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Tuesday, 25 November 1941

Mr SPOONER (Robertson) .- This amendment brings to mind a remark that I made with respect to the duration of this legislation when the motion for the second reading of the bill was before the House. I then reminded the Government that in Australia during the last war there was a war-time profits act, which expressly provided that its operation should be limited to the duration of the war and six months thereafter. Similar legislation has been introduced during the present war in Great Britain and, I believe, in other British dominions and the United States of America. Into all of it has been imported the provision that it shall continue to operate for the term of the war and six months thereafter. This measure is the Wartime (Company) Tax Assessment Bill. Its purpose is to help to finance the special war expenditure of the Government. It should, therefore, conrain the provision which governed the duration of similar legislation during the last war, and which is incorporated to-day in similar legislation in Great Britain and elsewhere. If that be not done, it will be the duty of the Government of the day at the termination of the war to bring down legislation for the repeal of the act. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has said that repeal would not be difficult. I do not think that he anticipated that the present Government would then be still in power. Whatever the Government, it will experience difficulty in repealing the legislation. If the matter were viewed in the light of fairness, it would say, " The special war conditions having passed, there is no longer need for this taxation; consequently, we now present a bill to repeal the act ". At times different governments have been influenced, not so much by the requirements of fairness, as by the political considerationsinvolved. The case for the amendment has been fully established, and the way to make it is clear.I therefore hope that the Government will see fit to make it, and "thus relieve the party now in opposition, which will then be in charge of the government, of the necessity to introduce a measure which will cause embarrassment to it because of the misunderstanding it will cause in the mind of the public.

I listened attentively to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) when he spoke on the previous clause, and I agree with him that companies are entitled to expect not only to preserve their present stability but also to be in a position to advance their activities in the post-war period. It would, therefore, be wrong to continue to operate this legislation after the war if that were not the intention of this Parliament or the country. As I explained during my second-reading speech, the last Government intended to impose the limitation I have suggested, but on account of the pressure of business immediately prior to the last Christmas recess that was not done.

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