allowed to escape their tax obligations. But that is exactly why I have submitted my amendment. The Treasurer also stated that mining in the territory would be encouraged to a greater degree under this clause as drafted than has been the case in the past. I inform the right honorable gentleman that the mica field at Hartz Range which hitherto produced the whole of Australia’s requirements of mica for defence purposes will cease production completely. The attitude that the Treasurer has adopted is consistent with the policy of the present Government.
When the Chifley Government introduced the existing exemption for a period of five years, present Government supporters, when they were in Opposition, sought to have that period extended to ten years. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) submitted an amendment which was supported by the present PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) and other members of the Australian Country party, including the former member for Bendigo, who is now a member of the Senate, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser), the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) and the late honorable member for Flinders. If the honorable member for Mallee does not recollect that occasion I shall refresh his memory. Speaking in this chamber on the 14th May, 1947, he said-
In spite of the warning by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) that the hill must be passed quickly, and his statement that no amendments will be accepted, I rise to support the amendment that the period of exemption in the Northern Territory should be extended to ten years. There was a time in the United States of America when the popular cry was “ Go west, young man “. Many persons do not know that the complete couplet reads -
Go west, young man,
A:id grow up with the country.
Certain honorable members opposite would be well advised to grow up with this country.
I have submitted my amendment in order to enable the Government to examine this matter further with a view to evolving an improved method of granting exemptions so that the Northern Territory shall be enabled to play a major part in the future of Australia. I remind the Government that the recent discovery of deposits of uranium at Rum Jungle and at Edith River are the greatest discoveries that have been made in mining history in this country. Surely the Government will not place any obstacle in the way of the development of the territory.
.- The Government seems to be entirely unaware of the complete change that has taken place during the last few months in the Northern Territory. It would be well advised to hasten slowly in dealing with this matter. It should first obtain a closer estimate of the development that will take place, particularly in the mining industry in the territory.
I desire to speak on behalf of those men who have been mainly responsible for the discovery of mining fields in Australia. I refer to the prospectors. Gentlemen from the university visited Tennant Creek, and reported that because of the geological formation of the rocks in that area it could not be expected that gold would be found there. Yet the prospectors found gold at Tennant Creek. Moreover, prospectors have found uranium in the Northern Territory, and by doing so have caused many people to realize the enormous mineral possibilities in the territory. After uranium was found by prospectors, geologists found big lodes of copper and other metals in the territory. The prospectors and the people of the north had known of the existence of these great quantities of metals for 40 or 50 years, but the geologists got all the credit and publicity for discovering them. The prospectors of the north who have lived and worked under incredibly bad conditions, but nevertheless have opened up the country and displayed its treasures to the world, are to £et no concessions from the Government. I suppose that the man who discovered the great uranium field at Rum Jungle will have to pay income tax on the grant of money made to him for his discovery by the Government. If the amendment of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) be accepted, the Government will have time to consider carefully this vital matter, and it will be saved from doing something that may projudice the whole development of the Northern Territory. Such careful consideration, and a new and better plan for development, would probably be of great advantage to Australia in the years to come.
The concessions that will be given in regard to hospitals are very necessary, and no doubt will do some good. However, if we are to believe what has been said about the value of uranium both in war and in peace, then we are about to enter into a period that will be looked back upon as the commencement of a time of enormous development and prosperity for Australia. The Government intends to make tax concessions to all sorts of people who have failed to carry out the obligations that the concessions were designed to facilitate, but it will give no consideration to the prospectors who are really developing the country. As the honorable member for the Northern Territory has said, Australia would not have been so prosperous or so advanced as it is to-day had it not been for the early prospectors who discovered all the metals upon which our economy is based. The miners are the pioneers. After the miners comes the development of agriculture, which is designed to feed the growing populations of the mining fields. Then, of course, after agriculture, come increased population and civilization. Huge overseas monopolies should not be given concessions because their profits are sent away from Australia. The concessions should rather be given to those persons who are developing the country, and who will spend within Australia the money that they get through the concessions. One sure way of advancing communism is to foster the development of monopolies in Australia or in any other part of the western world. There is no reason why the Government should not accept this amendment, because it is designed merely to give to the Government a breathing space of twelve months in which it can reconsider the matter calmly and carefully and then decide what to do in the best interests of the people in the territory and of Australia as a whole. The Government should not force this provision through the Parliament, whether it be right or wrong, but should carefully consider the amendment in the light of the fact that the discovery of uranium will cause such a development of the Northern Territory as has been hitherto undreamed of. None of our mineral discoveries will have the effect of the discovery of uranium. Therefore,
I suggest that the Treasurer accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for the Northern Territory.
Question put -
That the paragraph proposedto be left out (Mr. Nelson’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That paragraph (e) be left out.
This is the first of four amendments that I propose to have made in order to give effect to the Government’s decision to withdraw and re-examine proposals in this bill relating to the taxation of retiring allowances. It will be convenient, however, if I explain at this juncture the purpose of all four amendments. By clauses 5 and 6 it had been proposed to repeal section 26(d) of the principal act - that is, the provision for the taxation of retiring allowances - and to substitute a new section for the repealed provision. The proposed new section was based on recommendations of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. The object of those recommendations, broadly stated, was to ensure that the concessional basis of taxation provided in the present section 2.6 (d) would apply only in those cases where it was originally intended to apply, that is, to lump sum allowances genuinely paid to retiring employees to provide for their sustenance during the years of retirement.
Subsequent to my introduction of the bill, I had brought to my notice many cases in which clause 6 which deals with amounts received by employees on termination of or retirement from employment, might operate unjustly. Many examples have been produced of the effect which the proposed provision would have on superannuation schemes. An investigation of these eases revealed the existence of anomalies and the importance of exercising care to avoid giving rise to others. In the circumstances, the provision should, in my opinion, be withdrawn so that the whole problem may be re-examined. Insofar as paragraph (e) of clause 4 is concerned, the amendment that I have just moved is, as I have already indicated, of no practical significance. That paragraph provided for a drafting amendment of section 23 (t) of the principal act, which exempts the deferred pay attributable to the war service of members of the defence forces. That pay will continue to be exempt, whether or not the amendment be accepted.
– I do not know whether I have reason to be pleased with the explanatory statement made by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) because, owing to noise in the chamber, I could not understand the purport of his remarks. Will the amendment cover payments to poliomyelitis victims who have insured themselves specifically against contracting that disease ?
– No. The amendment deals with retiring allowances.
– I appeal to the right honorable gentleman to investigate the position of persons who receive insurance payments in respect of poliomyelitis.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Insurance against poliomyelitis is not affected by the amendment now before the committee.
– I ask that insurance against poliomyelitis be exempted from tax. Is this not the proper occasion on which to raise the subject ?
– Upon reflection, I think that the provision in relation to “ beneficial interest “ would probably cover the case.
– Good. I make another plea to the right honorable gentleman on behalf of poliomyelitis victims who have insured themselves against the disease. I have a hunch that the Treasurer is far more sympathetically disposed towards my proposition than are some Treasury officials who, I believe, were the authors of a letter that I received from the Treasurer. I know that the right honorable gentleman is a busy man and that it is much easier for him to sign a letter that has been written by somebody else than to deal personally with a. problem and dictate a letter on the subject.
– The honorable member’s proposal was thoroughly considered.
– In the hope that the right honorable gentleman has signed a letter that was written by somebody else, I repeat my plea on behalf of persons who have insured themselves against poliomyelitis. The letter states that the right honorable gentleman cannot grant a tax exemption in respect of insurance payments of the character that I have mentioned, but his first reaction when I raised the subject was horror at the thought that the law did not provide for such exemptions.
– No part of an insurance payment made in a lump sum is liable to tax. Weekly payments, unfortunately, are taxable in full.
– The drawing of a distinction between insurance paid in a lump sum and insurance paid in weekly amounts seems to me to be technical quibbling.
– I pointed out in my letter the anomalies that would arise and the new difficulties that would be caused if the honorable member’s proposal were adopted. I cited examples of the problems that would occur.
– I shall refer to some of those examples and demonstrate to the right honorable gentleman the great difference that exists between income derived from insurance against poliomyelitis and other payments of the type that he has described as being analogous to such income.
The right honorable gentleman referred in his letter to sick leave payments; disability payments to quarry workers, presumably those who suffer from silicosis; periodical payments of workmen’s compensation; periodical payments made to dusted miners; superannuation allowances; and pensions generally payable in consequence of premature retirement from employment due to ill health or accident. I should like the right honorable gentleman to recognize the great difference between money received from insurance against poliomyelitis and the first four categories of payment that he mentioned in the letter. Sick leave and compensation payments are given to recipients as a right. Every employer is compelled, either by an industrial award or by a special statute, to provide such benefits, and the recipients are not obliged to make any contributions in order to qualify for them. However, a person who insures against poliomyelitis does so of his own volition and at his own expense. He is not compelled to do so. Obviously, if he had not insured himself, he would not receive insurance payments. I cannot understand why such a person should be penalized for having had the foresight to take precautions on his own behalf any move than a person who has insured himself to receive £2,000 at 65 years of age should be required to pay tax on that amount. Every penny that is paid in premiums for an endowment policy of £2,000 to mature at 65 years of age is deductible for income tax purposes, provided the annual premiums do not exceed £200, and every penny of the proceeds at the date of maturity is free of tax. There is no reason why a person who has insured against poliomyelitis should not receive equally favorable treatment. If he is unfortunate enough to collect the insurance, he suffers more and has a greater need than has the other person.
I know that the Treasurer does not regard this as a vote-catching issue. There are not enough sufferers from poliomyelitis in Australia to be capable of affecting the fate of any government. Neither I nor the right honorable gentleman can gain votes from this matter, and I ask him to treat it as a problem of humanity. He, as the Treasurer of the country, is in a powerful position in which he can do immense good or immense harm. Here is an opportunity for him to do a great deal of good on behalf of a few unfortunate individuals who have had the foresight to insure themselves against the risk of contracting poliomyelitis. I do not think that a fair analogy can be drawn between such insurance payments and sick pay, compensation payments, and the other benefits that the right honorable gentleman cited in his letter, with the possible exception of superannuation and retiring allowance payments.
– Sickness and accident insurance payments are frequently made on a weekly basis.
– But I think the right honorable gentleman will agree that victims of poliomyelitis are in a position entirely different from that of other sick persons and victims of accidents. We, in this place, have power to give relief to those unfortunate persons, and we should not he too finicky about dotting i’s and crossing t’s. We ought to set aside the technicalities and help these sufferers.
The letter that the Treasurer sent to nae was sympathetically phrased but, unfortunately, it did not convey the result for which I had hoped. In support of his decision that insurance payments made to poliomyelitis victims should not be free of tax, he referred to such possibilities as a surgeon insuring against the loss of a hand, a professional dancer insuring against injury to the limbs, and a person insuring against mental sickness. Ear from supporting the decision of the Treasury in this matter, those examples provide further evidence of the lack of justification for the levying of tax upon such insurance payments. However, I am not pleading the case of the surgeon or the professional dancer. I realize that it is too late to expect the Treasurer to agree to my proposition at this stage, but I hope that he will arrange for an appropriate amendment to be made when the bill is before the Senate.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! the honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has treated the committee with scant respect. He has not told us the whole interesting story that lies behind the Government’s surrender on Tuesday morning last to the pressure applied by certain newspaper managements on the issue of retiring allowances, to which the amendment relates. The Government stood completely firm on both feet until Tuesday morning, but something happened then that made it change its attitude on this matter. I do not blame the Treasurer. I think that he was the victim of a hold-up. Certain persons metaphorically forced their way into the Cabinet room and robbed the Treasury. The Government told the Treasurer that he had to surrender. He had been abused by newspapers and criticized by a number of persons who wrote direct to him. At least he has told us about the letters, although he has not referred to the other subject. Notwithstanding those attacks, he maintained the serenity of his way, but now he has told us that the Government decided to withdraw all references in the bill to the subject of retiring allowances. He has not said that the provisions are to be redrafted in order that they may be inserted in the bill again by way of amendment in the Senate. I was a Minister for a long time, and 1 know the strength of the pressures that can be applied to governments. The Labour Government had to plug up a few rat-holes in its time. Certain individuals were gnawing their way through-
– Did it catch the rats ?
– As the Treasurer knows, there was an occasion when the directors of the Melbourne Herald voted £20,000 into a fund that was to be free of tax. Sir Keith Murdoch was to receive £10,000 of that sum. The Labour Government introduced certain legislation in order to prevent him from obtaining the money free of tax. I do not know that I have ever been popular with the newspapers because of that incident and other incidents, and I am sure that I shall not be popular for opposing the Government’s proposal in the amendment now before the committee, because I have a shrewd idea that the Sydney Morning Herald, which published articles in which the Treasurer was attacked, has a cause to serve’ in its own interests. Perhaps Warwick Fairfax and some of his associates are eager to vote themselves some generous retirement allowances free of tax, or as nearly free of tax as they can make them. This Government should not surrender to wealthy executives. The Opposition is opposed to the amendment, and will vote against it. It will stand as firm on this issue now as the Government stood last week, and I hope that at least some of the Government’s supporters will not be as weak-kneed as their leaders have shown themselves to be.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) is still burning with resentment because he had to jettison the very carefully prepared speech that he proposed to make during the second-reading debate in support of the attack that was made on the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) by the Sydney Morning Herald. The honorable gentleman has again succeeded in changing his plumage in mid-flight. It was evident yesterday to all honorable members on this side of the chamber that members of the Opposition had been forced to abandon the speeches they had planned to make because, the Treasurer had announced his intention to withdraw the provisions in relation to retiring allowances. They had read various newspaper articles and intended to castigate the Treasurer, but they had to change their tune entirely. I remind the honorable member for Melbourne that only a fool refuses to change his mind, and I also remind him of the great firmness that he exhibited as Minister for Immigration, particularly in relation to “ the Manila girls “. He was not big enough to change his mind. His attack on the Treasurer this evening was in poor taste. It is evident to every one that he changed his tune in about half an hour yesterday.
.- As my colleague and friend, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has stated, the Opposition objects to the Government’s change of front in this matter. Last night, the Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) explained that the Government had examined the matter after the bill had been introduced. He made the amazing assertion that a government does not examine legislation before its introduction, but examines it after its introduction. I believe that the Government had this matter under consideration for some months, yet it changed its mind in a matter of two days.
– The detection of possible anomalies may cause a government to change its mind.
– It is highly probable that anomalies would be caused under the provision, and that the full extent of them would not be realized until the legislation had been in operation for a time. That is frequently the case. A government, when it introduces a bill, cannot prepare for every eventuality that may arise. But it is clearly the duty of a government to examine all the possibilities before a bill formally becomes law. Obviously, the Government examined this matter exhaustively before the bill was introduced. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) referred the matter to the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, which inquired into the position and presented its report on the 13th August, 1951, Therefore the matter has been in the hands of the Treasurer for approximately thirteen months. The committee reported on section 26d as follows : -
It appears to the committee that some limitations should be incorporated in the provision, in order that the opportunities for abuse might be reduced.
The committee gave details of the history of the matter, submitted a number of examples of abuse, and then suggested a number of amendments. The first is comparatively simple, and relates to the retirement of an employee on his attaining the normal retiring age. That proposal would overcome some of the anomalies that have existed, and close some of the ways by which advantage has been taken of the act to the benefit of individual taxpayers, and, consequently, to the disadvantage of taxpayers generally. The committee went to great lengths to examine the whole proposition, and submitted a proposal similar to that explained by the Treasurer in his speech. However, the committee reported -
After consideration, the Committee did not favour this method of control, for the following reasons: - and proceeded to give the reasons. In a later part of the report, the committee pointed out that, whilst it did not favour that proposition because of certain limitations, it considered that the maximum should be £15,000. Clearly, the Government considered this matter, because the report was in the hands of the Treasurer for approximately thirteen months. The Government rejected the submission made by the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, and adopted an alternative that was not favoured by it. From my reading of this lengthy detailed examination of the matter, it is abundantly clear to me that this expert committee - the Treasurer’s offspring, of which he is extremely proud - recommended that certain action be taken, examined possible alternatives, and considered evasions that had taken place. It cited three examples, and said that others existed. The Treasurer examined the whole proposition, and rejected the suggestion of the committee which provided for a maximum amount of £15,000. The right honorable gentleman decided that the amount should be £10,000, and a provision to give effect to his decision was incorporated in the bill. Then, apparently, because some influential person in the community would be affected by the change, the Treasurer was forced to capitulate.
Obviously, the right honorable gentleman has not in mind the interests of a worker who may retire from one position and obtain employment in another and thereby he caught under the new provision. A worker has not the power or the influence, and could not mobilize the forces necessary to make this Government change its mind in the course of two or three days. Obviously, some big organizations or influential individuals were talcing advantage of the existing provision, and, accordingly, the Treasurer has been forced to capitulate to them. I believe that this action has been forced upon him. He is aware that a loophole exists, and, apparently, he was prepared to close it. I consider that the decision to withdraw clause 6 has been forced upon him against his better judgment. He has been compelled to capitulate to the great pressure groups. The Opposition believes that he should not yield to them. Action of this kind holds the Parliament up to contempt, and clearly indicates to the public that this Government must capitulate to powerful groups when they apply pressure to it.
As the honorable member for Melbourne has stated, the Chifley Government faced a similar situation. Some companies were seeking to exploit .loopholes in section 66 and section 79 of the act, and, accordingly, the former Treasurer, the late Mr. J. B. Chifley, introduced legislation with a view to limiting to £100 or 5 per cent, of the wages paid, the amount of which advantage could be taken. The Government was bitterly criticized for doing so, and was warned that the legislation would give rise to anomalies. However, that Government would not yield to pressure groups and adhered to its intention. Its proposal did not bear the hallmark of the Treasurer’s expert committee on taxation but was recommended, I assume, by the Commissioner of Taxation. As such, it was accepted by the Labour Government, and was passed ‘by the Parliament in the face of strong apposition from vested interests and members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party.
The Treasurer submitted this proposal to the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation for investigation and report. As I have shown, the report was in the hands of the right honorable gentleman for about thirteen months. In those circumstances the least the Government can do is to proceed with the bill in its original form, and carefully watch the provision in operation. Should anomalies arise, let them be dealt with later. This capitulation to pressure groups is bad for the Government and for the Parliament, because it indicates what results can be achieved in a short time. The Treasurer made his second-reading speech on this bill last Thursday evening. Yesterday, he announced his- intention to withdraw clause 6. He had no opportunity, in that brief period, to .gauge the reactions of individuals to the proposal, hut big financial interests were clearly affected by it, and applied pressure to the Government last week-end. The Treasurer, if he accepts the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation with respect to the matter of the Northern Territory, should accept its recommendations on. this provision. The honorable member for Melbourne has indicated that the Opposition will fight against the withdrawal of the clause. We believe that the Treasurer should exert his influence with his colleagues and say, “ The protection of the revenue and equity to taxpayers demand that this provision remain in the bill “.
– It is rather ironical to hear the speeches of Opposition members on this proposal. The Government intended, by the amending provisions in clause 6, to cork up a leak, or, in other words, to remove a possible source of evasion that the Chifley Government had left to this Government for attention. Opposition members claim that they object to the withdrawal of clause 6. How do they reconcile their attitude with the fact that the withdrawal of that provision will merely restore the position to exactly what it was during the regime of the Chifley Government? The wealthy people, who are said to have applied pressure to the present Government, were permitted by the Chifley Government to “ go to the limit “. No safeguard was provided, by that Administration to deal, with the matter to which Opposition members have hypocritically referred to-night. No limitation was imposed on the amount that a recipient could accept as a retiring allowance, whether it was artificial or genuine. Section 66, to. which reference has been made, affected, a company that paid the money to an employee on his retirement. The act previously provided that the company should be able to claim for taxation purposes any amount it disbursed, to an employee.. Then the allowance granted to the company was limited to £100 a year, but the “ sky was the limit” regarding the recipient. Yet Opposition members speak of “ advantageous retiring allowances “ and about the influence exerted by pressure groups upon this Government! Under the Chifley Government, it was open for everybody to take advantage of the situation, and people did so by every manner and means, and by every conceivable scheme of evasion.
It was in order to minimize such evasions, in the interests of taxpayers generally, that this Government formulated the provisions in clause 6 and submitted them to the House. But I was big-enough to realize, when evidence and examples were brought to my notice, that there- were anomalies which, if they did not receive attention, would probably give rise to other anomalies. I’ took a broad and sensible view of the whole matter, and recommended to Cabinet that the provision be withdrawn for reexamination in. order, that a proper and equitable scheme from every standpoint might be- devised. But I emphasize that this situation, like many other situations, was a legacy that this Government inherited from the preceding- Labour- Government. I have merely tried, to remedy the position.
– I can understand the state of mind of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) on this matter, and I appreciate what I describe as his courage in preparing these proposed amendments-. I am aware that evasions have been occurring. Some years ago, a number of big businessmen and I were members of a committee that dealt with superannuation matters, and some of my colleagues said to me, “ You are miserly about these things. We in big business make substantial provision for our employees in high positions. When they retire, they receive- big allowances “. Executives of large organizations were granted retiring, allowances in a lump sum in lieu of ordinary superannuation payments. I was aware of that situation; The Treasurer said that the Government inherited this legacy from the preceding Labour Government. However, I remind him that the position was not so serious a, few years ago as it is now. In recent years, large companies have made substantial profits, and have disposed of some of their surplus moneys to employees in the form of retiring allowances. The Treasurer said that the Government took action with regard to a particular firm, but the Opposition is assuming that that was only in the later years when high officers of firms were given large amounts on their retirement. I can understand the Treasurer’s ideas, but I cannot understand why he has decided to withdraw the- provision for re-examination. I assume that he intends to deal with glaring cases that may be brought to notice. If a man who is receiving £3,000 or £4,000 a year is given a retiring allowance of £50,000, only 5. per- cent, of’ which sum i3 regarded as assessable income, that could be a camouflaged method, of disposing of profits.
I should not refer to the general position now but for the manner in which the Treasurer charged the Opposition with having failed to tackle this matter. If taxation officers brought blatant evasions to the notice of the Treasurer, he would be compelled to act sooner or later, no matter to which party he belonged: When the Treasurer- and his officers are reexamining this provision, I hope that they will consider the point that I raised yesterday with regard to men on the lower salaries. “When a public servant retires on reaching 65 years of age and receives a lump sum, 5 per cent, of his retiring allowance is assessable income if he accepts another job on a lower grade in his department. For example, if a headmaster retires at the age of 65 years and agrees to continue to work as an assistant teacher, only 5 per cent, of his allowance is assessable because he has taken an appointment on a lower grade. But if a man on the lowest possible grade wants to continue to work after reaching the retiring age of 65 years, the full amount of his retiring allowance is assessed as income because he had not resumed work in another job. Such a man could not take a position on a lower grade because he was on the lowest grade before his retirement. I hope that the Treasurer and his officers, on reconsidering the matter, will place all retiring officers on the same level in that respect, and that only 5 per cent, of their retiring allowances will be taxed as income. I am not so concerned about the ceiling of £1,000 because a man on the lower rungs is not likely to get more than £1,000 on retirement. I am not speaking of hypothetical cases when I refer to the anomalies. In Adelaide eight or nine cases arose in one department, and the men who had been in the lower grades and had continued to work for the basic wage, had to include the full amount of their retiring allowances in their income for the year.
– I know that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) would take any steps possible to prevent me from saying something with regard to his observations, but although he may be allpowerful in his party as Deputy Leader of the Opposition he must bow to the ruling of the Chair, and you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, have given me the call. I have listened to the attacks that have been made upon the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and the Government. The character of those attacks does little credit to the Opposition or to the honorable member for Melbourne. I can well understand his attitude. He is purely a politician seeking to take political points wherever he can do so. I can imagine the honorable member sharpening his pencil after studying this provision and saying, “Look at what the Government is going to do regarding remuneration and retiring allowances of £10,000. Look at what it is going ot do for its wealthy friends.” Then, when he knew that the provision was to be withdrawn and that he would have no opportunity to vent his political spleen on that ground, he sought by innuendo to take away all the credit that must go to the Government for having recognized a mistake in its legislation and for having tried to rectify it. I suggest that if the Government and the Treasurer are courageous enough to acknowledge a mistake in proposed legislation, and if they desire to reconsider it further, they should be given credit for their courage. Instead, the Opposition has had the temerity to charge the Government with having given way to pressure. I sat in this chamber in 1945 when the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction introduced” a measure called the Re-establishment and Employment Bill. It was not in accordance with the ideas of unionists or of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, and 24 pages of amendments were introduced by the Labour Government of that day. They completely changed the character of the bill. The parliamentary records contain a sheaf of amendments that were introduced on that occasion under pressure from the trade unions. How can the honorable member for Melbourne dare talk about pressure being brought upon this Government simply on the basis of a newspaper article ?
– Ha, ha ! That was it.
– The honorable member for Melbourne has interjected, “Ha, Ha! That was it.” The author of the newspaper article and honorable members on the Opposition side know full well that there are twenty Ministers in the Cabinet and that they, and not the Treasurer alone, must accept the responsibility for the decisions of the Government. The honorable member for Melbourne has tried to pin it on to an individual Minister.
– No, I did not.
– The honorable member is the same person who, as a Minister, put armed officers into newspaper offices to prevent them from distributing their wares to the public. He is a tin-pot dictator, a sawdust Mussolini. This is the honorable member who prates to the Government of pressure. I remind him that a National Service Bill was introduced into the Parliament and the Opposition in the Senate passed it. The Labour party was opposed to compulsory national service, but the Australian Council of Trades Unions gave a direction to the Opposition and it caved in on the bill. Honorable members will recall the anti-Communist legislation. I remind them, if they need a reminder, that honorable members on the Opposition side said that they would never, in any circumstances, pass that legislation. Its passage was delayed in the Senate again and again, until the Opposition received a direction from the Australian Council of Trades Unions. Again honorable members had to eat their words and vote for that bill under pressure from the Australian Council of Trades Unions. Who are honorable members opposite to accuse the Government of having yielded to pressure when the whole record of the Labour party shows that it has been subjected to direction from outside ? Even the late Mr. Curtin, when he was Prime Minister in a Labour government, had to go to the executive of the Labour party, cap in hand, to seek its approval of a plan before the armed forces of the nation could be moved under a zoning system.
– I rise to a point of order. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) has got right away from the bill that is before the committee.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable gentleman must address himself to the bill that is before the committee.
– I have said all that I want to say with regard to pressure because I believe that I have proved conclusively that -
The Devil was sick, the Devil a monk would be;
The Devil was well, the Devil a monk was he.
The honorable member for Melbourne has charged the Government with having been subjected to pressure. Our withers are unwrung. The Government makes no apology for withdrawing this provision. It had the courage to do so because it believed that an injustice would be perpetrated if it persisted with it in its present form. The provision will be reconsidered by the Cabinet in the light of certain evidence that has been placed before it and of certain considerations of justice.
– The Government has had the matter before it for months.
– The party to which the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) belongs has had the matter before it for eight years. It allowed evasions that this Government is seeking to curtail and did nothing about them. This Government is trying to protect the national revenue and to close loopholes for evasion. The honorable member would have shrieked to high heaven about the ceiling that was provided, but when the Government is courageous enough to withdraw the provision he seeks, by political chicanery, to establish that it has been forced by pressure to take this action. I throw that back to the honorable gentleman. I hope that he has learned something from what I have said about the conduct of the Labour party, and that we shall not hear any more about this matter from him or from his supporters.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) chided the Labour party for blaming the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) personally for the many defects in the measure that is now before the committee. The right honorable gentleman is very much astray if he believes that we are blaming the Treasurer personally. We are not doing so. We are blaming every member of the Government parties. We shall not let them off as easily as they believe we shall. We do not blame the Treasurer personally for something for which honorable gentleman opposite are responsible collectively. Each and every member of the Government parties will have to face his masters in the very near future, shortly after the next Senate election. It will not be very long before it will be necessary to dissolve this chamber, so that honorable members may face the electors again and let the people say what they think of the Government’s behaviour in this matter. Honorable gentlemen opposite must not kid themselves. We shall not let them off lightly by blaming the Treasurer personally. I repeat that the right honorable gentleman is not personally to blame, because he has the full support of the Government parties. Therefore, the members of those parties, individually and collectively, must accept the blame for what has been done, I hope that the Treasurer is on my side now that he knows that the Opposition is not blaming him personally, but is blaming individually every member of the Australian Country party and every member of the Liberal party for the anomalies that exist.
Now, I ask the right honorable gentleman to consider an anomaly caused by the provision relating to concessional deductions in respect of invalid children. Let me tell him of a case that has been brought to my notice. A seventeenyearold girl was a probationary nurse at the Somerton Crippled Children’s Home at Adelaide.. She was looking after victims of poliomyelitis, and, unfortunately, she contracted that dread disease herself. Her father, after expending nearly £200 in.ion physiotherapy treatment for her, was refused a concessional deduction for an invalid child because the Commonwealth medical referee could not issue a certificate that the girl was permanently incapacitated. He pointed out, very properly, that her affliction was not permanent and that, with proper treatment, she would be able to work after the lapse of two or three years. I ask the Government to consider whether a an amendment of the legis- la tion can be made that will permit a taxpayer to claim a concessional deduction in respect of an invalid child for the period during which the child is even temporarily incapacitated. Such a provision would be of great value in unfortunate cases of the kind that I have cited.
– It is very interesting to me, having sat in this chamber while several Labour governments have been in office-
– The right honorable gentleman will sit here while a few more Labour governments are in office.
– I do not think so, especially after the exhibition by the Opposition to-night. People who have been Ministers of the Crown in Labour governments, or who have been supporters of Labour governments in this chamber, have charged the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) with a lack of experience or knowledge because, having introduced a measure, he finds now that one provision in it must be altered. Labour governments, after the long cogitation about which the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) has spoken, have introduced measures of great importance, but, within two days of the introduction of the measures, they have moved amendments to them which, in volume, have been larger than the measures themselves.
– Not amendments to budgets.
– They related to matters more important than budgets. One bill that I have in mind dealt with re-establishment and employment. Is there a subject that is more important than that? Apparently the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) believes that a small sum of money is much more important than are re-establishment and employment. The fat book that I have in my hand contains page after page of amendments of a bill that was introduced by the Labour party in 1945. They were moved by the then Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. That is not an isolated instance. I have never known a Labour government to introduce a bill that did not have to be amended a thousand times before it was passed by the Parliament. Time and again, the table in this chamber has been littered with amendments of clauses of bills introduced by a Labour government. In those circumstances, it was the acme of hypocrisy for the Opposition to criticize this Government because it has had to look twice at a provision in this measure.
Nobody believes that the Treasurer is not keen to devise the best possible taxation measures. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom. Burke) has admitted that this proposed amendment of the act was incorporated in the bill partly as a result of a report prepared by tax experts. Those experts were selected by the Treasurer because he believed them to be the best men available in the country to advise him. They sat almost continuously for a long time, and the right honorable gentleman made their findings available to the Parliament. He has incorporated in many measures suggestions that they made for the improvement of tax provisions and the removal of anomalies.
This provision deals with a very difficult subject - so difficult that the Opposition did not have the courage to touch it when it was in power. The Labour party left wide owen the pathway to abuses. It did nothing to prevent pressure groups from deriving undue benefit from the legislation. When the Treasurer discovered that this provision would give rise to some anomalies and cause some injustices, he went to Cabinet and said, “I think that the provision ought to be altered in certain respects and, if necessary, I shall have it altered in another place “. When the Labour party was in office, it frequently caused amendments to be moved in the Senate. Quite often, Labour governments were stupid enough not to accept, our advice, but sometimes they did so, and then amendments based on that advice were moved in the Senate. That happens frequently in the Parliament. Nevertheless, the Opposition, with a great fanfare, as it were, has said that in this instance the Government is doing a terrible thing and that its action is without precedent. Although some honorable gentlemen opposite have indulged in stupid nonsense of that kind, the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr.
Thompson) has said that he believes that what the Government is trying to do is a very good thing. I think so myself. I know that the Treasurer will do all the good things that he wants to do, and that he will avoid doing the harmful things that he feared he might have to do.
I regard the sham fight of the Opposition on this provision as the acme of hypocrisy in this Parliament. For years, some members of the Opposition did exactly what they are complaining about now. They moved shoals of amendments to bills, notwithstanding that they had cogitated upon the measures for considerable periods in Cabinet and in special caucus meetings. After all that consideration, when the measures were introduced it was necessary to move amendments to them.
I deprecate the suggestion that, in this connexion, the Treasurer has acted entirely on his own initiative and, if censure or praise be called for, it should fall upon him. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) state his view of this matter. Every member of this Government regards all measures that we introduce as governmental measures, for which the members of the Government as a whole must accept either praise or blame. We stand solidly behind the Treasurer on this bill, as we have done on all his financial measures. Some of them have been unpopular, but always the march of time has proved them to be statesmanlike measures of extraordinary value to the country. I say that in this matter the Treasurer has acted wisely. Whatever else can be said about the right honorable gentleman, it cannot be said that he lacks courage in any respect. It is stupid to suggest that now he is doing something that is inglorious or weak.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) and the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) have decided that, after all, the dictum of Benjamin Franklin was right. They have decided to hang together rather than hang separately. All the members of the Government are responsible for this surrender. We have not said that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) was the first person to throw up his hands. We have said that the Governnent has forced the right honorable gentleman into the humiliating position of having to announce on Tuesday that a provision in a bill introduced last Thursday must be withdrawn.
What is the story? The Treasurer appointed a committee, which reported to him thirteen months ago. The members of the committee were men of his own selection and of his own brand of politics. They are experts in their profession. They have said in their report that the provision for the taxation of 5 per cent, of retiring allowances has been incorporated in taxation legislation since 1915. The Treasurer asked why the Labour party did not alter it during its eight years of office. I ask the right honorable gentleman why the present Government parties did not alter it in the years between 1915 or 1916 and 1944, when we obtained control of both Houses of this Parliament for the first time since 1916. It is not of much use to ask why we did not do that, or why somebody else did not do it. This Government tried to give effect to the recommendation of its own committee. That committee recommended that the limit be £15,000. The Government decided that that was too hot, or too heavy, or too high, and it reduced the sum to £10,000. We did not object to that, but we do object to the run-away move of the Government now. The Vice-President of the Executive Council indulged in histrionics, and made an impassioned and furious condemnation of the Labour party for its alleged sins of commission and omission. The Minister for Health indulged in persiflage about the thousands of amendments that he saw moved by Labour governments at one time or another, but he neglected to mention that the present Government parties used to say that we accepted no amendment at all, or no amendments of any consequence.
Now, the Government asks us why we object to its latest decision. We object because it is not standing up to big vested interests. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, being the most vulnerable person in the Sydney electorate of Wentworth, probably carried the flag of truce to the Sydney Morning Herald
Mr, Calwell. office and arranged the terms of surrender for the Government. The unfortunate Treasurer, who, on his own admission, is the most unpopular man in Australia, lias to bear all the ignominy, all the obloquy and all the opprobrium of having to ask the Parliament to vote out the very provision that he recommended as an integral part of the bill only a few days ago in his second-reading speech. He then told us how the Government intended to deal with people who were evading taxes. He was full of courage and determination then, but now he has had to bring two Ministers into the chamber to put up a smoke-screen behind which to retire. The people of Australia know that the Government has had to surrender to pressure. We all can read, and we all realize the reason for the publication in the Sydney Morning Herald of these articles, which were full of abuse of the Treasurer and criticism of the Government. We know why the Government surrendered, but we want to know whether an amendment is to be introduced when the bill is before the Senate which will replace, in part or in whole, the provision now to be withdrawn, and whether other amendments are to be made under cover of dealing with anomalies. Are such amendments likely to protect the revenue, as the Government proposed to protect it originally?
The Chifley Government would have closed up these loop-holes in the tax laws had it known about them when it was in office, but it did not receive any recommendation from the Commissioner of Taxation on the matter. Honorable members may examine the records to discover whether the Chifley Government ever refused to carry out a recommendation of the Commissioner of Taxation designed to protect the revenue. If we did not receive a recommendation from the Commissioner about the existence of any loophole in the law, then it could not be expected that we should discover it from our own knowledge or experience, because we are poor men. We have not great wealth outside, nor are we directors of big companies, as are some honorable members opposite. We did not know about these practices, but if we had known about them we should have dealt with the position as this Government originally proposed to deal with it before this provision was scheduled for withdrawal. Let me conclude by reminding the committee of some words that the Treasurer used in his second-reading speech, which were -
It hat become evident in recent years that undue advantage has been taken of this concession. Tax has been avoided by the payment of large sums, which purport to be retiring allowances, but which are, in effect, deferred remuneration for past services <>r advance payments of future pensions.
Having said that only last week the Treasurer now, with the pistol at his hack, held by the other nineteen members of the Cabinet, is forced into this chamber to say, “I did not mean that. I cannot do anything about it, so let us have the provision withdrawn so that we may have another look at it “. Well, I leave honorable members opposite to their fate, which will not he long in coming. The by-election for the Flinders seat will he the first indication of it, the Senate election next year will be the second and then may the 1954 general election come quickly so that we shall have once again a good, honest, dinkum Australian government on the treasury bench.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has twice to-night whipped himself into a fury because the Government has decided to withdraw one provision from the bill. He said that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) was the most unpopular man in Australia. That may be so, but no man who endeavours to do a job such as the Treasurer’s job, as well as the Treasurer has done it, can be popular in a country such as this. The Treasurer, despite the unpopularity that he faced, set out to do his joh properly, and the effect of his work is now being felt in every section of the community. An interesting document that I have in my hand refers to a piece of legislation introduced during the term of office of the Chifley Government. Before the secondreading stage of that legislation had been concluded we were informed by the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who was the AttorneyGeneral in the Chifley Government, that he had 53 amendments to the measure- standing in his name.
The measure to which I refer was the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1947. Yet the honorable member for Melbourne, who is the Leader of the Opposition’s deputy in this chamber, is criticizing the Treasurer for the proposed removal of only one provision from the present measure. If my memory serves me aright, this is the first occasion since the Government came into office in December, 1949, on which a provision has been withdrawn from a bill. It. does not behove the honorable member for Melbourne to introduce any story about its withdrawal being made under pressure. A perusal of the list of amendments to the Common-wealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1947, which stood in the name of the present Leader of the Opposition, shows that some clauses were removed from the bill and other clauses were inserted. Those amendments were made under pressure from the Australian Council of Trades Unions. I am sure that the honorable member for Melbourne recalls that legislation very well, because both the Government and the Opposition at that time expressed astonishment that the Chifley Government’s Attorney-General, the present Leader of the Opposition, who is an eminent lawyer, should have brought down amending legislation and, before the second-reading stage of it had been concluded, should have circulated 53 amendments.
– Was that done under pressure ?
– Yes, under pressure from one section of the community, the Australian Council of Trades Unions. The press was full of the matter at the time. Now, because one Sydney newspaper - and I remind the Opposition that the press has no love for this Government because it has been unable to force it to appreciate the £1 and to give to it extra dollars for newsprint - because, I say, an article appeared in the Sunday Herald of Sydney, about this particular measure followed by a second article in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, and the Government later decided to withdraw a provision, the Opposition claims that it is capitulating to tho press. Honorable members opposite know very well that in introducing this measure the Government is giving effect to recommendations of its own committee. Immediately it was realized that there were likely to be some anomalies in this legislation which, probably, would make the position worse, the Government was big and courageous enough to move to withdraw a doubtful provision. The Opposition had opportunity to close loopholes in the tax law when it was in office, but it never even tackled the problem. That is proof positive not only to the Parliament but also to the people that honorable members opposite were not fit to hold office and are not fit to hold it in the future, since they do not know enough about legislation to know how it should be amended and fail to appoint committees to assist them with tax laws. I say that congratulations are due to the Government and to the Treasurer for having stood the brunt of this attack. They were big enough to realize that there was a possibility of a mistake being made in relation to one provision and to withdraw for review and perhaps for incorporation in future legislation.
– I desire to make this comment : Is this a parliament, a deliberative assembly which considers amendments and whether legislation is proper, or must it merely adopt legislation holus-bolus, as introduced, as the previous Government did? Surely, it is the duty of a parliament to consider bills and amendments to bills, and to take cognizance of the effect that legislation will have on people outside. Surely the press reflects the opinions of the people, and surely it is to the credit of any government that it has examined a measure such as this and has decided to alter it where necessary. The Labour party is taking up the position that once legislation has been introduced it must be passed without alteration. The adoption of such a blanket approach to our consideration of legislation would mean that the Parliament would become merely a rubber stamp to signify approval of legislation prompted by outside interests. I say that the Government is doing the correct thing by withdrawing the provision because the Parliament has decided that great difficulties are inherent in it. I congratulate the Treasurer for moving for its deletion. The Opposi tion deserves no congratulation for contending that when a bill has been introduced it should be adopted as introduced. It always did that when it was in office. It never permitted legislation to be altered after it had been introduced. In this instance, the Parliament has been treated as a deliberative assembly, which is its rightful role. It has been allowed to discuss this measure, and surely the essence of democracy is that legislation shall be passed after it has been fully discussed.
Question put -
That the amendment ( Sir Arthur Fadden’s, vide page 2024) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr. G.. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
New clause 4a.
– by leave - I move -
That, after clause 4, the following new clause be inserted: - “ 4a. After section twenty-three of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 23d. -(1.) This section applies where, before the end of the year of income that ends on the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and sixty -
a taxpayer being -
a company that is a resident and in which not less than three-quarters of the voting power is controlled directly or indirectly by persons, other than companies, who are residents; or
any other person who is a resident, derives income from the working of a mining property in Australia or in the Territory of New Guinea for the purpose of obtaining uraniumbearing ore; and
b ) the Commissioner is satisfied that all uranium recoverable from ore obtained from the mining property in the year of income is or will become (either before or after recovery) the property of the Commonwealth or has been or will be (whether before or after recovery) sold or disposed of to a person approved by the Commonwealth. (2.) So much of the income referred to in the last preceding sub-section as, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is attributable to uranium, shall be exempt from income tax. (3.) Where a taxpayer carries on mining operations on a mining property partly for the purpose of gaining or producing income that is exempt under this section and partly for the purpose of gaining or producing assessable income, the taxpayer is entitled to such part only as the Commissioner considers just of the deductions allowable, but for this section, in relation to those operations.’.”.
The amendment that I now submit is designed to place, for taxation purposes, the mining of uranium on the same basis as the mining of gold. I do not need to emphasize the immense importance of uranium from both a national and an international stand-point. Although our uranium resources are still unknown, they compare prima facie more than favorably with those that exist in any other country. The Minister for Mines in South Africa, where known uranium resources are much less than ours, believes that the value of the annual output of uranium in that country may approach that of gold, which is now £180,000,000 a year. There is no reason why uranium should not be equally important in the Australian economy, and in order to encourage the rapid development of our uranium resources we need to give incentives to private enterprise. Members of the Opposition have stressed the necessity to encourage the development of uranium deposits in the Northern Territory. I emphasize that it is equally important to encourage the development of such resources as may be discovered in any other part of Australia. Sub-section (1.) of the proposed new section 23d provides for the exemption from tax, until the 30th June, 1960, of income of companies that are engaged in the mining of uranium, on the same basis as the income of companies that engaged in gold mining are now exempt. I have proposed that date in order to ensure continuity of operations. Paragraph (a) limits the concession to Australian residents and to companies substantially owned in Australia. Members of the Opposition emphasized the importance of such a provision when they were dealing with mining operations generally in the Northern Territory. The proposed new section provides that income derived from the mining of uranium shall be tax free in the same way as is income that is derived from the mining of gold. However desirable it may be to continue the existing concession in respect of gold mining, uranium is of far greater importance from the stand-point of its dollarearning capacity and its value as a factor in the protection of the free world. The greatest responsibility that has ever been placed upon Australia is to obtain the maximum quantity of uranium in the shortest time.
Sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (a) of sub-section (1.) of the proposed new section refers to income derived from the working of a mining property.
The wording of that sub-paragraph conforms to that of the relevant sections of the principal act in relation to gold, and the provision embraces income derived not only from mining but also from the treatment and concentration of the ore on the mining property. It does not go beyond that. Under sub-section (2.) of section 44 of the principal act, dividends that are paid from the income of a mining company are exempt from income tax and that provision is repeated in the proposed new section. In instances in which uranium forms only a part of the production, the exemption from income tax is to be limited to that part of the mining operation which is properly attributable to uranium.
Two other matters are involved in the proposed new section. The honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce) referred to the first of them, namely, the possibility of tax being levied on awards that are made in respect of the discovery of uranium deposits. Apparently, that honorable member was not aware that the Treasurer (Sir ArthurFadden) stated definitely in this chamber about a month ago that such awards are exempt from income tax. The second matter relates to section 23 of the principal act, which exempts from tax - income derived by a bona fide prospector from the sale, transfer or assignment by him of his rights to mine, in a particular area in Australia or in the Territory of New Guinea, for gold or for any metal or mineral which is specified in the regulations as a metal or mineral in respect of which this paragraph shall apply.
I am given to understand that the Government is now preparing regulations to apply to uranium the provision that now applies to gold.
I repeat that a great responsibility rests upon Australia to increase its production of uranium. It can achieve that objective in several ways. For instance, the deposits at Rum Jungle are being developed under government contract. Operations can also be carried out in other areas by private enterprise. The latter method is relied upon in most of the other countries in the free world. But whatever method the Government may decide to adopt, I urge it not to rule out either of those forms. We must realize it to be our responsibility to get from the Australian earth the maximum quantity of uranium in a minimum of time. I submit the proposed new section as an acceptable means of increasing Australia’s output of uranium.
– The proposed new section that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has submitted is just another example of the piece-meal method that the Government is adopting in dealing with taxation in respect of mining operations in the Northern Territory. Instead of dealing with the matter in this way, particularly insofar as uranium is concerned, it should make a comprehensive survey on which to base its taxation policy as a whole. I realize that the mining of uranium in the Northern Territory is of great national importance. However, under the proposal of the honorable member for Mackellar, the shareholders of the companies concerned will receive the greater part of the benefit of the concession for which it makes provision, whereas it does not make provision to ensure that those actually engaged in the mining operations shall receive any benefit from this concession. The fact that the concession is to be limited to companies that are Australian-owned does not answer that objection. The workers concerned will again be left out in the cold. Furthermore, whilst the mining of uranium is of national importance, this concession should be applied also in respect of the mining of tin, wolfram, copper, zinc and silver lead, which are also of paramount importance from not only an economic but also a defence stand-point. The field at Hartz Range is the only deposit of mica in Australia that is now being worked on a commercial basis. That field supplies 99 per cent, of Australia’s requirements, and if the industry is wiped out, as it may well be under other proposals that are embodied in this measure, Australia will be obliged to import mica from India. Adequate supplies of mica and of the other minerals that I have mentioned are of the utmost importance not only in time of war but also in time of peace. However, the proposed new section will go at least a part of the way towards providing assistance to industry in the Northern Territory. I deplore its failure to extend the benefits for which it makes provision to the workers who will actually be engaged in the mining of uranium.
Sir ARTHUR FADDEN (McPhersonTreasurer) [10.28”. - The Government accepts the proposed new section that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has submitted. It does not interfere nor conflict in any way with the Government’s policy of maintaining control of uranium. I inform the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) that subparagraph (ii). of paragraph (a) of subsection (1.) of the proposed new section provides for exemption from tax of the income of any other person who is a resident of and who derives income from the working of a mining property in Australia or in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for the purpose of obtaining uranium-bearing ore. The exemption for which provision is made in the proposed new section should go a long way towards stimulating the mining and processing of this much needed material. On behalf of the Government, I have much pleasure in accepting the proposed new section.
– The Opposition has had this proposed new section sprung on it to-day. I believe the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has also had it sprung on him. It is designed, in part, to place uranium in the same position as gold and to exempt from taxation those who mine it. That seems to be a feasible proposition. However, the honorable member who submitted it did not limit the proposed concession to persons who operate within the Northern Territory. The absentee land-lord will get the same concession as the man who works in the mines, and to me that seems to be a wrong principle. At any rate, the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) desires to speak about this matter, so I shall content myself by making but a few observations. The Opposition will allow the proposed new section to pass at this stage, and will examine it in the Senate. If necessary it will attempt to alter it after it reaches the Senate because we have, not had an opportunity to consult government officials and others about the full effect of it. It may be as good as has been claimed by the honorable member who acknowledges paternity of it. However, we are proud of the product of our own brains, but I am not sure that what the honorable member has proposed will bring a benefit only to the people who live in the territory. Perhaps it will also benefit the go-getters in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide who have been reaping a rich harvest out of the territory in past years-
– The proposed new section is not confined to the Northern Territory, it is designed to apply all over Australia.
– Many of these go-getters have been living in ease while somebody else has been doing the work. It is true that uranium may be found all over Australia, and if that should be so the exemption will apply all over Australia. I am merely an amateur geologist, but perhaps I am a little better versed in the science than is the Treasurer. I believe that uranium is to be found almost entirely in that part of Australia that is geologically of the precambrian period, and such geological formations are found with few exceptions in the north of Australia because the southern part of the continent is a couple of aeons more recent in origin than is the northern part. The possibility of discovering uranium in the southern part of Australia is not so great as is the possibility of discovering it in the north.
– The proposed new section clearly indicates the class-conscious and sectional nature of this Government. Earlier to-day the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) submitted a comprehensive amendment that dealt with the whole production and development of the territory, but honorable members on the Government side defeated it. Now the Government, coalescing with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who speaks a 3 its leader on this occasion, has decided to establish grades of taxpayers in Australia. As the honorable member for the Northern Territory has so rightly said, the Government is attempting to deal with the problems of the territory on a piecemeal basis. If there is to be real national progress, and if the Northern Territory is to develop as it should, that can occur only by the adoption of a conscious and deliberate policy by this Parliament in respect of all the industries of the territory. Can it be said that those who work in the tin, silver-lead, zinc, copper, wolfram or mica fields are playing a lesser part in the development of Australia than are those who are engaged in the uranium fields? “When we examine the record of this Government in connexion -with uranium we discover that the pioneer who first discovered the mineral received scant respect from this Government. Then the right to develop the field was hawked throughout the world and eventually was handed over to Zinc Corporation Limited, which has done nothing up to this stage to develop the territory. That company will now find itself blessed by not being obliged to pay tax whereas other concerns engaged in. other essential industries in the Northern Territory, such as tin, copper, zinc and lead mining, will be obliged to pay tax.
The whole crux of this matter is the obvious class conscious and sectional nature of the Government. Drovers, miners, public servants, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization officials, and others who are playing a most important part in the development of the territory, have been passed over while Zinc Corporation Limited has “been singled out for the very special favour of being allowed to develop the uranium industry free of the incidence of taxation. This is a clear-cut ease which indicates that the Government is a monopolists’ government, and not a people’s government. Wherever an advantage can he given to monopolists, speakers from the Government side uphold the case of the monopolies and rarely say a word for those who are doing the practical work. I again pay a great tribute to. and express my thanks to, the pioneers and those who have gone before us, many of whom have left their bones to bleach in the parched areas of the Northern Territory. They are the people who made possible the discovery of this source of wonderful wealth. Yet we, on this occasion find it convenient to grant tax concessions to Zinc Corporation Limited.
– Where did the honorable member get his idea about Zinc Corporation Limited ?
– It has been said that Zinc Corporation Limited will take charge of the development of the Rum Jungle uranium field. If the Government has not yet made up its mind about who will exploit the deposits at Rum Jungle, it is time that it did so. Time and time again spokesmen for the Government have indicated that Zinc Corporation Limited will take over the development of Rum’ Jungle. If the Treasurer has further information to impart to the committee at this stage, I suggest that he should do so immediately. This is another instance of the Government, being incapable of making up its mind, having had second thoughts about a most important matter. Surely one has a right to expect the Government to have determined an important matter like this on the basis of equity and justice when the bill was being drafted, rather than to allow the matter to reach this late stage when an honorable member can move an amendment to determine its policy.
New clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Certain items of assessable income).
– I ask the committee to negative this clause. Stated shortly, its omission is necessary to give effect to the Government’s decision to withdraw and examine the matter of the taxation of retiring allowances.
Clause 6 (Amount received on termination of, or retirement from, employment) .
– I ask the committee to negative the clause. For the reasons that I gave when I explained the amendment to clause 4, it is proposed to withdraw and examine this proposed new section.
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clauses 7 to 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 -
After section eighty-two h of the Principal Act the following section is inserted in Division 3 of Part III.:- “82j. - (1.) Amounts paid by the taxpayer in the year of income to a school, college, university or tutor for or in connexion with the education of a person . . . shall be allowable deductions.
– I move -
That, in proposed new section 82J, subsection (1.), after the words “or tutor” the following words be inserted: - “and amounts otherwise expended by the taxpayer in the year of income “.
The purpose of the amendment is to give effect to the proposal made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) during the second-reading debate with the object of liberalizing the benefit that the proposed section will confer upon taxpayers in relation to education expenses. We have not said that the proposed new section will not improve the act. In fact, we welcome it as far as it goes; but we wish it to go further. The amendment that I have proposed is designed to make it possible for a taxpayer to claim, as a part of the total permissible deduction of £50 for each pupil, any amounts that he may expend for the education of the child otherwise than as a payment to the. school or tutor. In other words, it provides for the deduction of the cost of books purchased from book-sellers instead of from universities or schools. The cost of such books should be deductible but the proposed section, in its present form, provides that only the costs of tuition, board, and the purchase of books if they are purchased from the university or school concerned, shall be. deductible. Universities and schools do not conductbook stores.
– Some of them do.
– That is not so. They may help in some instances by purchasing a number of books and then reselling them to pupils, but that is not general. Much literature is required by the average student, and the cost of it is very burdensome to parents to-day. Unless my amendment is adopted, the £50 advantage for which the proposed section provides will be worthwhile only to the parents of children who attend what are known as Great Public Schools or Public Schools or who are boarders at other schools. The average parent will not be able to claim the full £50 deduction if his expenditure is confined to the terms of the proposed section as it now stands.
– The Government does not want to help the average parent.
– It says that it does, and I am putting it to the test. I want to know whether its proclaimed intention to grant a £50 concession is genuine. The provision will be of no use if a parent cannot take advantage of it when he purchases text-books for his children, livery honorable member who is trying to educate children knows how costly textbooks are.
– What text-books would r.lie honorable member specify?
– Any text-book that is required for a pupil’s studies.
– Every student requires hooks of different types. A supply of books that would be sufficient for one class might not be sufficient for another class.
– My answer to the i nterjection, which is intended to be. helpful, is that no parent will spend more than he needs to spend on the purchase of costly books, which generally are useful for only one year. Usually a book that is used by one child is of no use to a brother or sister who undertakes the same course of study several years later. The amount expended on text-books should be left to the discretion of each parent. I do not think that anybody would try to abuse the concessions merely by buying books to a total value of £50 each year or anything like that.
– What about books for technical students? Such students are provided with lists of books, some of which are essential and some of which are not essential.
– Some students might want to buy all the prescribed books, but I do not think that would happen in many instances because, no matter how much money a parent receives to-day, there is not so much left after heavy taxes have been paid that a fond father or a doting mother would be willing to hand out to a child any more than is absolutely necessary for the purchase of books. The Opposition considers that, unless the proposed new section is amended, there will be no advantage in it for 60 per cent, of the parents of school children and only a slight advantage for an additional 30 per cent. The real advantage will go to those persons whose children attend boarding schools, because the ordinary fees at secondary schools do not amount to more than £12 10s. a quarter at least until a child reaches the matriculation standard. The Treasurer, who has already surrendered to the wealthy persons who hope to provide themselves with retiring allowances of £10,000 a year or more, ought to make a worthwhile gesture to the taxpayers who, as matters stand, will gain very little from the new provision.
– There is no doubt that the members of the Opposition are the champions of humbug. Some of them were in power in this Parliament for eight years, and they had full opportunity then to introduce the innovation that they now propose. The truth is that they did nothing to encourage and assist secondary education in Australia at any time when they were in office. It was left to this Government to increase expenditure on university and secondary education and to provide, for the first time, for the granting of tax deductions in respect of education expenses. The effect of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) would be to extend the concessional deduction for payments to schools to all payments made in connexion with a child’s education. The Opposition has no responsibility in relation to such concessions and is not called upon to count the cost. The proposed extension of the provision would not be practicable under present economic conditions. Do the advocates of the extension suggest that the Commissioner of Taxation and his officers should be required to determine whether the cost of a certain hook, or the expense of providing coaching in extraneous subjects, such as dancing or athletics, may be properly incurred in connexion with the education of a child? The practical and obvious solution of the problem is to leave such -decisions to the education authorities. That is what the Government proposes to do.
Honorable members will appreciate that the granting of an allowance for education expenses will be an innovation. No other government has granted such a concession. It is customary, when new ground is broken in the field of tax concessions, to take the first steps cautiously. After every new concession has been in operation for a brief period, requests are invariably made for the making of adjustments in order to reduce anomalies and iron out injustices. Only at that stage is it possible to determine how the scope of the new concession may be broadened without giving rise to fresh anomalies. Although the Government will not accept the proposed amendment, honorable members may be assured that the operation of the concession provided by this clause will be closely watched and that the provision will be adjusted and amended in order to meet changing circumstances and as evidence of anomalies is produced. If experience indicates the need for an extension of the concession, and if economic circumstances permit such an extension, the Government will take appropriate action, as it invariably does in such circumstances. It will hold the scales of justice evenly so that all sections of the community will be fairly treated.
Government is to be congratulated on its decision to grant this important tax concession on school fees. Undoubtedly, there is a need for assistance of this kind for families, and this provision is a move in the right direction. A large number of children in the community receive their education, particularly secondary education, in schools outside the departmental systems of the States. It would be- beyond the capacity of the States to shoulder the burden of the education of the numbers of children who are now taught in independent secondary schools, if those schools should go out of existence. The independent schools have not increased in the last twenty years in proportion to the increase of population; indeed, their capacity to educate a section of the community has decreased in recent years. The financial burdens imposed on them have become so heavy that it is impracticable to start new independent schools, and, in fact, they are not being started. If those schools were not to continue, a burden would be cast on the. State education systems which they could not possibly bear.
There is another reason why parents should be assisted to send their children to independent schools, if they wish to do so. It is not desirable that everybody should be turned out exactly from the same mould. In this over-regimented world, it is of first-rate importance that certain differences, and differing viewpoints, should be encouraged and preserved. If we are not to become a race of automatons, we have to respect different viewpoints, different sorts of people and different attitudes of mind. In this respect the independent schools fulfil a most important function in the community. I believe it is also of great importance that parents who wish their children to be educated under the supervision of religious organizations should be able to do so, and this concession is of great importance to them.
I was astonished earlier to-day to hear objections raised by the Opposition to this concession, and to recall that other objections to it had been stated outside the chamber. Those objections fall into two categories. One of them is that this is a concession only to wealthy people. That is not so, as I shall show in a few moments. I am glad to say that I have not heard the other objection voiced in this chamber, but I have met it outside. It is based on narrow sectarian prejudice, and, indeed, is not worthy of the attention of the chamber. I am glad that it has not been mentioned here. The objection that this concession will benefit only the wealthy people is ill-founded. Actually, the reverse is the case, because the independent schools in the community have felt the burden of increasing costs to such a degree that they have been compelled to increase their fee3 again and again in the last few years. If parents of children attending those schools are not given some assistance, the privilege of sending children to those institutions will inevitably become the sole prerogative of the very wealthy. I do not believe any honorable member wishes that to occur. Unless a concession of this sort is made, the class of children who will attend such schools will narrow continually until it is limited to the children of the very wealthy. The Government has recognized that danger, and, accordingly, has proposed this concession.
I see no objection, in principle, to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), but it is obvious that matters of this sort cannot be considered in a moment. I am completely in sympathy with the objection expressed by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) to this amendment on the ground that the Labour party, when it was in office, had eight years in which to consider such problems, but contemptuously rejected all suggestions. The amendment has been put forward with the basest of political motives, and has been moved in a mealy mouthed manner. Quite rightly, consideration of the matter has been deferred by the Treasurer, but I think it will be revived later. Personally, I feel gratified with the proposed concession. I know the idea that a tax concession should be allowed in respect of school fees is much older than the two and a half years I have been a member of this Parliament, but I have been most interested in the proposal since I have been a member. I arranged for a deputation of sixteen honorable members, including some Opposition members, to discuss the matter with the Treasurer last year. I thank him for this practical evidence of his consideration of the views put forward by that deputation.
.- I discussed this proposal with the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) when the Government was considering it. If I remember rightly, the proposition put forward by the Treasurer was that, since the State taxes all citizens for educational purposes, it should allocate the money that it raises for those purposes in such a way as not to exclude any particular section of the community. In other words, the State should provide, in one way or another, free secular education for all children. No matter where they are educated, they are entitled to have the cost of their education met in the ordinary secular subjects such as reading, writing and arithmetic, in whatever schools their parents choose to send them. The Government raises money by way of taxes from all citizens, and money raised for educational purposes should not. be allocated in such a way as to exclude any children from the benefits accruing from that expenditure.
The Government, apparently, has accepted that view, and, accordingly, has formulated the proposal in the bill. To that degree, I am hound to say that I am pleased. I am glad to note that the Government has accepted the principle that all children in the community, irrespective of whether they are being educated in an independent private school, denominational school, or State school, are entitled, because their parents pay their taxes for that purpose, to have free secular education provided by the Government. But whilst I express my pleasure at the recognition of that principle, I remind Government supporters, who should give this matter serious consideration, that the parents of 95 per cent, of the children who attend independent schools, private schools or denominational schools, whatever we like to term them, will not benefit from this provision. The parents of children who attend secondary schools, which charge fees, will benefit from it, and, no doubt, they will he very pleased indeed to receive the concession. But the fact remains that the parents of 95 per cent, of the children attending independent, denominational schools or private schools, which are mainly primary schools, will not benefit from the provision.
– How has the honorable member reached that conclusion ?
– Is it just a guess, or did the honorable member toss a coin ?
– I cite the example of schools in my own electorate. I suppose that one-third of the children in the electorate of Yarra attend independent schools. Their parents do not pay a substantial amount in income tax, ‘but 1 expect they pay as much by way of indirect taxation, as the persons who receive the highest incomes. Approximately 40 per cent, of the proceeds from taxation is raised by indirect taxation, not by income tax. So, it cannot be said, “ Well, these people do not pay taxation for educational purposes, and, therefore, they are not entitled to expect the -State to provide education for their children “. Those persons pay their tax obligation in that respect, principally through the medium of indirect taxation. But the way in which they pay the money will probably exclude them from the benefit of this provision, because many schools in my electorate are maintained from collections made in the churches on Sundays. As the Treasurer has explained, parents will not be able to claim a tax concession on expenditure incurred on the education of their children unless they have made a direct contribution to the schools.
– Do they not pay school fees?
– They may pay ls. or 2s. a week by way of school money. The children take the money to the schools. But, primarily, the responsibility for maintaining parochial and denominational schools is met by collections in the churches and from the proceeds of special efforts. However, those moneys are not direct payments by the parents of children attending the schools. Parents who contribute three, four or five shillings a week towards the cost of their children’s education will receive no benefit from this concession if they contribute through church collections, or special envelope collections, or by some of the many other ways of raising money that are known to honorable members. As the Treasurer has said, unless the money is paid directly to the institutions concerned, no concession can be claimed in respect of it. The Government should reconsider the matter. As the provision now stands, the benefit of the concession will extend only to parents who can send their children to private schools such as the Melbourne Grammar School, the Geelong Grammar School or Xavier
College. It -will not extend to the parents who live in Richmond and send their children to parochial schools. In other words, it will benefit the least deserving at the expense of the most deserving. The Treasurer would be well advised to have the provision amended in the Senate -so as to extend the concession to the 95 per cent, of those who send their children to private schools, as well as to the 5 per cent, who are covered by the bill as it now stands. I do not know exactly the form that such an amendment should take, but it may be that the making of an automatic allowance to all parents who send their children to independent or private schools would he the best way to ensure that justice was done. It would be impracticable to ask people to submit a return of all the money they put on the church plate on Sundays. Once the principle is accepted of allowing a concession in respect of school fees, its benefit should go first to the wage-earners who maintain the parochial schools. I support the granting of the concession to the parents of children who attend private secondary schools, but it should also be granted to the parents of children who attend parochial schools.
.- It was stated at a scientific congress in Sydney recently that a scientist can conduct experiments, and if they fail, he can try again. Governments are not so fortunately situated in that, once legislation is passed, it must remain in force for a considerable time. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) emphasized some of the complexities of the proposal which we are now considering, and from his speech we realize the dangers that are inherent in any attempt to carry the matter too far at first. The Government has introduced an important new principle, and is proceeding warily. Education is primarily the function of the States. This Government has attempted to keep out of the field in which the States function, but it believes that education is of sufficient national importance to warrant the giving of some Commonwealth help. Hence, the Government has introduced this bill. The prime purpose of the measure is to assist those persons who have to send their children away to be educated at private secondary schools. The fact that the children attend such schools relieves the demand for accommodation in the State schools, which are already hard put to it to find room for the children seeking education. It appears that the mover of the amendment is himself not quite sure what it really means, and he is certainly not sure what the cost to the Treasury would be if the amendment were given effect to. The Government is not prepared to accept amendments without knowing the cost involved. The Government wishes to test the scheme for a period, and then to amend it later in the light of experience. Many of us who live in the country would like to see relief given to those parents who have to board their children at a distance in order that they may attend school. However, if that concession were granted, it would probably open a way to a claim for relief in respect of travelling expenses, and perhaps for the cost of purchasing books. The Government has demonstrated its good faith by introducing the present proposal, and I have no doubt that the concession will be extended in due course.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) be so inserted.
The committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That, in proposed new sub-section 82j, subsection (1.), paragraph (c), the word “that”, twice occurring, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “a”.
The amendment is consequential upon the amendment that I have previously moved, but as the first amendment has been defeated there is no purpose in pursuing the matter further. We shall have to wait for this amendment until after the by-election in Flinders and may be even until after the next general election.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 16 to 24 agreed to.
Clause 25 - (3.) The amendments effected by paragraph (a) of section seven, by section nine, and by sections twelve to seventeen (inclusive), of this Act apply to assessments in respect of income of the year of income that commenced on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-two, and in respect of income of all subsequent years. (4.) The amendments effected by paragraph (e) of section four, and by sections five and six, of this Act apply to assessments in respect of income of the year of income that commenced on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-two, and in respect of income of all subsequent years, but do not apply in relation to amounts received before the nineteenth day of September, One thousand nine hundred and fifty- two.
.- I move-
That, in sub-clause (3.), after the words “affected by”, the following words be inserted: - “section four a, by”.
This is purely a drafting amendment to provide that the new clause 4a, already agreed to by the committee shall operate from the 1st July, 1952.
– The Opposition has had no more opportunity to consider the effects of this amendment moved by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), than it had to consider the effect of his previous amendment. The fact that the Opposition is allowing the amendment to go through without a division does not indicate that it will not attempt in the Senate to clarify the position with regard to it.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That sub-clause (4.) be left out.
Sub-clause (4.) of this clause provides than amendments to the principal act effected by clauses 4 (e), 5 and 6 of this bill, shall commence to apply during the current financial year. As the clauses mentioned have been omitted from the bill by the amendments previously moved by me, sub-clause (4.) of this clause has become redundant. Accordingly, this is a consequential amendment to omit the sub-clause from the bill.
– This amendment is the fourth and last of a surrender series of amendments.
– This is not the anti-Communist legislation to which the Opposition surrendered.
– It is a shocking thing that this Parliament should be asked by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) on behalf of the Government, against his own better judgment and his inner wishes, to surrender to big outside interests. The Opposition opposes the amendment. We shall take it to a division and put on record how we voted. We shall separate the sheep from the goats, and I am afraid that there will be more goats than sheep.
Question put -
That the amendment ( Sir Arthur Fadden’s ) , be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments ; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I am sorry to take up the time of the House at this late hour, but I have a sad tale to unfold. It concerns our colleague, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin). Some time ago the honorable member referred in the House to the case of. a soldier whom he described as a “ Korean veteran “. He said that this man had served for two years in Korea, had been back in Australia for only twelve weeks, and had been flung into the ranks of the unemployed immediately upon his return from the war. He then proceeded to make a number of charges against two Commonwealth departments and asked me to investigate the matter. He offered publicly in the House, as the records show, to state the name of the soldier. I asked him not to do so, but to give me the name privately, which he did. I caused investigations to be made and informed the House a week or two later that the soldier in question was not a member of our forces in Korea and had had no service overseas. So, far from the man having been flung into the ranks of the unemployed immediately on his return from the war, the facts were that he registered for employment almost immediately after his discharge from the Australian Regular Army, in which he had served for a short time, and on the same day was offered a job as a mail officer with the Postmaster-General’s Department, which he declined. Also on the same day, he was given a chit to a labouring job, but failed to report to his prospective employer. The honorable member then contradicted my statement, made a further violent attack upon the two government departments concerned, and, although this is not important, also attacked me and my veracity. I then asked him, outside the House, whether he would clear up the matter by obtaining the soldier’s discharge papers, which, as honorable members who have had war service know, would disclose clearly whether this man had had overseas service or not. Although the honorable member promised to obtain the papers, he failed to do so. I then wrote the following letter to him: -
On the 3rd September last, you referred in the House to an ex soldier whom you described as a “ Korean veteran “ who had been “ flung into the ranks of unemployment immediately upon his return from the war “. Later you told me privately that his name was–
I do not propose to read the name to the House- and I promised to have inquiries made.
I went on to recount my statements in the House. Then I stated -
You will remember that I asked you on Tuesday whether you now had this man’s discharge, and you told me that you had seen him over the weekend and that he had promised to post the discharge to me in Canberra immediately. This is to advise you that no such document has been received in my office, nor have I had any communication from this gentleman whatsoever. I should be grateful, therefore, if you would take steps to obtain this discharge forthwith, and show it to me so that I may compare it with the records of the Army authorities and the Commonwealth Employment Service.
I say that that was a fairly civil letter, which demanded a civil reply. I did not receive a reply for some time. The question that was asked by the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar) this morning was asked without any prompting from me. I had no idea that the honorable gentleman intended to ask it.
Opposition members interjecting,
– There are some members of the House who are prepared to accept my word on that matter. While I was in the chamber this afternoon,I was handed a letter from the honorable member for Watson. It is as follows: -
In reply to your letter of the 18th September,I did my duty in raising in the House the case of an Australian soldier who had been unable to obtain employment. Tins man was not known to me personally at all until I met him at the Commonwealth Employment Office. I am entitled to accept representations without being forced to take part in a departmental enquiry directed against any soldier
I contest that argument. No honorable member as entitled to make charges in this House unless he has taken reasonable steps to verify those charges. The letter continues -
I strongly resent your crude attempt to cash in on a possible mistake in information
The truth is beginning to emerge - and interfere with me in my parliamentary duties. I acted on information which I believed to be true. I refuse to be made an informer against any man. 1 do not recognise your right to question me as you are trying to do.
He promised to let me have that information, but now he will not give it to me. The letter goes on as follows: - . . What I did in the House was in the interests of full employment for our servicemen. I want to inform you, emphatically, that intimidation will not be tolerated by me now, or at any other time. That is definite. I would suggest that you instruct your departmental officers to find work for this exserviceman and others, which is their proper function.
I gave you the man’s name privately and confidentially and you have no right whatsoever to break confidence by mentioning it in your letter.
It was a private letter. If the honorable, gentleman had had his way, the name would have been disclosed publicly in this House, but I prevented the public disclosure of the name. The letter concludes -
In conclusion, I want to make it clear that it is wrong for you to interfere with me in doing my duty in trying to induce your department to find work for this man.
I shall let the letter speak for itself. I suggest that the circumstances of this case reveal that the honorable member for Watson is an unreliable windbag.
..- A very miserable attempt has been made by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), in the style of a cheap lawyer, helped, of course, by the galah from Gwydir-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman will withdraw that word “ galah “.
– If other honorable members were called to order as often as I am-
– Order ! The honorable member for Watson will resume his seat. I call the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon).
– I rise to order.
– Order ! No point of order is involved. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) will resume his seat.
– You have no sense of justice.
– I have a sense of justice.
– Mr. Speaker–
– Order ! The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) will resume his seat.
– May I ask you a question?
– Not at this stage. I have called the honorable member for Yarra.
– Did you hear the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) call the honorable member for Watson a windbag ?
– I did not hear the last two or three words of the Minister’s speech. If honorable gentlemen would maintain order, I should be able to hear all that is said in this chamber. If I slip now and again-
Mr. Pollard interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable gentleman must not speak while I am on my feet. If honorable members would maintain silence while other honorable members are addressing me, I should be able to hear all that is said. If a remark of the kind mentioned by the honorable member for Lalor was made, I tell the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) that it was unparliamentary and that he should withdraw it.
– I withdraw that remark. I say that the honorable member for Watson is a loquacious person whose word cannot be relied upon.
Motion (by Mr. Tom Burke) put -
That the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) be. further heard.
– The “Noes” have it.
– I believe that, on the voices, the “ Ayes “ have it. Will you put the question again, Mr. Speaker?
– I shall not put it again.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would preclude the honorable member for Watson from being heard.
– The motion cannot be accepted because I have already given a decision in favour of the “Noes”.
– I ask for a division on the motion of the honorable member for Perth, which is -
That the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) be further heard.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I shall be brief. Some weeks ago in this House I raised the question of political bias being exercised, as I saw it, in the selection of candidates for subsidies from the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I do not propose to re-canvass or rehash that matter to-night, but I do propose to say that after I had made my remarks on that former occasion the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), unwelcomed and uninvited, decided to add his contribution to the matter. To judge from his remarks to-day, apparently the allegation that he made, in relation to a certain lady writer, on the occasion of that debate, was entirely untrue. I wish to make it quite clear to the House, the newspapers, and everybody else, that that lady’s name was not mentioned by me during the course of my allegations. Some weeks have passed since I made my original statements on the matter, and some of the people whom I mentioned have attempted to contradict me, but I have found no reason whatsoever to withdraw any of the statements that I made in the first place, and I am quite confident that any of the allegations that I made would stand up in the face of any inquiry by the Government or anybody else. That is a matter that I may refer to at some future date in this House. What I do wish to make clear is that I had no association with the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar. My case did not need his support. It is quite capable of standing on its own feet. In addition, I need not withdraw anything that I said in relation to the matter, and at some future date I shall have an opportunity of giving the House once more not only the allegations that I made on that occasion, but also information that” I have since ascertained relating to the matter.
.- As one of the honorable members who voted in favour of the honorable member for Watson (Mr.. Curtin) being heard, I should like to say that I do not regret having done so,, because I think that the honorable member-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman has no right to comment on a vote of the House.
– I am not commenting on a vote of the House. I am commenting on my own vote. The point is that the honorable member for Watson proved to the House that he is a mental pigmy.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman may not use that term.
– I withdraw the term.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. That term is objectionable to me, and I ask that the honorable gentleman be directed to withdraw it and to apologize for having used it.
-Order! The honorable member for Watson has asked that the honorable member for Bowman withdraw the term “ mental pigmy “, and apologize for having used it. The honorable member for Bowman must therefore do so.
– I withdrew the term before the honorable gentleman rose to order. T apologize for having used it. I should like to say that we expected the honorable gentleman to apologize, when he rose” to speak, for having told deliberate untruths–
-Order ! The honorable gentleman is completely out of order, and. must withdraw that term and. apologize for having used it.
– I withdraw the term and apologize for having used it. I say, instead, that I regret that the honorable gentleman misled the House in the statements that he made concerning the discharge of a person who, he informed the House on several occasions, was an exserviceman of the Korea force. If he had been misinformed on that matter, it was his duty to apologize unequivocally for some of the things that he. said of the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale). He passed some remarks- regarding the responsibility of the Government to provide homes for ex-servicemen. I. shall mention the case of a number of exservicemen who, up till some time ago, were employed by the Queensland State Housing Commission. If I remember aright, it was on the 9th August that 2.7 of these men, who were Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme trainees, were dismissed by the commission. Mi’. Hilton, the Queensland Minister for Housing; stated, as his reason for the dismissals, that he could not keep those trainees in employment because he- had to keep a proportion of apprentices in employment. I do not disagree with that Minister’s statement, but all I should like to say is that if these men had to be put off that State Minister might have given a sound reason for the dismissal. He said that the reason was that the Commonwealth had repudiated the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. That was completely untrue.
– Order’! The honorable gentleman may not say that a Minister’s statement is completely untrue.
– I am- not referring to a statement made by an honorable member of this House, but to a statement made by a State Minister, which, I repeat, was untrue. The proof of its untruth lies in the fact that a bill now before this House will grant more than £3,000,000 to the Queensland Government for housing work. The main point is that two cif those 27 men contacted me on the day that they were put off, and I contacted the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) on the same day in relation to their position. That occurred’ on the 9th August. Between that day and the 27th August I received five letters from the Minister for Repatriation. In the last letter, which was dated the 27th August, the Minister informed me that only nineteen of the men had reported to the Commonwealth Employment Service, and that, by the 25th August, seventeen of them had been placed in employment by the service and the other two had found employment for themselves and were satisfied with it. I contend, therefore, that the Government is carrying out its responsibilities and duties in relation to ex-servicemen, and I resent the foul im pi lications–
– Order ! The honor.able gentleman may not use the term “ foul implications “. It is unparliamentary, and must be withdrawn.
– Then I say, “the unfair implications “.
-Order ! The honorable gentleman must withdraw the words, foul implications”.
– I withdraw the words, “ foul implications “ and I say instead “ the extremely unfair implications “ that have been made by the honorable gentleman, who had the opportunity to be an honorable gentleman by apologizing to this House.
– I do not wish to keep the. House long, but I wish to say that the honorable member foi; Watson (Mr.. Curtin) showed very bad taste when he denied absolutely the truth of the statements of the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) and then failed to obtain evidence of the truth of his own denial. He not only did that, but he also made accusations against government departments and government employees, and at least I feel that in this House to-night he should have been man enough to apologize to the Minister and admit that he had been misled, because we all are misled at times, but there is no excuse for a man to be offensive because he has been misled.
– There is no doubt that the tactics of the Government in attacking the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) are designed deliberately to direct attention away from the real issues. The question of where an unemployed exserviceman served in the military services is not, I should imagine, of great importance. Whether or not the honorable member for Watson misunderstood what was said to him, or his informant had misled him, is of no importance, because the honorable member’s remarks will not cause an injury to the man concerned, and certainly do not constitute a charge against the Minister or the Government, The important matter is that the Govern ment refuses to answer the charge that, although thousands of ex-servicemen from the two world wars are registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service as unemployed persons, the Government continues to bring to this country by every ship that arrives- here thousands of immigrants whose arrival must further aggravate the unemployment problem.
This morning, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) referred to the retirement from the Commonwealth Military Forces of ex-servicemen who had reached the statutory retiring age of 55 years. Within the last twelve months, some of those men have signed agreements to serve for a further period of three years. If they are to be compulsorily retired when they reach the age of 55 years, why have they been invited and permitted, within the last twelve months, to sign agreements to serve for a further- period of three years? The Government has said that, despite the existence of the contracts that were signed less than twelve months ago, these men must retire from the armed forces. When the- Minister was. asked whether it is a fact that immigrant labour is now being used in certain army establishments upon work that could have been made- available to these men,, he calmly replied that the work upon, which the immigrants are engaged is- associated, not with the army, hut. with the maintenance of army camps.
A man who has served in the armed forces of his country until he has reached the age of 55 years, should be given first preference, in work of that kind. Why does, the Government continue to bring immigrants to Australia when there is grave unemployment amongst Australian workers? It has attempted to pass the buck to the .State governments. It is true that the New South Wales- Department of Road Transport and Tramways sent officers abroad to recruit labour which was urgently needed at the time, but because the financial policy applied by this- Government is crippling the States, the New South Wales Government has been obliged to curtail its activities in many directions- and, as a result, many men have been dismissed and others- are still being dismissed from government projects.
The Government endeavours to distract attention from the serious unemployment position by an attack on the honorable member for Watson for his failure to produce a discharge from an ex-serviceman who happens to be unemployed. There is no substance in that attack. The Government should state whether or not it is a fact that thousands of ex-servicemen are to-day fruitlessly seeking employment, and, at the same time, the Minister for the Army is dismissing men from the armed forces who have reached the statutory retiring age, notwithstanding that they have contracted to serve for an additional three years. A person who loses his job after he has attained the age of 55 years has little chance of finding employment unlesshe has special qualifications. As long as this Government remains in office he will continue to be unemployed, and be compelled to exist on the paltry unemployment benefit, which is less than the age or invalid pension which, in turn, is insufficient to provide for the maintenance of its recipient.
The Government is not concerned with the fact that between 130,000 and 150,000 persons in the community are unemployed. It believes that a certain percentage of unemployment is necessary in any capitalist country. It is on this point of policy that the Labour party and the non-Labour parties so greatly differ. The Labour party stands fairly and squarely for a policy of full employment; the Liberal party and the Australian Country party advocate the establishment of a pool of unemployed persons in the community. If a supporter of the Government happened to be included in the great army of unemployed, he would regard his plight as serious. The Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Beale), says that the Government has declined to accept full responsibility for the influx of immigrants to Australia. The Australian Government must do so, because it alone determines who shall come to this country, and it alone issues permits for immigrants to enter Australia.
– I direct attention to the state of the House.
– There is not a quorum present. The House stands adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Merimbula, New South Wales.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Commerce and Agriculture - A. N. Egan. Health - K. A. Steele.
Science and Industry Endowment Act - Report by Auditor-General on Accounts of Science and Industry Endowment Fund - Year- 1951-52.
House adjourned at 12.16 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
on asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and,, Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 September 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19520924_reps_20_219/>.