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Tuesday, 6 December 1938

Mr CASEY (Corio) (Treasurer) . - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill replaces the bill with the same title, which was introduced to Parliament and reached the second-reading stage on the 28th June last, but which owing to lack of time was not. proceeded with before Parliament rose on the 30th June.

The measure merely repeats the provisions of the former bill except for a few drafting improvements and the inclusion of two further provisions to rectify anomalies.

I am able to say of this bill, as I said in my second-reading speech on the previous bill, that it is almost entirely a validating measure and that its general purpose is to obviate the necessity to collect sales tax, in some cases retrospectively, where, in the circumstances, it would be manifestly unfair to do so.

The bill seeks, first, to validate certain exemptions authorized by the Government in anticipation of this amendment of the law ; and, secondly, to remove any doubts as to the validity of certain exemptions administratively allowed. The other provisions of the bill are of minor importance and consist mainly of corrections of a few inadvertent errors and omissions which occurred inthe drafting of earlier legislation.

The exemptions authorized by the Government in anticipation of this bill are provided for by clause 3, paragraphsb, c, e, j. h,l and v, which is new item 131. The goods affected are, shortly -

Clause 3b. - Certain piping.

Clause3c. - Salad dressing (dry).

Clause 3c. - Invalid carriages.

Clause 3j. - Goods for State public libraries.

Clause 3h. - Construction materials and plant for State authorities responsible for the bulk handling of grain.

Clause 3l. - Brasslights and other goods similar to leadlights.

Clause 3v. - Imported goods bequeathed to Australian residents.

The provision in clause3k was not in the former bill. I assure honorable members that these are all cases in which the taxation of the goods affected would result in glaring anomalies.

The validation of doubtful exemptions administratively allowed is provided by clause 3, paragraphs g. h, i, q,l, u, andv which is new item 132.

The goods affected are, shortly -

Clause 3g. - Window price tickets, &c., hand produced.

Clause 3 h, i. - Certain printers' equipment comparable to equipment already exempt.

Clause 3q. - Aids to manufacture produced by registered processors.

Clause 3t. - Spare gear for ships.

Clause 3u. - Spare gear for ships.

Clause 3v. - Equipment for the manufacture of taxable goods which become the property of the manufacturer's customers.

The provision in clause 3q was not in the former bill.

The drafting corrections are contained in clause 3, paragraphs d, m, n, o, p, r, and s.

Only two other matters are dealt with by the bill:-

Clause 3a brings the definition of " aids to manufacture " in the act into line with the amended definition made on the 23rd December, 1936, in the sales tax regulations and will ensure uniform application of the exemption of "aids to manufacture " as 'between registered and unregistered persons.

Clause 3f re-expresses the exemption of books and printed matter to exclude from exemption advertising publications of a kind originally intended to be excluded by the specific exclusion of " advertising matter." There is very considerable doubt as to the proper legal interpretation to be given, not only to the expression " advertising matter " but also to the whole item and the exceptions therefrom. It is hoped that the amendment, which is not retrospective, will result in the avoidance of costly litigation.

If requested, I shall give a full explanation of any or all of the amendments when the bill is in committee. I should like honorable members to appreciate that, with minor exceptions, the bill does not seek to extend or curtail the sales tax exemptions which are at present actually being allowed but is designed merely to give a legal footing to the understanding of taxpayers and consumers as to what is covered by the existing exemptions.

To sum up, subject to the minor exceptions mentioned, the bill will merely validatewhat is actually being done at present for the benefit of taxpayers and the public. No fresh liabilities will be imposed and no new exemptions will be granted except for validation purposes. I would therefore ask honorable members not to look upon the bill as a proper occasion for the pressing of claims for further exemptions. In dealing with every sales tax exemptions measure intro duced since 1933, honorable members have been good enough to take my word that experience in the early years of the sales tax proved that the acceptance of requests for exemptions on the floor of the House was fraught with a great deal of danger to the public. On this occasion, however, as on all previous occasions, I assure honorable members that any requests they may make for further exemptions will be carefully noted and examined for consideration on some future occasion when the time is opportune to grant further relief from sales tax by way of exemptions.

Mr Jolly - How far will the bill affect the revenue?

Mr CASEY - Not at all.

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