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Wednesday, 16 December 1914

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - The amendment lends a little added force to the objection I offered a little while ago as to the construction of the clause. It does seem to me that what is desired, and what is intended, is that all leases, with some minor exceptions, shall be subject to taxation. I submit that it would be very much better to say so, and not to start with a statement that no leases shall be subject to taxation except those hereafter enumerated. As the Bill was originally drafted, it left out one class of taxation, which apparently Senator Lynch, the Minister, and others think ought to be included. It would be very much better if the Ministry were to make up their minds as to what leases they propose specifically to exempt, and then enumerate them. Under the clause as it is there will be very grave doubts as to whether a number of leases of various denominations are exempt or not. The Minister has told us that it is only proposed to exempt certain leases with a brief tenure. It ought to be possible to say so. The clause does say that a lease of twelve months' currency shall be exempt. That is a good reason, in my opinion, for that currency is not worth bothering about, but it ought to apply all round. What other leases do Ministers wish to exempt? If a year is not thought long enough, let them lengthen the period and exempt a lease with a currency of two or three years. We ought to be informed exactly what leases the Government propose to keep out of the operation of the clause. It would be much more business-like to redraft the clause, and to start it with a bold declaration that no leaseholds are subject to taxation except those enumerated. Are we sure that the present enumeration covers all that is wanted ? It is clear from the amendment that it does not.

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