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Thursday, 25 October 1956


Mr BARNARD (Bass) .- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Luck). This matter is of great concern to the residents of King Island, in the Braddon electorate, and to the residents of the Furneaux group of islands, in the Bass electorate. The inclusion of King Island and Flinders Island in zone B has been the subject of discussions between the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and myself on several occasions. Each time the Treasurer has informed me that the matter was being inves tigated by a committee on taxation and that its report would be considered at a later date. Apparently the report has not yet been submitted to the Treasurer. If it has, he certainly has not disclosed its contents to honorable members.

All that has been said by the honorable member for Braddon about King Island applies equally to Flinders Island and the surrounding islands, such as Cape Barren Island and Babel Island. The honorable member, quite rightly in my opinion, mentioned some ot the places in northern Queensland which are included in zone B. I am disappointed that the Treasurer did not indicate why he considers places such as Townsville, Mackay and Cairns are more isolated than Flinders Island and King Island are. I hope that he will yet do so. This matter has been under discussion for several years, as 1 have pointed out in this chamber previously, and I believe the time has come for the Treasurer to indicate why he and the Government are not prepared to grant to the residents of King Island and Flinders Island the concession of being included in zone B for taxation purposes. I resided in Queenstown, on the west coast of Tasmania, for some years, and I know that residents of that part of Tasmania live in isolation and endure severe weather, but in my opinion their conditions are no worse than are those of the residents of Flinders Island and King Island. Yet one-third of Tasmania, including the west coast area, is included in zone B! The Treasurer should show the residents of Flinders Island and King Island the same consideration as he extends to the people of Mackay, Townsville and other northern Queensland centres. I do not say that in any disparaging spirit. It is perfectly true that Cairns is isolated, but my quarrel with this Government is that Cairns and the other north Queensland towns I have mentioned are no more isolated than Flinders Island and King Island are, as the honorable member for Braddon has pointed out.

I propose to discuss Flinders Island particularly. After all, it is the one with which I am more familiar, and the honorable member for Braddon has explained the position relative to King Island. I shall state the position briefly. There has been considerable development of the island in recent years. It has been the subject of long discussions between this Government and the Tasmanian Government, as a result of which a large war service land settlement scheme has been put into operation during the last three or four years. If this Governments wants to encourage ex-servicemen to settle on Flinders Island and King Island it should be prepared to give them the small consideration of allowing them to claim a zone B taxation deduction. I have raised in this chamber on several occasions the problems of transport to and from Flinders Island. The transport difficulties of the residents are one of the reasons why I suggest that they are more isolated than are the people who live along the coast in northern Queensland. The Flinders Island aerodrome, which is not an all-weather aerodrome, has often been closed during the recent wet season. This has meant that for periods of longer than six weeks the residents of the island have been virtually isolated because they could not travel by air. I have mentioned this matter on several occasions. The only form of transport when the aerodrome is closed is a thrice-weekly shipping service between Launceston and the island. The Government has refused to accept its responsibility to keep the aerodrome open. So I hope it will be prepared to accept its responsibility to extend to the residents of the island the income tax concession for which they have asked.

Both Flinders Island and King Island have a fine future. Their agricultural potential is great, and if we want people to settle on the islands we should give them consideration by extending taxation concessions to them. I say without hesitation that residents of those islands find it much more difficult to obtain transport to other places than do the residents of many of the centres of northern Australia which are served by good rail, road, and air transport services, and which are included in zone B. I do not want to labour the matter. I think the Treasurer, in fairness to the residents of Flinders Island and King Island, should say why the Government refuses to give them the taxation concession for which they have asked. If the report of the committee which has been inquiring into this matter is in the Treasurer's opinion unfavorable - I very much doubt whether it is unfavorable - I ask the Government to reconsider the matter at an early date with the object of giving to the people of these islands concessions which are already enjoyed by people in other parts of Australia who are more fortunately situated and who live in places included in zone B.







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