6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Kino Island - Caveside and Chudleigh
– “Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General be good enough to say whether he has any information referring to the question I asked recently on the installation of telephones at Zing Island?
– The following further answer to the honorable senator’s question has’ been supplied: -
– Is the Minister re-, presenting the Postmaster-General in a position to give a reply to a question T asked recently with reference to communication by telephone between the towns of Caveside and Chudleigh, in Tasmania?
– -The Deputy Postmaster-General, Hobart, reports that action will be taken at once in connexion with the erection of the CavesideChudleigh telephone line, and its completion is expected about the third week in March, 1915.
– Has the Minister of Defence noticed a paragraph appearing in the newspapers about a show got up at the Liverpool camp in New South Wales for the edification of the cinematograph people? Will the honorable senator say whether it is the custom to have our troops used for such purposes.?
– I have no knowledge of the matter to which the honorable senator refers beyond the statement he has just made. I shall obtain a report upon it.
– Have you, sir, any information to give to the Senate concerning some little trouble or disturbance that took place between the officers of this Parliament and members of the press, which has, as you are possibly aware, formed the subject of considerable discussion in another place?
– I intend, before calling on the business of the day, to make a statement in regard to the matter.
– I have to inform the Senate that on Monday of last week a document was found posted in the room in this House allotted to the Argus reporters, which read as follows: - “The Lousy List: - No favours or cheap advertisements to any of these: - Givens, Bakhap, Buzacott, Long, McDougall, Needham, Story,
McDonald,Burchell, Fleming, Foster, R. W., Mathews, O’Malley,Rodgers, Yates, and Monaghan.”
We therefore addressed the following letter to the editor of the Argus: - 8th December, 1914.
We beg to forward herewith a copy of a document which was found posted in the room at Parliament House allotted to the members of your staff in attendance here. The names on the list are those of the members of the Joint House Committee and theSecretary.
We consider the heading to the document, and the intention it shows, are a breach of the privileges of the Houses. We desire to inform you that, until an apology is received for whathas been done, no member of your staff will be admitted to the Reporters’ Gallery or rooms, or allowed any other privileges in the buildings.
We are, sir,
The Editor of the Argus,
In reply to this the following letters were received from the editor of the Argus: -
Melbourne, 8th December, 1014.
To the Hon. the President,
The Senate, Melbourne.
From the Editor of the Argus, Melbourne.
I have to acknowledge the letter of this date, signed by yourself and by the Hon. the Speaker, directing my attention to a list of members posted in the room set apart for the staff of the Argus at Parliament House.
I have great difficulty in believing that any member of our staff would be guilty of compiling such a list, or of posting it in the room, and I have not been able, in the short time that has elapsed since I received your communication, to make any inquiry into the matter. I can assure you, however, that the person or persons who are proved to be guilty of this proceeding will be severely dealt with if it be found that they are members of our staff.
I assume in the meantime that some one in our service did post the list, since the evidence points to that conclusion, and, therefore, I have to offer to you and to Mr. Speaker, on behalf of this office, a full apology for an act so utterly contrary to good taste and to the wishes of the proprietors of the Argus.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) Ed. S. Cunningham, Editor.
Melbourne, 8th December, 1914.
To the Hon, the President,
From the Editor of the Argus, Melbourne.
I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of the letter of this date signed by yourself and by the Hon. the Speaker, directing my attention to a list of members posted in the roomat Parliament House set apart for the staff of the Argus. I have not been able to complete my inquiries into the matter, but so far as I have been able to ascertain the facts, I regret to have to admit that some member of our staff has been guilty of the action of which you very justly complain.
I can assure you that as soon as we are satisfied as to who did this, he will be very severely dealt with, and in the meantime I have to offer to you, and to Mr. Speaker, on behalf of this office, a full apology for the serious breach of decorum which has been committed. I have only to add that it is contrary to the usages of the Argus for any reporter to allow personal feeling to influence him in carrying out his work, and if it be found that there has been any departure from rule in this case, the necessary steps will be taken.
I have the honour to be,
Yoursfaithfully, (Signed) Ed. S. Cunningham, Editor.
The apology thus tendered was considered satisfactory, and the editor of that paper was informed accordingly. In the Age room on the same occasion was found, but without the offensive heading, a list of the same members as was posted in the Argus room, except that Senator Barker’s name appeared in place of Senator Bakhap’s. We wrote to the editor of the Age as follows : - 8th December, 1914.
We beg to forward herewith a copy of two documents. The first, marked “ A,” was found posted in the room allotted to the Argus staff at Parliament House. The document marked “ B “ was found posted in the room allotted to the staff connected with your newspaper. The names on each list are those of the Joint House Committee. The document found in the Age room has not the offensive heading which appears on the other document. It seems to be more than a coincidence, however, and suggests that it covers some intention similar to that expressed by the Argus list.
In our opinion this is a breach of the privileges of the Houses.
We shall be glad to receive before noon tomorrow any explanation you may wish to make with regard to this matter.
We are, sir,
Thos. Givens, President.
The Editor of the Age,
To this letter we received the following reply -
The Age Office,
Melbourne, 8th December, 1914.
In reply to your communication of the 8th instant, I desire to say that neither the proprietors of the Age nor myself were aware any list had been posted in the room used by the Age staff at Parliament House, nor was any member of the staff authorized to do so. Mr. Biggs, Chief of our Reporting Staff, informs me that he, too, was unaware of what had been done, and has ordered the list to be removed at once. I learn that Mr. Brickhill, reporter, posted the list on his own initiative. His reasons for doing so are stated in a letter to me to-night, which I attach. I would like to add, with regard to what may be read into Mr. Brickhill’s action, that no member of the Age staff would be permitted to discriminate in any way in reporting members.
I have the honour to be, sirs,
To Thos. Givens, Esq.,
Chas. McDonald, Esq.,
Melbourne, 8th December, 1914.
The Age; the Leader. Sir,
In reply to your inquiry, I desire to state that the list of members of the House Committee posted in the Age room at Federal Parliament House was placed there by me for the information of members of the staff engaged at Parliament. It was done on my own initiative. In discussing among ourselves the recent withdrawal of certain privileges formerly granted to us in Parliament, pressmen generally had decided to try and ascertain from individual members of the House Committee the reasons for action which we regarded as reflecting on us personally. As the personnel of the Committee was not well known, and members of the staff had on several occasions asked me who they were, I prepared the list and posted it.
Geo. R. Brickhill.
Mr. Schuler, Editor.
On receipt of this letter from the editor of the Age, we addressed to him a further letter in the following terms : - 9th December, 1914.
Adverting to our letter of the 8th inst., on the subject of a notice posted in the room allotted to your staff at Parliament House, and your reply thereto, we are of opinion that the explanation tendered isunsatisfactory, in view of the fact that a somewhat similar notice in vulgar and scurrilous terms was also posted in the room occupied by members of the Argus staff, and a further notice in the Inter-State press room, indicating there was concerted action taken by pressmen generally at Parliament House, and that the notice was posted with the same intention and purpose as those in the other rooms. We desire to add, therefore, that unless a full apology is tendered by 12 o’clock to-morrow, the members of your staff will be excluded from the privileges of Parliament.
We are, sir,
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) Thos. Givens, President,
Chas. McDonald, Speaker.
The Editor of the Age.
We received the following reply: -
The Age Office,
Melbourne, 9th December, 1914.
I desire to acknowledge your communication of the 9th instant on the subject of a notice posted in the room allotted to the Age staff at Parliament House. I deeply regret the incident has occurred. I had no knowledge whatever of any concerted action by the staff, and entirely condemn and disapprove of any such action, and beg to tender an apology for the unpleasant incident, and to give my assurance that everything will be done to insure that the staff will observe the respect due to the privileges of Parliament.
I have the honour to be, sirs,
Yours truly, (Sgd.) G. F. H. Schuler,
To the Hon. T. Givens, Esq., President; Chas. McDonald, Esq., Speaker.
This letter was considered satisfactory, and we informed the editor of the Ageaccordingly.
The following was posted up in the Inter-State pressroom : -
List of Senators and Members who, owing; to their action to pressmen, may not…… ask for favours: -
And good luck to them!
We sent the following letter to Mr.H W. Peters, Chairman of the Inter-State Press Committee: - 9th December, 1914.
We desire to call your attention to a noticerecently posted on the wall of the room used by the members of the Inter-State Press at Parliament House. Such notice was headed “ The Roll of Honour,” and contained a list of senators and members of the House of Representatives who are members of the Joint House Committee. This notice is evidently intended to serve the same purpose as a scurrilous and vulgar document of the same nature which was posted by pressmen in another part of the House reserved for their use; and unless we are furnished with a satisfactory explanation in the matter, and receive a full apology by 12 noon to-morrow, it is our intention to exclude members of the Inter-State Press from all (privileges at Parliament House.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) Thos. Givens, President.
Chas. McDonald, Speaker.
Chairman of the Press Committee, Parliament House.
The following reply was received from Mr. Peters : -
The President and the Speaker of the Federal Parliament.
In reply to your communication of December 9, I have to say that I was previously unaware of what was posted in the Argus and the Age rooms. I rarely visit those parts of the House. It is a fact that in the Inter-State room a list of members of the House Committee was posted on the wall. As soon as I saw it I endeavoured to tear it off. But as it was stuck too tightly to remove more than a part, I pasted a blank sheet over it. When this sheet was removed, I pasted another, with a request that it should not be interfered with. It was not afterwards touched by any member of the Inter-State Press. I think the action was merely a prank of one of the young fellows who have access to the room. Youthful effervescence takes curious forms sometimes, and often acts irresponsibly without intending to be harmful. Perhaps it is the result of an undeveloped artistic sense, a fact not uncommon en este vallede lagrimas. The fact that the notice was at once pasted over, and was, “therefore, cancelled and repudiated in the only method that was conveniently possible should, I submit, be accepted as a clear indication that there was no intention by the room to trans- g ress any rules of the House. At the same me, I admit that there was an indiscretion by whoever it was committed; and I wish to express regret that it should have occurred.
I am, dear sirs,
That letter was not considered satisfactory, and Mr. Peters wrote a further one -
The President and the Speaker,
In reply to your letter of yesterday, it is correct that there was a notice posted in the Inter-State Pressroom containing the names of the members of the House Committee. I at once endeavoured to remove it, but found it was pasted too tightly on the wall. Accordingly I covered it with a blank sheet of paper. This was removed. I placed another with a request that it should not be interfered with. This request was observed. I wish to express my regret that the notice was posted at all, and to say that the indiscretion was one that I am sure will not be repeated.
I am, sirs,
That letter was not considered satisfactory, and Mr. Peters wrote again -
The President and the Speaker,
Supplementing my letter of to-day, I wish to add that as Chairman of the Gallery Committee I unreservedly apologize for the incident to which it relates, and express my regret that a breach of parliamentary decorum should have been committed in the Inter-State Pressroom.
I am, dear, sirs,
To this I replied as follows: -
Dear Sir, 1 have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 10th instant, conveying on behalf of the Gallery Committee an apology in connexion with the appearance on the walls of the InterState Pressroom of a notice which it was considered constituted a breach of the privileges accorded to press representatives at Parliament House. In accepting the apology, I desire to record my satisfaction at the closing of an incident which, I am sure, has been distasteful to all parties concerned, and further to express a hope that in the future harmonious relations may continue between members of Parliament and press representatives whose work necessitates their attendance at Parliament House.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) Thos. Givens.
President of the Senate.
That is all the correspondence in reference to the matter, and I naturally concluded that with the closing letter of mine the whole incident had terminated, and no more would be heard of it. Unfortunately, however, the press continued to make a noise, and to buttonhole members regarding the matter, and made repeated attempts to have it ventilated in another place. Finally, they did succeed, and Mr. Speaker and myself regret exceedingly that the whole matter has had to be made public, especially as the Argus and the Age made most handsome apologies. We desired, in the circumstances, that nothing more should be heard about it; but the pressmen were not satisfied, and forced the issue, thus compelling Mr. Speaker and myself to publish the whole correspondence. The trouble arose in the first place because the Joint House Committee and the
Joint Library Committee found it necessary during the last session to remind the press representatives in this building of the privileges to which they were entitled, and acting on behalf of these Committees the then Speaker, Mr. Johnson, and myself informed the press representatives accordingly. Subsequently, an erroneous impression, diligently fostered by the pressmen, got about that their privileges had been either curtailed or restricted. Nothing of the kind has been done. The only thing that was done, and it was done unanimously by the two Committees, was to call the attention of the press, politely and courteously, to the rules which govern their attendance in this Parliament, and the privileges that they did legitimately enjoy. The members of the press appeared to he very dissatisfied with this, and continued to agitate for some time for a reconsideration of the matter. It was again considered this session by the Joint House Committee.
– They were making representations with a view to the continuance of the practice which they themselves had established in addition to the privileges which were allowed to them. No attempt was made bv either Committee to restrict their privileges in any, way. All that we did was to call their attention to the privileges allowed to them, and to ask them to co-operate with us in seeing that they were not overstepped.
– Privileges already governed by regulation.
– It was represented to us that the members of the press had a very hard time here; that their duties were often wearisome, and that the least that could be done by Parliament was to provide them with suitable means of recreation and amusement so as to counteract the effect of their very hard work. That view was put before the Joint House Committee by letter, and we replied that the only duty we recognised towards the members of the press was that of providing them with the fullest and most ample facilities and accommodation necessary to enable them to conveniently and effectively report the proceedings of Parliament. That is all that has been done and will continue to be done. If the mem bers of the press are too hardlyworked, if they are in sore need of recreation and amusement, that is entirely a matter for trie proprietors of the>> newspapers they represent, and notfor this or the other branch of the Legislature. We might just as reasonably beasked to vote a sum ul” money to supplement their pay, if they wereunderpaid by their employers, as bet asked to provide facilities for their amusement or recreation. Again, they asked us to formulate some complaint om. which we based the action which we took, and we replied, as everybody must admit was reasonable, that in making rules forthe conduct, order, and good governmentof Parliament House generally, it was not at all necessary for us to formulate a complaint against any individual. We further pointed out that it was essential, if members of Parliament were to have any comfort, that they should have some privacy. Under the old system, when’ themembers of the press roamed unrestricted all over the premises at their own sweet, will, honorable members had no privacy whatever, either in the Library, the gardens, or anywhere else; and, on more than one occasion, to my own knowledge, the gist of private conversations between honorable members has been pubslished in the press next day. I say, unhesitatingly, that private conversations between honorable members of this Parliament outside the Chambers should be as sacred as private conversations between honorable members in their own homes; but that could never be the case while honorable members were under the constant sur- ‘ veillance of the press. -I have made inquiries in other quarters to see if the press had any just cause of complaint, and! have received a full memorandum regarding the press privileges allowed from Mr. H. H. Newton, Clerk of Parliaments for Victoria, from which I find! that, even now, under the system at present obtaining in this building, the members of the press have a great many mores privileges than they have in the VictorianParliament. To my own certain knowledge, they possess more privileges herethan they do now in the Queensland Parliament, because there no honorable member ever saw a member of the press unless he went into the gallery to do so. The> members of the press there were not allowed to enter any of the rooms set apart for honorable members in any part of the House. We have tried to be -reasonable and courteous towards the press, and to see that they are treated with every consideration. Last session, the question arose whether the members of the press, or portion of our own staff, should, owing to the limited accommodation in the refreshmentrooms, be deprived of the right to have their meals there; and I, as Chairman of the Joint House Committee, ingiving the matter consideration, decided in favour of the press, and . of depriving a part of our own staff of the right to have their meals there. Yet the press say that they are treated harshly. They have been treated with the utmost consideration. Any action taken by the Library Committee, or the Joint House Committee, has been absolutely unanimous, and both sides of the House have been fully consulted before anything has been done, and for my part I take full responsibility for everything that was done, and am quite certain Mr. Speaker is prepared to do the same.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– Since I put the question on the notice-paper, I have ascertained that the following announcement appears in some of the leading booksellers’ windows - “ Defence Department, Military Maps on Sale,” and that Mie maps are marked - I had not seen them when I put my question on the notice-paper - ‘ Reproduced by Head-quarters Staff, Melbourne. Published by Critchley Parker, Mining Standard, by authority. Albert Mullett, Government Printer.” I find that the maps are not Australian, but European; but I would like to ask if they are published with the concurrence, consent, and active assistance of the Defence
Department ? Does the Minister think it desirable that they should be sold indiscriminately as published by the authority of the Defence Department?
– The honorable senator’s question referred to military maps of the Commonwealth, and my reply was framed accordingly. The honorable senator now asks a question with reference to maps of Europe. I have no information on the point, but will make inquiries.
– Will the Minister find out if the Defence Department, in their official capacity, are supporting the indiscriminate sale of European military maps here ?
– I shall ascertain if that is so.
Railway from Queensland : Reports of Exploration and Survey.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Referring to paper presented to Parliament, and ordered to be printed, on 27th November, 1014, does this paper contain the whole of the correspondence re connexion with Port Darwin of the Queensland railway system; if not, why has not the whole of the correspondence relating to this matter been printed, and will the Minister lay the whole of the correspondence relating to this matter upon the table of the Senate?
– The answer is -
The order was for the production of the recent correspondence on the subject between the late Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland, and all such recent correspondence is included in the published paper. Some correspondence took place towards the end of 11)13, copies of which I will now lay on the table. There has been no other correspondence on the subject.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
In view of the fact that there are a great number of unemployed in Perth and other parts of Western Australia, consequent on the war and the drought, will the Minister inform the Senate what action the Government has taken, and is taking, to push on with their public works in that State, such as the transAustralian railway, Naval Base, new General Post Office, Perth, &c, with a view to relieving unemployment?
– The answer is -
The work of constructing the KalgoorliePort Augusta railway is being pressed forward to the fullest extent practicable. Full details of the progress of the work appear in pages 13 to 30 inclusive, of the Home Affairs Schedule No. 19.
The construction of the Perth General Post Office is now in hand. The work is being carried out under a contract accepted by the State Public Works Department, but several small works in connexion with the erection of the General Post Office building are being carried out departmentally. Full particulars thereof appear on pages 91-2 of Schedule No. 19.
In connexion with the work on the Naval Base at Cockburn Sound, the following works have been approved by me, and the Director of Naval Works has just returned from Fremantle, where he has been arranging to put these in hand as far as possible: -
Henderson Naval Base.
Engineering Data Work -
Investigation Works, &c.
Preliminary Works -
Works Staff Offices.
Hospital Building (including furniture).
Men’s Mess Room.
Shed and Shelters.
Block Yards and Sheds.
Works Railway for Base.
Works Tramways for Base.
J etty ( temporary ) .
Works Construction Plant -
Building Muck Waggons, Pile Frames, General Plant, Barges, Trucks, &c.
Motor Lorries : Discharges : Employes in Commonwealth Bank.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Discharges. - There is every reason to believe that the men received their discharges before being put ashore at Albany, in accordance with the orders of the General Officer Commanding, No.36, paragraph 216, which reads as follows: - 216. The following procedure will be followed in the case of men discharged at Albany : -
Upon approval of discharge being given -
The Assistant Adjutant and QuartermasterGeneral will make the necessary arrangements for reception of men by the Officer Commanding troops, Albany, notifying the District Commandant,5th Military District, and the District Paymaster of the District in which men were enlisted. The Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster - General will inform the officer in charge, Base Record Office, of such discharges. (b) The Officer Commanding transport concerned will, upon first opportunity, send such men in charge of a non-commissioned officer to the Officer Commanding troops, Albany, for return to the district of enlistment.
Pay. - If unable to obtain pay immediately upon application, the fault lay with the ex-member of the Australian Imperial Force in not producing his soldier’s pay-book as laid down in above quoted order, paragraph iv.
– It would appear that the whole of what has been said has been governed by the first statement, “ There is every reason to believe.” Am I to understand that the replies to my questions are purely given on the assumption that there is “ every reason to believe ‘ ‘ that certain rules have been complied with? And if it be on that assumption, will the Minister cause further inquiries to be made into the matter?
– I have already communicated with the General Officer Commanding to know whether that was carried out.
– Will further inquiries be made to see whether that is so?
– They are being made.
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?
– I have to inform the honorable senator that a communication was sent to the Governor ‘of the Bank, but that no reply has yet been received. I have communicated again with the Governor, asking him to expedite the answer. I will endeavour to obtain the information for to-morrow.
– I ask the Minister to ascertain whether, even if the practice is terminated, it has been observed or not?
– It has taken place in other Departments than the Bank.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are- -
The following papers were presented : - Northern Territory - Railway policy regarding development of, and extension of Queensland railways. Mining Companies subsidized by the Government - Return to Order of the Senate of 20th November, 1914.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill read a first time.
T3.41]. - I move -
That this’ Bill be now read a second time. This is purely a formal Bill, the purpose of which is to establish a Trust Fund into which any moneys that may be lying around at any time may be put. It is in the same form as previous measures of the kind.
– Is there any loose money lying around ?
– At times there is, and it is always convenient to have a bag ready for it. The Bill is of such a formal character that I have no doubt the Senate will agree to pass it through its remaining stages without discussion.
Question” resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill received from trie House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill read a first time.
.- I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The effect of this Bill will be to amend the schedule of the Land Tax Act which deals with the rate of taxation. The scheme for imposing the land tax is provided for in the Land Tax Assessment Act. The rate of tax is fixed in accordance with a formula provided for the purpose, and it has been considered advisable to alter that formula so as to increase the incidence of the taxation. I have here a statement giving the technical formula providing for the rate of tax. It is proposed under this Sill that where the taxable value does not exceed £75,000 the formula for arriving at the amount of the tax shall be-
Where the taxable value exceeds £75,000 the rate under this Bill will be 9d. in the £1, as against 6d. under the existing Act. To give honorable senators some examples of the effect of the proposed change in the rate of taxation I may say that in the case of an estate of the taxable value of £10,000 the rate of the tax under this Bill will be12/3d., whilst under the present Act it is11/3d. An estate of the value of £15,000 under this Bill, 2d.; under the Act,1½d.; £25,000 under this Bill.22/3d.; under the Act, 1 5-6d.; £30,000 under this Bill, 3d.; under the Act, 2d.; £45,000 under this Bill, 4d.; under the Act,2½d.; £60,000 under this Bill, 5d. , under the Act, 3d.; £75,000 under this Bill, 6d.; under the Act,3½d. In the case of absentees, where the taxable value does not exceed £50,000, the formula is proposed to be altered from -
Here are some examples of the effect of the proposed alteration. Where the taxable value of the estate is £15,000, the rate will be32/3d. under this Bill as compared with31/3d. under the Act; £25,000,41/3d. under this Bill,31/3d. under the Act; £30,000,42/3d. under the Bill, 35/8d. under the Act; £45,000,52/3d. under this Bill,41/3d. under the Act; £60,000,61/3d. under this Bill, 45-6d. under the Act; and £75,000,72/3d. under this Bill, and51/3d. under the Act. On estates of over £80,000 taxable value, it is proposed that the rate shall be raised to a maximum of 9d. in the £1. The question of the taxation of leaseholds is not raised by this Bill, but by the Land Tax Assessment Bill, which has to be considered ; but I may say that the amount which it is expected will be raised from this increased taxation in a full year is £1,000,000. There has been a mistake made in connexion with the formula shown in the schedule to the Bill, but when we get into Committee it is my intention to move an amendment in order to provide that the rate of taxation shall not go beyond 9d. in the £1 in any case.
– Is the honorable senator apologizing for the moderation of the Government when he says that it is not to go beyond 9d. in the £1 ?
– The intention of the Government was that 9d. in the £1 should be the maximum.
– Under the formula in the Bill it might go up to11d.
– That is so, and that is why it is proposed to make an amendment. I do not know that I need say very much more about the Bill. We believe that the present Act does not fully do what it was intended to do. That is to say, it has not had the effect of breaking up large estates to the extent that its designers intended.
– It was wrong of them to have such a design. If it had been put in the preamble it would have been declared unconstitutional.
– That was the design. The Act was intended to have the effect of bringing into use land that was held out of use. It has had that effect to some extent, but not to the extent we desire.
– It operated at a snail’s pace.
– In the first year of its operation it had the desired effect on a pretty large scale, but since then it has been found that, as the result of experience, it is not bringing land into use at the rate we think desirable in the interests of the country. We also believe that, from the revenue point of view, the money to be collected under this Bill may very properly be contributed by a class of taxpayers who are well able to bear the additional burden which will be placed upon their shoulders. As I said, I propose, when we get into Committee, to move an amendment upon the schedule for the purpose of retaining the maximum rate at 9d. in the £1.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) have occurred to me in connexion with this Bill is the very great triumph of the views which you, Mr. President, so strenuously advanced in this Chamber when the original Land Tax Act was presented for our consideration. I used to admire the energy with which you enforced those views, whilst I regretted that it was not devoted to a better cause. Those of us who were members of the Senate at the time will remember that you pointed out that, by the method of collecting the tax then proposed, the purpose which your party set before it would not be accomplished. I understand that the Government propose, in connexion with this Bill, to alter not merely the rate of the tax, but the method of collecting the tax provided for under the existing Act, and submit a proposal bringing the original measure into line with what you advocated so strenuously a few years ago. Another thing that occurred to me in connexion with this Bill is that it is very largely also a triumph to those members of the Labour party who have, without hesitation, expressed it as their idea that the Federal land tax should be ls. in the £1. Senator Ready is one of those who voiced that opinion without any equivocation.
– I still hold it.
– Others of the honorable member’s party hold the same view. I am also reminded of an interjection made at the time Senator Ready put forward that view. When Senator Ready said that he would be prepared to move that the tax should be ls. in the £1 sterling, Senator Gardiner said, “ If you do, you will stand alone.”
– Quite true; but there was no war then.
– We shall see in a few minutes how far this is to be considered a war tax. In the meantime I wish to show that, although the Vice-President of the Executive Council then very stoutly, and indeed indignantly, repudiated the idea of levying a tax of ls. in the £1, Senator Ready has now obtained 3d. in the £1 at least of the increase which he then sought.
– Under exceptional conditions.
– The conditions are exceptional, as I shall show presently. That portion of the Labour party which has as its ideal a land tax of ls. in the £1 has managed to get a 50 per cent, increase in that direction.
– That is good progress.
– I take that interjection to mean that honorable senators opposite will not be satisfied until they get an increase of 100 per cent. I
– The honorable senator is at liberty to draw his own conclusions.
– I am merely stating facts. It is true that there was some little show of opposition to Senator Ready’s suggestion, but apparently it has disappeared, because we now find that the Government propose to levy a tax of 9d. in the £1.
– The honorable senator means that a proposal was mentioned here under which it was intended that the tax should reach ls. in the £1. It did not contemplate a flat rate of ls. in the £1.
– And I am congratulating my honorable friend upon having gob three-fourths of the way towards his goal. Cheered by this measure of success, he will, no doubt, make a further effort to get the remaining increase of 25 per cent’. By that time, probably, Senator Gardiner will have found some other special reasons for falling in with him.
– If the honorable senator secures another term of office, a tax of ls. in the £1 will not be sufficient to enable us to meet our commitments.
– The term of office of the late Government has nothing to do with the present proposals. The VicePresident of the Executive Council said just now that this additional taxation was due to the war. No greater piece of humbug was ever sought bo be perpetrated than that of endeavouring to persuade the people of the country that these additional taxes are war taxes. It is playing with the patriotic feelings of the people to attempt bo persuade them that a single penny of this additional taxation is to be devoted towards defraying our share of the expenditure upon this Empire war.
– It will go towards paying interest upon our war loan.
– It will not, because, if the honorable senator will takethe trouble to look at the Budget-papers, he will see that we are even borrowing sufficient to pay interest on the large amount which we are getting from the Imperial Government.
– We would be borrowing more but for the imposition of this tax.
– Exactly; but the extra amount we should borrow, but for the tax, would not be devoted towards defraying our expenses in connexion with the war at all. The amount which will be realized by this tax, and by the probate and succession duties, is going to make good the deficiency anticipated in the ordinary expenditure of the Commonwealth.
– Which is caused by the war.
– No. It is our increased expenditure which necessitates the imposition of the tax. This increased taxation has been rendered necessary by the fact that the Government have decided to spend more freely during the next twelve months than any Government has previously spent in Commonwealth history. Having decided to enlarge their expenditure, the Ministry had to look around to discover additional sources of revenue, and as a result they have resolved to increase the amount to be drawn from the land. It is altogether unjustifiable to pretend that they are levying this tax in order to meet the expenses consequent upon the war. A few simple figures will show that it has not been rendered necessary to meet our expenditure in connexion with the war, and that it is not going to be devoted to that purpose. It seems to me that there is a deliberate and set design on the part of my honorable friends opposite to convey the impression that the taxes proposed are war taxes. Speaking elsewhere a little time ago, the Prime Minister said -
I feel sure this form of taxation will be accepted by the country as a fair and reasonable one to be imposed during the war.
The only purpose of that utterance was to convey the impression that this tax had been rendered necessary to meet our war expenditure.
– Due to a restriction of trade.
– Will Senator Guthrie admit” that this is not a war tax ?
– It is caused by the war.
– The war on land monopolists.
– I am very much obliged to Senator Lynch for his illuminating interjection. It is required for the war on land monopolists. It has no relation whatever to the war in Europe. We could have no clearer indication of this than that which was given in the speech which the Minister of Defence delivered this afternoon. He said that the Labour party had found that their original land tax was not effectively doing its work, that whilst in the first year of its operation there was a satisfactory movement towards the disruption of big estates, that movement had come to a stand-still. There is a clear admission that this tax is being imposed, not to raise money to carry on the war, but because the party opposite have found that the tax previously levied has not had the desired effect of breaking up large estates as rapidly as they thought it would. The Minister made a very frank declaration on that point which I put in contradistinction to the interjections of the VicePresident of the Executive Council and Senator Guthrie, who are still endeavouring to show that the tax is being levied because of the war and in aid of the war.
– Does not the honorable senator know perfectly well that the tax is intended to raise increased revenue owing to the war?
– How can it be necessary owing to the war, seeing that it is not to be devoted towards defraying our expenses consequent upon the war? My honorable friend had better allow me to give him some figures in this connexion. They show that the Government this year anticipate a deficit - not in connexion with the war, because that is dealt with in an altogether different way - but in their ordinary revenue.
– The ordinary revenue has fallen short because of the war.
– It is not the fallingoff of the revenue that has rendered this tax necessary; it is the increased expenditure. The Vice-President of the Executive Council knows very well that all the falling-off of the revenue which is anticipated amounts to only about £750,000 in the Customs. Yet the Government propose to raise, in order to meet that falling-off, a sum of £2,314,000. The difference between the falling-off in the Customs revenue, and the amount which will be yielded by this increased taxation, is to be devoted to meeting the increased expenditure of the Government.
– Does not the honorable senator think it is a good thing to assist the industries of the country and thus to find employment for the people?
– The interjection of the honorable senator does not take cognisance of my point.
– That is the point.
– Then it is the point that this taxation is being levied to provide employment for the people, and not for the purpose of financing our share in the war expenditure.
– It is being imposed to meet the difficulties which have arisen owing to the war.
– Will not the honorable senator give the drought a chance ?
– The total result of the drought, and of all other causes, is an anticipated deficiency in the Customs revenue of £750,000, and yet the Government propose to raise an additional £2,314,000 by way of taxation, and even then they will still have a deficiency. That, I submit, is due to the fact that they are enlarging their expenditure as compared with the expenditure of last year. That may, or may not, be good policy, but I say that no person can honestly pretend that these taxes are being levied as war taxes. If they are war taxes, it is reasonable to assume that they will last only during the continuance of the war, or until such period thereafter as the debt which has been created by it has been paid off. Are my honorable friends prepared to say that this land tax has been put forward as a temporary expedient? If it be only designed to meet an emergency - to meet a deficiency in the Customs revenue - is it intended to repeal this Bill when those extraordinary circumstances have ceased to exist?
– I have not the slightest doubt that the honorable senator will repeal the Bill if he happens to get into office again.
– I am asking my honorable friend whether, if this measure be brought forward merely because of the extraordinary circumstances resulting from the war, the party with which he is associated will repeal it the moment those circumstances have passed away? Will Senator Stewart, the one frank man on the land policy in this Chamber, say that he will ever vote for its repeal ?
– Certainly, I will.
– Then all the respect for the honorable senator which I have treasured for years has gone. But I venture to say, even now, that he is speaking jocularly.
– I would repeal this Bill and bring in another measure increasing the tax.
– That is the frankness which I expected from the honorable senator. The tax has been brought forward as a permanent impost, so far as my honorable friends are concerned. How, then, can they pretend that it has been rendered necessary, by the extraordinary conditions with which we are confronted ? The fact is that it is part of the Labour party’s policy, and, war or no war, they would have attempted to give effect to it by means of this Bill. We ought to be frank with the electors, and, in addition, we ought to be frank with ourselves. It is utterly impossible to obtain that frankness if honorable senators opposite will pretend that this measure has any relation to the war in the slightest degree.
– There would have been no occasion for it if the war had not occurred.
– Here are the figures - The total expenditure this year is estimated to be £37,500,000, and our war expenditure £11,750,000. The whole of that war expenditure is being paid for out of borrowed money. For this purpose £10,500,000 is being borrowed from the Imperial Government, and the rest’ is to be obtained from the issue of Treasury bills. Deducting that expenditure from the total estimated expenditure this year, we find that the ordinary expenditure will be £25,750,000. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that the imposition of this tax would not have been rendered necessary but for the war. As a matter of fact, there is not a penny of war expenditure in the whole of that £25,750,000.
– The honorable senator appears to be shutting his eyes to the fact that the war has entirely upset our finances.
– It has upset them to the extent of £750,000 in the Customs revenue- that is all. In what other way has it upset our finances? It has reduced the anticipated Customs revenue by £750,000.
– But there would have been an increase in the Customs revenue if normal conditions had prevailed.
– Let my honorable friend take the biggest increase of revenue that has been experienced in the Commonwealth and he will find that the Government would still not have had -sufficient revenue to enable them to meet an expenditure of £25,750,000. It has to be remembered, too, that we are suffering from a drought which is responsible for a considerable disruption of commerce.
– And a pretty considerable portion of the disruption in commerce.
– Undoubtedly. Had there been no war, the most that my honorable friends could have claimed would have been an anticipated loss of £750,000 in the Customs revenue. I say that there would have been a shrinkage there owing to the drought, war or jio war. But for the purposes of argument I will assume that the whole of that anticipated loss of £750,000 is the result of the war.
– The Government of which the honorable senator was a member did not make provision- for future expenditure while they were in office.
– We were not called upon to make provision for additional expenditure with which we were not confronted. How absurd it is for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to talk like that. Those who propose to spend the money must accept the responsibility of raising it. My honorable friends have put forward a proposal to spend £25,750,000 upon the ordinary services of the year. The Vice-President of the Executive Council says that, but for the war, that revenue would have been received. He cannot seriously pretend that for a moment, because, in order to balance their accounts, the Government would have had to receive from the Customs Department £3,200,000 more than they expect to receive now. No honorable senator, in his sober senses, will pretend that if there had been no war our Customs revenue would have jumped more than £3,000,000.
I would further remind the VicePresident of the Executive Council that he is a member of a Government which promised to bring in a Tariff the effect of which, by stopping importations, would tend to reduce the revenue.
– The Tariff has already been brought in ; the promise has been kept.
– Has the effect been to reduce the revenue?
– It was introduced to protect our local industries.
– That remark from my one time stalwart Free Trade friend is distinctly amusing, but I cannot resist asking him whether, in his opinion, the new Tariff is going to reduce the revenue or not.
– It will increase the revenue for this year.
– That means that the imports will be greater this year than they would have been but for the high Protectionist Tariff championed by my Free Trade friend. It is just as well that Senator Russell should know that he has to advocate before his electors in Victoria a policy which is going to increase imports.
– I did not say so; I said that it would increase the revenue for this year.
– You cannot increase the revenue from the Customs without increasing the importations. I should like to hear Senator Russell, in Victoria, supporting the new Tariff on the ground that it is going to increase imports and swell the revenue.
– You may increase the revenue because of the higher duties without increasing the imports.
– Then the honorable senator admits that the Government will receive a bigger revenue from the Tariff.
– I am not foolish enough to believe that our manufacturers can build new factories in a month.
– The honorable senator is not foolish enough to commit himself to Senator Gardiner’s interjection. Senator Gardiner, so far as this Bill is concerned, may endeavour to make out that, but for the extraordinary expenditure rendered necessary by the war, there would have been no need for this taxation. In order to do that he has to show that but for the war the Government would have received through the Customs an extra revenue of over £3,000,000, and no responsible officer in the Trade and Customs Department would venture to put forward such an estimate. We have never had such an increase, even in the last few years, during which our prosperity has been increased at a gratifying rate. I would remind honorable senators, to show how essential these taxes are to meet the ordinary expenditure of the year, that, although the Government propose to collect additional taxation, amounting to £2,300,000, there will still be a deficiency of £1,346,000. Those two items make a total of £3,700,000 odd by which the revenue will be below the expenditure this year. Yet Senator Gardiner has the hardihood to say that these taxes are rendered necessary by the war ! I have known Senator Gardiner to be reckless in his statements at times, but never so reckless as this. He might be all right in the back-blocks addressing those who do not carefully study the figures ; but the honorable senator, with the facts staring him in the face, cannot possibly say that these taxes are rendered necessary by the war.
– It is the Liberal lady canvassers who tell the fantastic stories about finance.
– The “ fantastic “ statements which I am making are taken from the Budget figures published by the Prime Minister.
– And embellished.
– -Facts do not require embellishment, and these are the facts. They show that the real purpose of these taxes is to enable the Government to spend more freely than ever before. The sole point I want to make is that the purpose of the tax is merely to swell the revenue and not to meet war .expenditure. Had there been no war at all this tax, or one raising a similar amount, would have been necessary. The clearest and most positive proof that it is not a war tax is that, even after the amount yielded by the tax has been swallowed up by the ordinary expenditure of the year, the Treasurer will still stand confronted with a deficiency of over one and one-third million pounds.
.- I had not intended to speak, in view of the state of the business, but, as Senator Gould interjects, the reference by Senator Millen to the shilling land tax has brought me to my feet. I stated on the hustings throughout the campaign, and. made no secret of it, that I believed in. a land tax that would reach ls. in the £1 on estates over £100,000. I still hold that view. One would think that Senator Millen had made a remarkable discovery, but I have always stated my view on that point openly, and during; the recent campaign in Tasmania I stated frankly from every platform that rather than impose, for war or any other purpose, extra taxation that would fall on the bulk of the community, I would support an increase in the Federal land tax. It may have been injudicious. to> advocate increased taxation just before an election, and probably those are not. the tactics that honorable senators opposite would pursue; but I did it, and I felt justified in thus publicly stating my belief.
We are marching, I hope, along the high road to economic progress, and I am confident that we eventually will thoroughly overhaul our system of taxation generally. There is great need for it. Various estimates have been prepared and scrutinized by Government statisticians and others in a position to check figures accurately, and the facts bear out my statement that our present system of taxation falls very heavily on those with lower incomes. Our friends opposite know that Customs duties fall on the bulk of the masses.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Who drink champagne and expensive wines, I suppose ?
– Not many of them are in a position to drink champagne.
– You say that the Customs duties fall heavily on the masses. Is that why you support them ?
– I am not a supporter of revenue duties. I do not advocate the policy put forward by some of the big metropolitan newspapers of putting a tax on tea and kerosene. We do not favour those duties.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. -Why?
– Because it has been estimated by an actuary in the Victorian Government Statist’s Office - and I have never seen the estimate contradicted - that of the £15,000,000 Customs duties £12,000,000 .is paid by the poorer and middle classes of the community.
– I think that is pretty right.
– It is so; and, for that reason, I do not believe in revenue duties. When the Tariff comes before us, I think I shall prove it by my vote, which will not err on the side of insufficient protection. There is another feature, applying particularly to Tasmania, the most heavily taxed State in the Commonwealth. We in that State had a very heavy burden of direct taxation to bear for many years on account of our geographical position. A set of figures was carefully prepared some time ago by Mr. W. E. Shoobridge, and submitted to Mr. R. M. Johnston, the Government Statist of Tasmania.
– In Tasmania you pay only £ per cent, on the unimproved value.
– Our land tax is heavier than any other State land tax in the Commonwealth. It starts at Id. and goes up to 2Jd., and we have also a heavy income tax. Yet the estimate carefully prepared by Mr. Shoobridge, and checked and substantiated by our Government Statist, shows that the man with an income of £200 and under pays 8 per cent, of his income in direct and indirect taxation, or £16 per annum to the Commonwealth and State revenues, while the man with an income of £1,000 per annum pays only 3£ per cent, for the same purposes. That is what our honorable friends opposite call equality of sacrifice. No system of taxation can be fair that has such unfair results. There must be something radically wrong, and this Bill, although we hope to realize £1,100,000 by it, will not level up the inequality. It will go a certain distance towards it.
– Will you ever level up inequalities ?
– I hope the Labour party will honestly try to do so, for I take it that that is what the people sent us here for.
– You are not doing it when you put the additional tax on about 10,000 people.
– I think about 15.000 people pay the Federal land tax. The effect of this Bill will be to make them pay a little more in proportion to their incomes than they have done in the past, but still not enough.
I want to show the tactics of our honorable friends opposite with regard to the taxation of land. We have been accused more than once of being prepared to lower the exemption. The statement that I would support a land tax of ls. in the £1 was put into every Liberal leaflet and newspaper circulated in Australia, and an endeavour was made by honorable senators opposite to fasten that policy on the Labour party. I do not blame them for that so much, but they “were unfair in inferring that the ls. land tax would apply indiscriminately to all land-holders. To prove my contention, I have here a cutting from the leading Liberal northern newspaper in Tasmania, the Launceston Examiner. It is headed, “ Election Issues - Some Points for the Farmers,” and, strange to say, the next column is headed, “ Our Daily Fiction.” Apparently the headings got mixed. In the “Points for the Farmers,” compiled by one Stanley Dryden, of Launceston, appears the statement which Senator Millen has quoted, but with it is cunningly bracketed a statement made by Senator Stewart in the Senate, in order to create the impression that the land tax was going to penalize all the small farmers, producers, and fruit-growers of Tasmania. My statement that I would support a land tax up to ls. in the £1 is quoted, but no mention is made of the fact that I did not advocate a flat rate of ls. in the £1. My proposal was a tax that would reach ls. in the £1 over £70,000 in value.
– Did the honorable senator qualify his statement in that way at that time?
– Yes; I made it clear that I would support a tax up to ls. in the £1 on very big estates, and not a flat rate.
– What would be the effective rate of your proposal?
– It would be an average of 6d. in the £1.
– The honorable senator forgets how many millions he said he would collect.
– I said it would return us another £1,000,000 per annum.
– A great deal more than that.
– You made my mouth water at the prospect of handling the millions.
– The honorable senator is referring to a speech I made on the taxation of unearned incomes, which is another matter. I said that we could obtain another £1,000,000 a year from our land tax. We are getting the amount to-day, and the rate is not’ as high as I advocated on that occasion. Coming back to this writer, tearing my statement from its context, he cunningly goes on to say-
That is Labour policy - taxes, more and still more taxes, for the producer* All its burdens are for the man on the land. In Labour’s eyes that is what the producer is for - “ to carry the baby “-every time and all the time.
– It is a very accurate description.
– Another of my honorable friend’s daily misrepresentations. It is at election time an accurate description of the class of stuff which passes for argument in Liberal journals. The writer continues -
There is a £5,000 exemption to-day, but it is admitted that it must go.
Now, the writer dovetails something cleverly torn from the context with something said by my honorable friend, Senator Stewart, who does not seem worried at all, and it is printed between inverted commas - “It will not be £5,000, or £500 either, but something less than either of those sums.” - Mr. Stewart, in the Senate.
– That is correct, is it not ?
- Senator Stewart may have made that statement.
– He made it, or the equal of it, many times.
– What right had the . newspapers, because Senator Stewart made the statement, to say that the exemption from the tax. was to go, and that our proposal was to. tax every small farmer and producer?
– Because you are so steadily moving in that direction.
– Entirely incorrect. I will quote the words of the writer to show how cleverly the Liberals distorted the position. Continuing, he says -
Let the farmer put the two together, and he will be able to form some idea of what a Labour regime may have in store for him.
A land tax up to ls. in the £1, with an exemption of less than £500! It is enough to make the man on the land think very hard. With reason may he pray for deliverance from the socialistic, as well as from the German hosts. If either get their way, he will have nothing left.
I want to protest against this kind of thing. I want to protest especially against certain gentlemen connected with, my honorable friend opposite - there are not many of them here now - who were questioned at public meetings as to their attitude on the land tax. No one could get a straight-out answer in any respect. The candidates quibbled about the matter. They know very well that we got back topower pledged to an exemption of £5,000 that was clear to them. They knew very well that we advocated an effective land tax, yet they misrepresented the whole issue, and when they were challenged from the platform to state what they would do with the land tax, Senator Bakhap said he would return the money to the States. He did not say that he was against the land tax. He did not take the stand which the newspaper took, but he said that if he could have his way he would return the money collected by the Federal land tax to the States.
– And the State Labour party is protesting against the Federal tax as an infringement of their realm of taxation.
– A protest is being made to a limited degree only, not by all the members of the State Labour party.
– The resolution will be carried, though. » Senator READY. - I am not prepared to forecast the decision. The fact is that a majority of the State Labour party do not condemn this tax. The State Treasurer has made some remarks about the heavy taxation which the Federal Parliament was imposing, and with which he did not agree. But there is no Labour man in the State who condemns the principle of the Federal tax. My honorable friend opposite cannot point to an instance where any of them has done so.
– All that I can say is that the State Treasurer has . expressed himself to the effect that he is hostile to the imposition of the land tax at the present time.
– In my opinion, the State Treasurer is wrong, inasmuch as he does not realize the position of the Commonwealth, nor do I think that he realizes the position of land monopoly in Tasmania. It is the State which is suffering most from that evil. It has been built up by an unjust system. There is no doubt that my honorable friend apologized for its existence. In Tasmania we have a pernicious system. When we obtained the gift of self-government it existed, and it continued right up to thirty or forty years ago, with the result that out of 6,000,000 acres of land alienated, 2,000,000 were given away for nothing, and so the community is suffering to-day. The eyes of the State - the fertile plains and the beautiful valleys - are monopolized, and until a tax sufficiently heavy is imposed we need not look forward to any improvement taking place.
– You have to do that in every new country.
– Suffice it to say that in the case of Tasmania it was done to an unfair and inordinate extent. Let any one turn up the history of Van Diemen’s Land, written by Mr. Henry Melville in 1835, to whom the authorities promptly gave twelve months in gaol for publishing the book. He was rather a Socialist, a Labour man, and a reformer in those days, and he advocated the principle of leasehold for Tasmania. He pointed out clearly and unmistakably in his quaint old volume that had the policy of leasehold been adopted there by the Government between 1830 and 1840, the money obtained from the leases would have been sufficient in twenty-five years to defray the governmental upkeep, a most magnificent example of the single tax idea, although I do not agree with it in its entirety.
– How much did they give him for that ?
– The authorities gave Mr. Melville a year in gaol for writing the book, and confiscated it. There are only about seven copies of the book in existence. The copy in the Parliamentary Library will repay reading. What does Mr. Melville tell us in his book 1 He points out that in Tasmania nearly all the large estates were free gifts.
– There was some condition attached to the gift.
– No; there was no more lamentable manner of giving away land than that which pertained in Tasmania.
– It was a reward for services in many cases.
– My honorable friend holds a brief for these people, I know.
– I hold a brief for everybody -who has been unfairly dealt with, whether he is rich or poor.
– The holders of big estates in Tasmania are not unfairly dealt with. They are being made to pay their just dues. I propose to relate some of the methods which were adopted in the early days. Were it not for the fact that some of their decendants constitute old and well-to-do-families - I do not desire to refer to their ancestors - I could give the ‘ names if the honorable senator wanted them. Prior to 1830 an Imperial edict was issued to Governor Arthur that no man in Tasmania should get more than 2,900 acres of land as a free grant. Yet the Governor, who was surrounded by sycophants and hangers-on, broke the law repeatedly. One wellknown family, whose name I will give to the honorable senator privately, received 70,000 acres of picked land in Norfolk Plains, in the Cressy District, for absolutely nothing, simply because they were favorites and hangers-on of the Governor. If my honorable friend opposite wants substantiation of what I have said, let him turn up John West’s or Fenton’s History of Tasmania.
– Do you allege that every large estate in Tasmania was obtained by surreptitious means?
– I did not allege that. What I said was that, out of 6,000,000 acres alienated in Tasmania, a third was given away for nothing.
– Was it not the method of rewarding Imperial officers for public services?
– My honorable friend knows perfectly well that I have stated that it was not. I have already indicated how a definite law was broken, and broken repeatedly. We are paying to-day the penalty and the price for the lack of statesmanship, the pernicious Government, and the favoritism of Governor Arthur in the early thirties. For that reason alone the imposition of the land tax is justified. But there are other reasons to be cited. What are the large land-holders doing to-day for Tasmania? They talk .about patriotism, but, as we all know, there are different brands of it. Some patriotism consists in buying the biggest Union Jack and flying it on a pole. That form of patriotism is much in vogue to-day. We are putting these patriots to the test. If they believe in defending the Empire we are getting a little more, in the shape of land tax, to provide the sinews of war at this critical juncture.
– Why do you not let some of the most wealthy men in Tasmania go to the front when they are offering?
– That is entirely another matter, but I have not noticed a burning desire on the part of most of the large land-holders in Tasmania to go to the front, and I have been watching them most carefully.
– I have.
– I have noticed that many men who object to this taxation speak of the unemployed contemptuously, and off -handedly say, “Let them go to the front and fight if they have no work to do.” It is not sufficient for men to be penalized by the fact that they have no worldly wealth, but they must go and fight for those who have. That is a strange doctrine, indeed.
– Institute conscription and send them to the front, and then there will be no argument about who shall go and who shall not.
– If time permitted I would deal with some of the big estates in Tasmania. I shall give some instances of the conditions of the employes. Let me tell Senator Bakhap that, according to recent inquiries I have been making among the big estates, the wage position is still not what we would desire it to be.
– They pay 4s. a day to married men.
– That is so.
– Is that under a Labour Government?
– No; that was done before the Labour Government came into existence, and they have not had time to rectify it yet.
– The land-owners who pay these miserable rates led the agitation against the rural workers’ log, and, if my honorable friend opposite wants their names, I can give them. The other day I received a letter from a man in which lie said that at Oatlands a farm labourer was getting 22s. 6d. a week, at Jericho two farm labourers were each getting 22s., and keeping themselves.
– Wages have risen there.
– Yes; the rate has gone up about 2s. or 3s. It used to be £1 a week. They work sometimes 11 or 12 hours a day. At Jericho, another man is paid 24s. a week. At Kempton, Constitution Hill, and Crabtree, men are paid £1 a week, and keep themselves, by big landlords, who are retarding the progress of Tasmania. The land tax alone would justify our existence if nothing else did. My honorable friend opposite will not go out on a platform and openly oppose the tax. He still hints at confiscation, which is a mere catch-cry of the other side.
– I am willing, to stand to anything I have ever said in connexion with the land tax.
– “ A confiscatory tax “ is a cry we have heard before. If that kind of argument were applied to every proposal, our health laws would not be improved, because the business of some persons would be confiscated.
– We had a land tax in Tasmania long before there was a Commonwealth land tax imposed.
– We had a very low tax.
– You want the lot of it; why not say so?
– I know that my honorable friend does not like my references to confiscation. It is a great word with him when he is on the platform.
– Has he lost by virtue of it ?
– He did not have as easy a passage as he would have liked, and but for the fact that two candidates bore the same surname, one being Labour and the other Liberal, I believe that he would have missed the number of his mess.
– I took it much more easily than any of you did, and I was pretty close up when all is said and done.
– The honorable senator got in by hanging on to my coattails. When our friends opposite talk of confiscating, they might in just the same way object to health laws, because they confiscate the business of the undertaker, or to pure food laws, because they confiscate the business of the doctor.
– The honorable senator is falling into the very common error of comparing things that are not alike.
– The comparison is a fair one. There can be no confiscation when the great needs of the vast masses of the people are concerned. The people of Tasmania, which is the finest State of the lot, will have no reason to regret that we have increased the Federal land tax. Already we have had good results from its imposition. The Van Diemen’s Land Company are selling their estates to-day, and Brock Brothers are also selling portion of their estates. I hope that, as a result, we shall see a rapid increase in the rate of settlement, an increase which Senator Bakhap will find it very hard to explain when he next appears on the hustings. Our State land tax in Tasmania runs up to 2£d. in the £1. We shall have added to that 9d. in the £1 under the Federal land tax, which will make the taxation on the very big estates in Tasmania Hid. in the £1.
– Which is pretty close to the honorable senator’s ls. in the £1.
– That is so. It is important to remember that land taxation was not fully exploited by the State Government until the Federal Labour party came into power in this Parliament.
– It was exploited in New South Wales years before.
– I do not wish to weary honorable senators with figures, but I quote a few from Mr. Knibbs, which clearly explain the position. In 1900, the total land taxation of the Commonwealth amounted to only 2s. 8d. per capita. In 1911 it went down to 2s. Id. The Legislative Councils have been getting in their deadly work. In 1911, when we imposed the first Federal land tax, that amounted to 6s. 2d. per capita, or to three times as much as the State taxation.
– How much per capita did it amount to upon those who paid the tax ?
Senator READY. It was passed on only in a very few instances.
– It amounted to much more than 6s. 2d. per capita of those who had to pay it.
– The State land taxation in 1912 amounted to 2s. 5d. per capita. Our tax for the same year was 6s., or 8s. 5d. per capita in all. In 1913 the State taxation was 2s. 6d., and the Federal taxation 6s. 7d. per capita. So that, at the present time, and before the increase which this Bill will provide for, the land taxation of the Commonwealth amounted to about 9s. Id. per capita. If we go to New Zealand we shall find that in that progressive Dominion, the per capita land taxation is much higher than ours, and has been so for many years.
– Does the honorable senator think that things are better in New Zealand than they are in Australia ?
– They are very much better so far as the land question is concerned.
– Then, why is it that the balance of arrivals and departures between New Zealand and. the Commonwealth is in our favour?
– That does not prove anything in particular. Land taxation in New Zealand in 1908-9 was 12s. 7d. per capita, as against 9s. Id. in the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator thinks that conditions there are better than they are here ?
– I think that, so far as land settlement is concerned, conditions in New Zealand are much better than they are here.
– Then the honorable senator will try to make this taxation higher still?
– With the extra taxation we are now imposing, our land taxation will run out roughly at about 14s. per capita, and last year land taxation in New Zealand amounted to 14s. 7d. per capita. The result in New Zealand has been that the average area of estates above 10,000 acres in extent declined from 30,000 acres in 1889 to about 25,000 acres in 1913.
– That is very slow.
– I consider that a decent decrease in the size of the holdings, but in addition to that, let me inform Senator Stewart that big estates of over 150,000 acres have entirely disappeared in New Zealand.
– How many were there ?
– In 1899, 1,389,554 acres were held in New Zealand in areas of 150,000 acres or over.
– About ten estates.
– That is so, but they were a menace to the people of New Zealand. In 1900 the area held in estates of 150,000 or over was only 223,282 acres, so that there were barely two estates of that size. To-day there are no estates in the Dominion of New Zealand that are over 150,000 acres in extent.
I hope that the result of this measure will mean returning to the people the community-created value of land for which they are responsible, and that we shall not have in future estates paying taxation to the amount of £27,000 as we have in Australia to-day, and we shall not have ten persons or companies in Tasmania paying £16,000 a year in Federal land taxation. We do not wish these people to be taxed. What we desire is that they shall sell their holdings. When honorable senators consider that out of £32,000 received in Commonwealth land taxation from 500 people in Tasmania, ten individuals or companies, paid £16,000, they will see how bad land monopoly, relatively speaking, was in that State.
We hope that these things will alter. I trust that in three years time there will be no estate in Australia of over 100,000 acres in extent. I do not think it was ever intended, under any system of political economy, that such an estate should exist. This taxation will help the owners of large estates to get rid of them. It will not confiscate them. The owners will receive coin of the realm in return for them, and will be neither robbed nor plundered. They will be in a position, fairly and honorably, to sell their land, and so escape this taxation ; and at the same time this will enable persons who will work the land adequately to fill their places, and assist in making the Commonwealth the great nation which we all hope it will be.
I congratulate the Government upon introducing this Bill. I think that we have not yet reached the limit in the taxation of big estates, not of the farmer or the useful man, but of the land loafer. Other nations can set a good example in the matter of the imposition of land taxation. We are not alone in taking these drastic steps. I have some figures from a Japanese official source which show that Japan last year raised £7,500,000 from land taxation, or 12 per cent, of her total revenue, from unimproved land value taxation, out of a total of £39,000,000 raised by taxation.
– She has to bear a burden of over £200,000,000 war debt incurred during the Russo-Japanese war.
– That is so; but it is clear that the principle of this taxation is approved by the Japanese people. The Japanese are a growing and prosperous nation, and are copying the practices of other nations. It is clear that they do not believe that the adoption of this policy will have the effect of holding back the prosperity of their country.
I do not wish to pursue this matter further. I believe that no State will benefit more from this proposed increase of land taxation than will the State of Tasmania. I hope that when, at the end of three years, we take up our returns from the Commissioner of Land Tax, instead of showing that we are in practically a stationaryposition so far as the sales of land are concerned, as Senator Stewart pointed out in a recent speech, we shall have evidence not merely of an increased, revenue, but of the accomplishment of the other object of this taxation so well stressed by Senator Pearce, and will find that many of the large land-holders will have sold their lands to those who will put them to a better use. If that object is attained, this measure alone will have justified the existence of the Labour party, and will warrant their return to the Treasury benches to control the destinies of the Commonwealth .
– I welcome this little measure as a further instalment of what I believe to be very useful and necessary legislation. I am not a bit surprised at the shocked feeling which our friends of the Opposition display in connexion with legislation of this character. When one looks into the history of Australia and finds that, for a very long period, the Government of this country was almost wholly controlled by the landed autocrats, and one further reflects that the sceptre has now departed from Judah, and is in other hands, he need not be surprised that our friends feel shocked and considerably out of temper with the new regime. In the olden times, when the squatter ruled the roost, he took particularly good care that, not only did he get all the best of the land of Australia for himself and his people, but the best of everything else as well. In addition to that, he made very sure and certain that the burden of the cost of government was carried by the working people of the continent. Now we have a new condition of affairs altogether, and our friends are, no doubt, very much annoyed. I think that they ought to realize that, just as while they were in power, they were particularly careful to take all the good things of the country to themselves, and to put the burdens upon the other fellows’ shoulders all the time, so, when other people are in power, it is their duty to see that the class represented by our honorable friends of the Opposition is called upon to contribute its fair share towards the cost of government. Senator Millen said a good deal about this being a war tax. I want to tell the honorable senator that, so far, at any rate, as I am concerned, it is a war tax. It is not a tax levied for the purpose of dealing with the Kaiser, but for carrying on a war with a much greater enemy to Australia than the Kaiser ever has been, or is likely to be. I refer to the land monopolists. Let me tell honorable senators that, not only is it a war of that kind, so far as I am concerned, but it is a war to the knife. I say that until every big estate in Australia is broken up, and settled by cultivators of the soil, this war against land monopoly can never stop, and will ne«er stop.
– The honorable senator is at war with the pastoral industry.
– I am at war with everything that spells land monopoly, and I say, without hesitation, that we have in Australia a condition of land monopoly which is without parallel anywhere. Some honorable senators may think that this is a nice means of raising revenue. No doubt it is; but, so far as I am concerned, the particular purpose which I have in view in connexion with land values taxation is to break up monopoly, and to make the lands of this continent available to the people who will put them to their best use. We have heard a good deal about a tax of ls. in the £1, and we have been told that when ls. in the £1 is levied on the land-holder we shall be taking from him the full economic value. So far as I am concerned, I do not care if it takes 20s. in the £1 - the tax must be increased till itf object has been achieved. So long as land monopoly exists in Australia, so long must this tax be continued and increased. That is my opinion of the matter. We have been told that we are confiscators. Let me tell honorable senators what happened in Queensland only a short time ago. No doubt the same thing is happening every day of the week in some corner of the Commonwealth; but the case I am about to relate occurred, happily for the Labour party, just at the time of the last Federal elections. There was a station of about 40,000 acres situated within a few miles of Gympie. That station had been occupied for a period of forty years by the same family. The land had never been valued at anything over £1 an acre. Just outside that station there happened to be a lot of timber to which the Queensland Government decided to build a railway. That railway had to pass through the squattage in question. No sooner had the railway been built than the owners of the station cut it up and sold it at from £3 to £10 per acre. Now, if “we set down the average price at which that station was sold at £4 per acre, and work out the figures, it will be seen that its owners immediately taxed the people to whom they sold those lands at exactly ls. in the £1. Li other words, they took the whole economic value, whereas the added value had been created, not by them, but by the people of Queensland. The latter had added, on an average, £3 per acre to the value of that estate. Yet no sooner had the railway been built than the owners of the station calmly confiscated that added value, and put it into their own pockets. That is what is going on every day in the Commonwealth. Private owners’ are benefiting in this fashion everywhere, and the unfortunate people who come along and take up these areas are compelled to pay this tax without knowing it. Upon many occasions in this Chamber I have pointed out that the great enemy of the working farmer is not the Government, but the land monopolist. It is not the Government who tax him, but the land monopolist, and the monopolist does it by compelling him to pay an exorbitant price for his land. Owing to this policy having been in force for a very long time in Australia, our population has not increased in the way that it ought to have done. Take the beautiful island State to which Senator Ready has referred. That State has been in almost a stagnant condition for many years. Its population has not increased in a greater ratio than has the population of Ireland. I went very carefully into the figures some years ago, and I found that, so far as increased population was concerned, Tasmania stood on exactly the same level as did Ireland.
– Tasmania has onetwentyfifth of the population of Ireland, despite the fact that it has not yet been settled a hundred years.
– The population of Tasmania, I repeat, is increasing in the same ratio as is that of Ireland.
– If all the Commonwealth were populated as thickly as is Tasmania, it would have a population of 25,000,000.
– Who is making this speech - myself or Senator Bakhap? Let me direct his attention to another phase of the matter.
– Although the increased birth-rate of Tasmania has been as great as that of any other State, her increased population has been less than that of any other State.
– When Senator Bakhap compares Ireland with Tasmania he is not comparing things which are exactly alike. Ireland is a country which has been established probably for a couple of thousand years. Tasmania is a young country, and a young country cannot be compared with an old one any more than we can compare the growth of a young person with that of an old person. Take, for example, a man who has arrived at the years of Senator Bakhap. Nobody expects that he will grow any taller. On the contrary, one would not be surprised if he lost a little in the way of height. But if we take a boy of ten years, and find not only that he is not growing as rapidly as he ought to grow under natural conditions, but that he is not growing at all, we immediately conclude either that there is something wrong with him, or with the treatment which his parents give him. Now, Tasmania is exactly in that condition. Senator Bakhap has said that it has a population of 200,000, and that if the Commonwealth were populated in the same ratio it would boast of a population of 25,000,000. That may be very true. I do not question his statement at all. But Tasmania has not been increasing from the stand-point of population, simply because her best lands have been monopolized, and because her people have been driven out of the State.
– Just like Ireland.
– Yes. I was in Tasmania some years ago, and I saw what was going on. All the good land was occupied by the squatters, whilst the bad land was occupied by the small cultivators of the soil.
– I have lived there thirty years, and I have not seen that.
– If the honorable senator had looked for that kind of thing he would most inevitably have found it. It was there when I first visited Tasmania, and I am sure that it is there now. The purpose of this measure is to do away with that condition of things. I believe that if legislation of this character be pushed to its utmost limit it will prove of greater benefit to the people than any legislation that has ever been enacted in this country. If there is one thing more than another’ which we should strive to bring about it is full control over the lands of the country by the people of the country. That condition does not exist in Australia. We have land monopoly in every State. It is retarding settlement everywhere, and what we want in the Commonwealth more than anything else is a larger population. Unless we can offer opportunities for settling people on the soil, it is hopeless to expect that large increase of population which is so necessary, not only to our prosperity, but even to our safety. I do not wish to delay the passing of this Bill. I regard it merely as an instalment of legislation for the wise and profitable control of land settlement in Australia. I trust that the day will come when, owing to the patriotic and wise influences of the Labour movement, instead of millions of acres being held by a few monopolists, those lands will be occupied by thousands and tens of thousands of prosperous and happy cutivators of the soil.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.7].- I congratulate Senator Stewart upon the moderation he has displayed this afternoon. It is the first time I have had the pleasure of hearing him speak upon the laud question when he has been so very brief.
– Does the honorable senator agree with him now?
– I say that he has shown great moderation, although I do not agree with his views. We know pretty well the idea which is entertained by honorable senators opposite upon the question of land taxation. This measure has been brought forward, not for the purpose of raising revenue, but for the purpose of bursting up large estates. The Minister of Defence recognises that to give effect to such a policy he is obliged to introduce a measure which is ostensibly one of taxation. He told us this afternoon that the land tax, which was originally imposed at the instance of a previous Labour Government, has not accomplished that which it was designed to accomplish, namely, the bursting up of big holdings. Some years ago this Parliament decided that a land tax should be imposed upon certain conditions. Today we are assured that that tax must be increased by at least 30 and 40 per cent, in certain cases, and by 50 per cent, in some other cases.
– The honorable senator’s party did not dare to force a double dissolution on the land taxation proposals of the previous Labour Government.
– There waa no opportunity afforded us of doing that. Whereas the land tax formerly imposed by this Parliament amounted to 6d. in the £1, it is now proposed to make it 9d. in the £1 - an increase of 50 per cent. The Minister of Defence has attempted to justify this Bill upon the ground of falling revenue, and upon the necessity which exists for our participation in the war. But, as the Leader of the Opposition has clearly shown, the taxation proposed is not war taxation in any sense of the word. If it were, it would be imposed for a specific term. As a matter of fact, there is no intention of decreasing this tax on the termination of the wax. Now, nobody has denied thatland is a fit subject for taxation; but when we find the proposal brought forward for this specific purpose we have the right to reject it, particularly when the time is so inopportune for increasing taxation. When Senator Millen was speak ing, Senator O’Keefe attempted to justify the additional taxation on the ground that it would enable the Government to find employment for the people who were thrown out of work by the drought. It is one of the misfortunes of this country that so many people are employed by the Government, instead of being employed by private individuals, but this additional tax is being imposed at this time on men who are really suffering from drought conditions, thus taking away from them the power to continue to- employ the men already working for them. Consequently those men drift out of private employment to the cities and begin to demand employment from the Government. The Government fail to realize that when they tax private employers when natural conditions are adverse to them, they are decreasing the opportunities for private employment.
– Will not the tax have the effect of turning pastoral land into agricultural land ?
– Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Enormous areas of pastoral land will not be turned into agricultural land for many years to come, and to place a tax on it now is to penalize an industry which cannot yet be supplanted by a superior industry. I recognise that within a reasonable radius of the cities, and where the land is of superior quality, it ought ultimately to be devoted to agri-culture, but we must go through a long preliminary process to get our country developed by the pastoral industry first. While a good deal of land that ought to be used for agriculture may be used for pastoral purposes, we must remember that we have not yet got the population prepared to use it for that purpose.
– That” is not borne out by the facts, because when one or two areas are made available, there are thousands of disappointed applicants.
– Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I admit that there are many applicants for land from time to time, but time and again private estates are cut up for private purchase, and large areas remain unbought.
– Because of the abnormally high prices.
– Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Whatever the value put upon it, “the Government take good care to tax it up to that value.
– Private owners ask impossible conditions.
– Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - They require certain deposits and payments at future dates, but if the terms are too high they do not get their price. I could show the honorable senator cases in New South Wales where the Government has insisted on still higher terms than the private owners were prepared to accept.
– Do you not think the tax will induce private owners to utilize their land?
– Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Under our present taxation system we have no power to differentiate. A man owning land in the big cities, on which he has to erect his place of business, is penalized to a remarkable extent by this sort of taxation. Let me instance the case, although the land may not be taxable under the Commonwealth. Land Tax Act, of the site recently acquired in Sydney for the Commonwealth Bank. About £100,000 was asked for that site, and the amount paid was, I think, £80,000, plus £13,000 in the shape of a special tax levied on that portion of the city. In fixing the consideration, the owner was to pay that taxation, but I believe that. when he does pay it, it leaves the net price of the land at £80,000. No portion of the site is to be left unused, for the bank will cover the whole block. Immediately opposite, there is a block which, I believe, one of the private banks bought recently with the intention of putting up a fine building on it. It probably cost nearly as much, if not quite as much, as the land acquired by the Commonwealth; but supposing it cost £75,000, it immediately comes under the 9d. rate. The idea is naturally that, in a growing city, land worth £75,000 will, in a few years, be worth £80,000, £90,000 or £100,000. This tax falls on that land very severely, and penalizes the holder to a degree which I do not think my honorable friends really desire to see, unless it becomes necessary to raise money by means of a direct tax for some pressing emergency.
– You admit that in a few years the owner can make £30,000 profit out of it.
– I do not, but the value of land in all the great cities naturally goes up. I am not alluding to the unearned increment, as understood by honorable members opposite. They say unearned increment should go to the State, but in a case such as I am dealing with, even if the land increases in value by from £10,000 to £30,000, the increase is not entirely unearned increment, but is due, to a large extent, to work and expenditure of the owner, and of other persons upon adjoining areas. In all great cities the extent of land that reaches a very great value is limited, because business tends to congregate in congested areas.
– If the post-office was not in the same area, that land would not be of the same value.
– If the post-office were removed to-morrow, the land would be bought and used for private purposes, and land in the immediate locality would be worth just as much as it is to-day.
– Does not the erection of the post-office Increase the value of. the block ?
– The erection of buildings by private individuals or by the Government naturally increases the value of adjoining land. This tax in its present form must fall in a very unfair way on the people. In the fight over the Bill of 1910, it was pointed out very strongly that land taxation was properly a State matter, and should be left to the States. It is impossible for the two authorities to work amicably if we are to have double taxation. Customs and Excise duties were properly left to the Commonwealth, but it was desired that other forms of taxation should be left to the States. If, however, the Commonwealth imposes a confiscatory tax of 9d. in the £1 upon the lands of the States, nothing is left for the States to tax so far as those lands are concerned.
– Victoria could have been levying a land tax for sixty years, but did not touch it until the Commonwealth entered the arena.
– That is the fault of the people of Victoria.
– Rather of their Liberal legislators.
– There is a universal franchise in Victoria for the House of Assembly.
– But not for the Legislative Council.
– The qualification for the Legislative Council is the qualification that, in the early days of responsible Government, existed for the Legislative Assembly. A man who works himself up in life so as to qualify for a seat in, or a vote for, the Legislative Council does not, surely, cast aside his Democratic ideas by so doing.
– The men in the Legislative Council never had Democratic ideas or they could not have turned their backs on them.
– I venture to say that the honorable senator is better off to-day than he was ten years ago.
– I question it.
– I gave the honorable senator credit for acquiring a little more capital by energy, industry, and thrift. Would Senator Needham, if sent to the Legislative Council, turn his back on his Democratic views? The men who were sent into the Legislative Council of Victoria in the early days have nearly all passed away, and many of its present members are probably men whose parents were in very humble circumstances when the Council was originally established. As time passes, there must be a growth of public opinion which will permeate all classes of the community. The State Parliaments, therefore, are quite competent to deal with matters of this kind.
– Come down to hard facts. Only a small percentage of electors have the vote for the Legislative Council in this and other States, and, consequently, the great majority have no voice in their own taxation.
– The Legislative Councils are elected in some States, and nominated in others. In the last mentioned cases the nomination is made by the Government of the day, who must have a majority in the Legislative Assembly, and must, therefore, have a majority of the people behind them. And if such Legislative Council does not fulfil the conditions which it ought to fulfil, it is the fault of the men who have the power to create that chamber.
– You know that that is not so in Victoria.
– Order ! The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the question of Legislative Councils.
– In Victoria there is every opportunity of expressing the feeling of the electors of the State. I object to the taxation being increased in the way which is contemplated.’ At a time like this the first aim of a Government should be to reduce the expenditure as much as possible, and having found out how far the expenditure can be reduced fairly and reasonably, to ascertain in what way they can best . raise the necessary amount of money. It is also their duty to regard all classes as responsible for a share of the taxation, and not to attempt to get the money out of a particular class. I believe that 14,000 is about the number of persons who are called, upon to pay the land tax. Where the States tax on land under the £5,000 exemption they, of course, get at a much larger number of the community. When honorable senators talk here of what persons are paying in Australia and New Zealand per capita, it entirely misleads the ‘public. The land tax is not a universal tax, but a class tax. If we take a percentage of the 14,000 taxpayers we shall find that the per capita payment amounts, not to shillings, but to pounds, and scores of pounds. A land tax is not like a Tariff, or even an income tax. In the case of an income tax, smaller incomes are reached, and the average payment is different. It is only a few persons who are in the fortunate, or unfortunate, position of having either large properties or large incomes. They have to pay more to the revenue, and very justly so, than those who have smaller incomes.
– A poor man pays, proportionately, far more out of his earnings than a rich man pays.
– I doubt that. No man need necessarily consume a larger quantity of articles or goods than another man. A rich man consumes many goods which, perhaps, he would be much better without, but he contributes much more largely to the public revenue in consequence of that consumption, and he has to contribute to the salaries of the persons who are employed in supplying his wants. The rich man, although he does not contribute directly to the Customs revenue, is contributing to it indirectly by creating a large number of wants which have to be supplied by paid employes.
– Do you think that the country would be any worse off if those wants were never created?
– Possibly; what I said is correct, that men would be much better off without many of their so-called wants, and would live longer.
– You have quietly evaded my question that the poor man, proportionately, pays more out of his earnings than the rich man pays.
– I have pointed out that a great many men in humble positions are engaged in making, manufacturing, distributing, and supplying .the artificial wants of rich men, and that the latter consequently contribute indirectly to the revenue of the country.
– You have not tried to answer the question.
– I think so.
– There is no adequate answer.
– I know it is a popular thing with some men to endeavour to pull down the wealthier man, but I have not met a man who ‘is not prepared to enter into this charmed circle if he can possibly do so. I ask Senator Ready whether, if he were able to make an income of £5,000, £10,000, or £15,000, he would not do so?
– Of course I would not !
– The understanding to-day seems to be to speak briefly, and therefore I do not intend to detain honorable senators much longer. I wish to raise my voice against the way in which the Government are attempting to deal with the question of taxation generally, and also the way in which they seem to have neglected the very necessary and primary condition in connexion with the’ war trouble, when, of course, the means of everybody become restricted, and that is, to reduce the expenditure as far as possible, and to carefully abstain from increasing the taxation.
– What would you do with unemployment?
– I have pointed out that by this very means the Government are causing more unemployment, so far as private enterprise is concerned. If I have an income of £5,000 or £10,000, which I expend in employing persons to deal with my property or business, and the income is reduced- by 50 per cent., or 10 per cent., or 5 per cent., necessarily it will lessen the employment. In very many instances the cost of the employment leaves a very narrow margin indeed to the man who is spending the money and supervising the whole of the work.
– You have spoken about the encroachment on capital. What about the poor fellow whose capital is encroached upon when he pays far more for his land than he ought to do ?
– I am not saying a single word about that matter. Does the honorable senator expect to reduce the price of land by this land taxation?
– Yes; it has done it already.
– Is that the object with which the Bill was introduced?
– It has steadied the price of land in Tasmania.
– I am talking about the position in the States generally. The whole question is how the land tax will act and re-act. You may provide the Government with an enormous revenue, but you may do so at the expense of the community generally. It is one of the greatest misfortunes to find every person seeking Government employment. I would far sooner see men seeking and obtaining employment from private individuals. When you put a man into the Public Service to a certain extent you take the enterprise out of him, but when he is put in private employment Ee endeavours to attain as good a position as his employer has ever occupied. There often comes to the man in private employment an opportunity which does not fall to the man in Government employ. How many public officers are in a position to put by any thing out of their salaries for their old. age? Many honorable senators wish to provide pensions for public officers, because they say that the salary of an officer is not sufficient to enable him’ to provide for his old age. A man who works on his own account has an opportunity of improving his position to a far greater extent than has a civil servant.
– I support this measure for many reasons. It seems to me that in the discussion the main object for which it was introduced has been departed from very largely. In a sort of aside the Minister referred to the fact that it probably would ‘go another step towards breaking up land monopoly in Australia.
– That is the reason he gave for bringing in the Bill.
– I believe that it will go a step farther than the existing legislation has gone. I hope that will prove to be the case. But that is not the first object with which this taxation was introduced
– It is a very important object, anyhow.
Senators O’KEEFE. - It is not of the first importance. Senator Millen did not oppose the tax itself so much as he complained of the fact that it could not be properly called a wax tax. To get down to hard facts, we are faced with the necessity of getting revenue. We must have more revenue than we could obtain if we adhered to the existing channels of taxation. The reason for the great opposition to this taxation proposal in another place and here is that the Government have not proceeded on lines which the Liberal or Fusion party would have followed in raising extra revenue. There is no doubt that Australia to-day is faced with a position which was not contemplated until the war broke out. We need more revenue, in spite of Senator Gould’s assertion that this is a time for retrenchment, and not for expenditure. We want more revenue to carry on the ordinary business of this country. It is not a time for hesitancy or timidity on the part of the Government, but it is a time for launching a bold policy, if it is possible, so as to fill up the gaps of unemployment which have been created by the peculiar conditions surrounding us, owing to the war. We need to keep the wheels of industry moving, and if the State Governments cannot assist private enterprise to do it to the fullest extent they would desire, the Federal Government have a duty to perform, and that is to assist the State Governments in that regard. That makes it imperative for the Commonwealth to raise more revenue than otherwise it would have to raise for the current year. The State Governments also find it incumbent to try to decrease the alarming proportions of unemployment which have arisen owing to the war. The Commonwealth Government are faced with the necessity of raising additional revenue to meet the extraordinary conditions of the time. It has been stated in another place, and hinted at here in the couple of speeches which have been made against this measure, that this revenue should be raised in a different way.
– By duties on tea and kerosene ?
– Yes, by .the taxation of such articles as tea and kerosene. This is the favorite cry of a powerful section of the Australian press to-day. It is claimed that at least a portion of the additional revenue required should be raised by reverting to the taxation o’n tea and kerosene, which was repealed by the Labour party in the early years of Federation.
– The press supporting the honorable senator’s party is advocating the imposition of the duties he refers to.
– I do not know what section of the press the honorable senator can refer to.
– The Age newspaper.
– The Age newspaper does not support the Labour party. It supports the Labour party, or any other party, when it suits it. The members of the Labour party have never claimed the Age las a consistent supporter.
– The Labour party would never have carried Victoria at the recent elections had it not been for the support of the Age.
– We are thankful for small mercies. I am glad that we were supported by the Age at the last elections, or, rather, that Senator Bakhap’s party was opposed by the Age, which is the more correct way of putting it. The question is whether we should not ask the wealthy people of this country to bear their share of the additional taxation necessary owing to the war. Will any member of the Opposition contend that the wage-earners of Australia are not doing their share in this crisis ? From whose ranks are the men being drawn who are to-day fighting the battles of the British Empire?
– Happily, they are being drawn from all ranks.
– That is so; but it is well known that the greater proportion of the 20,000 Australians who have gone to take their part in the struggles of the Empire were drawn from the ranks of the wage-earners of Australia. If the workers of Australia are prepared to risk their lives in this crisis in order to prevent the Empire falling to pieces, and to secure the safety of this country, surely those who own the wealth and the lands of Australia should be prepared to do their part. That is why I claim that this Bill, and other taxation measures introduced by the present Government, are absolutely justified by the circumstances in which they have been introduced. Senator Gould tells us that the burden of taxation should be made to fall more equitably all. round. I would ask the honorable senator who are the people who are suffering the burden, not merely of taxation, but of the troubles by which the workers of Australia are surrounded. I am satisfied that if the Opposition had been in power they would have imposed taxation on tea and kerosene, articles used by all classes, but just as largely used by the workers as by the wealthy class.
– We are all agreed that the burden of taxation should be distributed more equitably.
– That is so; but it never has been distributed equitably in the past. Senator Gould will agree that if the burden of taxation is not distributed, according to his idea of equity, the burden of the abnormal troubles surrounding the workers of Australia is not being distributed equitably either. The sufferings which the Australian people are being called upon to undergo because of the war have to be borne, not by the wealthy people who will have to pay this land tax, or their descendants who will be called upon to pay the succession duties, but by the workers of Australia”, who, because of the crisis due to the war, have found themselves out of their regular employment. Tens of thousands of men in Australia to-day, who are lucky enough to be in any employment at all, are working only half-time. What a pretty measure of justice it would be to say to these men, “You must bear a still further share of the necessary expenditure due to the war.”
– Do the Government propose to give all these men full employment ?
- Senator Bakhap knows perfectly well that it is impossible for the Government to do anything of the kind. My argument is that the extra revenue required should be derived from those who are best able to pay it, and they are not the workers of Australia. Whilst there are many workers who are employed only half time, there are many others whose employment is intermittent. The workers, who represent four-fifths of the manhood and the womanhood of Australia, are to-day suffering far more heavily because of the war than is the other one-fifth, and it is because of the war that this extra taxation is necessary. If another Government had been in power, I am sure that they would have gone in for retrenchment. Senator Gould has said that this is a time for retrenchment. I say that this is not a time when either the Federal or the State Governments should go in for unnecessary retrenchment. It is rather a time when they should pursue a bold policy, in order to assist in re- ducing unemployment. To do that, a larger revenue is necessary, and the fairest way in which to raise it is to get it from the people who are best able to bear taxation. The workers of Australia are not now, and will not during the next year, be the class best able to bear an extra burden of taxation. When we find that the men of Australia are willing to bear their share of the actual fighting-
– All classes are doing that.
– That is so; but Senator Millen will agree that much the larger proportion is drawn from the working classes. I suppose that quite four-fifths of our men who have gone to take part in the struggle have been drawn from the workers of Australia, and not more than one-fifth represent the leisured or wealthy classes.
– How did retrenchment affect Victoria in times gone by ?
– How has it affected every other State in times gone by? It seems to me that whenever we are faced with unusual circumstances, the same old cry is raised by the same old party. I remember that when, thirty years ago, in my own State, there was a period of abnormal depression and a substantial deficit, the party in power started retrenching the civil servants, and cutting everything to the hone. That, apparently, is the course which would be adopted by our political opponents if they were in power in the Federal Parliament to-day. They would go in for retrenchment, and would not try to stem the tide of unemployment that is increasing in volume every day. Senator Millen states that this is not a war tax. It does not matter what the honorable senator Calls it, the fact remains that it would not have been necessary but for the war. I welcome this class of taxation, if extra taxation is necessary to raise the revenue required. I prefer it to the kind of taxation our Fusion friends would have imposed had they been in power. As for the second object of the tax, the breaking up of land monopoly in Australia, I hope it will be found to have that effect also. Although the existing land tax has been instrumental in assisting to break up land monopoly in Tasmania, and, to a greater extent, on the mainland, it has not done as much in that direction as I hoped it would do. If this increase in the tax will do more, I shall be very pleased. The first object of this measure is to raise the extra revenue required because of the war, and I believe that it has recourse to the best channel through which to obtain that revenue.
– -No one who understands anything of the conditions which surrounded the Federation at its inception will deny that the full power of taxation is given by the Constitution as a corollary of the function of national defence, which was committed to this Parliament by that national instrument of government. I am not going to deny that the Commonwealth Parliament, in time of war and for the purpose of national defence, may exhaust to the uttermost farthing every source of taxation; but that action must always be conditioned, when our necessity is not extreme, by the proper observance of the maxim which fell from the lips of one of the wisest of the ancient emperors. He said, “ The good shepherd, wishing to have the wool off his sheep, shears them, and takes great care not to skin them.” The war is likely to continue, I am sorry to say, for a considerable time. Any one with the most elementary foresight must recognise that, at its conclusion, Australia may have to face a war debt of perhaps £50,000,000 or £60,000,000. I admit that those responsible for this scheme of taxation have a right to challenge their critics who condemn it by inquiring, “ What would you substitute for it?” I accept the challenge, and I am prepared to indicate a way in which the expenditure upon this war may be met. Of course I cannot do that in discussing this Bill, but I promise that when the Estimates are under consideration, I will deal with the matter in a comprehensive way.
– Why not do it now?
– Because our Standing Orders prevent me from doing so. But I pledge myself to accept the challenge, and to outline a better method of conducting the affairs of the Commonwealth than is embodied in this proposal to impose taxation which is avowedly almost of a confiscatory character. I am a Liberal, but temporising and too great conservatism are just as objectionable to me as is a predatory democracy. I believe that taxation should be imposed at this juncture; but, seeing that the whole of our war indebtedness will probably have to be funded at the end of the war, and that it will probably take half a century to liquidate liabilities, surely it cannot be contended that we are imposing sufficient taxation to meet our war expenditure. The statement of the financial position shows that the cost of our rendering assistance to the Empire will land us in an expenditure of £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 at the end of the current financial year. That being so, all that was necessary in the way of extra taxation was to provide sufficient money to meet the interest on our war expenditure over the period covered by the duration of the war.
– Does the honorable senator call that sound finance?
– Does Senator Senior dare to say that he is in favour of taxation proposals which will yield sufficient money to meet our war expenditure ?
– That is no answer to my question.
– The answer is that the Government are borrowing the money with which to pay even interest on our war expenditure.
– They have had to borrow to meet our war expenditure. No Administration would dare to impose sufficient taxation to meet from year to pear the whole of our expenditure in this connexion.
– We could have managed if it had not been for the States.
– I have never questioned the power of the Commonwealth to impose taxation to meet war expenditure. The Imperial Government - our creditor - has to borrow to meet its war expenditure. In other’ words, the people from whom we borrow have in their turn to borrow for that purpose.
– But the honorable senator’s party desired to borrow to meet defence expenditure in time of peace.
– The Government at whose instance the land tax was imposed dared not openly avow the real object underlying the introduction of that legislation. Our Constitution does not empower this Parliament to interfere with the land policies of the States. But by a misconstruction of the spirit of the Constitution without a violation of its letter, a direct policy of interference with the land policies of the States was initiated.
– Why did not the honorable senator test the validity of that legislation?
– Because there was nothing to show that it was not a taxation measure.
– As it was a taxation measure upon its face, a taxation measure it was decreed to be. But if its purpose had been avowed in its’ preamble what would have been its fate at the hands of the High Court? The Minister of Defence, in introducing this Bill, did not say that the taxation proposed was required for war purposes. Instead, he used an argument in these “ piping times of peace,” namely, that the measure was intended to break up large estates - a policy which, according to Senator Stewart, has admittedly failed. There is no courage required to impose a confiscatory tax on a class of people who have practically no power at the ballot-box, because of their numerical inferiority. Do honorable senators think that a very brave thing is being done in this connexion?
– Does the honorable senator think that it is a very brave tiling to go on wringing a little more taxation out of those who are unable to pay it?
– The people upon whom this tax will fall have no power to defend themselves at the ballot-box. Seeing that a Democracy is all powerful, manifestly it ought to be just.
– These people have the power of the purse and of the press, and the honorable senator knows it. “Senator BAKHAP. - They have no power at the ballot-box.
– The honorable senator’s argument leaves him without a leg to stand upon.
– I believe in defending people against taxation which is predatory in its intention. I would not dare to oppose a surcharge on the land tax if it were clearly demonstrated that it was intended to meet our war expenditure. But the Minister of Defence this afternoon openly affirmed as a reason for the introduction of this measure, that it was intended to interfere with the land policies of the States. The more honorable senators gloat over the power they are exercising at the present time, the more certain will be their downfall at the hands of the electors on the day of reckoning. One would imagine that objection to this form of taxation was the perquisite of the Liberal party. But just let me tell honorable senators what the Treasurer of Tasmania had to say on this question. During the present week the Leader of the Opposition in that State moved a resolution acknowledging the power of the Commonwealth to impose taxation, but protesting against its too drastic exercise, and also against interference with the functions of taxation by the various States. This is what the
Treasurer - the Labour Treasurer - with a brother Minister who was a Labour candidate at the Senate election in 1913-
– Does the honorable senator say that the Treasurer of Tasmania was a candidate for the Senate?
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon - Mr. Lyons is the Treasurer. That gentleman said -
There is no doubt a protest was due against the intention of the Commonwealth Government to make the taxation complained of, permanent. If it were imposed for the purpose of meeting the war expenditure it was justified. He had communicated with the Commonwealth Treasurer, and had received a reply to the effect that it would be a mistake to consider the taxation imposed for the war only.
– Is it not a fact that Mr. Giblin, who followed Mr. Lyons, said that the Liberal party had been “ pulling his leg “ ?
– Mr. Giblin wanted the Commonwealth to reduce the per capita contribution to the States. But there was a chorus of dissent to his suggestion.
– That was a patriotic stand for Mr. Giblin to take up.
– It was not one which met with general approval. We have heard that the land tax imposes no liability on land-holders - that they do not suffer any hardship. Personally I believe that land-owners in many respects occupy a similar position to that occupied by members of Parliament. I suppose honorable senators have frequently been approached with applications for considerable loans of money, and when they have expressed their inability to grant them have been met with the remark, “ Why, you are getting £600 a year,” as if they had a golden stream at their command. That is very much the position of many land-owners in Tasmania. The Treasurer of that State, during the discussion of the proposal to which I have referred, said that some State land taxpayers were in arrears, and that as a resuit, there would be a decrease in the revenue from that source of £14,458, leaving out of consideration any taxation derived from income. That is a very considerable portion of the total_ amount collected as land tax in Tasmania.
– How does the honorable senator explain the circumstance that there have not been twenty-five applications for .relief from the payment of the tax?
– For the simple reason that there was not the slightest chance of their getting that relief. To show that all the graziers are not rolling in wealth, last night’s paper contains the report of. an inquest on a grazier who took his own life owing to depression caused by the bad times.
– I could parallel that with the case of a grazier who died the other day worth about £500,000.
– Is the leaving of half-a-million a crime? Does this Legislature subscribe to the doctrine that the holding of wealth is a penal offence? Senator Stewart said the other night that if the Labour party could get at the income of the land monopolist in no other way, they would steal it. Although there might be some jocularity in that remark, it was, nevertheless, a revelation of the possibility of taxation being made predatory, and just as ruinous in effect as knocking a man down and taking money out of his pocket. The exercise of the right of taxation in a vindictive spirit is no more justifiable because it is imposed by the nation, than is an assault committed by a footpad.
– Do you say that this taxation is vindictive?
– I do. Let me quote, for the benefit of Senator Ready, who has been expounding the land question for the last four or five years, the municipality of Evandale, Tasmania. Some time ago the Government of Tasmania, which I supported, instituted an assessment of the lands of the State as a prelude to the introduction of taxation on unimproved values. It was found that most of the large properties- were grazing properties, and that in many cases, particularly in the municipality of Evandale, the unimproved value represented about 80 per cent, of the capital value. Take an estate of that character of the value of £120,000, and assume that the unimproved value is £100,000, as is not infrequently the case. I was as great a platform man as Senator Ready on the question of land monopoly at one time, but when I began to travel extensively through Tasmania and the other States I found that in quite a number of instances the properties held by the squatters, these so-called “ fat men,” were being put to the best use possible. They were not suitable for” agriculture, but were rocky. They were admirably adapted to the production of’ good wool, which brought a high price, and wool has played a big part in Australian prosperity to date.
– How much would that land be worth?
– Some of the properties, the very best in the midlands, that have been settled for eighty or ninety years, are valued, and can be bought to-day, for little over £4 per acre.
– That is not a bad price.
– What is the price of the chocolate soil lands in the Scotsdale district?
– Does the honorable senator know the Mount Pleasant Estate ? Is it not a fact that there twenty families have been successfully settled on what was a mere grazing estate, purchased by the Closer Settlement Board for £3 17s. 6d. an acre?
– I am referring to freehold estate. To show that the price I have quoted is a fair average, I refer the honorable senator to Mr. Bennett’s estate, which he knows is well improved, with good buildings and fencing, and in good order generally. Yet it was sold to a neighbour, owing to certain family arrangements which the old gentleman desired to make, for £4 per acre. When the sons heard that the sale had been effected, they protested, as they had been born on the property, and the purchaser did not think he had such a bargain as made it worth his while to hold on to it. In a spirit of neighbourly friendliness he returned the property to Mr. Bennett at an advance of £100, Mr. Bennett being left, on account of the cost of transfer and other expenses, the loser by the transaction. The Mr Pleasant estate to which Senator Ready referred has not been a very pronounced success under closer settlement. In any case it has the advantage of being at an elevation which gives it toe chance of a better rainfall than many other midland properties.
– It .was bought for less than £4 an acre, and has been an outstanding success.
– It was bought by the Tasmanian Government, whose policy of introducing compulsory purchase I supported. I am against land monopoly, and favour the resumption of every estate in Australia that is suitable for closer settlement; but I hope I have some element of justice in my character. When the Government intentionally compel a man to sell, they should be prepared to find him a purchaser.
– Is it a fact that on the Mr Pleasant estate there are now twenty families where there were two shepherds and a dog before?
– Yes, and I hope they will stop there; but I am apprehensive that what has happened before will happen again - that these settlers will find, as many others have found in the midland areas of Tasmania, that cultivation is not profitable, and will desire to revert to sheep farming. In Tasmania every estate above £8,000 in unimproved value is purchasable by the State Government. Why talk of land monopoly under such conditions?
– Where is the money coming from to buy those estates?
– The honorable senator is taking up the attitude of Mr. Sheridan, one of his colleagues who is in the State Parliament, and who, when a Bill to effect compulsory purchase was being brought in, said he hoped the measure would be deferred, because he was so politically immoral that he desired to see the Federal land tax in operation first, in order that the land should be cheapened, and the Government able to buy it at a lower price.
– A sensible man, that.
– To depreciate the value of a man’s property before attempting to purchase it is distinctly immoral, and I say it, even though the whole force of the Democracy of Australia may be arrayed against me. If the Labour party want to tax the lands of Australia for war purposes,, they can say so openly, and we shall be with them if the details of their taxation are fair. But vexatious taxation of this kind should not be imposed for other than war purposes, and especially should not be imposed for the purpose of interfering with the land policies, of the States. I have shown that the Tasmanian land policy is so advanced as to permit of the re-purchase by the State of any estate of over £8,000 unimproved value.
– Did not the people approve of our policy quite recently by returning us to power, land taxation being one of the main issues of the campaign?
– No man is likely to be a just politician unless he is somewhat of a philosopher. There are a great many people who will applaud at any time the policy of taxing the other fellow, and leaving themselves alone. Mankind collectively is not just in its own case. It will cause an individual to suffer at any time, but as we progress, widening and cultivating our sense of justice, we shall have a better regard for the rights of the individual. If we have no regard for the rights of the individual who is unable to defend himself at the ballot-box, we shall presently refuse to recognise the rights of others. On an estate of £120,000 improved, or £100,000 unimproved value, the Federal land tax will amount to £1,875, plus £936 5s., or a total, of £2,811 5s., to which must be added a considerable sum in State land taxation, especially in Tasmania, which has a fairly high graduated land tax without exemption. Assuming the municipality imposes a rate of only 9d. in the £1 on the capital value - and in many cases in Tasmania ls. in the £1 is imposed - I have computed that the aggregate taxation - Federal, State, and municipal - would absorb two-thirds of the annual value of the estate.
– The owner need not pay the tax. He can sell some of his £120,000 worth of land.
– To whom will he sell it at a time like the present? The Government force him to sell it, but take great care not to find him a buyer.
– What is the basis of the municipal taxation ?
– It is on the annual value. I think 5 per cent, on the annual value is a very fair rental for these properties, and so we may assume that the estate on that basis has an annual value of £6,000.
– Seven per cent, is the generally accepted figure.
– Very few of them bring ‘7 per cent, in’ Tasmania.
There was an action pending in a Tasmanian Court the other day in connexion with the resumption’ of one of these large estates under the Compulsory Purchase Act, and although the Judge said it ought to return 7 per cent’., it was clearly shown that this particular estate, which is regarded as a very good one, rather closer to Launceston than the ordinary midland properties, was not bringing in more than 5 per cent. If any tax absorbs two- thirds of the annual value of a property, the adjectives “ predatory “ or “confiscatory” are quite justified. This taxation is avowedly not being imposed to meet war expenditure. The tenor of the debate in this Chamber and of the Minister’s remarks in introducing the Bill, did not convey that impression.
– He did not explain what was obvious.
– The Minister explained that the Bill was introduced for the purpose of bursting up big estates. He used language which would bear no other construction. The Tasmanian Treasurer has received a telegram from the Federal Treasurer telling him that he would make a great mistake if he regarded this taxation as being applicable to the Commonwealth only during the period of the present war. that it would be imposed for many years, and probably for all time. Is that the spirit in which to introduce taxing measures at this juncture ? Would we be fulfilling the functions of an Opposition, or even of friendly critics, if we did not deprecate that sort of thing?
– What will a landowner with £6,000 worth of land pay ?
– He will not pay a very substantial amount.
– How much will he pay under the proposed taxi
– I have the table here. Admittedly, the tax on a holding of that value will not be heavy, but it increases in the higher registers to over 70 per cent, on the present amount levied.
– What is the tax per £1,000 ?
– It increases very rapidly, until it is, in connexion with the large estates, over 70 per cent, over the present amount. If the Government take two-thirds of the annual value of an estate, they will take more from the income of that land than they would dare to attempt to take from a man who belonged to another class which has strong voting power. Therefore, it is immoral.
– I am told that Mr. George Nicholas, of the Ouse, is paying £2,000 a year, and has not sold any land yet.
– With that estate, he can afford to pay it.
– If the imposition of this tax does not cause Mr. Nicholas to sell his land, will the honorable senator pursue him to the last extremity until he does sell it, even if the State Government, which has the estate under its eyes, v refuses to purchase it when it has the opportunity as well as the power to do so? Will be still pursue Mr. Nicholas and compel him to sell the land which the State Government is not prepared to buy?
– Other people are prepared to buy the land, so that there is no injustice to Mr. Nicholas.
– Other people are prepared to buy the land if by taxation our opponents can bring about the original Crown land value. Every man not being a judge in his own cause is prepared to get another man’s property if he can get it at a depreciated price.
– I am told by an expert valuer that the Commonwealth land tax does not depreciate the price of land in Tasmania by 10 per cent.
– Then this tax will fail to reach the objective sought by honorable senators opposite.
– It will be a gentle persuader.
– Because my honorable friends entertain the fallacy that people can be taxed on to the land, they will keep on increasing the tax until it is more than the annual value. They are on the horns of a logical dilemma. The Commonwealth Government are attempting by taxation to compel people to sell estates which the State Governments will not buy, although they have the power to do so.
– As they have been doing for many years in New Zealand most successfully.
– It is immoral, and any taxation of the kind which has been introduced here, seeing that it has not been introduced for the purpose of meeting war expenditure, is hostile to the best interests of the Commonwealth. Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I think that I had commenced to follow the example of one or two honorable senators who referred to that somewhat mythical being, the “ fat man.” All that I have to say is that the party who have been in the habit of denouncing the “ fat man “ with vehemence both on and off the platform have been very glad to avail themselves of his assistance. The “ fat man “ is merely a reservoir. He is on© of the repositories in which the nation, because of his brain power and his organizing ability-
– And his opportunity.
– Not always his opportunity. It is true that time and chance happen to all men, even to fat men; but, as a matter of fact, the “fat man “ is nearly always wealthy because of his superior organizing ability, for I maintain that capital does not create wealthy although in itself it may be the expression of wealth, that labour does not create wealth, but that the great factor in the production of wealth is brain power.
– And the lack of conscience.
– No ; I can assure the honorable senator that if he engages in business operations on a large scale, and hopes to make a fortune, he will find that the utmost integrity is necessary. The wealthy man, the man who is the organizer of big enterprises, who is, because of his organizing ability, a great benefactor, who makes, as it were, two industries to exist where only one existed before, is a man whose word is his bond, and is of the- greatest integrity. Some of the gentlemen who have been denouncing the “ fat man “ have come under my notice. I have observed that they are very fond of acquiring what they affect to denounce - capital. ‘ If a shilling is in the offing, they surround it. Their very gesticulations are acquisitive, and, to use a term in every mouth, they not only surround the shilling, but they capture it and “ intern “ it. These are the men who are denouncing the “fat man.” They are fighting capital and endeavouring to acquire it all the time.
– I never heard the “ fat man “ mentioned by any one but the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator must have been dreaming. It is a figure of speech which is in the mouth of every Labour debater throughout Australia.
– ‘That is not correct.
– I have heard the honorable senator say to an audience of working men, “ Your great enemy is the capitalist.”
– I heard the honorable senator make that statement at Lottah to one of his audiences.
– You have never heard me use the term in my life.
– Senator O’Keefe made out that this taxation is absolutely necessary, not for the purpose of relieving conditions which have arisen in consequence of the war, but for the purpose of providing employment. One illustration which is, I think, rather valuable in this connexion is that nothing approaching confiscation will ever do much good, so far - as providing employment for the people is concerned. During the campaign on the referenda of 1911 I read in a reputable newspaper a calculation to the effect that if all incomes in the Commonwealth amounting to more than £500 had their excess appropriated for the purpose of division amongst the working classes, the increase in the wages of every working man would not amount to more than 6d. a day. That is a fact.
– Can you not see that it has been absolutely disproved by the increase in the wages?
– Is that increase derived from the practical confiscation of incomes? No; it is derived from the general efforts of the community. If the object of this land tax is, as is avowed, to break up estates-
– No; to raise revenue for war purposes.
– I am going to adhere to the assertion of the Minister who introduced the measure in this Chamber, and whose statement is not at variance with the long-expressed intention of his party. If the intention is to break up big estates because of the alleged existence of land monopoly, I am going to show that it is entirely super fluous as regards the State which I assist to represent; for there is on the statutebook of Tasmania a law that I was instrumental in assisting to pass, which provides that any estate suitable for closer settlement, above £8,000 in unimproved value, may be compulsorily acquired by the Government.
– It is just like buying a popgun to shoot an elephant.
– No; it is a fair and equitable way of acquiring landed property if it is believed to be such as can be devoted to cultivation and produce a bigger result than is obtained from it when it is devoted, for instance, to the pastoral industry. What is the allegation on the part of gentlemen who are opposed to the principle of compulsory purchase, but who favour the imposition of a land tax which will cause the forced sale of properties? They say, “Oh, you have to pay too much for the land if it is compulsorily acquired.”
– And the State, entering into competition, forces up the price of land.
– How has the State to pay too much for land ? There is a tribunal appointed, and the price is ascertained from the consideration of the assessment. By whom is the assessment made ? By the very officials whose assessment is deemed satisfactory by the Commonwealth which has imposed a land tax, and intends to impose a still heavier one. The assessment is good enough; the land values are evident enough for the purpose of land taxation, but the critics say, “ Oh, that assessment is unsatisfactory when regarded from the stand-point of closer settlement.” Honorable senators opposite pretended to raise their eyebrows when I applied the adjective “ immoral “ to this land tax. I say in all calmness that it is immoral to pass a law to circumvent an equitable means of ascertaining the value of land when that means is employed and considered satisfactory by the Commonwealth in regard to the assessments on which the tax is levied.
– Does the honorable senator know of a single estate which was repurchased at the value it was assessed at for taxation purposes, or anywhere near that?
– There is a fixed method by which the value of an estate is ascertained, and a little is added for disturbance, but the assessment roll is the basis of all transactions in regard to the compulsory acquisition of land by the States.
– That is no answer to the question.
– It is a most satisfactory answer. If Tasmania or any other State does not see fit to buy a property at its assessed value, with a little added for disturbance, what is the inference to be drawn ? It is that the property is not suitable for the purpose of closer settlement, but is being devoted to the use for which it is best fitted. I challenge contradiction of the argument. I think that I am more honestly opposed to land monopoly than are some of the honorable Senators who are in favour of this tax. I was in favour of the principle of compulsory purchase, and spoke in favour of it when it was not very generally accepted.- I at this moment hold no brief for the land-owner as such; I hold no brief for the capitalist as such. I am, I hope, practically independent of the land-owner and the capitalist. If I get accommodation from any of them I have to pay for it.
– They will present the honorable senator with a laurel wreath for this speech.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that I am touting for votes, or that I will have anything to thank these people for in connexion with any candidature of mine!
– Their money counts for a little.
– The honorable senator is well aware that his party was better provided with money than was our organization at the last election.
– They are giving up hope; that is why.
– They are not giving up hope; but even though they should do so, I never will give up the hope of seeing justice prevail. It is not for votes that I am speaking now, but in the interests of the adoption of a moral system of taxation, and a moral point of view from which to recognise people who own land, even though they be so wicked in the eyes of some persons as to own it in large areas. I shall not permit my attitude upon this matter to be misre presented as one of hostility to the prosecution of the war, nor shall I have it suggested that I am opposed to finding means with which to prosecute it.
– How would the honorable senator find them?
– When the time comes to discuss the Estimates, I will show the Minister how the cost of the war should be met. Even if we could command the advice of the greatest financial genius to suggest taxation to meet the cost of the war, it must be remembered that the cost will have to be funded. I believe that before the war is at an end our share of the cost will amount to £50,000,000 or £60.000,000. It is impossible, in my opinion, for the Common.wealth to wage a lengthy war by the adoption of the methods of financing it proposed by the Government at the present time. No creditor nation dare attempt to wage a long war in the wasteful and extravagant manner we are employing. Although it may not be a’ very popular thing to do. I shall say, when the time comes to discuss the Budget, what my views are as to the economic prosecution of the war. Taxation for the purpose is fair and legitimate, if it is intended to pay the interest on the war expenditure of the current year, but that i3 the only extent to which we should tax the people of the Commonwealth at the present juncture. We are in the throes of a drought, and all our free and floating capital is necessary to provide employment for our people. That employment will be provided by the energetic efforts of private individuals rather than by any attempt on the part of the State in that direction, even though it does extract from the people an extra £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 by designedly confiscatory measures. Ministers, and the party supporting them, are not imposing this taxation because of the war; but in furtherance of their general political and legislative plan. Honorable senators are aware that the whole thing is distasteful to the States, because at least one State Treasurer has been told that he is not to assume that this taxation is being imposed for war purposes, but that it will be an impost for many years, and that, so far as a particular gentleman was able to pledge himself, it will be for all time. Is that the spirit in which to impose taxation at this juncture? The question answers itself.
– Can any Parliament legislate for all time ?
– No, it cannot ; but a political party embracing the superstitions of the Labour party may attempt to lay the foundations of legislation which will be pernicious in its effects for all time. An honorable gentleman in another place, discussing this matter, used the phrase which I have frequently used when he said, “ You can tax people off the land, but you cannot tax them on to the land.”
– A good old gag.
– History and philosophy teach by example. If honorable senators, who are so much in love with taxing people on to the land, care to read something about the matter, I invite them to study a standard work, written in a most attractive literary style, called Thu Martyrdom of Man. They will see there how the Romans were driven out of Gaul, because Gaul had become a desert, as the result of the taxation they themselves had imposed upon the land.
– The honorable senator may get a more recent lesson if he goes to Burnie, and sees how the people are being taxed on the lands of the Van Diemen’s Land Company.
– All these nostrums, even compulsory purchase, were tried by the ancients, and found, in the long run, to be no more satisfactory than was heavy taxation.
– Then why advocate compulsory purchase?
– Because I believe it will be satisfactory for some time. I know that, in the long run, the people fitted for the cultivation of the land will, in despite of legal enactment to the contrary, aggregate land. If people have a particular genius for settlement on the land, we cannot prevent them from aggregating areas of land and becoming, in the long run, the owners of big estates. If any other member of the Senate were, with myself, to go out into a district, with equal opportunities to settle on the land, it is entirely probable that, in a comparatively short time, one of us would go to the wall, and would solicit the other to purchase his property. I spoke the other day with a man who lives in the Horsham district. He went out there in connexion with the scheme of land settlement projected by the Victorian Govern ment many years ago. He told me he was the last of thirty odd original settlers. Why ? For the simple reason that, with the sole exception of himself, they had little or no genius for the satisfactory settlement of the land. He acquired their properties. From one point of view, it might be argued that it was undesirable that he should acquire their properties, but I venture to say it was more satisfactory for one man to own an area of land and cultivate it properly in the interests of the nation, than that there should be thirty or forty persons living on the same area at a standard below that of civilization to-day. It is success we want in all the affairs of life. I shall not denounce the “ fat man “ because he is successful, because he has £1,000,000 and I have not £1,000. I shall not denounce the successful settler because he has aggregated three or four blocks, whilst I have been unable to make a living out of mine. The important thing, after all, is the successful utilization of the land along the very best lines. The idea of forcing people to grow wheat when they are satisfactorily producing wool is repugnant to common sense. People talk about the effect of the land tax and of the compulsory acquisition of land, which I have personally favoured, but so far is it from the dictates of common sense and beyond the limits of reason to attempt to force people to grow that which they cannot profitably grow that in Tasmania, notwithstanding the existence of an enactment permitting the compulsory acquisition of any estate above £8,000 unimproved value, and also of the Federal lands tax, the area of wheat planted last season in that State was smaller than that planted in any year since the accession of Her late Majesty Queen Victoria. People will not grow wheat at the dictation of politicians if it will pay them better to grow wool. They will not grow grass instead of potatoes at the direction of politicians. They will grow that which, from their practical experience, they have found to be most profitable. Much as Senator Ready and other senators may know of Tasmanian conditions, I say, in the light of my knowledge, that, no matter what taxation is imposed upon the midland areas, which my honorable friends are continually bringing forward as an objectlesson, it would not be found profitable, in nine cases out of ten, if those estates were devoted to any other purpose than, that for which they are being used at the present time. Let the Government tax for war purposes if they like, and if they sincerely acknowledge that this taxation is being imposed for the purpose of prosecuting the war, I am with them. As a matter of detail, I say -that it is unnecessary to impose drastic taxation at this juncture for the simple reason that we are borrowing money from a creditor country which is the centre of the Empire. The amount will be largely increased If the war lasts for several years, as it may do. We cannot hope to impose taxation to meet the sum total of our war debt. The Mother Country herself is not doing that. In the circumstances, it is desirable for us ‘to proceed calmly to allow capital to flow along its usual channel. We should not disturb the flow of capital which will provide for employment and make our industrial life normal. We should impose for war purposes a rate of taxation sufficient to meet the interest from year to year on the cost of the war, which must ultimately be funded. We should do that as we go along, be the duration of the war one year or twenty years. That is the course which we shall yet have to follow. When we discuss the Estimates I shall not be afraid, even though it costs me my seat in this Chamber two or three years hence, to criticise the wasteful way in which the Government are proposing to prosecute the war. We are prosecuting it at a cost per man which no creditor nation would dare to commit itself to.
– No debtor nation.
– No creditor nation; and if no creditor nation would adopt such a course, how dare we, a debtor nation, adopt it? This proposal might be all very well to finance the war if :t were to last for only six months, but it is not the course to adopt’ to prosecute a war which may last four or five years. I am, perhaps, going outside the scope of a measure which deals with the taxation of land. I should thank you, sir, for your leniency, but the proposed taxation of the land may have such wide-reaching effects that I may be permitted a little latitude in my remarks.
– Does the honorable senator think that the men are being paid too much?
– If the honorable senator will wait until I come to discuss the matter, I will let him know my scheme for the successful and continuous prosecution of the war. For this war is to be prosecuted to’ the bitter end. We should not vindictively dry up every source of revenue at the present moment. We should so arrange our plans that we may be in a position to relentlessly and satisfactorily prosecute the war, even though it should last for twenty years.
– The honorable senator might assist the Government by explaining his scheme now.
– I thank the honorable senator, but I feel that the superciliousness of honorable senators opposite would not permit them to thank me for my scheme. If they went abroad as I do, and had heart-to-heart talks with the Australian people, they would hear, in many quarters from which they get a measure of general support, an expression of the opinion that we cannot continue to wage war on the. costly scale which our honorable friends favour at the present moment. The war is in its early stages, and, although I should not be in favour of anything like drastic retrenchment of the Public Service, I still say that it is our duty to seriously consider the position, irrespective of the class in the community to which we may belong. After all, we are only one community in Australia. There can be no classes in a country where the working man of to-day may be the Prime Minister to-morrow. We should legislate with a proper recognition of the rights of all, and it is because I am not afraid to assert that a man has rights, even if he possesses £100,000 worth of land, that I protest against the action of the Government in singling out for taxation, during this time of war, a particular class of the community, and in shamelessly avowing that they are doing so, not for the purpose of providing us with money with which to prosecute the war, but for the purpose of breaking up large estates. I am in favour of proper taxation to enable us to finance our share in the war, but I hold that it is not necessary to add to our taxation this year anything more than is requisite to enable us to pay interest upon the money required for war purposes.
– What about the war pensions scheme?
– There is evidently a disposition on the part of one Minister to affirm that this taxation is intended to enable us to finance our share in the war, notwithstanding that his colleague has already declared that it is designed to burst up large estates.
– I would remind the honorable senator that he has already put that view several times.
– I will not put it again. But this question is so manysided that it has already disclosed that two Ministers entertain different views upon it, and have put forward two sets of reasons for the imposition of this taxation. It is idle to assert that the States of Australia have not legislatively dealt with land monopoly. In Tasmania there is an enactment on the statute-book which provides for the compulsory acquisition of any estate the unimproved value of which is £8,000, and which is deemed suitable for closer settlement.
– The proposal to tax land values is part of the Labour platform, but the exact amount of the tax has been left to the discretion of the party in office. The first effort made in this direction was a very mild one, and proved quite ineffective to break up large estates. I venture to say that this Bill will also be ineffective. To my mind it will be a means of producing a paltry, insignificant amount of revenue. It is absurd to regard the Bill 1 as one which will confiscate land values. It will do nothing of the kind, and I hardly imagine that anybody seriously believes that it will. Even if the tax were 9d. in the £.1 all round, it would not be of a confiscatory character. I know of one case, in the township of Hay, in which the local taxation, including the general, lighting, and water and sewerage rates, amount, not to 9d., but to ls. 7d. in the £1. That taxation has not in any way affected the selling value of land in the municipality. We know, too, that the present progressive land values tax has not had the effect of reducing the selling value of land in the Commonwealth. It is more difficult to purchase land to-day than it has been at any period in our history.
– It would have been still more difficult if it had not been for ohe land tax.
– That is problematical. I am prepared to deny that it is easier to purchase land to-day than it was before the imposition of the tax. In my opinion, the land tax is not nearly heavy enough. The States have persistently refused to tax land values in any way worthy of the name. As a matter of fact, the whole of the State taxation derived from land to-day throughout the Commonwealth amounts to £581,615.
– Not sufficient for the maintenance of roads.
– I have here a return showing how very careful the State Parliaments are of the interests of landowners. In New South Wales I find that the total sum contributed by this class to the State revenue last year amounted to only £5,738. In Victoria, the land-owners paid, by way of land tax to the State, £308,275.
– In New South Wales there is a municipal tax as well, is there not?
– There is a municipal tax certainly. But I was speaking of the amount which the land-owners of New South Wales pay by way of land tax to the State Government. In Queensland this class of the community does not pay anything at all in the form of land tax. In South Australia the amount contributed to the State revenue under this heading was £141,807, in Western Australia it was £46,519, and in Tasmania, of which we have heard so much this evening, it was only £79,276. For the whole of the Commonwealth it will thus be seen that the States receive as land tax only £581,615. When we consider the enormous value of the lands of the Commonwealth, and when we realize that the States are not prepared to levy a heavier tax-
– They could not do bo if they tried.
– The trouble is that they will not try. The man who dares to stand up in any Parliament in Australia and advocate the taxation of land values is a very courageous individual, because he knows that some land-owners will, pursue him with undying hostility with a view to his undoing. That is the reason why quite a number of persons are unwilling to say anything against the oldest and most powerful monopoly in the world. It is quite a simple matter for a man in Parliament to propose taxation through the Customs House. Even in Queensland men are prepared to do that, but when it comes to a question of interfering with the land-owners of that State they are not prepared to say a single word. Some years ago, at the instigation of the Labour party, this Parliament imposed a land tax from which we derive a certain amount of revenue. I am not concerned to know whether the proposed increase in that tax is designed to raise revenue, or whether it is intended to help us to finance our share in the war. I am glad to get even this small measure of land values taxation from the Government. It is very small. It is hardly worth talking about. I should have been pleased if Ministers had proposed a heavier tax, and if they had also proposed as a war tax the abolition of the £5,000 exemption.
– We are pledged to that exemption.
– We are not pledged to it when we desire to raise money foi: war purposes. I know that our party is pledged not to interfere with any land monopolist who owns an estate of less than £5,000 unimproved value. Personally I think that that is a great mistake, but it is the policy of the party, and it is therefore my policy. An effort has been made in some quarters to show that this is a form of taxation which should be reserved exclusively to the States. Now, the framers of our Constitution deliberately provided that this Parliament should have full power of taxation- in respect of land, probates, income, &c, and therefore we are quite within our rights in looking to the land values of the Commonwealth for some portion of our revenue. The idea that this tax is a confiscatory one could not be better controverted than by the quotation of a return which will show the paltry sums which will be contributed under this Bill. Upon an estate worth £6,000 there remains a taxable value of £1,000. Upon such an estate, the present tax is £4 6s. Id., and the proposed tax will amount to £4 8s. Hd., an increase of 2s. lOd. Yet this is what Senator Bakhap characterizes as a < confiscatory impost. It is nothing of the kind, and it will not have the effect of placing any land whatever on the market for sale. Upon an estate worth £10,000, the taxable value would be £5,000, and the present rate on such a holding is £24 6s. Id., whilst the proposed rate would be £27 15s. 7d., an increase of £3 9s. 6d. If this be a confiscatory tax I do not know what honorable senators will say when a proposal is submitted for their consideration to impose an extra tax of 3 s. upon a gallon of whisky, which can be purchased for 21s., and upon which the present duty is 14s. a gallon. An estate of a taxable value of £10,000 at present has to pay £55 lis. Id., and the proposed tax will amount to £69 8s. lid., an increase of £13 17s. lOd. Upon an estate the taxable value of which is £15,000, the amount at present paid is £93 15s., and the proposed tax will amount to £125, an increase of £31 5s. On a holding of £25,000 taxable value, the tax at present is £190 19s. 5d~, and the proposed tax will amount to £277 15s. 7d., an increase of £86 16s. 2d. An estate of the taxable value of £45,000 at present pays £468 14s. Hd., and under this Bill it will be required to pay £750, an increase of £281 5s. Id. Upon an estate of the taxable value of £95,000, the present tax is £1,593 14s. 10d., and the proposed tax is £2,625, an increase of £1,031 5s. 2d. Considering the enormous value of the lands of this country, it is time something was done to make the holders pay a fair share of the cost of government. Adam Smith laid down the formula that a man should pay in proportion to his income, bub that theory was exploded years ago. The proper method of taxation is to compel a citizen to pay in proportion to the value of the land that he monopolizes.
– This is nob in proportion, because the graduated principle has been introduced
– -That is a slight defect which the next Labour Conference may remove. I hope then we shall have a straight-out land-values tax with no exemptions or graduations of any kind. It is difficult to get from any of our statisticians complete records of any of the lands of the Commonwealth. A return furnished bo me shows that the number of freehold estates in New South Wales, or estates in process of alienation, is 91,313; South Australia, 21,168; Tasmania, 13,844; Victoria, 66,811; Western Australia, 14,925. Returns from Queensland are not available. These give a total of 208,061 estates, but, unfortunately, the return does not include leasehold properties, or any freehold estates of less than £3,000 in value.
– Does it include all town lands?
– Yes, if the value is over £3,000. The number who will be affected by the tax is very small in proportion to the number who will not be directly affected. Occasionally, people advocating land taxation were told that the tax could be passed on, but a land-values tax is the only tax which cannot be passed on. Hence the strong opposition offered to it. No opposition is offered in those quarters to the imposition of Customs taxation, because it falls mostly, and out of all proportion to their incomes, upon the poorer section of the community. Directly a proposal is made to tax land values a howl of indignation arises. When Mr. Lloyd George proposed to tax some of the land-values of England, the outcry that went up from the aristocracy could almost be heard in Australia. I thought the bottom was going to fall out of Old England, but they seem to have got over it and are now paying a small quota towards the revenue. On 30th June last we had an adult population, excluding the Northern Territory and the Federal Territory, of 2,760,735. I have not been able to obtain from the Statistician a complete statement showing the number of land-owners. Had I been able to secure it, it would have shown that, on the average, of every six adult persons one met, only one would be a landowner. Admitting, for the sake of argument, that the proposed tax will confiscate a certain amount of the value of land, and depreciate its selling value, it is obvious that, while the £5,000 exemption is retained, it will fall with great severity upon those who in the future may purchase land of less value than £5,000, and that the exemption is an effort made to enable the big land-owners to more successfully disgorge their estates. This was made very clear some time ago in New Zealand, where a proposal was made to remove the exemption, which in that country is £500. The Government were at once waited on by the Bank of New Zealand Estates Company, who represented that the £500 exemption was absolutely necessary, because with it they would be able to disgorge their estates at a higher price to would-be purchasers than would otherwise be the case. If it is true, as the Opposition claim, that the tax is going to confiscate the value of an estate, the moment the tax is removed from any portion of the, estate the value of that portion increases. Consequently, when a large estate is cut up into sections which will come under the exemption, the value of those small sections will be immediately restored to that which, as portion of the large estate, they possessed immediately prior to the imposition of the tax. The £5,000 exemption is, therefore, by no means a good thing so far as the poor landless man is concerned.
– I strongly differ from you.
– The honorable senator may be right. At the same time, I think he is quite wrong. If the honorable senator was offered a block of land worth £4,000 and carrying a tax of 6d. in the £1, or another block paying no tax, he would undoubtedly bid higher for the latter. I admit that? a heavy land-values tax will tend to compel owners of blocks to put them on the market for sale, or lose by keeping them. Since it was made optional for the municipalities in New South Wales to rate upon land values, all of them, except the city of Sydney, have collected their revenue by means of a straight-out land-values tax, without graduations or exemptions, irrespective of the value of the estate. Coincidentally, the building trade has employed more men, and more houses have gone up during the last few years than during any previous period.
– That would obtain where the land-values tax was not in operation.
– That is not so. The method of rating upon land values only has been in force in suburban Sydney during the last five or six years only ; and it is to that period that I am referring.
– You will not suggest that that is the sole cause of the boom in Sydney?
– Not altogether; but it has had a very good and generally beneficial effect. The municipal tax runs from 4d. to 6d., and has the effect of inducing owners to build ; but is not nearlyheavy enough to compel them to make the fullest use of the land. I am willing to accept this small measure, because it will have a good effect, and, at the same time, give us an ocular demonstration of its. ineffectiveness in bursting up large estates. It is difficult to make people believe a thing until they see it clearly demonstrated. Some persons think that a tax of 5 per cent, will be sufficient to completely destroy the whole selling value of land. On that argument a 2% per cent, tax ought to destroy half of its value, but it does nothing of the kind. A very much heavier tax is required. We require this tax to meet the ordinary expenses of government. We will, no doubt, get a fair amount through the Customs House, because the present Tariff is designed to produce revenue, in order that we shall not be called upon to impose more taxation upon the land-owners.
– Is that the purpose of this Tariff?
– Certainly. The honorable senator knows that it is the purpose of all Tariffs. The Labour party, however, are not prepared to adopt the suggestions thrown out so persistently by the Age, the Argus, and the Daily Telegraph. Those newspapers have been most industriously endeavouring to impress upon the Senate and House of Representatives the necessity of placing duties on tea and kerosene. Why? Because they know full well that the duties would be paid by the public without a murmur. But I am pleased to say that they have no supporters in the Labour Ministry, and I hope very few in the Senate. A duty on tea would be a splendid way to get revenue; it would be a straight-out revenue tax. According to the latest figures available, in 1913 we imported in packages 400,367 lbs. , and in bulk 36,948,848 lbs., making a total of 37,349,215 lbs., of the total estimated value of £1,328,531. If we had a newspaper like the Age or the Argus or Daily Telegraph controlling the affairs of the Commonwealth, it would pounce upon the poor people and impose a rate of, probably, 6d. in the lb. on tea, which every citizen uses. Why should a man, because he drinks tea, or anything else, be called upon to pay to the revenue ? He is doing nobody any harm : it is his own business. If he is working honestly for his money he has a right to spend it as he thinks fit, so long as he does not interfere with other people; but when he invests his money in land, and prevents other people from working and producing, he is a fair subject for taxation.
– Do you really mean that if tea comes in free, whisky ought to come in free also?
– I do, indeed. I would certainly vote for the removal of the Customs and Excise duties on whisky. I think it is a scandalous thing that, a man cannot go and buy what he wants. Some time ago I paid 7s. for a gallon of rum, on which I had to pay 14s. in Customs duty. Why should a man, because he buys rum or whisky, be called upon to pay a duty? We do not stop drinking by that method. It certainly means that a man will have to pay more for his whisky or rum, and, incidentally, it will produce a large amount of revenue. We all know that so long as the Treasury is full, there is not possible hope of imposing more taxation.
– Did you not vote against the wet canteen ?
– I did.
– Yet you drink rum by the gallon.
– I did not say that I drank rum; I only said that I bought a gallon of rum. It is frequently stated by those who are opposed to land-values taxation that it will be necessary byandby, when the Tariff has had its full effect. So far as I know, it has never been intended in any country, where a Protective Tariff has been imposed, that it should destroy the revenue derived from the importation of foreign-made goods. The main intention of all Tariffs is to get revenue. The idea that it is going to create employment,’ and do all that kind of thing, is only an incidental matter.
– Make the Tariff prohibitory.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is game to do that.
– I am.
– In this country I have not heard a single politician who is game to stand up before his constituents and say, “ I will exclude foreign-made goods,” because the next question to ask a candidate is, “ Where will you get your revenue? “ My honorable friend could not get over a question of that kind.
If we keep out foreign-made goods, a Source of revenue is cut away, and then we are reduced to the position, that we must resort to direct land value taxation.
– Hear, hear! Why do you not become a prohibitionist?
– Let the honorable senator try to put a prohibition ticket before the electors, and see how he will get on. He will find that the big and small land-holders, and those who hope to become land-holders, will soon realize that he is a very undesirable man to return, and will put him out without the slightest remorse.
– Do you say that the last Tariff proposals are revenue or protectionist ?
– I am glad to near that.
– Furthermore, I say that all the Tariffs proposed by any of the States prior to Federation, and that all amendments of the Tariff made bv the Commonwealth Parliament, have been deliberately framed with the view of getting revenue.
– That is your opinion
– That is the fact.
– This one is not a Protective Tariff ?
– Certainly not. It is imposed with the view of getting revenue, so as to avoid the necessity of going to the land-owners for a bit more.
– I agree with you, and deplore it, but you do not.
– I do not agree with him, and I do not deplore it.
– In the consideration of a question of this kind there is nothing like a few figures. In 1904, the Customs and Excise revenue for the Commonwealth was £8,811,174; in 1905, it was £8,639,245 ; while, in 1906, it was £9,251,005. In 1907 it was £10,859,396. The revenue was still going up, despite all the protests.
– So was the population, too.
– Yes; but foreign goods were still coming here, the Treasury was full, and there was no necessity to impose more taxation.
– You will tell us presently that there should be no land taxation.
– If the Opposition had their way, no doubt they would adopt the policy of the Age, and impose duties on tea and commodities of that kind. I am sure that they would never dream of asking the big land-holders to pay anything, but, on the contrary, would allow them to go free every time.
– They would adopt the policy of Protection ?
– ;No. No Parliament in this country with Protectionist proclivities has ever been game to keep out foreign goods.
– We did, and your present Tariff is the Lyne Tariff of 1907, without variation.
– These figures flatten out our opponents. They cannot get over me in that way. It is well for them to realize that their game is ur». The schoolmaster has been abroad. We are determined that in the future the landowners of this country shall bear the brunt of the taxation.
– Who is “ We “ ?
– The Labour warty.
– You are not speaking for the party.
– The honorable sena: tor may be an exception. The Labour movement to-day is determined that as time goes on the land-owner shall pay more and more towards the revenue of this country, and I challenge the honorable sena’tor or any other senator to deny it.
– I should like to be clear. Are you approving of this Tariff or not?
– As the honorable senator knows, I am a member of the Caucus, and whatever decision is come to, that represents my opinion. The members of the Labour party are supposed to be the Caucus-bound party and to come in and vote solidly. How does it come to pass that honorable senators on the other side are of the same opinion every time the fate of the Government is involved ? It is well to recognise that in every Parliament the members of the so-called Liberal party have been just as caucus-bound in every respect as have been the members of the Labour party. If any member of the Liberal party dared to oppose his leader, what would follow ? The party would mark him out, and at the general election either they would refuse to select him, or, if he got through, they would fix him up.
– They turned down Colonel Cameron in Tasmania because he would not do it.
SenatorFindley. - And Sir Josiah Symon.
– It is therefore well to recognise that there are two parties here, namely, one in favour of the working community - and that is the Labour party - and the other in favour of the land monopolist - and that is the Opposition. In 1908, notwithstanding the higher duties, the revenue from Customs and Excise was £11,126,039; in 1909 it was £11,115,251; and in 1910 it was £12,264,081.
– What bearing has that on the land tax?
– I want to point out to honorable senators on the other side that the Customs Tariff is designed for the purpose of avoiding the necessity to impose land taxation.
– What you are doing is to make Senator Gardiner very uncomfortable.
– You are making your colleagues feel very uncomfortable.
– I think that he is giving us all a bit of a shake.
– In 1911 the revenue from Customs and Excise was £13,564,045. I have never heard Senator Guthrie say here that he was in favour of cutting away that revenue and imposing a prohibitory Tariff, nor did I ever hear any other honorable senator do so. In 1912 the revenue from Customs and Excise was £15,650,232, while in 1913 it was £15,087,356. It will be found that, no matter what may be said in support of this Tariff, it is like every other Tariff. It is one which will bring in a large amount of revenue.
– I rise to order, sir. I am loath to interrupt the speech of the honorable senator, but I submit that his remarks concerning the Tariff are not relevant to a measure relating to land tax.
– I allowed the honorable senator considerable latitude, recognising that he is a comparatively new member of the Senate, and that the opportunities for a discussion of this kind have not been too frequent. However, now that my attention has been called to the matter, I must remind the honor able senator that a casual allusion to the Tariff, especially as an alternative policy to a land tax, or vice versa, is permissible, but he will not be in order in going into an extensive consideration of the Tariff, and I hope that he will not attempt to do so.
– The point I wished to make was that the amount proposed to be obtained from the owners of estates over £5,000 in value will be necessary, because our expenses run into a good number of millions, and the Customs and Excise duties cannot be expected to produce more than about £16,000,000.
– The Tariff will produce a lot less by the time we have done with it. We will make it more protective.
– That is merely a theory, and it is just as well that the honorable senator should reserve remarks of that kind for elsewhere. It is too late in the day to make them here. Let him recognise that this is a high-revenue Tariff.
– I ask the honorable senator to observe my ruling and to leave alone the question of the Tariff.
– My allusion was due to a remark by Senator O’Keefe.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. I had no right to interject.
– I have to congratulate the Ministry upon the introduction of this measure to get a little more from the land-owners of the Commonwealth. I hope that later on they will have developed sufficiently to ask the land-owners for still a little bit more. This is the only way to effect any real good. It is humiliating to know that a man may land at Port Phillip and be absolutely as free as if he were a native of the country, but that the moment he desires to make a home for himself he finds that every bit of land is already held. Before he can begin operations to found a home, or to cultivate the soil, he has to purchase at heavy cost the small bit of land he may wish to own. If the expectations of those who enthusiastically support this amendment of the Land Tax Act are realized, land in Australia will be a little cheaper. I sincerely hope that we shall not be disappointed in this regard, though I am afraid that we shall be. It is generally admitted that ‘ the existing land tax has not been effective in the bursting up of large estates. As time goes on, and there is a further application of the principle of land-values taxation, we may effect our object. I hope that it will fall to the lot of the present Ministry to bring forward a further measure of this taxation. I have no faith in any other form of taxation. I do not think that any other form is nearly so effective or so fair. The man who manufactures anything has a right to consider it his own property. But a man who acquires a piece of land may do nothing at all with it. He may leave the country and return in after years to find that its value has increased a hundredfold. It is no robbery of that man for the State to appropriate the whole of the added value given to the land by the community. Land is not raised in value by the fact that a house is built upon adjoining land, but by the fact that a number of people desire to use it. We might spend millions of pounds on land in the Falkland Islands, or in Terra del Fuego, but we should not, therefore, find competitors for the blocks next door. It is the desire of a number of people to possess a piece of land that gives it its value. The values of land in this country are due to the presence of the people, and when the people have given a value to land, it is no confiscation to ask the owner to return a substantial portion of that added value to the people who created it. Other remedies have been suggested by many people to improve the position of the workers of the country. They have all failed, and, in my opinion, they must continue to fail. To-day the unemployed difficulty is raising its head in New South Wales, Victoria, and in the other States. Why? It is because the people are shut off from the lands of the Commonwealth. Anything that can be done to give them access to the lands, should be done. This Bill is a step in the right direction. I am afraid that its effects will be microscopical, but as it is a step in the right direction I support the second reading.
– I wish to say a few words about this Bill, and, perhaps, I should not have been so anxious to do so were it not for the utterances of the last speaker. I cannot indorse many of the statements which Senator Grant has made. I should, indeed, be very sorry to do so. I want it to be distinctly understood that, so far as I am concerned, Senator Grant was speaking for himself.
– I suppose the honorable senator is also speaking for himself ?
– I do not agree with the honorable senator’s suggestion that, in the imposition of this tax, a flat rate should be adopted throughout. I think that a progressive tax is very much superior to a flat rate. It would be very much easier for a man who holds a large estate to pay taxation on a flat rate than on a progressive rate.
– In the higher gradation, what is proposed is a flat rate ? .
– The incidence of the tax at’ the higher rate is such that I believe it will accomplish its purpose. I cannot agree with Senator Grant when he says that he does not believe in the exemption of the first £5,000 of unimproved value. I do believe in it.
– We are all pledged to it, too.
– The only difference is that Senator Grant is a more courageous man, politically, than is Senator Senior.
– I do not think that Senator Bakhap can charge me with any lack of courage in this matter. This is not the place to give the reasons why I believe in the exemption of the first £5,000 unimproved value, but I wish it to be recorded that I do believe in that exemption. I do not wish it to go forth that, in his objection to the exemption, Senator Grant represents the views of the Labour party.
– I admitted that whilst the exemption of the first £5,000 of unimproved value is part of our programme I am prepared to support it.
– The honorable senator told us that improvements have progressed where unimproved’ land values taxation has been in operation. I am not prepared to dispute that, but I say that improvements have been made where such a tax has not been in operation. My inference is that improvements were made, not because of the taxation, but because of the general prosperity of the Commonwealth and the general demand for such improvements. The honorable senator has, I think, no right to credit the operation of the tax with the progress of improvements. Then I wish to say that what would be right in the taxation of town areas might certainly not be right if applied to country areas. I wish to make this distinction clearly. The taxation of unimproved land values might affect the utilization of town areas, but would not affect country areas in the same way. I wish to mark these points particularly, so that it may be known that I do not indorse the wholesale utterances of Senator Grant upon them. Senator Bakhap has told us that he has never contested the proposition that we should not borrow for war expenditure. That is to say, that he indorses the contention that we should borrow to meet such expenditure. The honorable senator, however, emphatically laid down the condition that by taxation we should provide only for the interest on the cost of the war. The honorable senator believes it is quite right to borrow in time of war, and, with his party, he believes that it is quite right to borrow in time of peace. In fact, with the honorable senator it is quite right to borrow at any time, even if the result be that you burst.
– What does the Old Country do?
– That has nothing to do with me. Leave the Old Country to its sins and sorrow. We want to strike out upon a better and more honest way. I believe that in all circumstances provision should be made for meeting our loans if possible on the due date. As honest men, we have no right to contract debts, and hand them on to generations yet to come, who can have no say in the contracting of those debts. Senator Bakhap has said that this tax is inequitable; that it is an assault on State revenue; that it is predatory, vindictive, and everything that is condemnatory. His reason for saying so is that the tax will fall only upon a few. His logic is that if it affected a great many it would be right. Because it affects only a few, it is sinful. The honorable senator has tried to place others on the horns of a dilemma ; I place him on one now.
– It is wrong for the many to tax the few vindictively.
– The honorable senator begs the question. He has to prove that this taxation is vindictive. He has not proved it.
– As the avowed object of the tax is not to raise revenue, it must be vindictive.
– The avowed object of the tax is to raise revenue. The honorable senator contended against it because it was to raise revenue. He. said that if it were a war tax he would indorse it.
– It is a tax imposed for the purpose of interfering with the land policies of the States.
– The honorable senator narrows his argument to this : Because it will effect a certain purpose, in addition to producing revenue, he objects to it because of that purpose. He objects’ to it because it will cause the division of large estates. I am in favour of it for that reason. In my opinion, the division of large estates will lend itself to an increase of our population, with opportunities to work. This must, in its turn, increase the wealth of the Commonwealth and produce prosperity all round, which will justify the reduction of taxation. The honorable senator’s objection, therefore, is that he is against the prosperity of the Commonwealth. His arguments lead him into very peculiar positions. He said that he was not hostile to the best interests of the Commonwealth. In this connexion, I propose to quote a few wordswhich I uttered some years ago in the South Australian Parliament. They will be found in Hansard of 12th October, 1905. At the time I was speaking of Coonawarra, a small place near the South Australian border, about 5 miles from Penola. Coonawarra was a piece of land that had been carved out of the Yallum estate, which was then held by Mr. John Riddoch, who had it surveyed into 10-acre blocks, which he offered for sale. The purchase could not be completed until certain planting conditions had been complied with. In speaking upon this matter on the occasion to which I have referred, I said -
Some fourteen or fifteen years ago the late Mr. John Riddoch surveyed 1,000 acres of his estate at Yallum for settlement By fruit-growing. . Seven hundred acres were taken up. That land carried about a sheep to the acre, or 700 sheep. From inquiries, he learned they had produced twelve bales of wool a year, or thirty-six bales in three years. That was 5 tons, and the revenue to the railway for carriage from Katnook to Kingston would be £1 6s. 8d. During the last three years 1,350 tons of stuff had been sent away from Coonawarra, and 750 tons received there, making a total of 2,100 tons. He had entered into a calculation in regard to that. He had assumed that two-thirds of the stuff would go to Adelaide and one-third to Mount Gambier. The Government profited by the carriage to the extent of £2,500, as against £1 6s. 8d. under the old system. That did not include passengers and parcels, and where one man got out at Katnook formerly 100 got off at Coonawarra to-day. The land was valued for land tax purposes at the rate of £2 per acre. He paid £10 an acre for his land, but that included the privilege of the winery, &c. When the land was separated, the land value went up to an average of £6 per acre, or an increase of 300 per cent. The district- council rates from the 700 acres formerly were £16 ls. lid., and to-day they amounted to £74 lis., or a gain of £58 9s. Id. Then as to population. He would take Nalang as an instance. Formerly that contained 32,000 acres, with 20,000 acres leasehold, and four men and two boys were employed for the 52,000 acres. He asked how many men it would take to look after 700 sheep. The reply he got was “ A shadow of a man.” Against that shadow what was there to-day? On that same 700 acres there were at least fifty persons. There were twenty-six land-owners, many of whom were married and employed labour. Take those twenty-six settlers against the shadow of a man, the £58 increase in the district council rates, and the £2,500 increase in the railway revenue, and they would see distinctly that closer settlement was a real success.
– What had the Federal land tax to do ‘with that ?
– My honorable friend is rather premature. Here was a case in which subdivision was effected, and progress followed. If a progressive land tax will produce the subdivision of estates, I say that progress must follow. Yet the honorable senator wants to know what that has to do with the land tax. If he is not hostile to the best interests of the Commonwealth, which he assures us he is not - and “ Brutus is an honorable mau “ - why is he hostile fo the progressive land tax which will .operate in the best interests of the Commonwealth ?
– Because it is designed to cheapen land.
– I venture to say that it is a benefit to the land user if he can secure cheap land.
– Because this tax will reduce it to a value below that at which it is assessed.
– Has the land user ever been able to purchase land at a less price than that at which it has been assessed for land tax purposes?
– A man should not be permitted to buy it at less than its assessed value.
– Seeing that every land-owner has a right to make his own valuation, no objection can be urged to the proposal which I have put forward.
– In Tasmania the land can be purchased by the Crown at the land-owner’s valuation.
– My honorable friend has said that the Government are on the horns of a dilemma, inasmuch as, if they reduce the value of land, they are morally bound to find a purchaser for it.
– If the Government force a sale they ought to find a purchaser for the land.
– I do not think that the Government intend to force a sale. Rather do they propose to bring about a condition under which it will be more profitable for the many to cultivate the land than it will be for one individual. Then the honorable senator urged that the “ fat man “ is a benefactor.
– If he has brains he is a benefactor.
– Who was the benefactor in the case which I have just cited - the man who held the 700 acres to feed 700 sheep, or the twenty-six families who resided upon it with advantage to the district council and to the State?
– Who cut it up?
– I have demonstrated that the honorable senator is on the horns of a dilemma.
– Why does not the 1.- _- 1.1 senator tell us that the landowner himself cut it up before the Federal land tax was imposed ?
– That benefactor was able to get £10 per acre from individuals like myself who were anxious to have a home of their own, so that, when old age overtook them, they would not be obliged to wander the streets. Yet for land tax purposes, he was paying only upon a value of £2 per acre.
– If the honorable senator chooses to offer £10 per acre for land which is assessed at only £2 per acre, he will be able to get a lot.
– Order ! The honorable senator must allow Senator Senior to make his speech without interruption. He has already had a fair opportunity of expressing his own views.
– I wish to show unmistakeably that the arguments which have been advanced in opposition to the Bill have no substance in them. As to the prices that have been paid by the State Governments for land repurchased by them, it has been said that those prices were not up to the normal value of such land. I have seen a good many estates cut up and sold in South Australia, and I say without hesitation that in the majority of them the land was bought by the Government at a price very much in excess of its true value.
– That has been the experience of every State.
– Yes. The Government as a purchaser has, therefore, been obliged to give increased prices for land. Every estate which they have purchased has made the price of the next estate which they desired to acquire, higher. Their competition in the open market has increased the value of land.
– The honorable senator does not believe in competition in the open market?
– Not when competition results in a value in excess of its real value from the stand-point of the user.
– If the purchase of land by the Government has resulted in an increased price being paid for it, I. suppose that purchases by individuals would have a similar result?
– I admit that. But when the Government, with more money than private individuals, go into the open market as a big buyer, the result is to impart a fictitious value to the land.
– And the Government are another competitor.
– Yes, and a very strong competitor. Consequently Senator Millen has not made much out of his interjection. A great deal has been said as to whether this taxation is moral or immoral. Our opponents say that it is immoral. I contend that it is perfectly moral. Senator Millen interjected just now that if private individuals purchased land, the result must be to increase its price. That is not considered immoral; yet I venture to say there is quite as much immorality in it as there is in this taxation. The increased price paid by a private individual will profit only the owner of the land, whereas the increased taxation proposed will profit the whole community. The money thus derived is to be used for the benefit of the whole of our citizens. Nobody ques tions the morality of the landlord who raises his rent. That is perfectly moral; but immediately the Government raise a tax it becomes immoral. Where is the decalogue that defines the morality or immorality of the two cases? I hope we have heard the last of that argument. The honorable senator said we could not prevent the aggregation of land, and instanced a case where he had been talking to a Horsham settler. A lot of those settlers came from Mount Gambier, and I know the way some of them left there. There is no need to revive the matter now. They were settled on land in and near Mount Gambier, and left it to go to Horsham because they could get land cheaper there. The people who left Horsham sold out from there to get cheaper land somewhere else. What has that to do with the aggregation of large estates? Parliament is all powerful in that matter. It can legitimately and morally say, “No man shall own more than a certain amount of land.” This would not be overstepping the bounds of justice to the whole community, or of right to the individual himself. The honorable senator said he would not object to the tax if it was needed to meet war expenditure. Why should he agree to it if its purpose is to pay a man in London, and object to it when its purpose is to pay a man in Australia, seeing that the money is being raised for revenue requirements? The honorable senator would favour the individual across the ocean in preference to the individual who lives in Australia. If it is right to pay interest with the money, it is also right to pay part of the principal. The Bill cannot be moral and immoral at the same time. There is no strength in the honorable senator’s arguments. He says a man has rights, even if he has £100,000 worth of land. No one says that he has not; but I want to put forward the rights of the disinherited man. The man who has not £1 worth of land value comes in somewhere; and, after all, there are comparatively few land-holders in the Commonwealth. The honorable senator says that the right to hold property is one of the rights of man; but I contend that the right to live is greater than the right to have. If the tax leads to the disintegration of many of these large estates, and the settlement of popu- lation on them, it will lead to greater prosperity and progress, and, incidentally, bring in greater revenue through the increase of population. The tax is righteous from beginning to end, and I regret that any person is ready to stand up and oppose it. In all its aims and purposes it is in the best interests of the Commonwealth and of the people as a whole.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 - .
The First Schedule to the principal Act is repealed, and the following schedule is inserted in its stead: -
Rate of Tax whenan Owner is not an Absentee.
For so much of the taxable value as does not exceed£ 75,000, the rate of tax per pound sterling shall be One penny and one-fifteen thousandth of one penny where the taxable value is One pound sterling, and shall increase uniformly with each increase of One pound sterling of the taxable value by one-fifteen thousandth of one penny.
For every pound sterling of taxable value in excess of £75,000 the rate of tax shall be Ninepence.”
– I move -
That the House of Representativesbe requested to amend the clause by leaving out the words “ fifteen thousandth “ wherever occur ring, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ eighteen thousand seven hundred and fiftieth.”
This is to rectify a mathematical error in the formula. The intention of the Bill was to make the tax go up to 9d. in the £1 on estates of the value of £75,000; but as the clause now stands, the rate would go up to l1d.
– The amendment means a reduction of the tax, and will, no doubt, be supported by the Opposition. Could not the one-fifteen thousandth be retained up to £75,000?
– If that were done the rate would go up to l1d., and we do not wish that. We announced our intention to bring the rate up to 9d. on £75,000, and were under the impression that our formula did this. We have discovered since that it does not.
– Is the honorable senator certain on the point?
– Yes, I am assured by mathematicians that it is so.
– I am very loth to lose revenue from this source, and should he very glad if the rate could be made l1d. on £75,000.
– Senator Stewart so rarely gives evidence of being over-joyful, that I would suggest to him a course whereby he might bring a little sunshine into his existence. He is reaching out with both hands after that 2d. in the £1 extra taxation, and although I cannot promise him his way in the matter, he can at least try to have it by voting against the amendment.
Request agreed to.
Request for a consequential amendment agreed to.
Clause, as requested to be amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to, with a request for a consequential amendment.
Clause 4, and title agreed to.
Bill reported with requests; report adopted.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Supply Bill (No. 4).
Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1014-5.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, andBill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This measure amends the principal Act by including Crown leases within the area of taxation. It also contains a provision allowing the land tax to be remitted in cases where, by reason of drought or adverse seasons, the returns from the land have been seriously impaired.
– Is this the Bill which puts the tax on leaseholds?
– It is.
– You bring the Bill here after 10 o’clock at night, and want to put it right through ?
– The Leader of the Opposition, as well as every other honorable senator, is quite aware that this measure was before another place, and had to come before the Senate. It is possible, unfortunately, that other Bills coming up at short notice may have to be dealt with. The honorable senator knows that there is a general desire to close the session.
– It is not manifest in the other branch of the Legislature.
– My honorable friend might address a few words on that subject to bis colleagues.
– You are also attempting to tax mining leases, which no State Government thinks of doing.
– It is extremely improbable that under this measure any n,ming lease will contribute very much to the revenue. The leaseholds which it deals with are: Perpetual leases, right of purchase leases, pastoral leases, grazing leases, cultivation leases, homestead leases, and mining leases. Other Crown leases will not be taxed. In the valuation of mining leases, the value of the minerals reserved to the Crown is- to be excluded. The amendment of section -29 of the principal Act under which certain leaseholds are taxable provides that their value’ is to be calculated in the same way as ordinary leaseholds under sections 27 and 28, that is, on the value exceeding £5,000. The amount expected to be realized under this taxation in a full year is £500,000. I think it must be admitted that at present there is a large quantity of land held under varying forms of leasehold which is quite a legitimate subject for taxation. The taxation will be based on the difference between the economic rent of that land and the amount of revenue payable by the lessee to’ the Crown. - Senator SENIOR - How is the difference to be arrived at?
– By valuation, in the same way as we determine the economic value of freehold land. In Western Australia, there are Crown leases which were given many years ago. In some cases the rental of the leases was determined in a haphazard manner. In some cases the leases have not been subject to any re-appraisement. They have been increased immeasurably in value with the increase in productiveness and the development of the State. It is, un doubtedly, a fact that the increase in population and in the wealth of the State, has added to the wealth of these leaseholders without the State getting any return in the way of taxation. The Commonwealth has a perfect right, we think, to tax that value. We cannot see why these Crown leases should be exempt from taxation, when exactly similar land, which happens to be held in freehold, is taxable. That being so, the Government have brought before Parliament a proposal that this form of land values should be brought under the Federal Land Tax. I hope that my friends opposite will not raise any protest against going on with the measure to-night, because they cannot claim that it is in any sense new to them. They know that it was intended to bring the measure forward, and I am quite sure that my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, does not need any study of the Bill to arm him with arguments. He is too well acquainted with the land laws of the States, especially of his own State, to need to study this measure to prepare him for criticising the proposal. I submit, therefore, that although it has not been before the Senate long, honorable senators on the other side should be quite prepared to proceed with its consideration.
– I think that I am entitled to enter a protest against proceeding with the measure less than five minutes after it was introduced at this hour to-night. There is no desire, nor so far as I am personally concerned has there ever been a desire, especially towards the end of a session, to prevent the Government from concluding their business. But I do submit that it is making a farce, and lowering the standard, of the Senate to bring measures here with the anticipation that they will go through as a matter of form. It is all very well for the Minister of Defence to assume that I have sufficient knowledge of this subject to present my arguments. But there is in the measure a very sharp conflict between Federal and State interests. I had hoped to present to the Senate some details as showing how it will work out, but without any notice on the businesspaper that this legislation would be pressed forward, I did not come armed for the task which is thrown upon me, and so I do not propose seriously to debate the Bill. Seeing that the Government consider it right to bring in their measures at this time, and think so lightly of the Senate as to assume that we have merely to pass them through and give formal assent to work approved elsewhere, they must accept the responsibility for what I think is a deadly affront to this branch of the Parliament. There is just one aspect of the Bill to which I should like to direct attention. It seems to me, quite apart from the merits of a tax upon property of this kind, that my honorable friends are in this legislation sowing the seed of very serious trouble between the Commonwealth taxing authorities and the land policies of the States. In my own State, it has been a part of the policy of the country to offer leased lands at admittedly less than their economic value. That has been done of set purpose in order to encourage people to take them up. I will not take the case of big holdings, because, this proposal is going to cover a class of selectors who, I venture to say, the Government never contemplated would be touched by it. I take the case of small holdings, such as settlement leases, many of which range from 2,500 to 10,000 acres in extent. They are being offered at the present time in New South Wales to intending settlers. They are the subdivided blocks of larger areas, and are designed for the purpose of small grazing farms. The Government of New South Wales admittedly offers these leases at a rental value fixed at 1£ per cent, upon their capital value. This is done, not because it is supposed that this is their full value, but because the State, in order to encourage more people to take up these blocks, give for 3d. what, upon a 5 per cent, basis - the basis of this measure - they know to be worth ls. This is done as a part of the fixed land policy of New South Wales. My honorable friends opposite come along, and say now that, in proportion as the State Government has been generous to settlers, they will undo that attempt at generosity by taxing the difference between the economic value of the property and the rent which the State Government are content to receive. The effect of this Bill, quite apart from its effect as a taxation measure, will be to absolutely destroy that portion of the New South Wales land policy which is designed to offer a special inducement to smaller settlers to occupy these lands. Let us reduce this to figures. I understand, from what has appeared in the press and what has been stated elsewhere, that it is proposed, under this Bill, to proceed on a 5 per cent, basis - that is, to assume that the annual value of a leasehold is worth 5 per cent, of the capital value. I take a by no means uncommon case in New South Wales of a block of 5,000 acres, let as a settlement lease, and valued at from £1 to 30s. per acre. I take the case of a block of 5,000 acres, which the State land officials value at 30s. per acre. Under this Bill, the economic rental will be ls. 6d. per acre. But the State of New South Wales, in order to encourage occupation of these lands by smaller settlers, has been willing to forego that economic rental, and permit a settler to occupy the land at 3d. per acre. That is to say, the State Government voluntarily give up ls. 3d. per acre per year for this land. Now the Commonwealth Government come along with this measure and levy on that ls. 3d. That is not only a distinct inroad upon the proper functions of the State, but it will have this serious consequence: If the State Government of New South Wales discover that their generosity to their settlers will merely mean putting money into the Commonwealth Treasury, and will not in any sense help the settler, who will be taxed upon the full economic rental, the only difference being that he will pay a portion to the Commonwealth and a portion to the State, they will say, “ We might as well amend our law, and claim from these tenants the full economic rental ourselves,” in which case the Commonwealth Government obviously will not get anything from these leases. That is the position in which this Bill will place the State and the tenant. It is quite clear that even the most ardent advocate of land value taxation has never claimed the right to take the full economic rental. It is proposed by this Bill, however, to tax so much of the full economic rental as the State Government has not collected. The effect of this will be to absolutely destroy, so far as New South Wales is concerned, that part of her public policy which has been designed to encourage settlement upon these lands. I am quite free to admit that there is a value which the tenants do not pay. That is the difference between the actual economic value and what they pay aa rent. The Federal Government now propose to tax that. It will add. something to the Commonwealth funds, but I venture to say that this will be found to be only a short-lived source of revenue. It will strike at the very class of settlers that every one of us presumably desires to see multiplied. I had prepared, as I thought, a rather comprehensive series of tables supplying examples from different kinds of tenure which the Government of New South Wales offer to intending settlers. I am without those tables, as I did not expect that the Bill would be proceeded with tonight. I have stated the general proposition as it affects New South Wales. I might give another instance of what would happen under this Bill in that State. In our western division, a large portion of which is very similar to the adjoining country in Queensland, the rentals, a few years ago, were higher than those prevailing to-day. As a result of the high rentals and drought the western division was practically upon the point of breaking down. It was financially bankrupt. The State Government, rather than see large portions of that division abandoned, introduced special legislation greatly reducing the rentals then paid. The leases in that part of the country are subject to re-appraisement. I assume that this Bill becomes law, as, no doubt, it will. In the meantime those leases have undoubtedly increased in value. Wool has fetched a higher price. There have been good seasons, and general and, in many respects, universal prosperity. This has given to those leases a value which they did not have when the rents were reduced. But we are approaching the time when there is to be a re-appraisement. The Federal Government claim to levy a tax upon the difference between the value which the tenants are paying and the actual economic value which those leases have to-day. Suppose the tax is fixed for this year or next year, what will happen when the rents paid by these lessees are re-appraised the year after? The State Government will not stand by and say, “ We shall, in the future, as in the past, treat our tenants leniently and generously, although it is quite clear that if we do not collect from them the full economic rent it will be subject to taxation by the Federal authorities.” They will, therefore, themselves collect every penny of the economic rental. In the case of these western leaseholders, who may be described as big land-holders in the sense, of occupying broad areas, that may not be an ill-effect in the view of my honorable friends opposite, but it will destroy the effect of this measure, so far as the collection of Commonwealth revenue is concerned. I refuse to believe that any State Government would be so absolutely foolish as to refrain from collecting an amount from one of its citizens when they know that that amount will have to be taxed anyhow. This measure will create some little disturbance in the first few years of its operation, and may, during that time, contribute something to the Commonwealth revenue, but it must be remembered that most of the leases in New South Wales are subject to re-appraisement, and the result will be that at each re-appraisement the State rentals will be so largely increased as to cover the full rental value, and then the Commonwealth will not be able to collect a single penny from this source. Whilst the Commonwealth will not benefit from this legislation, what will be the effect upon the settler? He will have to pay the increased amount, but he will pay it into the State Treasury, and the Commonwealth Government, who will have been responsible for imposing an additional burden upon the occupiers of these lands, will not receive a single penny in return. It will be a serious thing if the Commonwealth, by means of this legislation, should succeed in destroying the very generous impulse which lies behind the land policy of New South Wales. If I turn to Queensland I find that the same thing will operate there. In connexion with grazing and agricultural farms and other forms of tenure in Queensland, the same principle has been followed. The State Government has never attempted to collect the full rental value from the people whom they have invited to settle upon their lands. Their desire has been to encourage settlement. The people who acquire these lands are in most instances making their first effort to occupy land on their own account: The Government of Queensland, like that of New South Wales, have recognised that the best and most practical way to get men upon the land and keep them there is not to demand the full rental value from them. Here, again, a State which, so far as I can judge, has greater opportunities in the next few years of multiplying the number of its land occupiers than has any other State in the Commonwealth is going to have its land policy torn up root and branch. It is inconceivable that a State Government should adopt the only other alternative to help their settlers in the future. They cannot help them by letting their lands to them at less than the economic rental, because, in proportion as they keep the rentals low, the Commonwealth will levy upon them. The only other thing they could do would be to grant their settlers a bonus. That is. unthinkable, and mav be discarded. The effect of this Bill, so far as these leaseholds are concerned, will, therefore, be to add greatly to the burdens of the smaller leaseholders without returning to the Commonwealth Treasury any perceptible amount of revenue. I feel that, whatever may be the merits of land-value taxation, and however great may be the financial needs of the Commonwealth to-day, they cannot justify the Government in levying upon this laud-occupying class. To levy a tax of this kind upon leaseholds is to aim a deadly blow at the special and praiseworthy efforts of the Governments of the various States to induce their people to occupy their lands by giving them those lands at less than their market value.
– 1 must confess that I have found it very difficult indeed to understand clause 2 of this Bill, although I have closely compared it with the existing Land Tax Assessment Act. The language of the clause is most difficult to understand. There are no less than three different negatives following each other in the course of one or two lines. Is it really the intention of this Bill to tax mining leases? It seems to me, from the wording of the clause, that it is the intention of the Government to impose a tax on mining leases. That is a most extraordinary and farcical thing for any Administration to attempt to do. I am not aware of any State Government that, in the greatest exigency, has ever made such an attempt. All the mining leases in Australia of which I have any cognisance are held direct from the Crown, and the rentals are fixed by Statute. I should be a very poor representative of the mining community, whose interests I have endeavoured in a humble way to serve in the State Legislature from time to time, if I did not attempt to discover the intention of the Government in this matter. Mining leases are held from the Crown, and are subject in Tasmania only to taxation by municipalities, and they take the rental value of such leases as equivalent to the annua] value when the annual value is taken as the basis of municipal taxation. The proviso in this clause would puzzle the genius of the greatest mining expert in the world. It reads -
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 he excluded.
T should like to know who is going to assess, on behalf of the Crown, the value of undisclosed minerals or metals in a mining lease, and of what value such an assessment will be. The whole thing is ridiculous. What is the unimproved value of a mining lease ? What is the unimproved value of metals or minerals? Ever since I was a lad of twelve years of age I have obtained my living from mining, and I would like to possess the ability to determine the value of undisclosed minerals in any mining lease. But I would require to serve a very much longer apprenticeship to enable me to do that. Is it the intention of the Government to tax the rental of such raining leases? I must protest against this Bill, the draftsmanship of which is involved, being put before’ us nt. such a late hour of the night. No shadowy proposition of this kind will satisfy me. It is a most farcical proposal to be embodied in any legislation. Are we going to sanction the taxation of mining leases in connexion with a Bill the alleged objective of which is to destroy land monopoly ? What is intended ? The Minister seems to think that, although there is an intention expressed here to tax the economic margins in connexion with mining leases, no revenue will be derived from that source. If that be so, why should we embody in the Bill this provision in the hope that it will produce a pound or two by way of revenue ?
.- In regard to mineral leases, except minerals reserved to the Crown, which, I understand, include gold and silver, I ask Senator Bakhap whether he can assign any reason why a coal lease should not he taxable? Why should it not contribute its quota towards the defence of the country and towards the services of the Commonwealth? It is a form of wealth which has been granted to private individuals. It belonged to the State, and the State has leased it to them. Why should it not contribute its quota to the revenue? I do not see that any injustice will be inflicted by this proposal, either on the community or on a company carrying on that kind of business. If it be a profitable business the company will pay, but not otherwise.
– Companies pay dividends, but no State taxes them on their dividends.
– I beg to differ from the honorable senator. Whilst some States do not tax dividends directly, they do so indirectly. Some States confer the power of taxation upon their local governing bodies, which enforce it upon mining leases within their boundaries. Some of these mining leases have a considerable surplus value, and the companies avail themselves of that value.
– Who has ever heard of the sub-letting of a mining lease?
– I have.
– Where would be the economic value?
– Has the honorable senator never known of a coal-mining leasebeing let for residential purposes or grazing purposes?
– Newcastle is a case in point.
– Why should that form of lease be exempt if it is admitted that other leases are properly taxable? I can quite understand Senator Millen’s point, that none of these forms of leases should be dealt with by Federal law. But if they should be taxable, why should we not tax a mining lease when it may be sub-let for agricultural, pastoral, or residential purposes?
Question resolvedin the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section twenty -nine 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 he 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 re-valuation, or a lease with a right of purchase), shall not be liable to assessment or taxation in respect of the estate.
– After what has fallen from the lips of the Minister of Defence, I must say that this Bill seems to me to be an attempt to partially impose an income tax. In States where the dividends of companies have been taxed, that form of taxation has been abrogated when an income tax has been imposed, and dividends ‘ have ranked as part and parcel of the income of companies. I think that this is a most remarkable attempt to levy an income tax in an indirect form on one section of the community. The difference between the rental value of a lease and its annual economic value is something which could be determined in connexion with an income tax. To introduce it in a Land Tax Bill - of which this measure is the corollary - the avowed object of which is to burst up large estates, is paradoxical in the extreme. This is the sort of proposal which ought to be explained in connexion with a Federal income tax. Has there not. been a very great difficulty experienced in connexion with the taxation of leases ?
– What is the honorable senator’s point - that mineral leases should not be taxed ?
– I say that the profits of mineral leases are part and parcel of the incomes derived by the holders of those leases. If we are going to differentiate between the rental value of a mineral lease and its economic value-
– Why should we adopt this roundabout method if we wished to secure the result which the honorable senator contemplates?
– I strongly object to this sectional taxation. This remarkable attempt to secure what in some cases it will be most difficult to define, is a very unwise one, and in operation will prove to be very unsatisfactory.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [10.37].- I quite agree with a good deal that Senator Bakhap has said in regard to this Bill. So far as Crown lands are concerned, it is not within the competency of this Parliament to tax them. This is an attempt to get round the provisions of our Constitution under which no taxation can be levied on lands of this character. The individuals who lease these lands from the Crown are supposed to pay their full rental value. Of course there are limitations in connexion with the whole thing. The States themselves have power to institute a change in regard to the rentals after the expiration of any fixed term. In this Bill the Government are endeavouring; in an indirect way to accomplish something which the Constitution prohibits them from doing in a direct way. But I ask honorable senators, “ Is the tax fair in itself?” If a man is paying a fair rental for his land, and if an income tax is in operation, he contributes under that heading to the revenue of the State. Is it quite fair that we should superadd this tax in the. case of those who, presumably, are already sufficiently taxed ?
– That is an argument against Commonwealth taxation of any kind.
– It is not. There are certain conditions under which individuals have long leases granted to them, but in this case we are proceeding upon other lines. We are practically saying to the States, “ If you charge 3d. in the £1 by way of rental for a leasehold, we think that the land is worth £1 per acre, and that it, therefore, ought to contribute ls. per acre.” In that case the Commonwealth will get a revenue of 9d. in the £1. There are very many things for us to consider in connexion with this clause. The owner of the lands must be considered. The ownership of the minerals must be considered. The lessee has no right to cut valuable timber on a Crown lease. He is placed under many disabilities.
– They are all regarded as a set-off to be added to his rent.
– They reduce the capital value of the land, and so assist in arriving at a fair rent. We must consider whether the tax on leaseholds will bring in a great amount of revenue or not. Leased freehold lands are likely to be much more valuable than leased unimproved Crown lands, which, if worth using for agricultural purposes, would probably be resumed and cut up by the States. The leaseholders already have to pay income tax, and for all the good that this tax on leaseholds will do, it might as well be wiped out. It will probably only cause unpleasantness between the Commonwealth and State Governments. It is a very unfair way of trying to get round the constitutional provisions which forbid the taxing of land the property of a State. But, after all, in opposing it there, one is simply running his head against a brick wall. Once the Government are told by the Caucus that a measure must be passed, that is the end of it. I believe that this provision was agreed to by a majority of one in a Caucus at which all the members of the party were not present. Members of- the Labour party, as representatives of the people, owe to the people the duty of letting them know how they come to their conclusions.
– Why do you all vote together ?
– We give our reasons for our votes in this Chamber, and occasionally our members are not unanimous. Honorable members opposite keep a discreet silence, and do not allow the public to know what a base institution the Caucus is with its closed doors and secret conclaves. They have entered into an agreement tot subordinate their independent judgment to the will -Of the Caucus, and to suppress information that the public have a right to learn.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing a matter foreign to the clause.
– Is the honorable senator in order in characterizing the Caucus base institution?
– I accept your ruling, Mr. Chairman. Any institution that attempts to enact laws to deal with the public, and is ashamed to allow its deliberations to be known to the public, may fairly claim to be a base institution.
– You are a member of a Caucus that has done the same thing over and over again.
– I am not a member of any Caucus. Is the legislation of the Government to be such as can stand in the open light of day as honest and straightforward, not aimed at any particular section of the community, but introduced for the honest purpose of obtaining revenue to carry on the affairs of the country? This proposal is a direct attempt to get behind the Constitution. The Government have no right to tax the lands of the States.
– The Bulletin settled you about the Constitution.
– If the Bulletin had only used a little brains it would have known that the statement it attributed to me was entirely in accord with the attitude I have always taken up in debates in connexion with this Parliament. I said I recognised that this Parliament was allpowerful with regard to imposing any kind of taxation it saw fit to impose, but that we were bound, not merely by the words, but by the spirit of the Constitution. We gave the Federal Parliament the exclusive right to one form of taxation, and while we did not take away from it the other forms, we regarded them as only to be used by the Commonwealth in grave emergencies, or under special conditions. The States were to be supreme in their own spheres. If the people alter the Constitution, well and good, but until that is done, the Government have no business to go behind it. We determined upon Federation, not Unification,, sovereign States, and not subordinate States. The tendencyhas of late years been towards the subordination of the States. If that is to be done, it should be done straightforwardly and openly, and not by surreptitious and politically corrupt methods. If it became necessary in a grave emergency for the Commonwealth to impose a land or income tax, it would have the right in the circumstances to do it.
– There is no Commonwealth income tax yet.
– If the Government brought one forward I have no doubt the honorable senator would support it.
– I bet you I would not.
– The honorable senator will probably have an opportunity of making good his word.
– You know we settle these matters in Caucus, and if there is a majority there we all stand by it, the same as you do.
– Then I am quite correct in saying that this proposal was settled in Caucus by a majority of one?
– I disclosed nothing of what took place in Caucus.
– Really the honorable senator aims at being like the proverbial oyster. I would be very glad if he could explain the whole of tnis matter to us, and let us kuow whether this proposal in clause 2 was honestly approved of by the whole of the Caucus or by a fair majority. If there are forty-five members at a Caucus, and twenty-three vote for a clause, the other men have to fall into line.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I remind the honorable senator that there is nothing about a Caucus in the clause, and ask him to confine himself to the question before toe Committee.
– I was going to say, sir, that that is one of the difficulties which we notice with regard to the whole of this legislation - proper recognition is not given to the men who pull the strings behind the whole business, and those who do not approve of it are simply like jumping jacks. Out go their arms and legs as the strings are pulled by the majority, and so our legislation is submitted from time to time by our honorable friends opposite.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at 11 a.m.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) pro posed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
. -In the newspapers of Melbourne and Sydney yesterday there appeared a report as to the flagging, with official sanction, of certain German residents in Rabaul. Has the Minister of Defence received an official report of that occurrence; are the statements appearing in the press substantially correct; and is it intended that flogging shall be regarded as one of the punishments to be administered under the Military Administrator there to those Germans who may give offence to him?
– A report has been received from Colonel Holmes, the Administrator in German New Guinea. The circumstances of the case are that a number of Germans in one of the islands there seized the Rev. Mr. Cox, a missionary. One man held Mr. Cox while the others flogged him with a malacca cane, each administering so many strokes. A complaint was made to the Administrator, who sent down a party to arrest t’ne Germans. Some of the Germans were arrested, and one escaped. After an inquiry was held the Court ordered the men to receive the same number of strokes as had been given to the missionary.
– What Court?
– The Court of Inquiry appointed by the Administrator.
– That is to Bay, a number of military officers?
– Yes; the Court ordered that the Germans who took part in the flogging of the missionary should receivethe same number of strokes with a malacca cane as they had given to him. That was approved by the Administrator.
– Is that a recognised form of punish - ment under a Military Court for any offence which is committed ?
– Has it no restrictions?
– It is a breach of the civil law, and in dealing with a breach of the civil law a MilitaryCourt hasthe power to order a flogging if it sees fit. In this case themembers of the Court took upon themselves that power. I cannot give a legal opinion as to whether they exceeded their power, but I will have the matter looked into.
– I suppose that they went on the principle of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” according tothe old Mosaic law?
– It was either yesterday afternoon or this morning that the despatch was received,but those are the circumstances as I remember them.
– Was no interest added?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 December 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19141215_senate_6_76/>.