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Wednesday, 14 October 1931

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . -I, and, no doubt, other honorable members, have received a circular letter from the Postal Workers .Union of New South Wales, which sets out in detail under specific headings how the Premiers plan has affected the members of that organization. A comparison is made between the wages received by these men and the basie wage paid in New South Wales, particularly specifying a section of the workers in the Postmaster-General's Department. It also deals with the subject of time off in lieu of Sunday and holiday work, and with reductions that have been made in allowances and the like. I have no doubt that the Assistant Minister (Mr. Cunningham) has received a copy pf this letter, and I should like him to reply to the statements contained in it. The Prime Minister (Mv. Scullin) has pointed out that, if the till is passed, the Government may issue regulations which it may vary from time to time. He has also said that it is in tended to make the rate of income tax at present in force in South Australia the maximum rate that may be applied to Commonwealth public servants. Will the Assistant Minister inform me what that rate of taxation is?

Mr Cunningham - I am obtaining that information.

Mr BEASLEY - I should also, like to know what unemployment taxation is being levied in South Australia.

Mr Gabb - There is no unemployment tax there.

Mr BEASLEY - It appears that wo shall have to consider this subject from the point of view of unemployment taxation in New South Wales and income taxation in South Australia. I should like to know whether the combined income and unemployment taxation in New South Wales is heavier than the income taxation in South Australia. In any case, Careful consideration should be given to this subject with the object of insuring that the sacrifices which various workers are being called upon to make in the way of wages reductions, reduced allowances, and the like are equitable, and not in excess of 20 per cent, in any case. The members of the Postal Workers Union naturally do not wish to be, and should not be, more heavily penalized than other workers. I admit that it is difficult in the bill to adjust all thu circumstances in these cases, because, after all, while the bill gives certain power to the Government, it does not state, at the moment, what these postal workers will be called upon to pay in unemployment taxation in the different States. It leaves the question open, but no doubt that is necessary, because the Government may from time to time find it necessary to amend the regulation. As this is a matter for future determination, it is difficult for me to answer or explain the circular which has been received from this section of Commonwealth employees.

Mr CHIFLEY (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I can supply the honorable member with the information which he desires.

Mr Scullin - Is the honorable member referring to the unemployment tax?

Mr BEASLEY - Yes. This situation arises. In South Australia, there is no such thing as an unemployment tax, but there is an income tax which provides for unemployment relief. In the other States, there is an unemployment tax. .

Mr Cunningham - We have not been able to ascertain from South Australia what amounts are allocated as unemployment, tax and as income tax. At present only an income tax is levied.

Mr.' - BEASLEY. - Will the Government consider taking the whole thing as one tax, including the unemployment tax and the income tax?

Mr Scullin - We cannot do that.

Mr BEASLEY - The next point is whether in South Australia where the tax is heaviest, it will be necessary to have a regulation different from that in New South Wales, or is this regulation to be of a general character throughout the States? Commonwealth employees who live in South Australia will certainly bc affected more than other public servants by this legislation. They will he called upon to carry a greater responsibility than the Commonwealth employees, say, in Victoria. If the Government has any further information on this subject, it should give it to the House.

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