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Friday, 21 November 1941

Mr LAZZARINI (Werriwa) (Minister assisting the Treasurer) . - The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) has said. that, the proposed tax is an extra imposition. That is quite true; the very name of the bill indicates 'that. As the honorable gentleman, has confirmed the principle of the bill, I suggest, without, wishing to be discourteous, that honorable members agree now to the second reading, so that the bill may proceed at once into committee, where we may deal with the amendments which the honorable gentleman has foreshadowed. That is when, the test will bc applied.

Mr Archie Cameron - Will the Minister refer the proposed amendments' to a committee, as was done with the income tax proposals?

Mr LAZZARINI - No. The Government intends to continue- with this measure as it stands. I do not dispute the truth of much that the Leader of the Opposition lias said. The Government's policy in. this matter was laid down by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) in his secondreading speech. Therefore, I shall not dilate upon it, and I ask that the second reading bo agreed to so that wc may proceed to consideration of the proposed amendments relating to the fixation of an allowable profit of 6 per cent., and the operation of the rates of tax. The Leader of the Opposition said that there is no such tiling as a big company.

Mr Fadden - The Minister will not agree with that. '

Mr LAZZARINI - I cannot. Everybody knows that there arc big monopolistic companies in Australia. I agree that large numbers of people hold a few shares each in these concerns, but; I say to the honorable gentleman that, no matter how much money he could command, he could not. to-day purchase a controlling interest in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, any of (lie hanking institutions, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, or any other big concern. A few shares are made available to the public by these companies so that the purchasers will become interested in their "welfare, and in order that, whenever the Government asks them to contribute to the war effort, they will be able to talk about the rights of the small shareholder - the poor widows who have invested their all ! That, plea on behalf of the widows is as old as the companies themselves. They always make sure that certain interests 3 told a controlling share . of their capital, and this control is never relinquished. Therefore, it is wrong to say that there is no such thing as a. big company, in the sense of big vested interests, merely because a few people have small shareholdings. Wo all know that this war has been forced upon the democracies, and that we are fighting with a paramount objective - the preservation of our democratic institutions, our right to govern ourselves, and our right to free 730 War-line (Company) Tax ["REPRESENTATIVES.] Assessment Bill 19-11. speech. Honorable members opposite have said that the working man has much to lose. He can lose his freedom - a freedom which has often represented the right to go hungry. How much more these big companies have to lose! If bombs fall on this country they might, unfortunately, kill a few working men, and they might destroy some workers' homes. But if they fall upon any of these big industrial concerns they will destroy them altogether. Therefore, the companies are liable to lose all oftheir great material wealth as well as their liberties and the other things for which we are fighting. Surely, therefore, this tax should be regarded as a reasonable insurance premium against destruction. I shall consider myself to be fortunate if, when the war is ended, I have as much as I had when it began. If these big companies still have their profit-making machinery, intact and ready to continue earning profits for them, they will be fortunate indeed. The Government looks at this matter in that light. This bill is only a war-time measure, and it is not being used as an indirect means of implementing Labour's economic policy. I refute any suggestion to the contrary. When this Government, is ready to implement its economic policy it will not proceed to do so by any backdoor methods. This bill is designed solely for the purpose of aiding the war effort, and when the war isoveritsprovisions will be discontinued. If it be still the wish of the people that this Government should continue in power, we shall then consider means of implementing our economic policy. I repudiate any suggestion that there is implicit in this measure anything more than the Government has indicated. It is a means of raising revenue so that we may help to achieve victory for the democracies and peace for the world.

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