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Wednesday, 14 October 1931

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) (Prime Minister) . - Regarding the information asked for by the honorable member for West. Sydney (Mr. Beasley), let. me say that wc can divide the regulation into two propositions. One regulation will certify what shall be income tax, and another regulation what shall be the unemployment tax that may be imposed as a maximum in any State. Income tax, as I have pointed out, will be that described as the maximum ruling, say, in South Australia, and as that State imposes the highest tax it means that every

State oau apply existing taxation to Commonwealth public servants in that State. It is quite true that Commonwealth employees in South Australia will pay more than those in other States, because South Australia is the most highly taxed State. The only answer that we can make to that is that we cannot discriminate between Commonwealth public servants and other citizens. Every citizen and every worker of South Australia receiving the same wage as a Commonwealth employee will pay the same taxation. 'But in New South Wales there would be discrimination if we imposed the whole of the unemployment tax on Commonwealth public servants, because that was taken into calculation when making the reductions in the wages of State employees. We wish, as nearly as possible, to treat our Commonwealth public servants in the same way under this emergency legislation as each Government is treating its own employees. "Mr. Coleman. - What will be the effect in New South Wales?

Mr SCULLIN - The only differentiation will be in New South Wales. Take one of the junior officers receiving, say, £105 ii year. Previously, he paid an unemploy ment tax of £5 5s. a year. Now he will pay £1 6s. 3d., an advantage to him of £3 18s. 9d. On a salary of £203 per year, the unemployment tax was £10 3s. Now it will be £2 10s. 9d., an advantage of £7 12s. 3d. On a salary of £235 per annum, the tax was £11 15s. Now ii will be £2 18s. 9d., an advantage of £8 16s. 3d. On a salary of £274 per annum, the unemployment tax was £13 14s. Now it will be £6 17s., an advantage of £6 17s. On a salary of £293, the unemployment tax was £14 13s. Now it will be £7 6s. 6d., an advantage of £7 6s. 6d. On a salary of £302 per annum, the tax was £15 2s. Now it will be £7 lis., or an advantage of £7 lis. These sums can readily be calculated by honorable members. The Minister gave the details in the schedule which will be set out, not in the bill, but in the regulation. If any anomalies or injustices arise, the regulation can be amended. We have set out to make this tax as equitable as possible. On salaries up to £250 the maximum unemployment tax will be 3d. in the £1. On salaries ex ceeding £250 and not exceeding £500 tha maximum will be 4£d. in the £1. On. salaries exceeding £500 and not exceeding £1,000 the maximum will be 6d. in the £1. On salaries exceeding £1,000 and not exceeding £1,400 the maximum will be 7id. in the £1. On salaries exceeding £1,400 and not exceeding; £1,800 the maximum will be 9d. in the- £1. On salaries exceeding £1,800 and not. exceeding £2,500 the maximum will be* ls. in the £1. On salaries exceeding' £2,500 the maximum will be ls. 3d. in the £1. I think that honorable members will realize that this tax has been adjusted fairly equitably. It is not possible to make for uniformity. Soma Commonwealth employees take the view that as they are receiving salaries which apply all over Australia, we should endeavour to place them on a uniform basis ; but that is impossible because, under the Constitution, we cannot discriminate between one State and another. In adopting this legislation we are not discriminating, because we are imposing the maximum applying in each State.

Mr Beasley - That is being done under regulation?


Mr Coleman - Is provision made for the payment of unemployment tax fortnightly? There was a complaint previously about the tax being assessed annually.

Mr SCULLIN - Representations were made to us by a number of organizations that it was difficult for the employees to pay an annual sum, and that they were prepared to suffer a fortnightly deduction from their wages. As honorable members know, the States have no power to impose a wages tax upon Commonwealth public servants, therefore, the tax had to be imposed in the form of an income tax, but we have decided, and we have power to do it, to enter into an agreement with any State Government, where such action is desired by the Commonwealth employees in that State, to have the tax deducted from the fortnightly pay.

Mr Beasley - If the employee volunteers to pay the tax fortnightly it will be deducted from his pay automatically f

Mr SCULLIN - Yes. As a matter of fact, in New South Wales, where the organizations have asked for this legislation, we have been in touch with the Government, and it is willing to come to such an agreement. In some of the other States the Commonwealth employees do not desire this action, and we are not pressing for an agreement in their case.

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