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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr MORGAN (Reid) .- By no stretch of the imagination can this tax be described, as it has been by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), as a capital levy. The rate of tax is altogether too small foi' that. However, it is a step in the right direction. If anything, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has been too generous in framing this measure. He could have been a lot harder. The tax is, as the bill specifies, a super tax at the rate of " 20 per centum of the amount of land tax payable under the preceding provisions of this act in respect of that land; or 1 per centum of the amount of the excess of the taxable value of the land over £20,000, whichever is the lesser amount ". This bill will not raise a very great sum of money. Even taxpayers whose land is valued at £50,000 or £.100,000 will contribute only a few hundreds of pounds. I agree with the honorable member for Fawkner that the provisions of this measure should bc reviewed at a later stage, but in my opinion the review should be with the idea of increasing the rate of tax and reducing the exemption. In the present circumstances, an exemption of £20,000 is far too generous. The amount of additional tax will be very small indeed, and I suggest that a reduction of the exemption to £10,000 would be reasonable. That might have the effect of skimming some fat, off wealthy land accumulators who have built up huge reserves in good times. The real effects of this measure will be felt in the post-war period, when, undoubtedly, there will be a loosening of large holdings. On the journey from Canberra to Sydney one passes through what may be described as one of the most land-locked areas in the Commonwealth, namely, the Bungendore district, where the Falkiners and other wealthy landowners hold thousands and thousands of acres of land which is in a comparatively unproductive state. Those people have been treated generously in the past, and now that, our soldiers, sailors and airmen are fighting overseas and possibly sacrificing everything in order to win this war, it is little enough to ask the wealthy landholders to contribute substantially to war funds. After all, such contributions are in the nature of insurance premiums on their properties. I hope also that the bill will be extended not only to land property but also to other property. According to a newspaper report, Sir Joynton Smith recently sold his Imperial Arcade property in Sydney for between £500,000 and £600,000. Apparently he is " getting out from under ". A capital tax should be imposed to catch these people. I hope that the Treasurer will consider extending the provisions of this bill at a later stage.

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