6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence a question in reference to the award of cadetships at the Naval College. I understand that five appointments are to be made by means of examination from boys who are thirteen years of age. Some of the boys taking part in the examination are, I understand, nearly fourteen years of age, and the boys who are just thirteen years of age at present will not have another opportunity to compete. Will the Minister be prepared to appoint an additional number, say, two or three of the younger boys, who may not pass the examination, if their examination papers warrant that being done?
– I am afraid that the honorable senator has been misinformed. Boys are eligible to go up for examination in the year in which they become thirteen years of age, so that every boy gets an opportunity to compete. The number of cadets to be admitted to the College in a year is not five. Speaking from memory, I think it is thirty. The boys who pass highest in the competitive educational examination are taken.
– Not only an educational examination.
– Owing to the ship being on service it has been found impossible to send round the Selection Committee as was done in previous years, so that in the present year it is practically a competitive educational examination.
– A certain number from each State is appointed.
– A certain number of cadetships is allocated to each State, but, in addition to that, the authorities take the boys who pass highest in the examination. Obviously, each boy has had his chance, and the educational examination papers do not disclose that the older boys pass in greater number than do the younger boys. It will be seen that the boys have had their chance in the competitive educational examina tion, and if they have failed it is not deemed desirable that they should take the place of boys who have passed. The capacity of the College is not larger than the number of cadetships which is set aside.
– On the motion for adjournment last night, I asked the Minister of Defence a question which involved two or three sub-questions, and he replied to all but one, which I will repeat. I asked whether it was intended that flogging shall be regarded as one of the punishments to be administered under a military administrator to those Germans who may give offence.
– The answer to the question is “No.” This morning I had an opportunity to again look over the papers, and I found that my statement that the punishment was inflicted by a Court is not correct. A Court of inquiry was held, and it reported to the Commandant. It was the Administrator, Colonel Holmes, who inflicted the punishment. I intend to issue an instruction that it is not to be repeated.
– Is the Minister representing the Attorney-General aware that reports have been received from North Queensland stating that many Chinese storekeepers, gardeners, and farmers, some of them with pretty big interests, are showing what appears to be an undue eagerness to exchange every note of paper currency for gold ? Have any reports been received of similar activity among Chinese in other parts of Australia ? Can it be ascertained, whether there has been any abnormal despatch of gold from Australia to China during the past few months, and if so whether there has been any ulterior destination of such gold ? If the Minister is unable to give the information I desire, will he bring the allegations under the notice of the AttorneyGeneral, so that they may be inquired into?
– The question is one which affects the Treasurer and not the Attorney-General. If the honorable senator will supply me with a copy of the questions I will have the allegations made brought under the notice of the Treasurer to-day, and ask that immediate inquiries be made.
Pay for Holidays
– Is it a fact that the temporary employes in the Commonwealth Public Service will not be paid for the Christmas holidays this year; and, if so, what are the reasons?
– I am unable to answer the question off-hand. I may state that as regards the employes at the Naval Bases, they will be paid for Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day. I will ascertain during the course of the day the position regarding the casual employes in other Departments, and possibly I may be able to supply the information to the honorable senator on the motion for adjournment this evening.
– Is it a fact that Mr. Barr, the shipyard manager at Cockatoo Island, has resigned his position, and is to leave for England on the 19th inst.; and, if so, will the Minister get Mr. Barr’s opinion on the launching of the Brisbane before he leaves, as he has had a great experience in launching vessels for Vickers and Sons ?
– I believe the appointment of Mr. Barr has terminated, or is about to terminate. I cannot commit myself off-hand to get his opinion on the proposals of his senior officer. I am not in a position to know whether Mr. Barr is competent to report on that work.
– Will the Minister accept the written statement of Mr. Barr as evidence on the plan of Mr. Cutler for launching the Brisbane.
– I shall be quite willing to accept a statement from Mr. Barr and to give it consideration.
non-commissioned officers : armament Artificers : Resignations.
– Can the Minister of Defence say how many non-commissioned officers have received promotion, temporary or otherwise, during the past two months ?
– Some time ago I gave an instruction that noncommissioned officers on the Instructional Staff should be given an opportunity to fill the temporary positions on the distinct understanding that on the return of the per manent officers they were to revert to their original positions. Some twelve positions were offered to the senior noncommissioned officers, but only eight were accepted.
– In view of the possibility that the Senate may not be sitting to-morrow, I ask the Minister of Defence the following questions : -
– I shall endeavour to obtain the information for the honorable senator during the course of the day.
– The answer givento my question was not, I think, sufficiently clear. The Minister informed the Senate that twelve non-commissioned officers applied for these appointments, and that only eight accepted. Am I to understand that only eight were qualified ?
– Only eight applied?
– The positions were offered to senior members of the noncommissioned staff, and only eight accepted.
– In all the States ?
– The Minister of Defence furnished a statement to the press concerning a number of military officers in Adelaide who had tendered their resignations because of the remarks of an officer of the Permanent Forces which they regarded as insulting. I ask the honorable senator whether these officers have since intimated their willingness to continue in their present appointments, or propose to persist with their resignations?
– I have not heard anything further on that matter. I presume that they are continuing in their present positions.
– Following up a question put by Senator Keating yesterday on the subject of official military maps, I should like to ask the Minister of Defence whether he is now in a position to answer the question more completely?
– Senator Keating asked whether it was a fact that there are maps in existence upon which are written the words “ reproduced at head-quarters, Melbourne, by Critchley Parker, Mining Standard by authority, Albert J. Mullett, Government Printer.” I have made inquiries and have ascertained that soon after the war commenced a number of inquiries were made by the general public at the Defence Department for a reliable map of the theatre of the war in Europe. The Department had such a map, and arranged with the Government Printer to print copies of it, which were afterwards supplied to people who desired them.
Rates of Pay
– Is it a fact that cooks employed at the Broadmeadows Camp were getting 10s. per day, and are now receiving 26s. per week ? Is it a fact that chauffeurs who were getting 8s. per day in doing transport work are now getting 6s. ?
– If there has been any reduction in the pay of these men it is entirely without my knowledge. I shall have inquiries made into the statement of the honorable senator.
– I asked the Minister of Defence last week a question with regard to the reduction of pay of motor drivers and mechanics in the Expeditionary Forces, and he promised to get further information on the subject for me. Has the honorable senator any further information to give with respect to the alleged reduction of these men’s pay?
– Up to this morning I have not received any communicabion. I have again put myself in communication with, the authorities, and have asked that the information should be expedited.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether he has any information to give to the Senate concerning the report which has appeared in the newspapers about the disappearance of £2,000 in notes from a parcel addressed to Western Australia. Will the Minister say whether any attempt is being made to discover how the notes came to be missing ?
– Every possible inquiry is being made. Although I have no information on the subject to give to the Senate at the present moment as to the direction which the inquiry has taken, I may say that the robbery is a fact, and that an inquiry is being conducted by detectives.
Statement by the President.
– I should like to ask you, Sir, whether you have noticed that the Age and Argus newspapers of to-day have suppressed the very lengthy statement you gave to the Senate concerning the blackguardly conduct of some of their representatives ? Have you ascertained whether the report of the proceedings in the Senate yesterday was deliberately suppressed by the individuals concerned, or whether the proprietors of the newspapers mentioned, who, I admit, made a very full and ample apology, have seen fit to prevent the publication of your statement and the correspondence in connexion with the matter?
– The honorable senator will not add to the dignity of Parliament by rubbing it in.
– Whether newspapers publish a full, or, in fact, any report of the proceedings of Parliament is a matter entirely for the proprietors of those newspapers. I do not think that any good purpose can be served by our making any complaint whether they do or do not publish reports of our proceedings. My personal opinion - and I take it that that is what the honorable senator desires really to know - is that the incident should now be regarded as closed, and that no further reference should be made to the matter.
– It is closed until the House Committee deals with it.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs be good enough to say whether the Department is yet in a position to furnish the return I asked for on the 20th November, relating to the number and names of subsidized mines in the Northern Territory ?
– The return in question was laid on the table at a late hour yesterday evening.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether tenders have been closed for the construction of the quarantine station at Townsville, and has any tender yet been accepted ? If the Minister is unable to answer these questions now, contingent upon the possibility that we may not be sitting after to-day, will the honorable senator bring before the Minister of Home Affairs the desirability of proceeding with the work by day labour?
– I have no information on the subject at present. I shall try to ascertain the facts in time to let the honorable senator have an answer to his question prior to the rising of Parliament.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs -
– If the honorable senator will hand me his questions I may be able to supply him with the information he requires at a later hour to-day.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether reports are received monthly of the work done at the Federal Capital, and, if so, whether he will lay them on the table of the Senate. If such reports are not received, will he take steps to furnish the Senate, monthly, with information as to the work which is being done there, and the amount that is being expended upon it?
– Reports are received almost daily from the Federal Capital, and it has been the practice to publish them in the Schedule whichis issued by the Department quarterly. But, if there is a general desire on the part of ‘honorable senators that these reports should be published more frequently, I have little doubt that the necessary arrangements can be made.
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of
Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1. (a) Buildings, £66,000; (b) equipment, £130,000.
Day Labour or Contract
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether it is the intention of the Department to carry out work at Horsham by day labour or contract?
– The answer is - The only work in project is some small minor painting and repairs. Consideration is being given as to the best method of carrying out this work.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he inform the Senate when the Navigation Act will be proclaimed?
– The answer is -
The date cannot yet be stated.
Day Labour - Mechanics - Waggon Wheels - Water Supply
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs ascertain whether any portion of the work on the transcontinental railway, either at the Kalgoorlie or the Port Augusta end, is being done under contract? If so, will the Minister see that the whole of the work is carried out on the day labour system ?
– I shall try to get the information for the honorable senator later during the day.
– Arising out of that answer, I desire to ask whether the Government have a policy in connexion with railway construction, and whether that policy is that all such undertakings shall be carried out by day labour. If so, are they adhering to that policy ?
– I could not answer the question put to me by Senator Needham off-hand, because he desired to know if a contract was in existence, and I was not quite sure that we had not been left with a heritage from our predecessors. The Government have a policy in connexion with the construction of railways, and it is that all such works shall be undertaken by day labour.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Commonwealth Bank Officers
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Are any officers or men of the Expeditionary Forces, who hold positions in the Commonwealth Bank, receiving while on active service the salaries attached to their positions, in addition to their military pay?
– The answer is -
The Governor of the Commonwealth Bank states that all the officers of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, while on duty with the Expeditionary Forces, are receiving full salaries attached to their positions, in addition to their military pay.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that the House had made the amendments requested by the Senate.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee: (Consideration resumed from 15th December, vide page 1888).
Clause 2 -
Section 29 of the Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1912 is amended by omitting all words after the words “ perpetual lease “ and inserting in their stead the words”or a lease with a right of purchase or a lease of land to be used for pastoral grazing or cultivation purposes or a homestead lease or a mining lease) shall not be liable to assessment or taxation in respect of the estate, and the owner of a leasehold estate under any such laws for a term not greater than one year certain shall not be so liable:
Provided that in the assessment of the unimproved value of a lease the value of any metals or minerals or other rights reserved to the Crown shall be excluded.”
Section proposed to be amended -
Notwithstanding anything in the last two preceding sections, the owner of a leasehold estate under the laws of a State relating to the alienation or occupation of Crown lands or relating to mining (not being a perpetual lease without revaluation or a lease with a right of purchase) shall not he liable to assessment or taxation in respect of the estate.
– I should like an explanation of the effect of the clause. Section 29 of the original Act provides that leaseholds, with certain exceptions, shall be exempt from taxation. Thus the taxation of leaseholds by that Act is limited to perpetual leases, without re-valuation, and leases with a right of purchase; all other leases being exempt. It is now proposed to specify an additional number of leases which, by the wording of the original section, will thus become also liable to taxation. If the proposed amendment is made, what class of leases will still remainexempt from the tax ?
– I cannot at the moment tell the honorable senator exactly what leases are to be excluded, from taxation. By another section of the Act, one-year leases are specifically excluded. I understand that some othersmall leases under the various State laws, such as small agricultural leases, and others, are also to be exempt from taxation. Our intention and object is to tax. leases which are of a. more or less permanent character.
– If that is the object, it will not. be attained in New South Wales. If it is proposed to exempt comparatively shortdated leases, other than the annual leases which are already specifically exempted, those leases will be covered by the other phraseology of the clause. Very wideuse has been made in that State of what is known as a special lease. It seems tome that these special leases will be exempt under one portion of the clause, and taxable under another, because it ia proposed to make , liable to taxation leases granted forpastoral, grazing, or cultivation purposes.” Most of these special leases which are granted for short periodsare yet granted for one of those threeobjects. The ambiguity ofthe clause arises from the fact that the draftsman, instead of repealing section 29 and substituting a new section, apparently thought it simpler to amend it. I still desire to learn from the Government in specific terms, what leases it is proposed to exempt from taxation?
.- I shall try to ascertain for the honorable senator, before the Bill leaves Committee, what specific leases are exempt. I move -
That after the word “ amended,” line 2, the following words be inserted : -
The object is to amend section 29 of the principal Act so as to bring in leasehold estates granted under the laws, not only of a State, but of any part of the Commonwealth, such as the Northern Territory and the Federal Territory. If leaseholds are to be taxed, those in those Territories ought to be equally taxable with leaseholds granted by the State Governments.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the words “or a timber lease “ be in- inserted after the word “ lease,” at the end of line 7.
My object is to bring under the operation of the measure all the timber leases which are held by private companies and parties throughout the Commonwealth. The amendment on its face pretty well explains itself. We have pastoral and mining leases which are to be subject to taxation. There is certainly an anomaly in not including the large timber leases which exist in Queensland, Western Australia, and other States. I desire by my amendment to secure uniformity, and to destroy any differentiation which otherwise would exist.
. - Senator Lynch spoke to me about this matter last night, and since then I have made inquiries in regard to timber leases. The reason why they were not included in the Bill was, that it was thought that in the proper sense of the term there were no leases in regard to timber, that there were simply licences to cut timber. But it has been ascertained since that in Western Australia there are timber leases which are granted for a term of years, and under which the holders have certain rights, in the same way as have other lessees of Crown lands. For instance, in pursuance of the lease the lessee gives occupation rights and charges rent for them. Ho charges a person who erects a house or lives in a house a rent. Therefore, it is considered advisable that the amendment should be accepted, and that we should thus bring timber leases under the scheme of taxation.
– I sincerely hope that the common sense of honorable senators will prevent them from accepting the amendment of Senator Lynch. I will show what diversified conditions prevail in this very big country. Nearly every timber lease of any importance which has been given in Tasmania has been given very largely for the purpose of inducing closer settlement, the very object which the land tax is designed to secure. In almost every case the timber lease contains conditions enjoining on the lessee the necessity of preparing and returning to the Crown from year to year certain areas of land in a condition suitable for closer settlement.
– That will be taken into consideration, will it not?
– How do we know that it will ? It is my duty, on behalf of Tasmania, to make a protest at this juncture. Its senators know very well that not more than two or three years ago a timber lease was granted in the Scottsdale district for the very purpose of assisting and promoting the welfare of the settlement scheme which had been promulgated by the Crown and to help the settlers on the Crown land which was being prepared for settlement to sell their timber to a timber company which was about to be established. Most stringent conditions were imposed on the company in regard to returning to the State, for the purpose of enlarging the areas for settlement, certain lands from year to year properly cleared and suitable for closer settlement. The best thing the Commonwealth can do, if it really wants revenue, and desires to pick up money in this way, is to introduce later an income tax, and then if these leases have any practical value in the way of providing dividends, the lessees can be called upon to make an equitable contribution to the cost of carrying on the war or to the national revenue resources. . But to impose a tax on people who occupy their land because of the necessity of clearing the rugged lands of our State for the purpose of closer settlement is something against which I must make a protest here, even if it is not likely to be effective.
– What is the difference between an income tax, to which you are agreeable, and this?
– An income tax will take nothing from these people if they are not making a profit.
– This will not, in my opinion.
– We do not know how the proposal will be worked. I must confess that it is very hazy, and I believe that Ministers are very hazy as to what the effect of this tax on lease values will be-. The Minister of Defence has said that he believes that in regard to mining leases it -will in no case produce any revenue. What caused him to make that statement ?
– I do not know the position in Tasmania, but I know that in Western Australia there is a perfect rush to get hold of these lands.
– In Tasmania there is no timber company which is working at a profit. Mills involving the expenditure of thousands of pounds have been erected, and although they have done a good deal in the way of clearing the country, and, perhaps, making it ultimately available for closer settlement, they have not been worked at a profit.
– If not, they will not pay anything over the economic rent.
– How do we know?’
– They have been working for fun for the last ten years !
– In making these timber leases subject to land tax we shall defeat the object of the State Governments, especially that of Tasmania, in granting these special leases.
– Subject to taxation only under certain conditions.
– I venture to say that no Minister will commit himself to the construction of the language of this clause and its ultimate effect. I do not propose to divide the Committee, but if we had a few more honorable senators on this side I would. I trust, however, that the Committee will not consent, to the amendment. I would have expected something more from Senator Lynch. He has been a miner ; yet we have introduced a proposal to tax the value of minerals undisclosed, and so on. The honorable senator knows that it is a hazy and very impracticable scheme. Yet for the purpose of throwing this drag-net he asks honorable senators, not only to consent to a clause which taxes rnining leases, but to include therein timber leases, which in connexion with the development of my State have been granted for a special purpose.
– The amendment lends a little added force to the objection I offered a little while ago as to the construction of the clause. It does seem to me that what is desired, and what is intended, is that all leases, with some minor exceptions, shall be subject to taxation. I submit that it would be very much better to say so, and not to start with a statement that no leases shall be subject to taxation except those hereafter enumerated. As the Bill was originally drafted, it left out one class of taxation, which apparently Senator Lynch, the Minister, and others think ought to be included. It would be very much better if the Ministry were to make up their minds as to what leases they propose specifically to exempt, and then enumerate them. Under the clause as it is there will be very grave doubts as to whether a number of leases of various denominations are exempt or not. The Minister has told us that it is only proposed to exempt certain leases with a brief tenure. It ought to be possible to say so. The clause does say that a lease of twelve months’ currency shall be exempt. That is a good reason, in my opinion, for that currency is not worth bothering about, but it ought to apply all round. What other leases do Ministers wish to exempt? If a year is not thought long enough, let them lengthen the period and exempt a lease with a currency of two or three years. We ought to be informed exactly what leases the Government propose to keep out of the operation of the clause. It would be much more business-like to redraft the clause, and to start it with a bold declaration that no leaseholds are subject to taxation except those enumerated. Are we sure that the present enumeration covers all that is wanted ? It is clear from the amendment that it does not.
– Senator Millen has raised a point which, of course, is an interesting one as a matter of debate. On the face of it, it would look, and it certainly occurred to me at the time that it would be better to say, “ Al] leases shall be taxable except the following,” but when one goes into the matter, as I find that the draftsman has done, it becomes clear that with six varying State Land Acts it would be necessary to have a list of exemptions five times as long as this Bill if we were to put them in. I have before me the Queensland Land Act of 1910. On two pages I find semi-leases, which will be exempt if the Bill is passed in its present form, but which would have to be epitomized if the suggestion of Senator Millen were adopted. That is the position in regard to one State alone, and I venture to say that a similar position would arise in connexion with other States.
– It wo::d be more difficult and complicated in the case of other States, because the Queensland Act is a consolidated one.
– Section 104 of the Act creates a perpetual lease selection. That is not a lease in the first stage. It only becomes a lease when certain conditions have been complied with.
– You do not exempt that.
– Yes, because it is not, in the first period, a lease. Section 105 of the Act creates agricultural homesteads. That, again, is not a lease in the initial stage. It becomes a lease when certain conditions have been complied with. Again, we find that the Act creates a free homestead, a grazing selection
– If it is not a lease, what is it?
– It is not a lease, but a right to graze on land.
– That is all that a lease is.
– Subject to certain conditions having been complied with, it becomes a leasehold. The Queensland Act provides for prickly-pear selections, which are not leaseholds, so the legal authorities say, though they may become such.
– They are leases in the making.
– If they are not leases, the clause means that they are liable to taxation.
– It provides that) leaseholds shall not be subject to taxation. You say that these are not leases, and, therefore, they must be taxable.
– In the clause we say that leases shall not be subject to taxation except certain leases, and we epitomize what those leases are.
– If these are not leaseholds they will not be covered by the Bill.
– It is not clear that they are not leaseholds, but they are not the kind of leases that we are trying to tax. It is not desirable that they should be taxed. If we had gone through all the State Land Acts to epitomize every kind of lease, we should have had a very long list to include in the Bill. It has been found more convenient to follow the system which. has been adopted in this measure. Senator Bakhap speaks of timber leases issued for closer settlement purposes. These are granted subject to onerous conditions which involve expenditure by the lessee. This expenditure is indicated as of such a character that the lessee gets little or no return for it.
– In every case of the kind within my knowledge no dividends have so far been paid.
– The answer to that is that if there are no returns there will be no tax. The expenditure in such a case is really the rent which the lessee is called upon to pay. What is the economic rent of such leases?
– The rental in some cases is a peppercorn; a royalty has to be paid on the timber, and there are special clauses in the lease requiring a certain area of cleared land to be returned to the State every year for the purpose of closer settlement.
– Quite so, but all those obligations and the expenditure they involve has to be set against the economic value of the land, and it is not conceivable that such lessees would be required to pay any taxation under this Bill any more than they would be required to pay income tax. In arriving at the taxable value of such leases, the conditions of the lease -must be taken into consideration. I think it is clear that the holders of such leases would not have to pay any tax under this Bill, and so the honorable senator need not concern himself about them.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [11.59]. - Senator Bakhap has referred to a class of leases in connexion with which the holder is required to comply with certain conditions in respect of land which reverts to the Crown. The lessee in such cases has no interest in the land at all. He has a right only to the timber on the land, and no land tax as such can be imposed upon him. In the case of ordinary timber leases in New South Wales, the lessee acquires the right to enter upon land in order to cut and remove timber of certain dimensions. He is given a right to graze the stock necessary to enable him to carry on his work of cutting and removing the timber. It cannot be said that that is a lease of the land which the Government are entitled to tax under this Bill. The only valuable asset the lessee has is the exclusive right to cut and remove the timber.
– The honorable senator does not maintain that that right has no value?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I do not, but I do maintain that it cannot be the subject of a land tax. The lessee’s right is not in the land at all, but is -a right to the timber upon it. I take the case of land with buildings upon it in the city. The owner desires to erect a better building, and in order to enable him to do so he advertises that the existing buildings are for sale, with a right to the purchaser to enter upon the land, and, if the work should take time, to occupy it for the purpose of the removal of the building. That is on all-fours with the case of a man allowed to go upon land to remove the timber upon it. The Ministry might introduce a measure to enable them to tax the profits derivable from the cutting and removal of the timber, but that would not be a land tax.
– In Western Australia the holder of a timber lease is given a right to let the land and charge rent for it, and to put up buildings on the land and charge rent for them.
– The Minister means that he is allowed to sell the grazing right and to erect and let houses to people whom he engages to cut the timber.
– To anybody - storekeepers and others.
– What difference does it make if the people to whom the houses are let are engaged in getting the timber or not?
– It may make a great deal of difference. A man getting a job to cut the timber may see that he has two or three years’ work in hand, and may take his family to the place of his work if he can obtain a house for them, instead of a tent.
– But the revenue goes to the holder of the lease, whether the houses are occupied by persons engaged in cutting the timber or not.
.- We cannot tax any land the property of a State, but the Government are in this measure trying to impose taxation which will not be against the Constitution, but will at the same time enable them to derive revenue from the value taken from land by the exercise of an occupation right given by the Crown. If that is a valid tax at all, it is certainly not a land tax. A land tax is taxation of the land, but in this case the land is the property of a State, and, as such, we cannot tax it. The Minister of Defence has explained that a principle has been laid down by which to ascertain the taxable value of leaseholds for the purpose of this Bill. In the western division of New South Wales we have leases with a forty-two years’ tenure, and subject to periodical re-appraisement. A Board is appointed to assess the fair rental value of these leaseholds.
– How often are they revalued ?
– I think about every seven years, but I know that they are subject to periodical re-appraisement. The Commonwealth Government now say that they desire to impose a tax upon those holdings. Their proposition is to tax the difference between what has been declared to be the fair rental value of the land by a Board appointed for the purpose and the fair rental value as decided by some other valuator appointed by the Commonwealth. Honorable senators must see that this will open the door to a great deal of difficulty and trouble, whilst it is more than probable that the Commonwealth Government will obtain little or no revenue from the imposition of this tax. They will have to bear the cost of the inspection and valuation of these lands, and possibly of conducting proceedings in connexion with those valuations. If the original valuation by the State authority is a reasonable one, and it is made only after full inquiry, unless exceptional circumstances arise in the meantime, the Commonwealth Government will find, after all their trouble and expense, that there will be nothing available for taxation. The lessees may be put to trouble and expense in appearing with their witnesses before a Court to determine the valuations, and, though it might be said that the Government would meet the expense, I ask why we should place ourselves in the position of having to meet heavy expenses when it is probable that there will be no taxable value in these cases upon which to impose this tax ?
– One valuation would serve for a number of years.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - That is so. One valuation by the State authorities serves for a number of years. But if the valuation by the State authority is a fair one, the valuation by the Commonwealth authority must be the same, and the Commonwealth Government will be put to expense in the pursuit of a phantom economic rent on which to impose this tax. For a time, excellent seasons prevailed in the western division of New South Wales, and people were induced to take up leaseholds -there and stock them. Things went on -well for a few years, and there was then a succession of years of drought. As a -result, properties that were at one time worth £40,000 or £50.000 were going begging in the market for £1,000 or £1,500. Three-fourths of the leaseholders’ stock died, and the balance was practically given away. The holders of -these lands are now to be faced with the payment of a tax under this Bill. It might be possible to impose such a tax in -prosperous seasons. Of course, it may be urged that the leaseholder may come Along and disclose to the Crown that he is suffering, for example, from the effects of a drought, and may obtain relief from the payment of the tax. But while that is being done a. gross injustice is being inflicted on the individual. If honorable senators were acquainted with the western lands of New South Wales, they would know that there are thousands of acres there which are not worth halfacrown an acre.
– What has the honorable senator’s argument to do with the amendment of Senator Lynch in regard to timber leases?
– It has a great deal to do with it, seeing that it relates to leases generally. Assuming that we have the constitutional power to impose this tax, we are justified in impressing on the Government the futile character of such legislation. What is there to prevent a State Government - after a valuation of these leases has been made by Commonwealth officials - from increasing the rentals which it formerly charged up to the full economic value of the leases? I know of cases which are pending in which freeholders and lessees are disputing how the existing tax should be apportioned, notwithstanding that decisions in regard to it have been given by the Court from time to time. What is the value, for purposes of taxation, of a pastoral lease which takes 20 acres to feed a sheep?
– What areas are there in New South Wales as poor as that?
– There are areas in the western district which will not carry more than one sheep to 20 acres.
– What will they pay under this tax?
– Why should we throw our money, away in setting up all the paraphernalia of Courts to deal with such cases? If we declared that the tax is not to be imposed in cases in which it will not result in revenue being obtained, or in settlement being assisted, we should be acting upon common-sense lines. If the land which the Commonwealth recently purchased for £80,000 as a site for the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney had been owned by a private individual, he would have been required to pay, under this
Bill, 9d. in the £1 for every £1 in excess of £75, 000. Probably such an impost would average 4d. or 5d. in the £1 all round.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in pursuing a discussion on the general principles of the Bill, which he has been doing for some time? We are nowin Committee, engaged in debating an amendment by Senator Lynch in regard to timber leases.
– Senator Gould is not in order in discussing the general principles of the Bill, and I ask him to confine his remarks to the amendment.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - It is almost impossible to deal with the amendment without discussing the general principles of the measure. Does Senator O’Keefe desire that I should debate this question upon the motion for the third reading of the measure ? Every word that I have uttered is absolutely pertinent to the clause, the principle of which is to levy a tax on Crown lands by an indirect method. However honorable senators opposite may seek to cover up their object, we shall probably find somebody questioning our constitutional power to do what we are now asked to do. We are endeavouring to tax Crown lands, because they have been leased at less than their true value to some individuals in the community.
SenatorFindley. - Is there anything wrong in doing that?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - It is unconstitutional.
– The honorable senator is not the High Court.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Nor is Senator Findley. In debating this clause, the only satisfaction which one can derive is the knowledge that his protest against an improper attempt to interfere with these particular leaseholds will be placed on record in Hansard. I do not know that I need say any more just now. Senator O’Keefe seems anxious that I should reserve my remarks on this question until the motion for the third reading of the Bill is under consideration. I am glad to know that when that stage has been reached, it will be competent for me to discuss the measure from A to Z.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3, and title, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 1 : - 1a. Section 27 of the Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1912 is amended by inserting in sub-section 3 after the words “ in respect of the land,” the words “ or the lease is a lease from the Crown.”
This will make sub-section 3 of section 27 read in this way : -
Notwithstanding anything in this section where the owner of the fee-simple of the land is exempt under section 13 of this Act from taxation in respect of the land or the lease is a lease from the Crown, a lessee of the land shall be assessed and liable for land tax as if the lease were made before the commencement of this Act and not otherwise.
This is a highly technical clause; but, roughly, the effect of the amendment is that, in making Crown leases taxable, we regard them as if they were leases entered into before the commencement of the Act. They then come under the provisions which deal with the valuation and assessment of private leases entered into before the commencement of the Act, and not under the provisions relating to the valuation and assessment of leases entered into after the commencement of the Act. There is a differentiation in the methods of valuation and assessment of private leases entered into before and after the commencement of the Act; and this amendment will make it clear that the Crown leases are to be assessed in value as if they were leases entered into before and not after the commencement of the Act.
– The purpose of the amendment seems to be to place lessees of Crown lands in exactly the same position as lessees of private lands as regards assessment. That would be all right until re-appraisement took place. The safeguard proposed by the Minister is perhaps necessary now; but what will happen when reappraisement takes place ? The amended provision will still stand good, although the reappraisement is made by the State with the distinct knowledge that the lessee is paying the Federal land tax, and although that fact will be taken into consideration in re-appraising the rent. In spite of that re-adjustment, the Commonwealth will go on assessing the Crown lessees as if their leases had been made before the commencement of the Act.
– Sub-sections 1 and 2 of section 27 may have a bearing on that point.
– It is really a matter for the legal advisers of the Government to take the responsibility of, and I trust the Minister will consult them as to whether the point I have raised is a sound one or not.
– The amendment will not mean that the valuation is to be the same as if the lease was in existence before the commencement of the Act. It means simply that the method of valuation and assessment in regard to Crown leases shall be the method applied to private leases entered into before the commencement of the Act.
– There is a difference in the treatment of those who obtain their leases before and after the commencement of the Act, because those who obtained leases before the Act was passed entered into their contractual obligations without any knowledge that such an impost was to be levied; whereas those who took up leases after the passing of the Act made their arrangements in the light of that knowledge. I would point out that, on re-appraisement, the reason for differential treatment disappears. However, my duty ends with pointing out what may be found a little later on to be a defect in the section.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [12.35].- It is difficult to deal with a proposal of this kind which is sprung on us without a moment’s notice. Although the law officers of the Crown have a certain amount of responsibility, we, after all, are responsible for the Bills that we pass, and we should know before a provision finally leaves our hands the exact interpretation placed on it by the Government. It is desired to put this business through expeditiously to allow us to get away; but, in the circumstances, we may pass a highly technical provision like this in good faith, believing that it is an improvement on the Act, to find afterwards that we have made a serious mistake. This proposal appears to have been drafted hurriedly, because, had the necessity been foreseen, it would have been included in the Bill as laid before us. Possibly, the defect has been discovered owing to the debate that has taken place. Sub-section 3 of section 27 refers to owners of the fee-simple who are exempt under section 13 of the Act. Section 13, among other things, re-affirms what the Constitution lays down, that all land owned by a State, or by a municipal, local, or other public authority of a State, shall be exempt from taxation. We now take out of that exemption land leased from the Ci;own. Does it not seem that we are directly attempting to override section 13, which reaffirms tie principle laid down by the Constitution that land owned by a State shall not be taxed; and are we not, therefore, attempting to override the Constitution itself? The land leased by a State is still owned by the State. If honorable senators opposite recognise that they have no right to tax land which is owned by the State, how can they tax the lessee who holds his title from the Crown? The amendment, I am afraid, will tend to create difficulties in the administration of the Act. I admit that I have no sympathy with the Act, and I do not feel called upon to deal with it from a sympathetic standpoint. It is a dry question of law as to whether the Committee is entitled to put in any words of this character. It answers the objection which has been taken as to the unrighteous attempt of the Government to deal with property of this kind. However, the Government have been advised that it is desirable to put in the provision, otherwise they would not have submitted the amendment. I assume that honorable senators on the other side will do now as they have done all through, and that is, accept the advice given them. They are supporting the Government, and are content not to worry, but to take what is offered to them .
.- I can assure honorable senators that there is nothing deep, devious, or subtle about the amendment. Senator Millen has raised a point regarding a Crown lease for which there is a re-appraisement of the rent. That would not be affected to the detriment of the lessee, because the calculation of value would be based on the increased rent For the purpose of illustrating my remarks, I have worked out a rough table. Suppose that the present value of a pastoral or Crown lease is based on the equivalent of a capital unimproved value of £10,000, and that the valuation made under the Act discloses a value of £30,000. There would be a taxable value of £10,000. The difference between the value on which the rent is based and the taxable value disclosed by the valuation made under the Act gives us a taxable value of £10,000. Let us now assume that there is a re-appraisement, and that the rent is based on a valuation of £15,000. According to the machinery in the Act, the taxable value then will be only £5,000. The fact that the lease was based on a certain value, and that after a time by re-appraisement that value was altered, is taken into consideration, and the Act provides that the Commonwealth shall only tax that difference. If that difference varies by reason of an increase or a decrease of rent, so will the tax vary. Therefore, our amendment does not in any way do what Senator Millen seems to fear it will do.
– What does it not do?
– It does not prevent the circumstances of the lessee from being taken into consideration, in the event of a re-appraisement which either increases or decreases his rent.
– Will you deal with the objection raised by Senator Gould?
– During the discussion in another place Sir William Irvine pointed out that, if the Land Tax Act was allowed to , go with this amending Bill, the Crown lessees might be taxable under the conditions of leases executed after the commencement of the Act; that it would not be so favorable to them ; in fact, that it might inflict injustice on them. As we realize here this morning, it is rather an obscure point, and one which could not be accepted off-handby the Government. We had to promise that the question would receive consideration. The attention of the Crown Law Officers was directed to the point, and, after consideration, they came to the conclusion that it is right that this amendment should be made. That is why the provision did not appear in the Bill as it came here. The question has had very serious consideration by legal minds, bothin the Government and in the Opposition, and also by the Crown Law Officers, who, after consideration, drafted the amendment to suit the necessities of the case.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted .
Motion (by SenatorPearce) pro posed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [12.50].- There are one or two matters which I think call for an expression of opinion before we part with this measure. I am very sorry to notice that it belongs to that class of measures which we have been called upon to deal with of late, and which, apparently, are aimed at the interests of the best settlers in the country - that is, the men who go out into the wilderness for the purpose, may I say, of subjugating it and bringing it into condition, by means of which they have an opportunity of not only benefiting themselves, hut “ making good “ for the people of this country. This measure is aimed at a particular class of the community, and that is the men who obtain from the Crown leases of land.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - If we were imposing an income tax, of course these lessees would be liable to pay, in common with others.
But this Bill is aimed directly at a particular class in the community, and it is not an isolated case. In our cities it is urged that men should go upon the land. Men go out into the country and lease land from the Crown, at a fair and just rent, for pastoral, or mining, or timber purposes, and the moment they put themselves in a position to spend their money, and. so develop the country, honorable senators on the other side follow them up. My honorable friends prate to the people of the countryabout the want of population and the necessity of establishing a farming and grazing community on the broad acres of the Commonwealth, but at the same time they pick out this very class as objects of special taxation, and give them just grounds for asking, “ What inducement is offered to men to settle on the land? Had we not better go to some other country where this class of legislation does not exist?” I could approve of legislation treating all in the community on the same terms, but I do not see why, if I decline to go into the backblocks and invest money in the development of the country, I should escape a form of taxation to which I would be subjected if I had done so. It is already difficult to induce people to take up land in remote districts, and the Government, by this legislation, are adding materially to that difficulty. If there are any persons who should be given special concessions and advantages, they are those who are prepared to open up the country and fit it for the settlement of a large population in the future. One honorable senator has reminded us that people who take up land in remote districts look for roads and bridges, and the conveniences of civilization. They are not given half the facilities which they should be given. These men frequently complain, and with some reason, of the great public expenditure in the centres of population, whilst they are denied facilities which should be afforded them. We could not expect any men to go into the remote districts if we did not give them some means of access by road or rail to a market for the things they produce. It is a question whether, in this measure, the Government are not going beyond their powers under the Constitution. Fortunately, we have a High Court to determine that question. That Court will hold the balance fairly, and will not be influenced in its decision by the desire of Governments or of Parlia ments. Under section 13 of the principal Act, it is provided that land owned by a State shall be exempt from taxation. The Government here propose to tax the lessees of Crown land, and contend that that will not be a tax upon land owned by a State.
– The honorable senator’s reasoning is rather fine. These lands have practically passed from the State when they are in the possession of the lessee. The Bill taxes the lessee’s interest in the land, and not the interest of the State.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I remind the honorable senator that the freehold title to the lands remains with the State. The State Government gives the lessee but a limited right, of occupation. If the lessee is called upon to say who owns the land comprised in his lease, it will be found that the title rests with the Crown. It is true that, under the Bill, it is provided that the holder of a leasehold for a period of three years may be regarded as the owner of a freehold, but that can only be in the case of land that has gone into private hands. If I leased a property of which I possessed the freehold for the period of three years, or fifty years, it must come back to me at the termination of the lease. I part with it only for a limited period, but it is all the time land in the possession of an individual. This Bill proposes to deal with lands similarly in the possession of a State. I do not wish to unduly delay honorable senators in dealing with this measure. I have uttered my protest against it, and leave it at that for the present.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– This is the usual hour for the adjournment for luncheon. There is no Sessional Order governing this morning’s sitting, and I am thus given discretion as to the length of the adjournment for luncheon. In view of the state of the business paper, and the prospects, so far as I can ascertain, of receiving business from another place, I think it will meet the convenience of honorable senators if I suspend the sitting until 3.30 p.m.
Debate resumed from 3rd December, vide page 1299 (on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the Estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1915, and the Budget-papers, 1914-15, laid on the table of the Senate on the 3rd December, be printed.
– I do not intend to make a serious attempt to discuss the Budget at this juncture. One recognises that by passing the last four months’ Supply Bill we have practically approved of the whole of the expenditure for this year. Further consideration of financial matters will arise when the Budget proper necessarily comes before the Senate upon the resumption of our duties after the approaching adjournment. I propose to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the specific motion to direct attention to one or two matters which, though connected with the financial proposals of the Government, can hardly be regarded as directly involved in them. The first is one of a somewhat personal character. Since the outbreak of the war one has heard a good deal about the duty which is imposed upon all public men of, as far as possible, avoiding the introduction of mere politics into matters connected with the administration of the Defence Department. I think that I may say that I have honestly tried to give effect to what I believe to be a very general and sound course in that regard. I regret, therefore, that I should have to lodge something in the nature of a complaint inrespect of answers which have been given in the Senate to questions bearing upon the administration of the Defence Department during the time it was under my control. I have no right to expect, nor do I ask, that any criticism of anything I did during my term of office should be withheld, but I do suggest that if a political turn is to be given to questions of this kind and the replies thereto, it is unreasonable to expect that if honorable senators on one side are to refrain from criticism, no effort, however slight, will be made by honorable senators on the other side to extract a little political capital at the expense of their political opponents. I may be taking a somewhat exaggerated view of the matter I am about to refer to, but I feel justified in directing the attention of the Senate and the Minister of Defence to it. I refer particularly to the answers given to a series of questions submitted by Senator Barnes in relation to the purchase of motor lorries in the Commonwealth. Any one with political experience or instinct must have seen that the questions to which I refer contained a political bias. One of the questions was, for instance, whether certain motors of German manufacture had been purchased. The answer to that was, “ Yes.” I venture to say that the natural effect of that answer, without explanation, and, in fact, the purpose of the question, was to discredit the administration when it was in my hands. A further question was asked as to whether certain gentlemen who had been appointed upon the committee were not themselves leading representatives of importing firms. The answer again was, “ Yes.” I am speaking without the official record, but I think the Minister of Defence said that the committee was appointed by me to assist Colonel Legge. The only impression which any person not conversant with the facts could receive from these answers would be that, somehow or other, I ha3 called into existence, without Colonel Legge’s concurrence, a committee whose business was to take away from him one of his responsibilities.
– That is a very strained interpretation to put upon the answers to the questions.
– I intend to deal with these matters categorically. I hope I am right in accepting the Minister’s interjection as an intimation that he had no intention to give the answer a political colour in any way.
– I certainly had not.
– I do not know that I can do better than state the facts. When the question of forming a Transport Unit first came up, and was approved, Colonel Legge, Chief of the General Staff, waited on me, and told me two things that were pertinent to what I am now saying. First of all, he said that there was no one in the Department competent to buy motor vehicles. There was no one in the Department having sufficient mechanical or other requisite knowledge to enable him to go into the market and purchase these vehicles for the Department. It was Colonel Legge, the Chief of the General Staff, who recommended that this committee should be appointed, and he also nominated the gentlemen who formed that committee. I knew neither of the civilians nor the officer appointed to the committee. The whole thing was done on the recommendation of the senior responsible officer of the Department. Now comes the question of the origin of the motor lorries. Some of them, I believe, are of German manufacture, but I had no knowledge of that till the question was asked. The position was that the ordinary motor firms of Australia did not possess anything like the number of lorries required. The only way to obtain them was to secure them from business houses using them in connexion with their businesses. In other words, it was necessary for us to buy second-hand vehicles. The duty of the committee referred to was merely to examine the vehicles offered, to report as to their mechanical efficiency and suitability for the work, and to advise the Department as to the value which they, as experts, placed upon them. That was the sole purpose of the committee so far as I was aware of its functions. When the committee went to work, they invited the ordinary commercial firms of Australia to assist the Defence Department by offering vehicles to them. A great number, by various makers, were offered. To me it seems immaterial, in the circumstances, by whom a vehicle was made, so long as it is suitable for our purpose. The vehicles we purchased were not the property of Germans, and no German was paid a penny for them by the Defence Department. They were vehicles which were being used by Australian firms, and the Department in securing them, in my opinion, did the right thing. Honorable senators will have seen in the newspapers of the last day or two a statement that British troops, having captured a trench from the enemy, discovered a large number of trenching tools. They expressed the ‘delight which they found in using these German implements because of their suitability for the work. One might as well turn round and say that our troops should never have made use of these German implements as say that the Defence Department should not have purchased a motor lorry of German manufacture which was suitable for the work required of it.
– Was there anything in the answers given to the questions that implied there was anything wrong about them ?
– No; but there the answer stands without any explanation. The question was whether German vehicles were bought, and the answer was “Yes.” I am entitled to mention the circumstances and conditions.
– But the honorable senator should not infer that there was any desire to cast a slur on him, because he is aware that, in answering questions, it is contrary to the parliamentary rule to give opinions.
– I know that opinions frequently are given, and I have been long enough in Parliament, and in charge of a Department, to know that there are two ways of shaping the answer to a question. Senator Gardiner admits that he knows that that is so. The honorable senator has already developed very considerable skill in giving to questions submitted in this Chamber answers clearly designed for the purpose of not giving information.
– I may tell the honorable senator that the answers to which he refers were not shaped by the Minister.
– I am meeting the Minister of Defence fairly. I accepted his early interjection as an intimation that he had no desire to give a political colour to the answer.
– It was unfortunate that Colonel Tarrant should have been a member of the Advisory Board if he is connected with the Tarrant Motor Company.
– He was not purchasing from the Tarrant Motor Company. So far as I know, the Department did not purchase a single box of grease, let alone a car, from that company. I accepted the advice of Colonel Legge in the matter.
– Did not the Tarrant Motor Company supply any of the vehicles ?
– No; they had none to supply. The gentlemen forming the Board did not purchase these motor lorries. They got their mechanical experts to examine the vehicles and to advise as to their efficiency, and whether they were suitable for the work. Having done that, they advised the Department of the value which they placed upon vehicles which did not come into competition with anything they had to sell, but were vehicles in ordinary use by the commercial firms of Australia. I venture to say that these gentlemen rendered a distinct public service. They are busy men, who had their own occupations to follow, and I venture to say that if they had chosen to do so they could have made a considerable sum of money - knowing, as they did, exactly what was wanted - by acquiring options over vehicles which they knew were suitable for the purpose, and selling them afterwards.
– As a matter of fact, they saved the Department a considerable sum.
– I am glad to hear that. It is a very poor return for their services that their public-spirited action should be twisted so as to make it appear that they were gaining a personal advantage at the public cost. I have stated the circumstances as they appear to me. In the absence of this explanation, anybody reading the answers of which I complain would assume that in some way or other I had given a preference to German manufactures - that I had deliberately passed over manufactures from other portions of the Empire and had put a profit into German pockets. As a matter of fact, there was not a purchase which affected a German firm to the extent of one one-hundredth part of a penny. Speaking personally, I may say that I could feel no greater pride in my life than I should experience in riding into Berlin in one of their fine Benz oars. I should be intensely gratified to make the entry into that city in a vehicle taken from the Germans themselves.
– The very fact that I did not disband the committee after I took office - if there was any foundation for the honorable senator’s deduction - would make me a party to his crime.
– I have already accepted the Minister’s assurance on the matter. But the answers to the questions asked did suggest the possibility of political capital being made out of my action in purchasing these motor lorries of German origin. I come now to a matter of very much greater significance. I must admit that I feel intense disappointment upon studying the Estimates to find how little it is proposed to do in the way of despatching further contingents from the Commonwealth during the next six months.
– Why, Senator Gould, yesterday, was complaining of too much expenditure.
– Not on the war.
– Not a single word was said yesterday in protest against our expenditure on the war.
– Senator Gould said that this was a time for retrenchment.
– In the ordinary services of government.
– Here is another attempt to twist the utterances of an opponent in order that political capital may be made out of them. I venture to say that if Senator O’Keefe will read yesterday’s debate as it will appear in Hansard he will find that not a word was said in the way of criticism of war expenditure, except that the taxation proposals which we were then considering did not provide one single penny towards our war commitments. All the criticism was directed against the ordinary current expenditure of the Government, which, this year, will be greatly in excess of that of any previous year. I wish the Minister to accept my assurance that what I am about to say in regard to the despatch of more contingents to the front is not uttered in any hostile spirit, but rather with a view to strengthening his hands in the direction of making further effort. Of course there are certain matters which render it undesirable that I should go too much into detail. But the Minister will understand the foundation of the statements I propose to make in reference to the equipment of our Expeditionary Forces. Some time ago the honorable gentleman showed himself in entire sympathy with the view which I expressed when I said that we ought all to regard what we are doing not so much in the nature of assistance to the Empire as in the nature of Australia fighting for its own existence. I stated that we were as much involved in war as if the Germans were invading our shores. That being so, we are called upon to put forward not a reasonable effort such as we can make with comfort to ourselves, but the utmost effort of which we are capable. I must confess to a feeling of disappointment that when this matter cropped . up some time ago an attempt was made to compare what Australia was doing in connexion with the war with what was being done by other parts of the Empire.
– Does the honorable senator refer to what occurre’d in another place ? A comparison was instituted there by one of his own colleagues, and the figures were given here in rebuttal.
– Whether the comparison was instituted by one of my own party or by the Minister is an entirely wrong way of sizing up our responsibilities. We ought not to be content to ask, “Are we doing as much as is being done by another portion of the Empire?” The real standard ought to be decided by the question, “Are we doing our best? “ Are we doing the utmost of which we are capable in this struggle which is to determine whether Australia shall continue her national existence. It cannot be said, that Australia has put forward her full effort. We have been told by the Prime Minister that we are prepared to sacrifice our last shilling and our last man in aiding the Empire in this titanic struggle. That sentiment, I think, expresses the view of the great majority of our people.
– I suppose that the honorable senator will be the last man.
– I would be the last man to make such an absurd interjection. I ask those who can be serious upon a serious question whether they pretend that Australia has already put forward the fullest effort of which she is capable? Let us see what we have done, and what it is possible to do yet. In the first three months of the war Australia had enlisted, trained, and equipped over 20,000 men. As a matter of fact, our first contingent was available for embarkation within ten weeks of the outbreak of the war.
– I repeat that that contingent was due to embark and to rendezvous at Albany on the 7th October.
– It was due to do that, but it was not equipped.
– It was equipped, according to the report of General Bridges.
– It was not equipped when I came into office.
– I do not understand the Minister’s statement.
– It is a fact.
– I was told by these gentlemen that arrangements had been made either for the requisite supplies to be furnished to the first Expeditionary Force prior to their embarkation, or for those supplies to meet them on their arrival in Britain. It was in consequence of these arrangements that the troopships were to rendezvous at Albany on the 7th October.
– If they had sailed on the date originally fixed they would have been minus an important part of their equipment.
– I only know that sailing instructions were given on the advice of responsible officers that the troops would be ready.
– There was something else which was not ready.
– That does not affect the question as to whether Australia had succeeded in getting 20,000 troops together within the period I haveindicated. However, those troops sailed within three months of the outbreak of war. In the meantime we proceeded to enlist other troops. Up to the present moment I think I am correct in saying that something like 33.000 men, including the first contingent, certain smaller units and the forces now in camp, will shortly be available for service abroad.
– Forty -two thousand troops have been provided for and are in training, including the first and second Expeditionary Forces.
– The reply of the Minister makes my argument a little stronger. I gathered that 22,000 or 23,000 men had. already gone from our shores, and that 16,000 or 17.000 were in camp at the time the Budget statement was made. That makes a total, roughly, of 39,000. Now the Estimates show clearly that it is only intended to despatch 42,000 troops during the current financial year. That means that only another 3,000 men are to be enlisted between the present time and the end of the current financial year.
– That is not so. Since the Estimates were submitted there has been an alteration in regard to the reinforcements. At the time the Budget statement was made it was announced that reinforcements would be sent forward at the rate of 3,000 per month. These reinforcements are not included in the 42,000 troops to which I have referred. That number only takes us up to the end of the present calendar year.
– I am very pleased to hear the Minister’s statement. When this matter first cropped up, while the Minister was speaking I made an interjection and received an answer from which I took down the figures I have quoted. I am delighted to find that 9,000 more troops than I had anticipated are to be sent from Australia. I can only again express my gratification that we are enlarging the number. I regret that the Minister, by his interjection, appears to think that I arn seeking to find fault with his efforts merely for a captious purpose. I again ask him to accept my assurance that I am endeavouring to strengthen his hands, and to elicit from this Chamber an expression of opinion which will show that the Government will have the country behind them in any supreme effort which they may make in the direction of Australia doing her utmost to prosecute her share in this unfortunate war. What I was about to ask the Minister was whether it is intended to discontinue recruiting when the requisite number has been obtained. We cannot resist the impression that is created by certain remarks which we occasionally hear, and by certain statements which are published in various journals, to the effect that we will send more men if their services are needed. But we shall never know whether they are needed until, perhaps, it is too late to make use of them. I urge the Minister to lose no opportunity of proceeding with enlistment, and, if fortunately - as we all hope - the war should terminate earlier than I anticipate, the worst which can happen will be that Australia will have expended a larger sum of money than was necessary.
– It has already been announced that every man who offers for service, and who is medically fit, will be accepted for training.
– How many men have been recruited up to the present?
– About 39,000.
– We are definitely committed to 42,000 up to the end of this calendar year, and also to reinforcements at the rate of 3,000 per month. That, however, will not prevent us sending more men if more are available, and if we can equip them.
– I quite recognise that a difficulty will be experienced in equipping them. I do not think that we shall encounter any difficulty in securing the services of all the troops whom we can properly equip. But it has been argued that it is useless to send illtrained and ill-equipped troops Home. I readily recognise that; but I do not want to see a moderate pace adopted, to be followed now and then by a sudden speeding up to meet an emergency. We should deal with the matter vigorously to-day. There is not quite so rauch difficulty in regard to equipment as some people, think.
– We ought to increase the age limit.
– At first no one under nineteen was accepted; but the age was afterwards reduced to eighteen, with a proviso, however, that, as there is a vast difference betAveen different boys, the doctors were to subject lads of eighteen to a very rigid examination before passing them. The matter of increasing the age at the other end, which, I understand, is Senator de Largie’s meaning, would depend very much on the extent to which troops were offering. There will doubtless be some difficulty in equipping a larger number of troops than we are preparing at present, and I am sure the Minister finds a difficulty in equipping the number he is handling now; but equipment can be divided roughly into two parts. The first, which is personal to the soldier, such as uniform, boots, belts, accoutrements, mess requirements, and kit generally, it is possible to obtain in Australia by stepping outside the ordinary departmental routine, which, I am sure, the Minister would discard at once if it stood in the road of prompt action. Australia can supply all the equipment necessary for the personal requirements of the soldier, and also the regimental equipment, such as teutage, transport waggons, and things of that kind. I do not say we can order it to-day and get it to-morrow; but if we decided to enlarge our contingents, we could, by proceeding to deal with the matter to-day, have all the necessary equipment ready by the time the units were formed. The difficulty in regard to equipment, therefore, is narrowed down to the question of rifles. I am not going to mention numbers, but the number of our rifles is no more unlimited than it is in Great Britain. I can say, however, that there are in Australia sufficient rifles to enable us to arm any force which we think reasonably large enough to repel any raiding expedition, while still leaving enough to arm and send away much larger contingents than we have so far contemplated.
– We are recruiting about one in fifteen of our population, which is more in proportion than Great Britain is doing.
– No. Great Britain, with a population of 40,000,000, is calling together 2,000,000 men outside her regular Army; but that is a wrong basis from which to regard the matter, when our national existence is at stake. The point is, are we doing our best? I believe Great Britain is.
– The Minister says we are recruiting every individual who is medically accepted. Can we do any better?
– Yes. The Minister could double the number of recruits per day if he wished.
– By lowering the standard ?
– No; by multiplying our recruiting agencies. We have made no special efforts to obtain recruits.
– I do not think they are making very great efforts in Great Britain.
– (They have done marvellously well. All we have done is to receive any recruits that came along. It has been in the highest sense a voluntary enlistment.
– The difficulty does not lie in the getting of the men.
– I quite agree. The difficulty is in the training and the equipment. I have dealt with the latter.
– You have not touched the training. That is the important point.
– The training difficulties can be overcome, even though they arise from the need of supplying a large and unusual demand.
– I do not agree with you in one regard, about which I cannot reply to you. I agree that we can get over the personal equipment difficulty.
– There is no difficulty in the matter of providing personal equipment, transport waggons, or horses. That brings us to a question of the training and the arms. At one period we were training about 30,000 troops, in addition to a large number of Citizen Forces. I particularly directed that anything we did in regard to the Expeditionary Forces should not stop the home training of our troops, because amgap or interregnum in the training of our young soldiers would be a serious matter. I am glad the Minister is carrying on that policy; but as the contingents go away they set free for the purpose of training other units a large number of the instructional staff.
– And how many of the instructional staff do they take away ?
– I do not know, but I directed that no man was to be allowed to go with the Expeditionary Force whose presence was necessary to the efficient training of troops remaining in Australia.
– I wish that instruction had been observed.
– Admitting that there will be difficulty in obtaining instructors, it should not bo insurmountable. A large number of militia officers, some of high rank, have told me that they are willing to do sergeantmajors’ work if the Government will I”1 them know that their services are required. There is a large amount of useful material at present unutilized.
– We are availing ourselves of the services of every man that offers.
– That is very much like the recruiting policy. No special effort is being made to get the men that are wanted.
– Notification to that effect has gone out in all the military orders.
– There are a large number of senior officers who admit that they are not capable of going into the field, but are able and willing to instruct raw recruits.
– Look a.t the Government Gazette, and see the number of militia officers being utilized.
– The point is the number we are not utilizing. The Minister does not seem to receive my suggestions with open arms.
– I am rather surprised at some of them, in view of the fact that you have certain knowledge.
– I cannot help thinking that by calling to our aid a number of the militia officers who have dropped out of the active ranks, a great deal could be done towards the efficient training of troops, although I do not say it would be an ideal system, or that by this means we could get all the men with all the qualifications we want. With regard to rifles, it is useless sending men away to fight without placing rifles in their hands here, or being sure that there is one waiting for each of them at the scene of action, but it is a question of simple arithmetic. The difference between the number in Australia and the number we ought reasonably to keep here to meet emergencies, represents the number we can send abroad. There are other rifles available than those under the control of the Defence Department. I should be the last to recall unnecessarily those held by members of rifle clubs, but the original issue to them was one rifle for every ten members. This was later increased to one for every five members. If found necessary it would be no great hardship to ask the riflemen to fall back to the original allotments, making one rifle do double service, until the emergency passed away. Then there is quite a decent number of rifles scattered about Australia which are not officially under the control of the Department. Many of them are match rifles which have been purchased. The Department might take steps to ascertain the number of rifles of the .303 pattern in Australia.
– The rifles in the hands of the rifle clubs are noi service rifles, and many of them are not magazine rifles.
– I know that, but they use the same ammunition. I am not suggesting that these rifles should be sent abroad, but I do say that at the present time we have to ask ourselves, What is the prospect of Australia being invaded ? If there is a possibility of invasion, we want a larger number of rifles retained than we would do if there was no such prospect. I venture to say that until something happens on the blue waters there is not the slightest chance of Australia being attacked. Whatever chance of a raiding expedition there was disappeared beneath the waters with the Emden, the Scharnhorst, and the Gneisenau. We are reasonably free, and, therefore, I think that we can denude our supplies to a greater extent, and with safety, than we could have done if those raiding cruisers were still afloat. 1 do not propose to give any figures as to the number of rifles here, but I express the opinion that there is a sufficient number to enable us, without leaving the country defenceless, to make provision within the next six months to send abroad a larger number of troops than is contemplated at present. It has to be remembered in connexion with rifles that we have a factory. It has not turned out the quantity which we had reason to expect, but it is now moving upwards, and, with the aid of overtime and an extra shift, it can be speeded up still further. All these considerations have to be taken into account. I am referring to these matters because I believe that, just as in the matter of charity, he who gives quickly gives twice, so the effort we can render to-day, if it is made promptly, would be much more effective than anything we might be able to do some months hence. What has happened in that long-drawn-out contest, not yet finally decided, which has spread from the north of France and into Belgium, can hardly have escaped notice. Reading what we are allowed by the censor to read, it must be borne in upon everybody that the two sides have been very evenly matched. The most that can be said for either side is that it has held its own. There have been little temporary advantages here and little temporary disadvantages somewhere else. Latterly it would appear as though fortune was favouring our troops, and that the steady pressure they are asserting is beginning to tell. But it can hardly be disputed that when two armies, spread over a long front, are so evenly matched that neither can make any great impression on the other, the side which could throw even a moderate addition of strength into its fighting line would obtain a distinct and immediate advantage. It is like a tug-of-war, with two teams evenly balanced. If a man could be added to either team he would turn the scale, and so in this war victory would go to the side that was able to hurry up reinforcements. It is for that reason, I think, that any help we could give would be increased a hundredfold in value if we could render it at once, rather than that we should go by leisurely steps, and propose to continue to send reinforcements towards the end of next year. There is one other view of this case to which I am induced to refer by some newspaper comments. It has been said, with regard to the matter of rifles and equipment, that we will denude Australia if we send them abroad. The question is whether they would be of most use in Europe or in Australia. That is the point which moves me in the matter. As regards denuding this country, is not Great Britain denuding itself of its armaments, military supplies, and equipment? It is doing that, and no one would consider for a moment that we were denuding Australia if there was an invasion here, and we sent our troops to fight. Let us consider that we are sending them to fight for Australia just as much as if the battle was being waged in our territory. The gun retained in Australia is comparatively useless. The gun which is operated on the battle-field of Europe is that which is going to tell. I trust that the desire to adequately protect the shores of Australia will not be allowed to be carried to such a great extent as to paralyze the effort which I think we ought to make in throwing to the very utmost the last pound of assistance we can render - tne last pound of strength which we can bring to bear - behind the forces that are fighting for our existence as well as their own.
– It should be remembered that it was much easier to raise a force in the beginning than it is now.
– I do not mind answering the interjection, but I do not wish it to be thought that in doing so I am trying to minimize the difficulties of the Minister of Defence and magnify those which confronted me. There are increasing difficulties as we go on utilizing the supplies which are available to us. There are also increasing facilities, because, having in the matter of supplies got firms that never catered before to take in hand our work, they are in a better position to repeat the order than they were to do the work in the first instance, so that there are advantages and disadvantages the farther we go into the matter. I understand, I think, and sympathize with, all the difficulties with which the Minister is confronted in extemporizing the means for obtaining the very large quantity of supplies which are necessary. I know, also, the difficulties that arise when a Department, which has been broken in to move by rule and regulation, is suddenly required to resort to expedience. I do not want it to be thought that I am reflecting on the military officers or on officials generally, but one must recognise that official training does not lead to initiative. It rather stereotypes the officers. They move between regulations. They get a little ner- vous when they are asked to go outside them, and they do not allow for the expedients which have to be resorted to in an emergency like the present one. Knowing that, and having had experience, all my sympathies and good wishes are with my honorable friend the Minister in what I know must be a strenuous task. I rose, not with a desire to criticise what he is doing, not with a wish to hamper him in any way, but with the belief tbat we ought to endeavour to make some larger effort than is being made to-day, and because the matter seemed to me so serious that it was in the nature of a public duty on ray part to express myself as I have done. Let me finish by saying that if it is possible that I have made any error in the calculations on which I have based my remarks, I shall be the very first to admit that I have been too optimistic as to what Australia can do, but I cannot resist the conclusion that if the Minister will make up his mind that we should enlarge our efforts, Australia can supplement what has been done by a greater addition than I understand is contemplated by him.
Debate (on motion by Senatorde Largie) adjourned to a later hour.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is another of the Bills introduced by the Government for the purpose of raising additional revenue. Some criticism has been directed against our policy in that regard. It has been urged that this additional revenue is not being required for, and is not intended to be applied to, the purposes of the war. That is a half truth. It is obvious that not only the revenue of the Commonwealth but the revenue of every State has been seriously disturbed by the advent of the war. It is clear that had we in Australia been going through normal times our revenue this year would have been very much in excess of what it will be in existing circumstances. That being so, the Government have to bring forward taxation measures to make good the deficiency, and even in doing so we have still to face the fact that there will be a deficiency on the year’s transactions if our estimates are realized. I make that statement because, while it can be correctly said, in the technical sense of the term, that the money derived from this taxation will not be devoted to the war, nevertheless it can be truthfully said that it is rendered necessary because of the conditions created by the war. Those conditions, 1 admit, are accentuated by the fact that Australia is suffering from a very severe drought which has also had a prejudicial effect on the revenue producing capacities of our people. The object of this measure is to impose a duty on the estates of deceased persons. As regards the rates, it follows the ‘State legislation on the subject - that is to say, the taxation is of a progressive character. The Bill exempts estates of £1,000 in value and under; the taxation begins on estates above that amount. As it is not a machinery Bill, I am not called upon to discuss the application of the rates. The method by which the taxation is imposed is dealt with in another Bill which will come up by-and-by. On estates exceeding £1,000, aud not exceeding £2,000, duty is payable at the rate of £1 per cent. , while on estates exceeding £2,000, duty is payable at the rate of £1 per cent, together with an additional percentage of onefifth of a pound for every £1,000 in excess of the sum of £2,000, but so that the percentage shall not exceed £15. We have to recognise the fact that in every State in the Commonwealth this form of taxation has been imposed. If honorable senators will turn to the Commonwealth Tear-Book for 1912, they will find, at page 814 onwards, a statement of the principal rates of the State taxes of this description. I do not propose to go through them, but it is sufficient to say that they vary in the value of an estate at which the tax commences.
– Which State imposes the highest tax?
– The State of New South Wales. The maximum tax in that State is 15 per cent, on estates exceeding £70,000 in value.
– The Government propose another 15 per cent, on such estates, which will make the total tax 30 pec cent.
– That is so. I do not think that in any other State the maximum rate of the tax exceeds 10 per cent. In New South Wales the amount exempted is higher than in the other States. In some States the exemption is as low as £500. In New South Wales this tax is not levied upon estates up to the value of £1,000. On estates valued above £1,000 and up to £5,000, t’he tax is 2 per cent. In Victoria, on estates up to the value of £500 the tax is not imposed. On estates valued at over £500 and up to £1,000, the tax is 1 per cent., and over £1,000 it is 10 per cent. In South” Australia there is no exemption, but estates under the value of £200 pay 1 per cent. ; up to £300, 1£ per cent. ; and the rate increases to 10 per cent, on estates of the value of over £20,000. In Queensland, estates of less than £200 in value are nottaxable. Prom £200 to £1,000, the tax is 2 per cent., and increases up to 10 per cent, on estates of £20,000 value and over. In Tasmania, the tax is 2 per cent, on estates over £500 and up to £1,000 in value, and runs up to 10 per cent, on estates of over £100,000 in value. In Western Australia,’ where the value of an estate exceeds £500 and is under £1,000, the tax is 2 per cent., and it runs up to 10 per cent, on estates above £20,000 in value. As regards the incidence of taxation, this, in my opinion, is one of the most just forms of taxation that can be imposed. Every person who acquires wealth is indebted to the community generally for enabling him to acquire it. The community protects his wealth, and gives him facilities for acquiring it. It is, of course, right and proper that every person should endeavour to make due provision for his widow and children, but very often a considerable amount of wealth is not the best provision that can be made for young people commencing the battle of life.
– I never heard of any one complaining of it.
– It is a good thing, of course, for young people to be given a fair start in life, but it must be within the experience of every member of the Senate that the possession of considerable wealth by persons commencing life has led to their undoing rather than to their advantage. This form of taxation returns to the community a certain amount of the wealth which an individual is enabled to acquire during his lifetime, leaving him full opportunity to provide adequately for those depending upon him. It is one of the most justifiable forms of taxation, and the Government have, therefore, every confidence in submitting it, believing that it will result in the. collection of a considerable amount of revenue from those who will be able to pay it without deprivation.
– I do not propose to detain the Committee very long in dealing with this Bill. A number of reasons conduce to brevity this session. One, to which I may refer, arises from the impossibility of instigating debate in this Chamber, in view of the unfortunate disparity between the number of those who are of the true political faith and of my honorable friends opposite. I am not going to enter into the merits or demerits of death duties. These are generally admitted as a legitimate source of revenue; but one cannot set aside altogether the evidence presented by this Bill of a growing tendency on the part of the present Government- to impose double taxation in the Commonwealth. Apart from the terms of our Constitution, sooner or later we shall be called upon to consider whether certain fields of taxation should not be left exclusively to the Commonwealth and others to the State Governments. It is clear that if this course of imposing double taxation is pursued, a certain line of policy, adopted by either the Commonwealth Government or a Government of a State, may be frustrated by the action of either a State Government or the Commonwealth Government in imposing taxation. In connexion with this particular matter, since the State Governments impose varying succession duties, and the Commonwealth proposes the imposition of a uniform tax. it is clear that it will work unequally over the people of Australia. The rates proposed in this Bill, owing to the double imposition by Commonwealth and State, must result in something very little short of confiscation. New .South Wales already imposes a tax of 15 per cent, on the larger estates, and the Commonwealth Government propose another tax of 15 per cent, on those estates. This will make 30 per cent, in all. I do not know at what point my honorable friends consider that taxation ceases and confiscation begins, but with a tax of 30 per cent, nearly onethird of the estate is forfeited to the taxing authority.
– That is on estates of the maximum value.
– I am referring to such estates.
– The honorable senator’s remarks would make it appear that they are applicable to any estate.
– I am referring to estates which will have to bear a Federal tax of 15 per cent, and a State tax of 15 per cent. I am not dealing with the small estates left to those who have a majority of votes, and which my honorable friends have been careful to exempt.
– Those who leave these estates have lost their votes.
– Probably that is one of the reasons why my honorable friends opposite are so disposed to tax them. Apart from the merits of probate and succession duties, I suggest that when we take away a third of an estate by taxation we overstep the line which separates fair taxation from confiscation. We have not the machinery Bill which is the complement of this measure before us, but it is pertinent to the matter we are now discussing to ask the Government whether it is proposed to collect this tax irrespective of the frequency with which a particular estate may be liable to it. A man may lea.ve an estate subject to taxation at the rate of 30 per cent., and in the same year the widow to whom he left it, may also die. Is the estate to be taxed twice at this rate within that period, or will there be some provision in the machinery Bill to prevent an estate which has already borne the tax, being called upon to bear it again within a given period? It must be within the knowledge of my honorable friend that it frequently happens that the original owner of an estate and the beneficiary under his will die within a period of a few months. Where that takes place under this Bill 60 per cent., or nearly two-thirds of the value of an estate, may be forfeited to the Crown. If my honorable friends wish to mark their term of administra tion by regard for anything but a vindictive desire to annex wealth when it is held in large parcels, they should give some little consideration to the case I now present to them.
– Such a case would be a rare exception.
– Then there is the less reason why my honorable friend should refrain from making provision for it.
– I ask the honorable senator not to discuss that phase of the question at length, as we may have the same discussion over again on a later Bill.
– That would be a disaster. I submit, however, that the amount of the duty provided for in this Bill has some bearing upon the frequency with, which the tax is likely to be collected. If this tax had only to be paid once in a century it would not be so heavy as if an estate were called upon to bear the tax every twelve months.
– It would disappear altogether.
– It would. I have a case in mind that occurred not long ago in New South Wales, where a very large estate fell in twice within the same twelve months. That may happen again, and, having mentioned the point, I pass from it. Whilst probate and succession duties are a legitimate source of revenue, the fact that the States have also levied them must bring home to all of us who care to look a little ahead., that sooner or later, as the Commonwealth’s demands increase, and Ave double the taxation imposed by the States, we shall bring the Stale finances into a condition of bankruptcy. I suggest, for the consideration of this Senate - because the matter is rather too remote - that sooner or later the public men of Australia will have to consider whether it is not advisable, in the interests of the Commonwealth as well as of the States, that some understanding should be arrived at to leave certain fields of taxation exclusively to each of these taxing authorities.
– I shall follow the example of my leader, and be exceedingly brief in my remarks. I am pleased that this measure acknowledges the desirability of exempting estates of a certain value, and does not fix the exemption too high. The taxation proposed in a graduated form will be paid by a greater number in the community than is the case in connexion with the land taxation which has been proposed. The exemption of estates of £1,000 in value will cover the provision made for widows and children in the way of life insurance by the timely foresight of those upon whom. they have been depending. That is a matter which should not be lost sight of. A good deal of the comment that has been made on this> measure naturally runs in one groove. It is evident that in the higher register of taxation proposed this Bill will go a long way to abolish the right of inheritance. There are some economists who, I suppose, would call themselves reformers,. who maintain that the right of inheritance should be abolished. I do not subscribe to that doctrine, but honorable senators will see that when an estate of the value of £75,000 or £100,000 has been got together by father and son, and the deaths of both occur within twelve months, at least one-half of the estate will have become Government property. When we consider that the estate might be real estate, it is clear that we are well on the high road to the abolition of the right of inheritence in respect of properties of a certain value.
– Does the honorable senator agree Avith that?
– I do not. I know that the honorable senator is very fond of sniping, from behind the column near which he sits, but I maintain that, in its incidence, legislation of this description is a substantial step on the road towards the abolition of the right of inheritance. Although I know it is not the intention of the Bill, I venture to say that it will be more effective in the bursting up of large estates than will the land tax. In introducing the measure the Minister referred to the rates which are levied on the estates of deceased persons by the different States. This is a recognised form of raising revenue. The Government of Tasmania have in contemplation the rearrangement of a scale of duties on the estates of deceased persons, and they propose to raise the rate on big estates to 12 per cent.
– A sound provision, too.
– At the same time we must recognise that the States which have legislated on these lines almost since the inception of responsible government have never gone beyond 10 per cent, or 12 per cent., with the exception of New South “Wales, which has imposed a duty of 15 per cent. Yet the Commonwealth Government propose to at once levy duties on the top of the existing State duties to the extent of 15 per cent.
– In very abnormal times.
– I am going to repeat the argument which I used here last evening in discussing the land tax. I say that it is not wise to inflict drastic taxation on the community at this juncture of our history. The war is only four or five months old, and yet we are imposing taxation which a continuance of the war for a year or two would alone justify.
– We have to make provision up till June next.
– But our expenditure in connexion with the war is provided for by loan. I maintain that our taxation should be arranged with a view to paying only interest on’ the new expenditure which has been occasioned by the war.
– That is part of the expenditure which we have to provide.
– We are not even paying out of revenue the interest on our war expenditure. The money to enable us to do that is being borrowed.
– I have previously said in the Tasmanian Parliament that in all probability the golden age in Australia is passing away. Not in the lifetime of this or the next generation will such freedom, from taxation be experienced as has been experienced during the century or so of Australia’s existence.
– That is poetry.
– It is not only poetry, but fact. Seeing that the war is only four or five months old, and that the Government propose, in the case of an estate valued at £100,000, to levy taxation which will result in the absorption of 50 per cent, of it, I shall be sorry for Australia if the war lasts for three or four years. The States have their needs, which must be supplied. It is not wise at this period of our history to impose taxation such as the States themselves have not thought fit to levy during the whole of their experience of the community’s needs.
– Do not be downhearted.
– The honorable senator will find me a man who meets all perils very constantly. But I ask for the exercise of a little common sense at this stage in the nation’s affairs. We should impose taxation on the people very gradually, and with an eye to the probability of this war lasting, perhaps, five or six years. ‘ From where shall we obtain anything like sufficient taxation if we start off in this manner?
– The honorable senator ought to read the Limehouse speeches of Lloyd George, and he would see.
– I am familiar with the speeches of men who have made just as great a mark in British history as Lloyd George has done.
– Does the honorable senator know that Lloyd George said that, if necessary, he would take all unearned increment in time of war.1
– The cost of national government has been increased to an unnecessary extent in time of peace, and we are now beginning to feel the burden. We have made provision, in connexion with their domestic affairs, for subsidizing people, many of whom do not require subsidizing.
– In connexion with old-age pensions?
– No; but we have been paying a maternity allowance to 90 per cent, of the mothers of the Commonwealth, when we pay old-age pensions to only 30 per cent, of those who are qualified to receive it.
– What is wrong with the maternity allowance?
– It is all right in the case of people who need it, but we have been wasting revenue.
– I would point out that I have allowed the honorable senator very great latitude. On several occasions he has taken advantage of the motion for the second reading of the Bill to refer to the war. Whilst it is quite admissible for him to make a passing reference to it, it is not in order to discuss in detail items which may be more appropriately discussed in connexion with the Budget.
– I accept your reproof, sir, which was given in quite a kindly way, and plead that I was provoked to make the remark I did by a fishing interjection from the other side of the chamber.
– Stick to the death duties.
– I will be in at the death, I can assure the honorable senator. I am in favour of taxation of this kind, but I do not think it should be so drastic. The Government have thought fit, in this Bill, to propose the imposition of duties on estates of as low value as £1,000. I protest against taxation of this drastic character so far as the upper register is concerned. I believe in taxation of this kind, but we should be more circumspect in the application of the impost.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without request; report adopted .
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with the message that the House of Representatives had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate.
Report (No. 2) presented by Senator Barker, read by the Clerk, and adopted.
Debate resumed from this day (vide page 1973).
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.But there have been difficulties between the two Houses in New South Wales, although not, perhaps, to the same extent as in the other States. New South Wales has a nominee Upper House, whilst most of the other States have Upper Houses which are, unfortunately, elected on a restricted franchise. The result in my own State is that two-thirds of the people have no voice in electing the Upper House. If land taxation was left entirely to the States, they would, therefore, not impose a progressive land tax. The Government of which I was a member in South Australia passed a progressive Land Tax Bill through the Lower House by overwhelming majorities on four different occasions, but on each occasion it was rejected by the Council, and that rejection continued until the Commonwealth, with the advent of a Labour Government, imposed a progressive land tax. Those who obstinately, selfishly, and conservatively opposed the imposition of a State progressive land tax now find themselves much worse off. They would have escaped with a rate of 2d. or 3d. in the £1 at the hands of the State. They now have to submit to a rate going up as high as 9d. in the £1 at the hands of the Commonwealth. The difficulty, therefore, is that the States dominated by the Legislative Councils would resist any system of taxation that would fall adequately and justly on the propertied and privileged classes, which the Councils represent and uphold. There are defects in the additional taxation imposed by the Commonwealth in that, while the landed classes have a pretty heavy impost to bear already, and justly so - land being a particularly fair object of taxation, because it benefits more than any other form of property by the advance of civilization and settlement and the expenditure of public money - another large class of capitalists, who ought to pay something extra in this time of emergency, are touched neither by the land tax nor by the probate and succession duties, unless they happen to die. If further expenditure is necessitated by the war, it may be necessary to impose a Federal progressive income tax, with an exemption of £300 or £400, to reach the class who do not derive their income from land alone, and who, under the present scheme, are making nothing like an adequate contribution towards the extra cost of government.
As an Australian, I wish to protest against the impression conveyed by Senator Millen, and shared by a large number of people - it finds expression, also, in Admiral Henderson’s report and most other reports that have come from over the sea, and has been apparently indorsed by many military authorities here - that if once we lost the command of the sea, which God forbid, Australia would be in an entirely hopeless and helpless position.-
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.Do you think Germany could do so?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.We have not been put to the test yet. But suppose that I reduce the proportion and say a tenth of our population, which is a small* estimate of the effective strength of a nation at a time of invasion.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.We could arm them if we were put to the test.
Senator Millen. - No
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.How are we, in Australia, more helpless in this respect than are scores of nations with less population and resources which have maintained their independence for generations? Look at the example of the last South African war. The, British Empire, the strongest in the world, with command of the sea, and of the whole littoral of the southern part of that Continent - not in the position that we are in, but having command of the ports-
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.The total population of the two Republics was under 300,000.
That is all that I have to say in regard to the Budget. First, I wished to point out that the States which complain of our encroachment on their sphere of taxation must remember that they are getting very large assistance from the Commonwealth ; and, secondly, I desire to protest against the idea that Australia could not possibly defend itself for any length of time if it was thrown entirely on its own resources.
– Unfortunately, owing to this business being reached sooner than was expected, I am not able to put my hand on my copy of the Estimates, on which I have made some notes. I desire to refer to a few items which, so far, I have not heard any honorable senator deal with. I cannot understand why there should be so much reticence in regard to a matter on which, I feel quite sure, there is a great deal of strong feeling outside, and that is the proposed increases in the salaries of certain officers. If the increases were intended for very low-paid officers or men who are not receiving very large salaries, there might be some justification for the additional expenditure; but when we know that the officers to whom the increases are allotted are well paid, it seems to me quite unjustifiable to give the increases at a time such as the present - a time of unemployment to very many people in the community, and a time of great stress to, I think, a great majority of the taxpayers. I must protest against the increases, as I feel that it would be unjust to the taxpayers to put any extra burden upon them now. I recognise that an officer in another place is getting a higher salary provided for him than is the corresponding officer in this Chamber; but I do not consider that a sufficient reason for raising what, in my opinion, is a very handsome salary at a time like this.
– Order! Will the honorable senator allow me to correct what may be, after all, a very natural error on his part? It is quite true that, apparently, on the Estimates for the Parliament this year it appears that certain of our officers are getting increases of salary, but that is not so. The increases were granted and voted last year; but they were paid out of the Treasurer’s Advance instead ofbeing provided on the ordinary Estimates. The honorable senator, therefore, will sen that, while there is an apparent increase given to our staff this year, that is not so. The increases we’re voted last year, when the matter was fully explained in the Senate. I have no desire in any way to avert the honorable senator’s criticism. I am only pointing out the facts, in order that he may not fall into a mistake.
– Was Parliament informed of the facts?
– Yes; and honorable senators can see a full report of the debate which took plice when the Estimates were going through
– While that may be an answer in the case ofthe particular officers to whom I have been directing my attention so far, I do not think that the same excuse can be ad vanced foT a number of other increases which are embodied in these Estimates. I do not go out of my way to bring forward a matter of this kind. When one is, so to speak, cheek by jowl with the officers, he feels a certain amount of delicacy in introducing the subject; but we have to put that feeling aside when there is a plain duty to be performed. We shall see by-and-by how the public view these increases. I believe that nine-tenths of the people outside will view them with disfavour. There are other increases to which I wish to draw attention. Take, for instance, the highly-paid officers on the transcontinental railway. I find that not only are the Government giving increases there, but are actually increasing the number of officers on that work. Towards the end of last year a parliamentary return was issued, showing the number of officers engaged, and I think that the common opinion expressed then was that far too many engineers were employed for the work which was being done. I venture to say that if the work were being done by a contractor, about half the number of engineers would be used. When I find that a running staff of officers is provided such as would be necessary if the railway were carrying passengers and goods; when I find that highly-paid officers are appointed to do that kind of work on a line which is only a little over 100 miles long at either end, and there is practically no traffic other than that of construction, I am far from satisfied that the number of new appointments is justifiable. On page 180 of the Estimates an increase of £50 is proposed for the construction and maintenance engineer, and, if it is agreed to, his salary will be £800. I do not remember what title was given to the deputy enginner-in-chief .
– He was assistant engineer-in-ch ief .
– In these Estimates a salary is provided for a construction and maintenance engineer. I was inclined to think that there was a change of designation.
– It may be in the Central Office.
– It is not stated whether it is in the Central Office or not. Theitem appears under the head of “Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway,” and does not disclose on what particular part of the railway the officer is engaged. I take it that it refers to Mr. Hobler, who was assistant engineer to the Engineer-in-Chief. He was paid a salary of £750, and the title now set down on the Estimates is “ construction and maintenance engineer,” with a salary of £800. From what I know of the work on the line through my association with a Select Committee, and of work of a similar kind in Western Australia, I am able to say that engineering of any kind is very seldom required. It is more a matter of construction than of engineering, because the country is flat. There are no hills to be crossed or rivers to be spanned. There is practically no engineering work required in the construction of this line. What is chiefly wanted is organization and management. The principal work is the gathering together of the sleepers and rails at the places where they have to be used. Still we find that we have a supervising engineer with a very numerous staff at each end of the lino. The staff, in my opinion, was larger than was necessary at the beginning of the year, and many additions have, in the meantime, been made to it. This, in my opinion, cannot be justified. I do not wish to minimize the hardships and disadvantages of those engaged in the construction of this line, because I lived long enough in the outside districts of Western Australia to be familiar with them. While there are disadvantages, there are also advantages to be considered. The climate, for instance, is better than in many other parts of Australia. We should remember that we are called upon to meet the expenses in connexion with the war, and that we have great difficulty in raising sufficient funds for the ordinary purposes of government. In the circumstances, to increase salaries and the number of officers employed in connexion with the construction of this line is extravagant and wasteful. When we were investigating the dismissal of the first supervising engineer, the increase in the expenditure beyond the estimate of cost was shown to be so great that it was apparent that the total cost of the line would be a great deal more than any of us ever expected. I am afraid that our hopeful anticipations of seeing this railway built at a reasonable cost will not be realized. From the way in which the work is being carried out, it will cost very much more than is necessary. I attribute this to the fact that the staff is too large, and that we are paying our officers too much. We are paying a construction and maintenance engineer £800 a year. In Western Australia the State engineer, filling a similar position and carrying out similar duties all over the State, receives only £528 a year, and he is known to bo a competent engineer, who gives every satisfaction. We cannot continue in this way without finding ourselves in difficulties before the work is completed. Former estimates of the cost of the line approximated to £4,000,000, but I am afraid we shall find that the line will have cost nearly double that amount before it is built. I take advantage of this opportunity to say a few words upon the war and the raising of the means to carry it on. I agree with a good deal of the criticism to the effect that we have undertaken a task which, later on, will be found to tax our means of raising revenue to the uttermost. I am very far from believing that the taxation for which we have been making provision in the last few days will be sufficient to meet the expenses of the war. In my opinion, it will be impossible for us to avoid the imposition of an income tax, and as such a tax would fall upon all sections of the community, I should prefer it to any other imposition for war purposes. The taxation proposals with which we have already dealt may be justified from other points* of view, but I am satisfied that when we have realized the enormous expenditure which the war will entail, we shall see that further taxation will be forced upon us. We are sending Expeditionary Forces to the other side of the world, and later we shall have a pensions bill to meet. When the war is over, and we see wounded men in the streets of our cities, and are able to count up the number who have been killed and the amount which will be required to provide for their dependants, it will be seen that the revenue for which we have already provided by taxation measures will cover but a very small amount of the total cost. I believe that the imposition of a drastic income tax would be justified. Those who should pay taxation will not be able to dodge their obligations under such a tax as easily as they may do under some of the measures we have passed.
– An income tax may be very easily dodged.
– I am satisfied that we shall be able to get at the rich men of the community more effectively under an income tax than under many of the taxes we have recently been considering. When I tell honorable senators that in Western Australia a proposal was made under which some of the rich men of the community would he called upon to pay something like £260 a year on an income of a trifle over £.1,000, they will recognise how modest the Commonwealth Government have been in the proposals submitted at the present time. We cannot expect that the war will be fought without funds.
– Or without sacrifice.
– That is so, and to pay up is about the only sacrifice which the rich man who does not go to the front can make. He will not be doing his duty if he does not pay up, and we shall not be doing our duty if we neglect to impose taxation which will compel him to do so. To incur a tremendous war debt and pass it on to the next generation would be to adopt the practice which too many of the State Governments have adopted in respect to other matters in the past. To shirk our responsibilities in that way would be to violate the policy of the Labour party.
– Let us increase the population.
– We have just listened to the objection urged by Senator Bakhap to a proposal which would encourage the increase of the population.
– I could quote a Labour journal in Tasmania to the effect that such a thing would give no stimulus to the increase of the population.
– Those who talk in that way must be very wealthy. We are not increasing our population at the present time. We are sending away from Australia the flower of our manhood, and many of those who are being sent away may never come back again.
– Does the honorable senator not think that rich men with military titles should either go to the front or pay up?
– Some of them might be more valuable here. Perhaps they could help us better with their purses than with their swords.
– They would be much safer here than at the front.
– That might be so, but the honorable senator should not forget that it is necessary that we should keep a certain number of men here to defend us should Australia be invaded. I look forward when we meet again to the introduction of further taxation proposals. Our friends opposite will have to prepare for another dose of the medicine they have been getting during the last few days. I am reminded, by an article appearing in the Economist, a well-known financial newspaper, that possibly we may be living in a fool’s paradise, so far as our estimate, of the financial position of the enemy is concern pd. The article to which I refer shows (hat Germany is in a much better financial position than many of us dreamt of. We were disposed to think that the one thing which would most seriously hamper the enemy would he a lack of the sinews of war. In it the striking statement is made that Germany is the only nation engaged in the war, which, from its inception, experienced no difficulty in financing it. The Germans were the only people who had a gold fund in readiness for such an emergency. They have just raised the largest loan in connexion with this war that has ever been raised in the world’s history. We have been accustomed to refer, with bated breath, to the enormous indemnity of £200,000,000 which was paid by France to Germany a few years ago, but quite recently the German Reichstag authorized a loan of £250,000,000 for war purposes, and within a few weeks no less than £230,000,000 of it was subscribed. The finances of Germany are in so good a condition that whereas, upon the outbreak of hostilities, the Bank of England and the Bank of France had to reconsider their position to issue paper money to an extent hitherto unknown, and to resort to a, moratorium, the Germans had to. adopt no such expedients.
– They have always had a sum of money put on one side for war purposes.
– Yes; they have always had a war chest to the extent of about £40,000,000. But that is a small sum compared with the enormous loan of £250,000,000 to which I have just “referred. I would also remind honorable senators that, whilst in England and France the rate of interest, immediately upon the declaration of war, mounted to 10 per cent., in Germany it never exceeded 6 per cent.
– Nobody will lend Germany money, because her security is not good enough.
– I have just been pointing out that the finances of Germany are in a better condition than we have been accustomed to think, and that this gigantic loan was subscribed by her people in record time. All this points to the fact that we have a long war ahead of us. According to the Economist, German bank deposits have increased from £47,000,000 in July to £135,000,000 in September. The gold reserve increased from £62,000,000 in July to £85,000,000 in September. The President of the Reichs Bank boasts that Germany is the only country at war that did not resort to a moratorium and whose increased paper money had been cheerfully accepted.
– The total amount ‘-f the loan which the honorable senator has mentioned would not cover the cost of one year’s warfare.
– I am well aware of that. But the very fact that it is the largest war loan raised in history, and that it was floated in record time, show* how well the Germans were prepared. Consequently, the criticism of taxation measures introduced into this Chamber W tlie Government in which honorable senators opposite have indulged, is childish in the extreme. Financially we have not done our duty up to the present moment. I see no escape from a heavy war tax in the near future. The only proposal for meeting the extraordinary emergency with which we are faced that has so far emanated from the Opposition has been one to levy taxes upon tea and kerosene.
– I do not think that t lie honorable senator is just. No such proposal has ever emanated from the Opposition.
– A very prominent member of the Liberal party, in the person of Sir John Forrest, has advocated the adoption of those duties.
– That does not bind me. I will agree to no tax on kerosene unless there is a tax imposed on electric light.
– The party with which the honorable senator is associated has endeavoured to bring about the taxation of tea and kerosene for quite a lon” time. In the almost immediate future we shall be obliged to levy a tax on incomes, which is the fairest form of taxation which can be imposed. We have entered upon this war, and there is no person in the community who does not think it is the most justifiable conflict iri which Great Britain has ever engaged. That being so, it is our duty to do our share in assisting the Empire. Personally, I do not think we have done all that we can do, and we shall have to increase our efforts in the future.
– The Budget practically covers all the operations of government, because, whatever may be said of our legislation, we know that finance is at the base of the whole of it. To-day we find ourselves discussing the Budget in very exceptional circumstances. Not in the history of Australia has there previously been conditions surrounding the introduction of a Budget which have rendered the outlook so dark. Other Treasurers have been faced with drought and with deficits, but no other Treasurer has been simultaneously confronted with war and drought. It has been said that Australia is not feeling the effects of the war very much, but it cannot be denied that the titanic struggle which is now taking place in Europe is intensifying the evils resulting from the drought, and that the interruption of commerce, owing to the war, has led to great stringency in our finances. This afternoon the Government have been criticized for having introduced taxation measures for the purpose of increasing our revenue. I do not think that Ministers should have been so severely condemned under existing conditions. Sufficient allowance was not made for the unprecedentedly hard times through which we are passing. Had that been done, the criticism which has been levelled against the Government would have been of a milder character. Exception has been taken to their action in reference to taxation. But in what other “sphere could they have operated to enlarge the Commonwealth revenue? It may be urged that they could have imposed duties through the Customs which would have greatly increased our revenue. But they have already operated in that direction, and the Treasurer prepared his Budget upon those lines, so that an increased revenue will be derived through the Customs owing to the revision of the Tariff.
– Will an increase of Customs duties necessarily produce an increased revenue?
– In many respects it will.
– Then it is a revenue Tariff.
– That is a sample of my honorable friend’s logic. Because certain duties have been imposed, he reasons that they have been imposed for revenue purposes. But I would point out that those duties have been levied to produce revenue only until such time as the protection afforded by the Tariff shall have resulted in the establishment of Australian industries. They are not intended to produce revenue. Their purpose is of an entirely different character. It has been stated that when an Englishman desires a holiday, he says, “ Let us go out and kill something.” It seems to me that the Conservative politician is prone to exclaim, “If we want to do any.4; n let us borrow money.”
– Have no Labour Governments done that?
– My honorable friend must not put words into my mouth. He knows very well that Labour Governments have done it, but they have done it because Conservative Governments have previously neglected their duty, and, consequently, they have been forced to take action. One other suggestion has emanated from my honorable friends which we ought to examine. They have affirmed that, under existing circumstances, it is the duty of the Government to retrench. Now we know very well what has occurred in the past when retrenchment has taken place. We know what has been the aftermath of that policy. It has not been the prosperity which my honorable friends wish, and they could desire no better argument to use against the Ministry in the country.
They would be able to say, “ There is your precious Labour Government. Directly they got into power they forgot all about the working man. They cut down the Public Service, and threw out of employment more persons than there were previously unemployed.” I think that the opposite policy should be followed at a time like the present. When private enterprise dispenses with its servants, the latter naturally have a right to come to the State and say, “ Having contributed to the revenue, through Customs and other taxation, we have now a right to ask the Government in times of stress to see that we are not driven from the State to seek our livelihood elsewhere, and that if we do remain here our living shall be in a measure assured to us.” The only palliative offered by the Opposition is to contract a debt without any provision for repayment, and possibly even to borrow the money to pay the interest, as has been done in some of the States before to-day. I have even known public buildings to be erected out of loan money, and further sums to be borrowed to renovate or repair them. Those things were done by Conservative Governments, following out Conservative ideas which, to me, seem to lead to disaster. The methods adopted by the present Government are sound in principle. They hold that those who have profited in times of prosperity should come to the help of the Commonwealth in times of stress. While we are citizens of the Comonwealth we must uphold the Commonwealth. Whilst we enjoy the privileges afforded us by society we must return to society that share of our produce which is necessary to keep the community going. It has been objected that we are encroaching upon State preserves. I regret that it is necessary to do so, but in times of difficulty we must look round to see where our finances can be increased and the prosperity of the country secured. We must not forget the assistance that the Commonwealth has given to the States in ways other than those enumerated this afternoon by Senator O’Loghlin. When war broke out the money market became very tight, the States found it impossible to borrow, and the Commonwealth came promptly to their assistance. Yet some who occupy prominent positions in the States have taken exception to the action of the Labour party in increasing the land tax, alleging that the Commonwealth is acting in an altogether wrong direction, and forgetting that their own States were assisted by the Commonwealth to make ends meet. I regret that these people shut their eyes to the benefits they have received from the Commonwealth, and are not prepared to concede the demands which the Commonwealth may legitimately make on the people as a whole. It is said that we are duplicating taxation. In a measure that is so, but while it may mean a temporary increase in the cost of collection and the keeping of two sets of officers to do the same work, it may, in the end, lead to a very desirable reorganization of the work of the States and the Commonwealth.
– We want uniform land valuations.
– The honorable senator has pointed out an anomaly that undoubtedly does exist. There should be a uniform land valuation to become the basis of Federal, State, municipal, and district council taxation, and there should be one set of collectors to do the whole work. With a proper basis on which to levy all forms of land taxation, it would be possible to gather in the money at a very much lower percentage of cost, and the duplication and annoyance occurring at the present time would be saved.
– We must first get the referenda proposals passed.
– They have a very wide sweep, but they would not touch the re-organization of our present system of allotting and collecting taxation. The consent of the States would be necessary. It is just as feasible for the Commonwealth to do all the collecting with one set of officers, and then hand back their share to the States, as it is for the Commonwealth to collect the Customs and Excise revenue, and hand back a portion to the States. One of the stock cries of the Opposition is the necessity for increas- ing the population. They seem to regard that as the grand panacea for the cure of all the evils afflicting humanity, but they cannot be oblivious to the fact that the population already here is not fully employed. Until the present population is fully employed, we evidently do not need more workers. Senator Bakhap apparently wants to bring here more of the class of people who do not need to work.
– If there were only ten men in Australia, it is odds on thatone or two of them would be out of work.
– Then it follows that the men who were working would be keeping the others. Therefore, those who are working here to-day are keeping all those others who do not work or do not need to work, so that after all it is not the benevolent gentleman who employs people, but the benevolent gentleman who works for others, that is the real producer of wealth. It is illogical and unbusiness-like to have two taxing powers, and an understanding will have to be come to between the Commonwealth and the State Governments, possibly at a meeting of the State Premiers. It would be a good thing if they devised a system by which one power would both levy and collect taxation, handing back a certain portion to the States, just as is done now in the case of the Customs duties. Honorable senators opposite are very glad in their own hearts that they do not have to occupy the Treasury bench in these trying times. I sincerely hope that when they are reviewing the Budget outside, they will bear in mind the unprecedented situation in which the Treasurer finds himself. We cannot see the end of our difficulties, but we have made a beginning, and no one can charge us with imposing unnecessary taxation. We should be pursuing a policy condemnable in the strongest terms if we determined to meet our difficulties simply by borrowing. It would be a confession of absolute weakness and mental incapacity. We are undoubtedly borrowing some money, but that is for purposes which must be reproductive. We are making provision, not only to pay the interest, but to provide a sinking fund. Any Government that rushed on to the money market without a hope of paying back the money would be justly chargeable with committing an immoral act. Great as have been the difficulties confronting the Treasurer, he has so managed the finances that we are faced with a smaller deficit than might have been expected from the state of the finances only a few months ago, and for this the Government deserve, and should Be given, every credit.
– If we beat the Germans it will be a feather in the cap of Mr. Andrew Fisher.
– If we can conduct our internal business with one-half of the business capacity which the Germans have shown in managing their affairs, if we can develop the resources of Australia as Germany has sought to develop her own, we shall prove that we are capable of handling this great country as we ought to do. I know that my honorable friend objects very strongly to socialistic ideas.
– I do not object to technical education.
– Nor do I. I am quite as ardent an apostle of technical education as is Germany; but it must not be forgotten that, were a proposal brought before this Parliament to develop some of the mineral resources of the famed Island, Tasmania, the honorable senator would immediately raise the cry that it was socialistic, because it concerned his own little place. I notice that parochial Socialism is very strong with our opponents. What has Germany done? A very large portion of her revenue comes from mines which are State-owned. But nobody thinks of pointing to Germany as a wicked evidence of Socialism. Again, take the forests in Germany. A very large portion of them is State-owned. From those two sources Germany derives a very large amount of revenue. We may say that to-day we are combating the Socialism with which Germany has builtup a war chest to fight her battles. It is an unfortunate thing, and it seems to me that it is misdirected energy in that sense. The Socialism that would develop the resources of Germany is right, but the development of those resources for the purpose of annexing that which belongs to another is wrong. I take exception to the direction it has taken, but certainly not to the development of the resources. When we look round in Australia, we must recognise that, comparatively, we have only touched the fringe of it. We scarcely know what there is at any point beneath the surface. We can hardly tell what undeveloped mineral wealth may be revealed in a few years to come. Yet we seem to be scared and frightened by every attempt to develop them. Adverting to a matter that Germany has proved to be remunerative, I would ask, what is done in Australia in regard to forests? We demolish them as fast as we can; with axe and firebrand we level them to the ground. Our cry is all the time that we want the land to put somebody on. Although Germany has far poorer land to handle than we have - much of it is inferior land - she has made use of that land in such a way that to-day it is, as regards forests only, the means of supporting between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 people. Over £1,000,000 of her revenue is derived directly from the forests. In these things it will be seen there is at least a lesson which, if followed, would make Australia a much better country than it is. I think that the Budget is one which the Treasurer may be commended for bringing down in such critical circumstances as now obtain.
Debate (on motion by Senator Grant) adjourned.
– In view of the long sitting to-day, the state of the businesspaper, and also the prospect of receiving business from another place, I propose to suspend the sitting until halfpast eight o’clock.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8.30 p.m.
– The business which it was anticipated would be ready now having failed to materialize, and there being a prospect of it being available at a later hour, I further suspend the sitting until a quarter-past nine o’clock.
Sitting suspended from 8.31 to 9.15 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill he now read a second time.
This Bill resembles the Land Tax Assessment Act in its relation to the measure which we passed this afternoon. It provides the machinery for the assessment and collection of the duty, and, fulfilling a similar purpose, it is very largely based on the Land Tax Assessment Act ; in fact, many of its clauses are almost identical with provisions in that Act. The Bill levies a duty on the estates of persons dying after the commencement of the Act. The duty is levied in the form of a percentage on the total value of an estate after deducting the debts and charges on the estate and the amount due for probate and succession duties payable under the State Act. A very important portion of the Bill is that which deals with what is “ property “ in a deceased estate. It may be set out in this way: - 1. Real property in Australia. 2. Personal property wherever situated if the deceased was domiciled in Australia. 3. Personal property in Australia where the deceased was not domiciled in Australia. 4. Property which passes by a gift or settlement within one year of the death of the deceased.
– Are you quoting from the Bill?
– No, I am quoting from a statement setting out what is “ property.”
– There is no definition of “ property “ in the Bill.
– I do not think ti i at there is.
– Clause 8 states what an estate comprises.
– There is a definition of “ estate.” This is practically a summary of the Bill, setting out what the estate consists of.
– Then you are really quoting from the Bill?
– Well, from a copy of what is contained in clause 8. Is not that so ?
– It is not an exact copy of the Bill, but a summary of it. Property includes: - 5. A life interest surrendered to remainder within one year of death; and 6. A beneficial interest in property accruing to every person on and after the deceased by virtue of a settlement or grant made by the deceased. The duty is payable out of the personal estate, but if that is not sufficient the administrator may raise the balance by mortgage or apply to the Sigh Court for power to sell. If the duty is unpaid the Commissioner may apply to the High Court for power to sell sufficient estate to pay the duty. The remainder of the Bill deals with various questions of returns, assessments, objections, appeals, collection and recovery of duty and evidence, and in those respects it is practically a copy of the Land Tax Assessment Act. One feature of the measure is that so much of an estate as is left for religious, scientific, charitable and educational public purposes is exempt from duty. Where the widow or children or grandchildren of the deceased share in the estate, so much as is left to them is assessable, and liable to duty at two-thirds of the rate which otherwise would be paid. No duty is assessable or payable in respect to the estates of persons who during the present war, or within one year after its termination, die on active service or as the result of injuries received, or disease contracted on active service with the Military or Naval Forces of the Commonwealth, or any part of the King’s Dominions. Those are the principal features of the Bill, and as it deals largely with machinery, it is one more for consideration in Committee than at this stage. It contains some minor exceptions, but no novel principles other than what are usually contained in State legislation of a similar character.
– The Minister stated, at the conclusion, of his introductory speech, that the Bill contains no principle novel, so far as Acts of a similar kind are concerned, in connexion with estates. I, for one, am prepared to accept his assurance in that re>gard; we are all bound by the limitation of time to accept such an assurance. The Bill has come to us within the last few minutes. There are very few hours left . before the sitting of Parliament, not the. session, will close for the holidays. But, I do remind the Government of the responsibility they are taking in asking one branch of the Legislature to deal with measures as rapidly as we are asked to> deal with this and other measures which will come up hereafter. I dissociate myself from any responsibility for the legislation which will pass in this Parliament if we are going to rise to-night or tomorrow. I have been here in attendance - and other honorable senators have been here in attendance - constantly and consistently. But if we are to be asked to pass measures rapidly, in order to enable the members of both Houses to adjourn, I, for one, say at once - and I think I am only voicing the sentiments of others - that we cannot be expected to be personally responsible for hurried legislationof that character. The Minister was quoting from a statement just now, and I asked him if he was quoting from the Bill. On looking at clause 8, paragraphs 1 to 4, as Senator Millen reminded me after I made the interjection, I found that the Minister was giving us the purport of the clause. It is a well-known principle that a law Court can only take a Statute and read the intention of Parliament as expressed therein. In other words, our debates on these subjects are not, so to speak, cognisable by a law Court.
– Cannot the Court consider them in the interpretation of an Act?
– No; Hansard is not considered in the interpretation of an Act. A law Court will take a Statute and say, “ What is the expressed intention of Parliament as gathered from its terms?” The Minister, in making a statement of the character he did tonight, has perhaps offered an opportunity to the law Courts to determine what, is the intention outside of the words of the Statute itself. I believe that counsel in a law Court would be perfectly justified in citing the presumably hurriedly prepared statement by a departmental officer quoted by the Minister in moving the second reading of this Bill as an expression of the intention of the measure, and an invitation to the Senate to agree to give legislative expression to the statement by passing the measure.
– Why should the Court take notice of such a statement, and ignore speeches made on the Bill?
– For the reason that the statement was prepared.
– So are speeches prepared.
– I think not. What I am saying at the present time has not been prepared, and I am satisfied that Senator de Largie has addressed himself to various subjects in this Senate just as the circumstances of the time or the subject seemed in his opinion to warrant his doing so.
– Then we may discount Senator Keating’s utterances on the present occasion, because they have not been prepared.
– The honorable senator may attach what importance he pleases to them.
– The honorable senator has undervalued them himself.
– I have not done so. I say that, so far as the intention of the Legislature is to be ascertained by, say, the High Court, the Court will be guided, generally, mainly and almost solely by the terms of the Statute. I asked a question of the Minister, and, after he gave me his reply, a thought occurred to me, which I deem it my duty to bring before the Senate. He said that he was quoting from a statement, and I say that it might be readily urged before a law Court that this Parliament had legislated in the form which this Bill provides after the Minister in charge of the measure had made an uncriticised statement, apart from his speech, expressing the deliberate intention of the Bill.
– Where does the honorable senator’s objection come in if the statement merely summarizes the main points of the Bill ?
– I am not objecting to the statement, and I do not distrust its accuracy.
– Suppose the Court did take the statement into consideration, what then?
– Does the honorable senator remember what the Minister of Defence read from that statement?
– I do not remember every word of it.
– Does any honorable senator present remember what the Minister read from the statement ?
– Why should the Court attach more importance to that statement than to the extemporary speech of the Minister or of any other member of the Senate?
– Honorable senators should cease this cross-firing. An honorable senator’s speech should not be in the form of a catechism. I ask Senator Keating not to take any notice of the interjections.
– I did not catechise any honorable senator individually. I asked whether any member of the Senate remembered what was read from the statement. What I point out is that, so far as this measure is concerned, we may, as a legislative body. be held to be very much more bound by the statement read by the Minister than we would be by any discussion of the provisions of the measure by honorable senators, whether informal or prepared. We have had a statement, which I assume has been hurriedly prepared, read by the Minister, and I say that we should hesitate before setting about legislation in this way.
– If, as the honorable senator says, the statement was hurriedly prepared, how can he argue that more weight would be attached to it by a Court than to a deliberate and prepared speech ?
– It is not because of its hurried preparation, but by reason of the fact that, whilst speaking, the Minister, in reply to myself, stated that he was reading from a statement which conveyed the intention of the Bill. Every member of the Senate may be presumed to have heard the statement, and to recognise that it expresses the intention of the Ministry in introducing the Bill. That would be stronger evidence, should the Bill be passed, of the intention of Parliament in passing it than would any discussion of the measure.
– Will not the Bill itself express the intention of Parliament ?
– The terms of au Act are the foundation of the construction put by a Court upon the intention of the Legislature. Speeches or comments during the course of legislation are not adducible before a Court.
– Then the Court ignores members of Parliament and their opinions in regard to legislation?
– No ; the Court does not ignore them, but ignores individual utterances which may or may not have influenced concerted action. But we have gone beyond that tonight, and the Minister has read a statement which may be cited as expressing the intention of the Legislature. I do not say that this is the only occasion on which such a thing has been done, but I direct attention to the danger of adopting such a course in connexion with hurried legislation. There is a memorandum read as to what the Senate is now being asked to enact as a Statute.
– The honorable senator’s argument is that if I learned the contents of the statement off by heart, and repeated it as a recitation, it would be all right, but because I read it it is all wrong.
– Yes, very likely. But the honorable senator can see with me that, with regard to the construction of this measure, nothing would be more easy, more natural, or more correct than to urge upon the consideration of a Court that the unquestioned memorandum which has been read expresses the intention of the measure under consideration at the time.
– But the measure has not yet passed.
– It may be passed. After the statement has been read the Senate, as one branch of the Legislature, passes the measure, and that may be taken advantage of.
– Can Senator Keating give an instance where, when a law has been interpreted by a Court-
– I ask Senator Keating not to do anything of the kind. The discussion should proceed on the subjectmatter of the Bill, and should not resolve itself into a mere academic discussion upon the interpretation of Statutes by the Courts.
– I presume that I shall still be in order, apart from raising my protest against hurried legislation upon matters of such importance, in saying, before I sit down, that I not only dissociate myself from responsibility for it, but also from responsibility for the practice of reading to the Senate a memorandum which purports to convey to the Senate what is the intention of the measure submitted to us.
– I have listened very carefully to Senator Keating’s remarks. They go to show that his main objection is not to being asked to vote for the Bill introduced somewhat hurriedly, but to the manner in which it has been introduced. As a layman, I am unable to see that he has put forward any solid reason why a short statement summarizing the main contents of the Bill read by Senator Pearce is in any way unusual. As a matter of fact, the practice saves time, and in a brief way conveys to honorable senators what the purport of the Bill under consideration is.
– And Senator Keating, as a Minister, often did the same thing.
– Never once; nor did any colleague of mine either.
– One would think that such a course had never previously been followed in the Senate, but, so far as I can recollect, nearly every Minister, in introducing measures, has from time to time relied to a certain extent upon his departmental officers for explanatory notes in regard to intricate provisions of a Bill. I do not think that I need make an exception, even in the case of Senator Keating.
– I never did it once; nor did any colleague of mine when I was a Minister.
– The honorable senator and his colleagues were wonderful men. I remember the three colleagues of a one-time Liberal Government in this Senate. They did, of course, what the members of no other Government did. They introduced measures without any reference to notes from departmental heads.
– Order ! I find no reference to the matter the honorable senator is discussing in the Bill now before the Senate. If the honorable senator desires to speak on the second reading of the Bill, he should confine himself to its subject-matter, and should not refer to the practice adopted by the Courts in the interpretation of Statutes.
- Senator Keating endeavoured to show that what Senator Pearce did was something unusual, and he made a protest against it. He expressed the hope that the practice would not be followed in the future. Becoming retrospective, a moment ago he said that this had never been done in the past by himself or his colleagues.
– I allowed Senator Keating to make a very lengthy reference to the subject with which he dealt, although I did not consider it exactly relevant to the Bill. I have permitted Senator Findley to make a reference to the same matter to an extent I considered warranted by the latitude allowed Senator Keating. Beyond that, I say that the discussion on the Bill should proceed in the form of a debate as to its merits or demerits. Honorable senators have complained that they have not sufficient time to discuss the Bill ; but, instead of utilizing the time they have for the purpose, they are wasting time, and squabbling amongst themselves about the practice adopted by the Courts in the interpretation of Statutes.
– I am glad, sir, that you read the “ Riot Act “ to Senator Keating before I rose. My only reason for rising was to refer to the attitude adopted by Senator Keating, and his objection to the reading by Senator Pearce of a summary of the contents of the Bill, prepared, probably, by one who is thoroughly familiar with its provisions. Speaking seriously, with regard to the honorable senator’s second protest, I agree that it is regrettable that at the eleventh hour of the session a Bill containing so many important provisions should be introduced, as honorable senators have not the time to give them the serious consideration they deserve.
– As this is merely a machinery measure, it is necessary to say but very little on the second reading. But I believe that the point raised by Senator Keating is one which is worthy of some consideration.
– It would be if it were relevant to the Bill.
– I think it has a great deal to do with this Bill, inasmuch as Senator Keating contends that the statement read bv Senator Pearce was submitted as an explanation of the measure, and that might have a considerable bearing upon the interpretation of its provisions by a Court.
– The statement comprised only a few rough notes.
– I point out to Senator de Largie that I did not permit either Senator Keating or Senator Findley to pursue that line of argument. I have ruled that it is not in order. There is a proper course bv which the honorable senator may overcome my ruling if he so desires. Having prevented other honorable senators from pursuing that line of argument, I cannot permit him to proceed, unless he submits a motion disagreeing with my ruling, and that motion is confirmed by the Senate.
– I have no desire to dispute your ruling, sir, but when information is being sought from the honorable senator who happens to be addressing the Chamber, and he has no objection to supplying it, it comes as a surprise to me that you, sir, should jump in and prevent him giving it. That is a somewhat new attitude for the President to take up. It is only matters such as that raised by Senator Keating which we can debate upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill. That honorable senator raised a very interesting point; and, as one of the few legal members of the Senate, his contention should carry considerable weight. For my own part, however, I think that there is very little in it. It has received a good deal more attention than it deserves–
– Order! The honorable senator is now evading my ruling. He has emphasized the fact that the point raised by Senator Keating has received a good deal more attention than it deserves. Why, then, does he persist in paying attention to it?
– It was not the point of order that I claimed had received more attention than it deserved, but the point which Senator Keating raised as to what may happen after this Bill has become law, and when it comes before a Justice to be interpreted.
– I did not misunderstand the honorable senator. He has now repeated that the point raised by Senator Keating has received more attention than it deserved. Yet he continues to pay attention to it himself. I ask him to adopt the proper course either of dissenting from my ruling, or of abiding by it.
– I have too great a respect for the position which you, sir, occupy, to dispute your ruling. In Committee, if Senator Keating again raises the point, I shall avail myself of the opportunity to discuss it at greater length.
– As other honorable senators have remarked, this Bill reached us only a few minutes ago, so that we have scarcely had time to peruse it. I do not blame the Minister for that. There are one or two points connected with it which naturally present themselves to one’s mind, and with which, perhaps, it would be better to deal in Committee. But if it be possible for us, when we reach that stage, to depart from the usual practice of having only the marginal note of each clause read, I think that it would be wise to do so. For example, it will be necessary for honorable senators to know exactly what is covered by the definition of ‘? property “ under the machinery that is here provided. That definition is con tained in sub-clause 4 of clause 8, and embraces two or three forms of property which do not usually come within our cognisance, even under definitions which are embodied in other Statutes.
– That is what the memorandum read by the Minister was confined to.
– Exactly. We are left simply with the explanation given by the Minister–
– But there is no definition of memoranda here.
– There is a definition of property, a precis of which was given by the Minister. But it is not the full definition. Honorable senators will see by looking at paragraph c of subclause 3 of clause S that the estate of a deceased person for the purposes of this Act comprises not only -
His personal property in Australia (including personal property over which he had a general power of appointment, exercised by his will), including all debts, money, and choses in action-
– In the Bankruptcy Bill they are called “ things in action.”
– It was that point to which I desired to call attention. It is an easy matter to enact provisions relating to real or personal estate. But there are other forms of property which do not come under the general definition of property. For instance, a man may have an action at law, and may receive £1,000 by way of damages. In such a contingency those damages would immediately be regarded as property which would be dutiable under this Bill. I regret that so near a prolonged adjournment we should be called upon to deal with matters of this kind when we cannot possibly be afforded an opportunity of adequately studying the Bill, and when, therefore, considerations of vital importance are likely to escape our attention. Like other honorable senators who have spoken, I feel inclined to dissociate myself from any share of responsibility for the enactment of the measure. Hasty legislation of this character usually results in confusion, and almost before the ink upon it is dry, amending legislation requires to be introduced.
– Was not this Bill before the Caucus, seeing that the honorable senator is shirking his responsibility now ?
– I do not think that the Caucus has anything to do with the measure. The Leader of the Opposition has Caucusphobia so severely that in his imagination the Caucus crops up at every point. He forgets that there are many things in regard to which the Labour Caucus has no voice. I am ababsolutely surprised that an honorable senator with the standing possessed by the Leader of the Opposition should descend - for it is a descent, and a very great one, too - to a remark which has no application whatever. I do not suggest that proper care has not been exercised in another place, but that circumstance does not relieve us of our responsibility in dealing with this measure. As there is no hurry for the passing of the Bill for at least twentyfour hours, I fail to see any reason why it should be rushed through almost at the point of the bayonet.
– The only effective protest we can make is to refuse to pass the Bill.
– To my mind, that would be childish. Rather let us take time to consider it. Our Standing Orders are designed to expedite the transaction of business-
– The honorable -senator voted to suspend them just now.
– I grant that. But this is an occasion on which the suspension of our Standing Orders is being availed of to rush through an important measure. Senator Millen is blaming me for having adopted a certain course, notwithstanding that he himself remained silent-
– Because I am not pursuing the line of argument that is being pursued by the honorable senator.
– Then the Leader of the Opposition agrees with hasty “legislation of this character?
– Agrees with what -the honorable senator is doing, or with what his party is doing?
– The honorable senator agrees that this Bill should he passed through all its stages without delay. Surely when he charges me with inconsistency, he forgets that he himself is equally culpable. He has not uplifted his voice to demand that proper consideration shall be given to the measure.
– We have all been doing the same thing for the last fourteen years.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that there was a time when he could have objected to the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay, namely, when the proposal for the suspension of our Standing Orders was submitted. The Senate having affirmed that the Standing Orders should be suspended, the honorable senator is now reflecting on its decision, which is entirely contrary to our Standing Orders.
– It is not my intention, sir, to reflect either upon you or upon the Senate. The reflection must be on the Ministers who took that course.
– Is that remark in order ?
– I say that the reflection must be upon Ministers themselves. They must take the responsibility for their action. However, I shall embrace a further opportunity in Committee of supplementing my remarks on this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears …. “ Debts “ includes probate and succession duties payable under any State Act, but does not include voluntary debts. . . .
– Will the Minister explain what “voluntary debts” means? I am not aware that I have contracted any involuntary debts.
– This is the first time I have seen the phrase used in our Statutes, but I take it ‘that a “ voluntary debt” means a debt not recoverable at law, but for which the testator recognises his responsibility. A man may owe a sum which, owing to the Statute of Limitations, is not recoverable, but when making his will he may recognise his liability for it, and leave the amount to his creditor, who could not have recovered it in a Court of law.
– I understand that the term is commonly used in legislation of this character, and that the interpretation given by Senator Keating is correct.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
For the purposes of this Act the estate of a deceased person comprises…….
Property(a) which passed from the deceased person by any gift, inter vivos, or settlement made before or after the commencement of this Act, within one year before his decease….. shall …. be deemed to be part of the estate of the person so deceased.
– I have been asked the meaning of the phrase “ choses in action.” It is a relic of Norman-French, and means the same thing as is expressed in a clause in the Bankruptcy Bill by “things in action.” A “ thing in action “ means the right that an individual has to some money due to him, not exactly determined or ascertained. A man libelled or injured in an accident has a right of action, but does not know the exact amount he may recover before a jury. I suggest to the Minister, in order to keep our legislation harmonious in expression, the substitution of “things” for “choses.”
– Would the Court have any doubt as to the meaning?
– The period of a year fixed in sub-clause 4 is rather long, and might be reduced, if not wiped out altogether.
.- This is the usual provision in Acts of this character, but the period is rather shorter than usual. In some legislation it is three years. In none of the State Acts is it shorter than a year.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 -
The Governor-General may make arrangements with the Governor of a State for the supply to the Commissioner of particulars of assessments made by the State for the purpose of collecting probate and succession duty under the laws of the State.
– Is it the intention of the Government to rely upon the assessments made by the States?
– As far as practicable, “Yes,” but the practice cannot be arbitrarily fixed, because in some States there is a different method of assessment. We shall take the most convenient. In all the States a declaration of the value of an estate has to be made and lodged with the Court. We do not want to compel an estate to make two such declarations.
– I take it that nothing in the clause relieves the Commissioner from the final responsibility of determining the assessment.
– Hear, hear !
– It is our own Commissioner who will have to make the assessment, but the clause seeks to empower the Government to make arrangements with the States that will enable the Commissioner to obtain from them information which will be a guide and a help to him in discharging his responsibility of determining what the assessment is to be.
– The particulars on which he makes the assessment.
– I would point out that after the information is obtained it is not likely to be of much value, for this reason : That executors making a return in Victoria to the State authorities are not likely to send in one return to Victoria and another to the Commonwealth. It is inconceivable that one return will not be a duplicate of the other, and therefore I submit that the information is not likely to be of much value. Clause agreed to.
Clauses 14 to 25 agreed to.
On the hearing of the appeal the Court may make such order as it thinks fit, and may either reduce or increase the assessment, and may make such order as to costs as it thinks fit, and the order of the Court shall.be final and conclusive except as provided in section 28 of this Act.
– It is only a hurried glance that I can give to the clauses as they go through. I call the attention of the Minister to the use in this clause of the phrases “ The Court may make such order as it thinks fit “ and “ the order of the Court shall be finally conclusive, except as provided in section 28 of the Act.” I notice that sub-clause 7 of clause 24 reads -
An appeal under this section may be heard by a single Justice of the High Court or Judge of thu Supreme Court.
Is it to be understood that, with the exceptions adverted to in clause 26, the decision of a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or the decision of a Justice of the High Court is unappealable? In other words, are the decisions of a Judge and a Justice to be put on exactly the same basis with regard to this measure?
– An appeal to the High Court under clause 28 will only be an appeal under sub-clause 1 of clause 26.
– Clause 28 is to be amended when it is reached, owing to an amendment made in another place.
– Is it deliberately intended by the Government that the jurisdiction of a Judge of the Supreme. Court of a State shall be to all intents and purposes equivalent to the jurisdiction of a Justice of the High Court?
– No; both should be appealable.
– Under the same conditions ?
– Then I take it that the reason why in sub-clause 7 of clause 24 it is provided that an appeal may be heard by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State is in order to facilitate appeals, in case the High Court be not sitting in the State ?
– That is so.
– The appeal is to the Pull Court under clause 28.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 27 agreed to.
An appeal shall lie to the High Court from any order made under sub-section (1) of section 2G of this Act.
. -When the Bill was going through the other House clause 26 contained several subclauses, some of which were struck out and made into one clause, and therefore it is necessary to move -
That the words. “ sub-section (1) of” be omitted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Duty assessed under this Act shall be due and payable within thirty days after the service by post of a notice of assessment.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the words “ by the administrator “ be inserted after the word “payable.”
.- Will the word “ administrator “ cover the person who will be liable for the duty? I do not quite realize the scope of the Bill, but I presume that it applies not only in cases of intestacy, but also in cases of wills. Will the word “administrator,” proposed to be inserted, cover the ease of an executor?
– It is covered by th6 definition in clause 3.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
If the Commissioner is satisfied that the duty cannot be paid within the time specified in the last preceding section, he may, upon receipt of sufficient security for payment of the duty -
extend the time for payment as he considers the circumstances warrant; or
permit the payment of the duty to be made by instalments:
Provided that the whole of the duty payable shall be paid within a period of two years.
– The wording of the clause is quite clear, but clause 38 provides -
– Suppose that he cannot mortgage or sell?
– The Commissioner will have to do without the duty then.
– I think the two clauses are somewhat in conflict.
– No. Clause 38 begins with the words “ Subject to the last two preceding sections.” It is clear enough, I think.
– If a man is given two years in which to pay the duty where is the necessity for clause 30 ?
– Although you give him time, you may want security for payment.
– That is all right. He has to get the security before he is given the period of two years.
SenatorPearce. - Clause 38 deals with the “ sufficient security “ referred to in clause 30.
– I ask honorable senators to read clause 30.
– Some friend of the estate may pay the duty.
– Clause 38 seems to me to be superfluous. If we are going to extend the time within which the duty may be paid, I do not see any necessity for clothing the administrator with the powers provided for in clause 28.
– I think the honorable senator is confusing the administrator with the Commissioner. It is the administrator who is referred to in clause 38.
– That makes the matter only more complicated to me. Clause 30 makes it mandatory for security to be provided before the two years’ breathing-time is given.
– What authority has the administrator to mortgage the estate ? It is not his own estate. Unless we give him authority to mortgage it, he cannot do so.
– If the Minister thinks that both provisions are necessary, I shall not raise any further objection.
– They deal with different sets of circumstances.
– It appears to me that clauses 30 and 38 find a proper place in this Bill. Under clause 30, if the Commissioner is satisfied that the duty cannot be paid immediately, he can give an extension of time for its payment. Experience has shown that it happens very often that a person may die possessed of real estate of considerable value and have no money, or he may even have an overdraft. The duty payable upon the estate under this Bill maynot be readily available. If, under clause 30, the Commissioner is satisfied that there is no money immediately available for the payment of the duty, he may grant an extension of time, and then, under clause 38, the administrator is given power to obtain the money necessary to pay the duty by way of a mortgage upon the real estate or by obtaining an order from the High Court or a Supreme Court permit ting him to sell the whole or any portion of the estate for the purpose of enablinghim to pay the duty. Clause 38 is necessary to give the administrator authority to do this, which otherwise he would not have. As the Minister intimated by his. interjection, the administrator has no right to deal with the estate as if itwere his own. He is bound to deal withit according to the terms of the will, of which he is the executor, or according to the law regulating the estates of persons who die intestate.
– Is there a choice as to the course which should be pursued ?
– Then the Commissioner might have the property mortgaged.
– No, not the Commissioner. Let me assume that a person dies entitled to £50,000 worth of real estate, and appoints Senator Findley as his executor. He may not have left any petty cash or current account which could be called upon immediately for the payment of a duty of £200 or £300. Senator Findley, under clause 30, would be able to represent to the Commissioner that there was no cash in hand from which to pay the duty. The Commissioner could say that he might have an extension of time, which under the Bill is limited bo two years. The honorable senator might then induce a friend or a brother of the deceased to pay the duty, he might pay it out of his own pocket, or he might take advantage of clause 38 to mortgage a portion of the real estate, in order to realize a sum sufficient to pay the duty, or he might apply to the Court to enable him to sell a portion of the estate, and pay the duty out of the proceeds of the sale. Clauses 30 and 38 legalize certain courses of action which would naturally be taken.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 31 -
If the duty is not paid as provided by section 20 of this Act or such further time as is provided by section 30 of this Act, additional duty amounting to 10 per centum of the duty unpaid shall be payable in addition, by way of penalty.
– This is the penalty clause, and it seems to me that the penalty would operate at the end of thirty days if the duty then remained unpaid, although, as Senator Keating haspointed out, it might be impossible in many cases to comply with that provision of the law.
I can conceive of circumstances in which the effect of this clause would be to add insult to injury. A penalty of 10 per cent. of the duty unpaid seems to me a severe penalty. It should be enforced only where a person is unwilling to comply with the requirements of the law. I think that it is scarcely justifiable to impose such a penalty when only thirty days have expired after notice of the assessment.
– No; thirty days “ or such further time as is provided by section 30.”
– Then I am to understand that, if an extension of time is granted for the payment of duty, this penal clause will not come into operation until that time has expired.
– That is so.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 32 and 33 agreed to.
Clause 34 (Duty a first charge on estate).
– So far as I can see, it is nowhere expressly stated in this Bill that mortgages are exempt from the calculation of the value of an estate for the purpose of assessment. I admit that in one or two places it seems to be implied, but I should like to be clear that it is not the intention of the Government to provide that mortgages shall not be construed as debts.
– I assume that the honorable senator has no doubt that money advanced on mortgage is a debt. If he looks at clause 17, he will find that it provides that, for the purpose of assessing the value for duty of an estate, all debts due and owing by the deceased at the time of his death shall be deducted from the gross value. I am given to understand that there is no doubt that a mortgage is a debt or a security for a debt.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 35 -
Subject to any different disposition made by a testator in his will, the duty payable in respect of an estate, exclusive of so much of the estate as is devised or bequeathed, or’ passes by gift inter vivos, or settlement for religious, scientific, charitable, or public educational purposes, shall beapportioned among the persons beneficially entitled to the estate in the following manner: -
The duty shall, in the first instance, he apportioned among all the beneficiaries in proportion to the value of their interests; and
b ) where there are any beneficiaries under the will, each of whom takes only specific bequests or devises of a value not exceeding £200, the duty which under paragraph (a) of this section wouldbe payable in respect of the interests of those’ beneficiaries shall be apportioned among all the beneficiaries in proportion to the value of their interests.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That after the word “ apportioned,” line 7, the words “ by the administrator,” be inserted.
– I am in some little doubt as to the effect of paragraph 6 of this clause. As I read it, if there is a beneficiary under the will to whom £200 is left, the other beneficiaries under the will will have to pay the duty in respect of that £200. That does not seem to me to be quite equitable. It may be generous for the recipient of a small amount from an estate, but I think that the recipient of the £200 should pay duty in respect of that amount. This matter requires elucidation. I quite recognise that these are questions which cannot be determined offhand, which sometimes require a little consultation with the legal advisers of Ministers, and with the deliberation which marks the movements of this Chamber when it is seriously interested in a clause, I suggest that we should not go too far before the information is supplied.
– I understand that the meaning of the clause is that where there are estates in which both large and small beneficiaries are interested, and where one of those beneficiaries receives less than £200 whilst the others get larger amounts, the smaller beneficiary shall not contribute his proportion of the duty on the higher scale, but shall” pay a smaller amount than his fellow beneficiaries.
– The clause in regard to some of its terms seems to be quite superfluous, and appears to introduce an unnecessary element of complexity. It is also a contradiction of the opening lines of clause 34. If the duty is to be a first charge on an estate, I understand that it will be deducted from the value of the estate, and the balance will then be available for the purpose of meeting all legacies and bequests made by the testator.
.-I listened carefully to the explanation of the Minister, but I submit that if what he states is the intention of the clause it utterly fails to give effect to it. He affirmed that its purpose is to insure that the smaller beneficiaries under a will shall pay a lower rate of duty, whilst the larger beneficiaries shall pay a higher rate. I submit that it provides for a distinct transference of the liability to pay duty from the smaller beneficiaries to the larger ones. The clause means that the duty which would be payable in respect of small sums of money will be transferred to, and spread over, the other beneficiaries. That seems to me to be entirely wrong in principle. When the Minister suggests that two rates of duty ought to be collected upon an estate. I differ from his view entirely. The Bill which we passed to-day contains no provision that tlie duty shall be levied according to the amounts which beneficiaries receive from an estate.
– I say that there will be two rates of contribution by the beneficiaries.
– Then the Minister concedes the point for which I am contending. This clause is intended to transfer the liability to duty from one set of beneficiaries to another set. I hold that when a person benefits under a will, each £1 which he receives should pay its share of the duty, irrespective of whether his portion of the estate be large or small. Otherwise, just in proportion as the duty is made lower in the case of small beneficiaries, it must be made higher in the case of large beneficiaries. That is to say, some beneficiaries will be called upon to pay a higher rate than we imposed upon them by the Bill which we passed to-day. They will have to pay, not merely the duty for which we provided in that measure, but also a share of the taxation which should fall upon other beneficiaries.
– And which, owing to the £200 limit, would be infinitesimal.
– There is no reason why a beneficiary who receives £200 should not pay the duty. I will pay it willingly upon as many £200 as the Min ister can get for me. It is quite unreasonable that one beneficiary should be called upon to pay the duty in respect to a portion of an estate which goes to somebody else. He ought to be required to pay the duty in accordance with the scale which we approved this afternoon. I ask the Minister to postpone the consideration of the clause till to-morrow, in order that the matter may be thought out by Ministers in consultation with their legal advisers. It is unjust, and is a contravention of what we have already enacted. Under it we shall make the rate of probate duties higher than those which we fixed this afternoon.
– Under this clause, I take it that if, in an estate of £6,000, there are ten beneficiaries who are to receive £200 cadi, and ten other beneficiaries who are to receive £400 each, the ten who receive £200 each will be required to pay nothing in the way of duty, whilst the remainder will have to pay the full duty.
– The honorable senator’s assumption is wrong.
– The ten who receive £200 each will pay less than their share, while the ten who receive more than £200 each will pay more than their share.
.- The ten who receive £200 will pay a proportion of the duty. May I put this as an illustration: If the smaller beneficiary’s share in an estate be one-fiftieth of the whole of that estate, that share will be charged with one-fiftieth of the duty, and the balance will be apportioned amongst the other beneficiaries.
– Then why is paragraph b necessary at all? The Minister is going back to paragraph a.
– No, I am not, because there may not be forty-nine other beneficiaries. This paragraph does not give a beneficiary an equal share. It provides that where a beneficiary’s share in an estate is one-fiftieth of the total estate, it must pay one-fiftieth of the duty.
– It would do that under paragraph a of the clause.
– No. Under paragraph a it is assumed that there are fortynine other beneficiaries. Where a bene.fieiary’s share represents only one-fiftieth of the value of the whole estate there may be two other beneficiaries who receive forty-nine-fiftieths of the estate.
– Then the smaller beneficiary will pay his proportion of the duty?
– Yes, and the balance of the duty will be divided amongst the others, who will pay duty in proportion to the amounts they receive?
– If the Minister’s statement be correct, all that he has outlined is provided for under paragraph a of this clause. He declares that under paragraph b it is intended that the duty shall be spread over the beneficiaries in proportion to the amounts which they receive. In doing so he used the word “equal,” which is not used in either of those paragraphs. Under paragraph a a beneficiary who receives one-fiftieth of an estate will pay one-fiftieth of the duty, so that if forty-nine-fiftieths of the estate were divided amongst either one or six other beneficiaries, they will still pay their proportion of the duty. In these circumstances, why is paragraph b necessary?
.- I would point out to those who are criticising this clause that it is not one-fiftieth of the total estate which would have to pay duty in the circumstances which have been outlined by them, but the small beneficiary will be charged one-fiftieth of the duty in respect of his share of the estate. The balance will be borne by the other beneficiaries.
– The balance of what - of his share?
– Yes, the balance of his share.
– Then it comes back to this: that it is proposed to charge smaller beneficiaries only a portion of their liability, and. the balance of that liability is to be transferred to the shoulders of other people ?
– That is so.
– Then I must ask the Committee whether we ought to agree to this clause. I will take the illustration given, by Senator O’Keefe, and alter it slightly. Let us suppose that there are ten beneficiaries who each receive £200 out of an estate. They will all have a share of their liability passed on to somebody else if there are ten other beneficiaries in the estate who receive £400 each. The latter will have a portion of the liability of the former thrust upon them.
– An extremely small portion.
– It will not be an extremely small portion in a case such as I have cited.
– It might amount to something if the estate were valued at £4,000.
– Let us take the case of an estate which is worth £2,400, and in which ten beneficiaries receive £200 each, and one beneficiary £400.
– The total tax would be only £28.
– Whatever the amount of tax, the man who gets £400 should not be called upon to pay any portion of the duty which ought to be chargeable to the ten beneficiaries who receive £200 each. As the clause reads now, the small bequests may represent the major portion of the estate by reason of their multiplicity. It would be best to let paragraph a stand and remove paragraph b.
– Senator Millen has put an extreme case, in which I do not admit that any great hardship would be involved. To put another, an estate of £75,000 may be left almost entirely to one or two persons with a small legacy or two under £200 to some deserving persons or institutions. Most of the big estates are left in that way. A duty of 15 per cent, is payable on an estate of that size, and it would not be fair to make the small beneficiary pay 15 per cent, on his legacy when a beneficiary receiving £30,000 pays only 15 per cent, on his. If the Committee wish the small beneficiary to pay the same rate of duty as the large, they can do it openly by striking out paragraph 6 ; but that is not the policy of the Government.
– The desire of the Government to tax -the big beneficiaries, and let the small escape, ought not to be accomplished by putting an additional impost on the big beneficiaries so that they pay actually 15A, 16, or 17 per cent
– It will not come to Jj per cent, extra.
– If the Estate DutyBill enacts that the maximum shall be 15 per cent., we have no right by juggling with the machinery measure to exceed 15 per cent. I doubt whether, having passed the other Bill, we can make the maximum duty greater than 15 per cent. If the Minister desired that those receiving small amounts should pay no duty, he should have altered the terms of the first Bill, making the tax leviable on the amounts received by the several beneficiaries, and not on the amount left by the testator. Paragraph 6 may considerably reduce the amount receivable by the larger beneficiaries. The Minister said I cited an extreme case, but it is a highly probable case, and could be multiplied indefinitely. Take an estate of £2,400, where a large number of people are left £200 each, and the balance is absorbed by three or four persons getting amounts only slightly larger than £200. Why should the latter be called upon to pay the duty for the benefit of the former ? I hope the Minister will reconsider the clause.
– I am not altogether satisfied with the clause as it stands, and, if the case cited by Senator Millen was hypothetical, so was that cited by the Minister. It would, perhaps, be a hard case if small beneficiaries under a big estate were subject to a tax of 15 per cent., but it would also be hard if a number of persons receiving bequests of £200 each escaped while other beneficiaries receiving £250 each had to bear the brunt of the taxation. I do not say I shall vote against the clause, but the Committee ought to have time to think it over. Many persons who do not die possessed of great wealth try to distribute it by their wills among a number of people, and great hardships may be inflicted by excessive taxation on some beneficiaries while others benefiting under the same will escape taxation altogether.
– I cannot agree to postpone the clause, as the issue is clear cut. Estates are seldom distributed over a great number of people. Testators, as a rule, are not so socialistic.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [11.6].- The trouble arises from trying to provide for a series of succession duties. By leaving out paragraph 6 we can avoid inflicting hardship on a number of people who would otherwise be asked to pay probate duty for the benefit of a number, of smaller beneficiaries. The will, when proved, will, under the Bill already passed, be subject to certain duties, according to the amount of the estate. If the testator wishes to leave £200 to some one, free of duty, he can do so. If, on the other hand, he thinks everybody should pay a fair proportion of the duty, he can make the bequest without that provision. If he leaves a bequest of £200, free of probate duty, the duty is paid by the estate in the first instance. The Government, in that case, will not be deprived of the amount of probate duty to which it is entitled under the previous Bill. In a small estate, with a number of small legacies, paragraph b may have the effect of making a man getting a £250 legacy pay probate duty, while another receiving a £200 legacy may pay none.
– A man receiving £200 would pay his proportion in respect of his share.
– It is not so, according to the clause.
– Yes; in an estate of £1,000 a bequest of £200 represents onefifth, and the beneficiary pays one-fifth of the duty in respect of his share. It is a transfer of a portion of what, otherwise, he is liable for.
– A man who is left a bequest of £250 will share the duty of a man who is to receive a bequest of £200, but the latter will not share the duty of the former. Is that a fair thing, particularly in the case of small estates? I can understand a distinction of that kind being made where a man is to receive a gift of a couple of thousand pounds, or a considerable sum; but even then it is a question which ought to be left in the hands of the testator. If we had succession duties it might be a different tiring for a man getting £200 to pay a smaller percentage than a man who is to receive £400. I could understand a provision under which a stranger should pay 10 per cent., and the widow or child of testator should pay, perhaps, 1 per cent. This paragraph will, I think, only tend to complicate matters, create unnecessary difficulties, and interfere with a testator’s desire as to the distribution of his estate.
Senator SENIOR (South Australia) [11.12]. - The discussion has shown thai the wording of paragraph b should be altered by substituting “such” for “ the “ before “ beneficiaries “ where lastoccurring.
– We do not want to do that.
– That would make the paragraph very much clearer than it ls.
– No. This is in conformity with the draftsmanship of all Bills up to the present time.
– I think it would make the paragraph clearer. It would read “ all such beneficiaries,” that is, such beneficiaries as are referred to in the clause. In the other case, it is “ all the beneficiaries.”
– All the beneficiaries are referred to in this clause.
– One honorable senator says that the paragraph does include all beneficiaries, and others say that it does not. I wish to substitute “ such “ for “ the “ in the phrase “ all the beneficiaries.”
– That would show that it did not include all, but only some.
– If the reasoning of the Minister is correct, a beneficiary receiving £200 will have to pay according to paragraph a.
– He will have to pay according to his interest.
– His interest is £200, and in the event of it being onefifth of an estate of £1,000, he will pay one-fifth of the share.
– In respect to his share.
– One-fifth of a fifth.
– I cannot understand the reasoning, although I tried to follow the Minister closely. He will have to take the responsibility for the clause.
– In view of the fact that the Minister says the issue is clear, and intends to press the clause, I think it is my duty to speak again, with the view of making, if I can, quite clear what at the present time does not appear to be so, at any rate, to Senator Senior. Having listened to the statements of the Minister, and studied the clause during the progress of the debate, I think it is perfectly clear what it intends to do, and the question then arises whether it is just. When the Minister says that the smaller bene ficiaries will pay their share, he does not mean that they will pay their share of the duty which the estate will pay to the Government. What he means is that if they have in the aggregate one-fifth of the whole estate, they will not pay onefifth of the duty; but that one-fifth which otherwise they would pay will be divided amongst all the beneficiaries, and they will pay their share of that one-fifth. If they have one-fifth of the estate they will pay one-fifth of a fifth. I cannot do better than impress on the Committee the admission of the Minister that the effect of the clause is to relieve the smaller beneficiaries of some portion of the duty which otherwise they would pay, and superimpose it on the amount which will be paid by the larger beneficiaries. Apart from what appears to be the injustice of it, that is in distinct violation of the Estate Duty Bill which we passed this afternoon, when we declared that estates of a certain amount should pay a certain duty, with a maximum of 15 per cent.
– According to your reasoning, instead of paying one-fifth, a man will pay one twenty-fifth.
– That is to say, the beneficiaries receiving four-fifths would pay, not only the duty in respect of that, but find four-fifths of the duty which otherwise would be payable by the smaller beneficiaries. I remind the Committee that when we fixed the table of rates this afternoon we did not have it in our minds or intend that those rates should be exceeded. We decreed that a maximum of 15 per cent, should operate, but under this clause the rate is going to be over 15 per cent, in certain cases, and where we decreed a rate of 10 per cent, it is going to be 10 per cent, and an additional amount. It seems to rr.e that under the other Bill, any one who is called upon to pay 15 per cent, may reasonably invoke the protection of the Court. I propose to call for a division on the clause, because it is too serious a one to allow to go on the voices. I did hope that the Minister would meet the objections I raised. I submit that they are at least entitled to consideration.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [11.18].- So far as I can follow this rather intricate debate, the injustice under the paragraph is not so much that certain beneficiaries have to pay more than 15 per cent, as that certain beneficiaries have to pay an extra duty, not on account of the amount of their bequests, but because certain other beneficiaries get £200 or less. It seems to me to be unjust that the amount of duty which a beneficiary will have to pay under a will should depend upon whether certain other bequests are under £200 or over. I am with Senator Millen in this matter, because I think that the provision is unjust.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a first time.
– As there is to be a procession of the Expeditionary Force to-morrow morning, which honorable senators wish to see, I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 2 p.m. to-morrow.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I understand that an arrangement was made some time ago between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition that the session would be adjourned to-day, but apparently that is not to take place, and we are to meet to-morrow. I wish to know from the Leader of the Senate what prospects, if any, there are of concluding the business to-morrow. I ask the question because many honorable senators, in anticipation of the session adjourning to-day, have made arrangements to leave Melbourne tomorrow. Of course, if there is no prospect of finishing the work to-morrow, we are prepared to hang on until after Christmas. We do not want to go away leaving the business unfinished. We are entitled, I think, to know what prospects there are of finishing to-morrow, so that we can make our arrangements.
– I have perhaps been somewhat remiss in not attending to what has tran spired since the adjournment motion was moved. If there is any doubt as to our capacity to make sufficient progress tomorrow, is it not possible for us to meet earlier than 2 p.m.? The function to which the Minister for Defence has referred is of interest to us all, but it will not occupy the whole of the morning. If there is any prospect of finishing to-morrow, I am as anxious as anybody that we should do so. If there is no such prospect, there is no reason why we should not meet earlier than has been proposed.
– That is now impossible, as the Senate has resolved that, at its rising, it will adjourn until 2 p.m. to-morrow.
– Then I am afraid there is nothing for us to do but be bound by the motion which has been passed.
– I wish to say, in reply to Senator Mullan, that I personally did understand that some arrangement had been made by which the session was to have terminated to-night. Unfortunately, on occasions like the present, Governments are often the victims of circumstances. If honorable senators assert their right to speak the Government cannot prevent them from doing so.
– I am not blaming the Government.
– If, in the House of Representatives, honorable members assert their right to speak, it is obvious that they will take twice as long to pass a Bill as the Senate will take, because they have twice the number of members. The delay is not the fault of the Senate. We have dealt expeditiously with all the Bills that have come before us, but unfortunately the other House has not been able to keep pace with us. I regret it, because I know that honorable senators wish to get away. All I can say is that anything that can be done to expedite the business to-morrow, in order that honorable senators may get away, will be done. I cannot say anything more. Everything depends on the way in which business comes forward to the Senate from another place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 December 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19141216_senate_6_76/>.