House of Representatives
4 September 1942

16th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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Prime Minister · Fremantle · ALP

– Having regard to the motion carried in the House yesterday, relating to the holding of a secret meeting of senators and members, and the fact that the House adjourned earlier than would ordinarily have been the case,I ask honorable members to defer questions without notice until the next sitting, so that we may resume the deliberations conducted yesterday afternoon and evening.If honorable members have any urgent questions to ask and hand them to the Clerk, I shall endeavour to have the replies, if obtainable, passed on to them before the House meets again. I move -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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The following bills were returned from the Senate without requests: -

Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1942.

Customs Turiff (Exchange Adjustment) Validation Bill 1942.

Customs Tariff (Special War Duty) Validation Bill 1942.

Customs Tariff (N.Z. Preference) Validation Bill 1942.

Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Validation Bill 1942.

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Message received from the Senate intimating that the following senators had been appointed members of the Broadcasting Committee : - Senator Amour, Senator Cooper and Senator Herbert Hays.

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Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to-

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the imposition, assessment and collection of a tax upon payments for admission to entertainments.

Bill presented, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The Government intends that some portion of the present spending of the people on amusements should be diverted back to the Commonwealth Government in order to help to finance the war. Despite the curtailment of many forms of sporting activities, attendances as a whole at entertainments show a tendency to increase. A great deal of the resources upon which people draw to meet their costs of entertainment are to be found in the war expenditure of the Commonwealth itself. The Government does not wish to impose undue prohibitions on the people, but it considers that whilst many of our men are absent from their homes on active service, and whilst many others are working long hours in essential employment, those who still have the leisure to frequent places of entertainment should be prepared when they do so to make a contribution to the war effort. The rates of tax proposed are heavy. They will serve to bring significantly to the notice of ‘people who attend entertainments the fact that the nation is fighting for its existence.

When the Government decided that it was necessary to enter this field of revenue it found that in five of the States there existed an entertainment or amusement tax. In the sixth State there was no such tax. The rates of tax varied considerably, as did also the incidence of the tax. It became obvious that if a tax which would achieve the objectives sought by the Common wealth were to be imposed it was desirable that the varying taxes of the States should be suspended. The Government, therefore, decided to approach the State Governments with a proposal that they should, upon payment of compensation, vacate the field entirely and leave it to the Commonwealth. The first approach was made at the Premiers Conference, held in Melbourne during August. One State only, namely, Tasmania, indicated at the conference that it was willing to agree to the suggestion of die Commonwealth. The other four States, namely, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, desired to give the matter further consideration and requested that the Commonwealth should put its proposals in writing. The Prime Minister, therefore, wrote to the Premiers of the States, and they have in reply signified their willingness to vacate the field in favour of the

Commonwealth for the duration of the war and one year thereafter. The States are to bc compensated upon the basis of the revenue formerly received by them from this source. I desire here to record the Government’s appreciation of the co-operation of the State governments in the matter. The bills contain clauses which will cause the tax automatically to cease on the last day of the first financial year to commence after the war ends.

This bill, if accepted, will represent the second occasion upon which the Commonwealth has imposed an entertainments tax. Honorable members will recall that the Commonwealth entered this field during the last war, and the tax was imposed on the 1st January, 1917. After the war- the tax was gradually lifted until in 192* it applied only to admission charges of 2s. 6d. and upwards. In 1933, the Commonwealth vacated the whole field in favour of the States as a part of the financial arrangements made to enable them to recover from the effects of the depression. The proposed Commonwealth legislation in. substance follows on the lines of the previous Commonwealth act. The tax is payable upon the price of admission to the entertainment. The tax commences at 3d., which is levied upon admission prices of ls., and increases with each 6d. increase of the price of admission. No tax is payable on admission prices of less than ls. The Government has decided that the legitimate stage and other entertainments in which artists appear in person should receive some concession in rates, .and accordingly has provided for them a special scale in which the rates are approximately 25 per cent, less than the general rates. I shall explain the rates of tax in more detail when I introduce the rates bill. It is estimated that the gross revenue that will be collected from this source for a full financial year will be £3,250,000. Compensation payable to the States will amount to approximately £765,000, leaving a net revenue to the Commonwealth of £2,485,000. For the balance of the present financial year it is expected that the Commonwealth will collect about £2,430,000, out of which compensation will be payable to the States of approximately £575,000, leaving a net revenue to the Commonwealth for the current financial year of £1,855,000.

The bill provides exemption for entertainments where all the proceeds, without any charge for expenses, are devoted to public, patriotic, philanthropic, religious or charitable purposes. If the entertainment is wholly of an educational character, or is of a partly educational and partly scientific character, and is conducted by a society not established or carried on for profit, or all the net proceeds are devoted to the erection, maintenance or furnishing of memorial halls for the use of returned soldiers, sailors and airmen, it will be exempt from tax. Where the net proceeds of an entertainment are devoted to public, patriotic, philanthropic, religious or charitable purposes, and the expenses do not exceed 50 per cent. of the receipts, it will be exempt. If the attendance at such an entertainment, owing to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances, is so reduced as to cause the expenses to exceed 50 per cent. of the receipts, the Commissioner has power to grant exemption. During the operation of the previous Commonwealth Entertainments Tax Act, dinner and supper dances were a continual source of difficulty. The proprietors of some of these functions maintain that the whole of the payments made by tie patrons have been for the dinner or supper and the dancing is merely incidental. This claim has been successfully maintained even in those cases where a first-class dance band has been in attendance and dancing has proceeded from about 8.30 p.m. until 2 a.m. A provision has, therefore, been inserted in the law to enable such entertainments to be taxed, whilst at the same time ensuring that the meal at which merely incidental music is provided is not taxed.

The bill contains provisions for the registration of all entertainments and, to ensure that the casual entertainment does not escape, provides that a liability shall rest upon the owner or lessee of the premises in which the entertainment is held to see that no unregistered entertainment is held on his premises. The tax is to be collected by the proprietor of the entertainment and paid over to the Commissioner of Taxation, either prior to the entertainment being held by the purchase of stamped tickets of admission or within seven days of the holding thereof where a guarantee has been lodged. The usual provisions are included for the imposition of penalties for offences against the provisions of the act. The bill provides that the tax shall operate on and from a date to be proclaimed. The intention is that the date of operation of the tax shall be the 1st October, 1942.

Sir Charles Marr:

-Will provision be made to prevent an admission charge of1s. from being slightly reduced in order to obviate payment of the tax?


– Yes, provision against that will be made later.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Fadden) adjourned.

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In Committee of Ways and Means:

Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

.- I move-

  1. That, on and after the date fixed by Proclamation under the Act to be passed to give effect to this resolution, an entertainments tax be imposed on all payments for admission to any entertainment.
  2. That the rates of the entertainments tax be -

    1. where all the performers whose words or actions constitute the entertainment are actually present and performing and the entertainment consists solely of one or more of the following items, namely, a stage play, a ballet, a performance of music (whether vocal or instrumental), a lecture, a recitation, a music hall or other variety entertainment, a circus or a travelling show - as set out in the second column of the Schedule hereto ; and
  3. That the Act to be passed to give effect to this resolution continue in operation until the last day of the first financial year to commence after the date on which His Majesty ceases to be engaged in the present war and no longer.

It is customary with taxing acts to embody the machinery for collection in a separate measure from that which actually imposes the tax. This motion is, therefore, complementary to the measure which has already been introduced and explained. It provides for the imposition of the tax, and sets out the r a. tes at which the tax will be paid. Honorable members will observe that the schedule to the motion sets out two scales of rates which, for simplicity, might be referred to as the full rate and the. reduced rate. The full rate is set out in the third column of the schedule, and, briefly stated, is 3d. on admissions of ls., increasing by .2d. for every 6d. or part, thereof, by which the price of admission exceeds ls. up to 5s. and therelifter increasing by 3d. for each additional fid. or part thereof. At 10s. the rate is 4s. Id.

This scale of rates will apply to all entertainments held on and after the date of proclamation for the commencement of the tax, except exempt entertainments and entertainments in which the whole performance is rendered by artists appearing in person. To this latter class of entertainment, which is more particularly referred to as an entertainment consisting of a stage play, a ballet, a performance of music, whether vocal or instrumental, a lecture, a recitation, a. music hall or other variety entertainment, a circus or a travelling show, the reduced rates will apply. They are set out in column two of the schedule, and represent as near as could conveniently be arranged without splitting pence a reduction of 25 per cent, from the full rate. It has been thought desirable to avoid halfpence in order to obviate difficulties which would occur at the boxoffices if they were adopted, -and also to lessen the drain on copper coinage. Where the actual calculation resulted in an odd farthing or halfpenny the fraction has been dropped, and where the fraction was three farthings the tax hasbeen taken at the next penny.

Honorable members are well aware of the difficulties which have been experienced by what is popularly known as the “ legitimate stage “ since the advent of motion pictures and “ talkies and will,I am sure, welcome the preference which has been accorded to it in the matter of rates. Despite the concession, the contribution which will be required from the legitimate stage because of the generally higher charges for admission will be substantial, and will be sufficient to keep before the patrons thereof the facts that I have previously referred to, namely, that this nation is fighting for its very existence, and that those who have the leisure and means to attend entertainments should on those occasions make a contribution to the funds for waging war.

The tax will come into operation on a date to beproclaimed, and it is expected that all State entertainment taxes will cease as from that date. Suitable arrangements are being made with the State governments for the vacation of this field of taxation, and I shall explain the details of those arrangements when thebill to provide compensation to the States is introduced.

Progress reported.


The following paper was presented : -

Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance -1942 - No. 7 - Crown Law Officer Reference.

House adjournedat 10.48a.m.


The following answers to questions were circulated : -

Synthetic Rubber.

Mr.Guy asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Did he receive recently from the Tasmanian Government a request that the Australian Minister in Washington, Sir Owen Dixon, be asked to approach the American holder of the patents for the manufacture of neoprene synthetic rubber regarding the manufacture of the rubber in Tasmania from Tas- manian carbide
  2. if so, has such a request been made to Sir Owen Dixon, and with what results?
Mr Curtin:

– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows : -

  1. The letter containing the request referred to by the honorable member was received yesterday.
  2. Consideration will be given to the matter as soon as possible.

Apples for Red Cross Organization.

Mr.Guy asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -

In view of the waste of apples which occurs each year, will he take the necessary action to instruct the Apple and Pear Marketing Board to make available to the Red Cross organization in Tasmania, and other States if thought advisable, a quantity of such apples gratis, or for a nominal charge, for sale throughout the State, so that the waste will be reduced and the funds of the Red Cross benefit?

Mr Scully:

– It is the practice of the Apple and Pear Marketing Board “to make supplies of surplus apples available to charitable and similar organizations for distribution to hospitals and institutions, but such fruit cannot be made available for commercial distribution.


Mr Francis:

asked the Minister for

Supply and Development, upon notice -

  1. Has the Government yet devised and completed any plans for the development of Australian bauxite deposits for aluminium production ?If so, what are the nature and details of the plans to be undertaken and what progresshas been made in putting them into effect?
  2. Will the Government take into consideration the fullest possible utilization of the extensive bauxite deposits at Tambourine Mountain in Queensland in their plans for the development of our bauxite deposits for aluminium production?
Mr Beasley:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. The Commonwealth Copper and Bauxite Committee has made an extensive survey of Australian bauxite resources and has furnished the Government with full information in this regard. The committee has established that there are ample supplies of sufficiently highgradebauxite in Australia upon which to base an aluminium industry. In order, however, to establish the industry it will be necessary to procure essential plant and equipment from America. Negotiations with the object of obtaining this have been in progress for some time and are continuing.
  2. Full consideration will be given to the question of utilization of bauxite deposits at Mount Tambourine in Queensland as plans for the establishment of the aluminium industry are advanced.

Divorce Legislation.

Mr Blackburn:

asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -

  1. Has he read in the judgment of His Honour Mr. Justice Rich delivered oh 4th February, 1942, in Waghorn v. Waghorn (65 C.L.R. p. 294) the following passage: -

Before parting with the case I venture to suggest that the legislature, under the express power contained in sub-section 22 of section 51 of the Constitution, might take into consideration the question of passing a Federal Divorce Act. It appears to be a matter of some importance that the residents of the six States of the Commonwealth should lire under corresponding conditions so far as divorce is concerned. The legislature would not be originating a system of divorce, but merely passing a uniform act in substitution for the divorce acts of the States, and thus, “ To heavenliest harmony Reduce the seeming chaos “. ?

  1. Will he favorably consider the introduction of such a bill as His Honour has urged?
Dr Evatt:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. The question is one for consideration by the Cabinet as a matter of Government policy, and I shall bring the suggestion of the honorable member before my colleagues.

Federal Aid Roads Agreement.

Mr Francis:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Since the renewal of the Federal Aid Roads Agreement between the Commonwealth and the several States, what sums have been expended during the financial years 1939-40, 1940-41 and 1941-42 by the State of Queensland under the altered conditions of that agreement for the provision of harbours, havens, shelters, jetties, channelling, beacons, beacon lights, &c. ?
  2. What was the nature of such works so carried out?
Mr Chifley:

– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 September 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.