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Friday, 25 November 1938


Mr THOMPSON - They are not subject to State land tax.


Mr Jolly - Such leaseholds are not subject to land tax in Queensland.


Mr BEASLEY - One extraordinary factor in connexion with this matter is that, although the Commissioner of Taxation, so I am informed, has evolved a formula for taxing lessees in respect of their perpetual leases, the regulations necessary to bring it into force have not yet been drafted. I am sure honorable members would welcome a clear statement from the Treasurer on this important subject. As it is of paramount necessity to obtain additional funds for defence' works and also to assist to put in hand projects for unemployment relief purposes, this unsatisfactory situation should be cleared up without further delay. No one will deny that absentee landholders who are largely under this heading should contribute their full share of taxation to the revenue of the country.

I have already observed that big city firms arc reaping substantial profits in consequence of the remissions of taxation made by this Government. Such remissions are, in fact, the equivalent of a gift of additional capital to these interests. The amount of £64,412 per annum which has been remitted to the Bank of New

South Wales, for example, if capitalized at 4 per cent., would be equivalent to £1,610,300. Moreover, since the reductions of land tax were made, the Bank of New South Wales has acquired, in Sydney alone, real estate costing £805,540. [Leave to continue given.] This same institution has also made extensive purchases of real estate in the capital cities of other States and also in some suburban areas and country towns in New South Wales. Time will not permit me to give other examples. It is abundantly evident, however, that remissions of land tax in respect of these financial institutions have enabled them to purchase a large amount of property. The tax remission policy of the Government in respect of big financial institutions has definitely not resulted in the provision of additional employment.


Mr Jolly - Was not the land tax increased as an emergency measure during the depression when salaries were reduced ?


Mr BEASLEY - The land tax was first imposed in 1910. It was increased by means of a super tax of 20 per cent, in 1921- 22. The super tax was lifted in 1922- 23. In 1927-28 the rate of ordinary tax was reduced by 10 per cent. A further reduction of 30 per cent, was made in 1932-33, and in 1933-34 the rate was reduced to only 55 per cent, of the original rate. I think that is a complete answer to the interjection of the honorable member for Lilley. It will be admitted that in 1910, Australia was becoming more aware of the necessity for providing for its own defence; that the time was approaching when Australia could not be so dependent upon Great Britain. Accordingly, and in order to raise additional revenue te meet the proposed increased expenditure on defence, the Fisher Labour Government imposed the land tax. The object of that tax was first, to provide the money required for defence; secondly, for improved social services; and thirdly, it aimed at the breaking up of large estates. Nobody likes taxation, but the government of the country cannot be carried on without it, and it was realized at the time that, additional revenue had to be obtained from some source. The arguments used in 1910 in favour of the land tax cannot be faulted now. Time and experience in the working of the act have justified its imposition. Its advantages, and the reason for the defence policy laid down by the Fisher Government, are brought home to us every day by happenings in other parts of the world. In Czechoslovakia, for instance, large numbers of people have during the last few months been driven off their properties and their homes through the cession of the Sudeten area to Nazi Germany. The properties of which they have been so quickly deprived no doubt took generations to acquire. Those people would, I imagine, be only too willing to pay a tax for the defence of their homes which they have been forced to vacate in a few weeks, leaving behind them in some instances everything except a few personal belongings. I am quite sure property owners in any country if they were given the chance would readily contribute taxes for their defence; and, further, those who own large properties should, as I have mentioned, be made to pay their full share towards the defence of the country. I, therefore, submit that the Commonwealth Government was totally unjustified in making remissions of land tax from time to time, particularly to large city property owners, whilst at the same time retaining an imposition such as the sales tax, which originally was an emergency measure and intended to be temporary in its operation. In my representations in this matter, I have in mind not only the interests of the people in my district; I am equally concerned with the welfare of all those engaged in primary production with whom, in my earlier life, I was closely associated. I do not agree with the argument often stated in the House that the land tax is a heavy impost on country interests, apart from those who have large tracts of country and those people are mainly wealthy pastoral organizations. I know that large sums of money intended for the relief of necessitous farmers find their way into wealthy organizations in the city areas. "While putting forward a plea for farmers, big city interests are seen to he raking off the . benefits. Something should be done immediately to stop that. I am pleased to have this opportunity to place my views before this committee. I hope that the position of leases in perpetuity will be examined by the Treasurer and that a statement in regard to my submission will be made by that honorable gentleman. I hope also that in its efforts to raise money to meet the increased defence expenditure, the Commonwealth Government will see that taxes are levied upon those sections of the community which are best able to pay them.







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