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Tuesday, 22 November 1938

Mr CASEY (Corio) (Treasurer) . - inreply - The mere mention of defence - it has been mentioned in this debate only by the honorable member for

Batman (Mr. Brennan) - arouses the honorable member, who speaks of an imaginary foe, into a cold fury. The honorable member has attributed to me words which I have never used. No government, and I am sure no Treasurer, likes increasing taxes, and particularly a land tax. 1 am in considerable agreement with the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn), but in times such as these the Government has to obtain revenue from all available sources, and may yet have to explore other avenues which have not yeo been explored. The Government has been obliged to increase, not by an extravagant amount, the rate of land tax. I should like to inform the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson^, who has again suggested the imposition of a higher tax upon the profits made by some companies, that his suggestion has not been brushed lightly aside. 1 have attempted to cope with the problem which he has ventilated on previous occasion], but the taxing of profits of large concerns which have no constituent shareholders in Australia is not by any means easy. I am not permitted at this juncture to go into the basic fabric of our taxation system or to compare it with that in force in other countries. There are countries in which the profits of large corporations are taxed under a relatively easy system, but it is not easy where the whole basis of taxation is founded on a relatively small rate. It is difficult to superimpose on our Australian system a method whim will gather in a proper rate of tax from companies such as those mentioned.

Mr Scullin - The Australian system is not unalterable.

Mr CASEY - That is quite true. For some months the taxation officers have, been studying this problem but have not yet found a solution that will work with reasonable fairness on the whole group of Australian companies. If the right honorable member who, 1 know, is well acquainted with the Australian system of taxation, submits any suggestions in this respect, they will receive careful attention. As the honorable member t 0. Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) was corrected by interjection, mortgages are not taken into account. The honorable member for

Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) referred again to section 66, which is known as the " hardship " section. Many attempts have been made to iron out numerous difficulties inherent in that section. Several suggestions have been made, but none is acceptable to the Government. Lf any new proposal that will work fairly all round is submitted, I shall be glad to hear of it. The Hardships Board has already given an appleciable measure of relief in instances where people are unable to pay the tax.

Mr White - Does that apply in tha cities?

Mr CASEY - Its work is not confined to any particular class of taxpayers, but its work applies mainly to rural areas. In the darkest days of the depression, relief . amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds was afforded.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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