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Wednesday, 30 November 1938

Sir HENRY GULLETT (Henty) . - I beg of the committee, if this outrage on the poor must be perpetrated, to take the opportunity afforded by the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) to limit it to the term of one year. I wish to make it quite clear that, though I say it should be limited to one year, I am entirely in favour of the payment of a bounty to wheat-growers. I shall vote for the provision of the £4,000,000 for the ensuing year. My only quarrel is with the source from which the money is proposed to be drawn. Because I believe it to be an utterly wrong source, I support the proposal to limit the operation of the plan till September next. . I find it difficult to express the warmth of my feeling over this imposition, "We are told that, because of the heavy expenditure on defence, the cost of national insurance, and the falling revenue, money from -the Consolidated Revenue "Fund cannot be found this year for the payment of this bounty to the wheatgrowers of this country. The Government declares that, and then conies down and imposes a new tax of £4,000,000 on the poorer section of this community. It is a most extraordinary contradiction. At one moment, there is no money in the Consolidated Revenue Fund or in the taxing field that the Government can lay its hands on, and, at the next moment, it proposes to take £4,000,000 from the workers of Australia in the main. If the Government must do this hideous thing, this despicable thing, let it not be done for more than one year. This is a sales tax. For years the Treasurer has brought down budget after budget which has reduced sales tax and narrowed the field of its incidence. His great aim has been to take away the sales tax from all sections of goods, the cost of which presses heavily on the lower incomes of this country. Yet here we are asked to put 50 per cent, on the sales tax by this scheme, and to put it on to the bread of the people of Australia. It is incredible. I do not wonder this bill is being sneaked through in the night. The State Premiers are to control and fix the price of bread. This £4,000,000, as I said earlier in the day, is in some mysterious way to be taken from the millers and is not to go on to the price of bread. Mr. Stevens may have some mysterious way of dealing with the fixation of the price of bread, but only last week he confessed, in the New South "Wales House of Assembly, that he doubted whether he had power to limit the price of bricks. If he has not power to limit the price of bricks, where is his power to limit the price of bread? The position in respect of the limitation of prices is entirely uncertain. 'We know what the history of the fixation of prices in this country has been. It has been a history of almost total failure. Yet members of the United Australia party, which represents all sections of the community, and no particular class, find that when the Government brings down a proposal to raise £4,000,000 extra taxation it can think of nothing but bread. What relation is there between bread and the export of wheat? None whatever. If this £4,000,000 is wanted as a bounty on all export wheat let everybody pay for the sending overseas of this wheat, let us meet this liability in a national way. It is not for one moment a bread-eaters' affair, and never has been. It is an infamous proposal. I shall give another illustration. Under the Income Tax Assessment Act a deduction of £50 is allowed for children up to a certain age, yet the Treasurer who stands for that - it shows his social sympathy and the Government's social sympathy - proposes under this infamous tax of £4,000,000 that the more children you have, the more you have to pay. Gould anything more hopeless emanate from the two great parties supporting the Government ?

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