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Wednesday, 27 April 1932

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) .- I have made it clear that the Opposition is opposed to the whole of this legislation; nevertheless, I cannot place myself in the position of doing something with which I disagree merely to retard the passing of a bill. The principal act provides that if, in. certain circumstances, money is paid to the Commonwealth the State cannot sue for its recovery. This bill carries that principle a little further; it provides that the State cannot fine such a person. The principal act is now law, and its provisions are enforceable against the taxpayers of New South Wales. It is not a question of whether the law be good or bad.

Mr Holloway - In that case this bill is superfluous.

Mr SCULLIN - The clause seeks to protect the taxpayers of New South Wales against the imposition of penalties for complying with the law. Is the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), merely because he himself does not agree with the law, prepared to support the imposition of a penalty on a taxpayer who has been guilty of no other offence than that of obeying the law? That, in my opinion, is a strange attitude to adopt.

Mr James - This clause merely ensures that they will pay their taxes; I do not want them to have to do that.

Mr SCULLIN - The honorable member has misinterpreted the position. The object of this clause is to prevent a person from being penalized for complying with the law.

Mr James - If the right honorable gentleman were a resident . of New South Wales, he would understand the position.

Mr SCULLIN - It may be that I, not being a resident of that State, have a clearer conception of the meaning of this clause than has the honorable gentleman. I shall not, however', attempt to convert him. Although I do not agree with the law, I do not hold that any one should be penalized for obeying it.

Mr.ROSEVEAR (Dalley) [9.58].- I oppose the clause. We were told to-day by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) that the High Court of Australia held the Financial Agreement's Enforcement Act to be valid. In that case, the Common1 wealth law is supreme, and therefore I see no need for this further legislation. Should the Premier of New South Wales say to those persons -who appear to be anxious to pay their money to the Commonwealth that he proposes to double the amount payable by them, would that be regarded as imposing a penalty on them, or would it be deemed to prove only that the taxpayer has sufficient money to meet the demands of both the Commonwealth and the State? It is not clear whether the object of this, clause is to induce those taxpayers who, in the confusion caused by the struggle between the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments, have evaded payment of their taxes to pay them, or whether the Commonwealth Government fears that the High Court will not adhere to its decision that the principal act is constitutional. Since the High Court has placed it beyond doubt that a law of the Commonwealth overrides a law of a State, this amending legislation seems to be superfluous.

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