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Friday, 21 November 1941

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) . - I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Deakin.

Mr Pollard - "We thought that the honorable member would have concentrated on war issues.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - That is what I am doing. If the Government were to concentrate on the war issue, even if it did not touch it quite so closely as I should like, it would seek revenue from many other sources before getting clown to a limit of 4 per cent, in this matter. If Ave compare the position of the investor in government securities with that of the man who takes the risk of, not only getting a mere 4 per cent., but also losing his capital in order to obtain an additional -J per cent., Ave shall see that there will shortly be no need for a Capital Issues Advisory Board to regulate the formation of new companies, should there be a. limit of 4 per cent, on the dividends that they can pay. A good deal of the enterprise of this community for many years, and to an increasing degree, has been carried on by companies. Doubtless, the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) knows a little about the cooperative side of company formation, and is quite iri sympathy with it. This hill is designed, not to obtain revenue, but to put. into force certain prejudices which are too prevalent on the other side of the chamber. 'Certain honorable members seem to think that, the moment a company is formed, some grave act of aggression against the 'body politic is committed. They assume, as a matter of course, that every shareholder is wealthy, and that every company formed, acts in its own interests and against the interests of the Commonwealth at large. Take, for example, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, in which I am not financially or politically interested, and which, so far as I know, has no interests in my electorate other than a limestone quarry. Ifit were not for big concerns of that sort, Australia would be to-day in a very bad way for munitions. The backbone, thebrain-power, the driving forceof the munitions production of Australia throughout this war have been providedby the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Yet, under this legislation, that company is to be limited to a dividendof 4 percent. There is no doubt thatthere are somewealthy personsinits list of shareholders; but many of the shareholders are not wealthy. Many personswhohave not an interest in the company wouldnot mind being even small shareholders . The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) has made an interjection which I could not catch. Let me come right home to him; If it were not for the operations of some of the bigsugar companies where wouldtheQueensland sugar industry be to-day?I invite the honorable member to rise in his place and say that that industry could have been better developed without the operations of certain companies that' are connected with it. He cannot return to Queensland and make that statement. This is an occasion on which partyfeeling should not be allowed to intrude. The commercial and industrial interests of Australia are at stake. The invested funds of thousands of persons are involved. There is no worthwhile margin between the man who has invested in gilt-edged securities, and whose investments are backed by the whole of the taxable resources of the Common wealth, and theperson who has taken the risk of not receiving any dividend and of losing the whole of his capital.

Mr Pollard -Would that gentleman be correctly described as " improvident "?

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON -If this legislation becontinued, there will be an increaseofthenumber of old-age gensioners ; the Governmentcan rest assured of that. Hundreds of persons who to-day areof receiving the pension are dependent for their existence on dividends. The receipt of thosedividends disqualifies them fromapplyingfor an old-age pension. The Government cannot have it both ways. If, bylegislation of this character, citizens are denied the right to earn income, thenincome will have to be found for them under the legislation passed last night. The Government could well afford to refer a bill of this description to a committee of both parties and, if necessary, of both Houses. No sooner was the Government in office than this proposal was produced to Parliament. In all the circumstances, no Treasurer could plead that he had thoroughly considered all of its implications.. The bill contains so many implications . which have not been clearly thought out that it should go for review to acommi ttee of both parties. I . put that forward without any desire to embarrass the Treasurer or the Government. If the bill be passed in its present form, certain sources of re venue will dry up, and certain desirable activities will be curtailed.. Moreover, the bill will not produce those benefits which are expected, either to the revenue or to the community in general.

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