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Friday, 11 March 1932

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . -It is clear to me that after the resolution of Parliament had attached certain revenues of a State, the Government could by proclamation, and without further consultation of the Parliament, select one particular revenue for attachment.

Mr Scullin - The resolution must specify the revenues to be attached.


Mr BEASLEY - But this amendment will add a second barrel to the Commonwealth gun. In the first place the resolution of Parliament may specify four or five classes of revenue, but the amendment would enable the Government subsequently to discriminate. For instance if the resolution attached six classes of revenue, the Government would be obliged under the original clause to proclaim all six, arid the State concerned would know what to expect. But the amendment will enable the Government to use a comprehensive resolution as a smokescreen, and of the revenues covered by it, choose one or more that most suited its purpose. The intention of the Government should be made known i.n this House. The Parliament should declare what State revenues are to be confiscated, and the Executive should not have an opportunity to depart from that decision. I am not prepared to give to the Government any discretionary power. I want to know from the outset on what revenues it proposes to lay its predatory hands. The Government should not have the power to make decisions unknown to Parliament, and of which nothing will be known, until the bailiffs are put into the State Treasury, and hardship is caused to the Government and people concerned. After all the State would not be in a position to change its sources of taxation. For instance, the revenue derived from licence fees might be seized. " In that event it would be difficult to carry on the work connected with licencing, and other revenues would have to be taken in order that the department might continue to function. The Country party is at present much concerned about the encroachment 'of the cattle tick on the north of New South "Wales. The State has to obtain revenue in order to combat that pest. It has set its course iu its budget and estimates. It has made its plans for the financial year, with the idea of administrating the country's affairs while Parliament is in recess. If the amendment of the Senate is accepted, a State will not know where the blow is to be' struck.. The dagger may strike from any angle, and the general conduct of the

State's affairs may be seriously interfered with. Whereas, if we force this Government to name specifically the revenues that it may seize, and to state definitely its intention, that will give the State some opportunity to determine its course, and to take whatever means it thinks fit to combat the action of the Commonwealth.

Mr Scullin - If the amendment is not made the Government would, supposing that half a dozen sources of revenue had been specified in the resolutions of the Parliament, have to put all those sources of revenue into its proclamation. They would then, perhaps, collect more than was required to make up the amount that the State, was in default, and repay the excess. That would embarrass the State terribly.

Mr BEASLEY - I can see the point of the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), but he must agree with me that it is dangerous to allow the Government to take the action contemplated under the amendment without Parliament being consulted. I do not know whether the drafting of the bill is satisfactory, but it should be beyond doubt, considering that Sir Harrison Moore assisted the Government in the preparation of its provisions. The bill already makes provision for the Government to obtain any information that it requires. The State officers must, upon request, supply certain information, otherwise they will be subject to certain punishment. The Government should state its intentions in respect of this legislation. Because of the embarrassment that the amendment will create among the States, and the power that it will give to the Government to take action behind the back of Parliament, I am noi prepared to support it.

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