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Wednesday, 26 November 1941


Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) .- I should like to know bow many farmers in Australia possess an equity in their land, apart from the value of the buildings, exceeding £20,000.


Mr Holt - This does not relate only to equities.


Mr CALWELL - Very few people in Australia, even the title holders of landed property, are in that position. The plea which has been made on behalf of the poor farmer is spurious; small farmers are not affected by this legislation. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) gave a capable exposition of the difficulties of the man on the land. The average settler is suffering great hardships, because costs are rising whilst the prices of his commodities are determined largely by world values. The remedy for this evil state of affairs is a proper system of price fixation, and measures and methods other than the rejection of a proposal to raise revenue by ensuring that the unearned increment on land and most of it city land shall pay its fair share towards the protection of the country in war-time. The Labour party has always been keen on the land tax; but an antiLabour government, prior to the formation of the Menzies Government, reduced it at the moment when it imposed on the workers a flour tax for the purpose of paying a subsidy to farmers. At the very time when old-age pensions were being reduced, the land tax was also being decreased. The money was returned to the squatter friends of the party which was then led by the right honorable member for Cowper ('Sir Earle Page), and the difficulties of the poor were greatly increased.


Mr Anthony - The honorable member's statements are wrong.


Mr CALWELL - I shall have great pleasure later in informing the honorable member for Richmond of the amount of money that was remitted as land tax by anti-Labour governments before he became a member of this House.


Mr Anthony - The remissionswere not made concurrently with the reduction of pensions.


Mr CALWELL - They were. When the anti-Labour government reduced pensions to 15s. a week, legally pauperized thousands of people who were pensioners and drove others to forfeit their pensions, it decreased the land tax payable by its friends.


Mr Anthony - That is incorrect.


Mr CALWELL - I am not relying upon my own recollection of the event. I am fortified by the excellent memory of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr.Martens), who was a member of this chamber in those trying and difficult times, and his information upon the matter is more valuable than that of the honorable member for Richmond who, like myself, was in those days a stranger to these legislative halls.


Mr Harrison - And he will be here when the honorable member forMelbourne has departed.


Mr CALWELL - If the honorable member for Wentworth desires to don the mantle of aprophet and predict the future, I beg to inform him that as I possess possibly the safest Labour seat in Australia, I shall be here when many other honorable members have departed.

The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) delivered a dissertation upon his meaning of "unearned increment". The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin)was perfectly correct when he spoke of the interest that accrues annually from the unearned increment created by community settlement. This unearned increment is pocketed by those who own the land. For the information of honorable members, I cite the classic case of the Howey estate in Melbourne. In the 1830's a block of land was purchased at a sale for less than £200. A few months later the original buyer departed and never again saw the land. His immediate descendants never saw it at all. It was not until nearly 100 years after the purchase of the land by Howey that some of his collateral relatives, probably great-grand-nephews, eventually visited Melbourne in order to view the property from which the family in England were deriving solid benefits every year. The unimproved value of the land in 1900 was approximately £600,000. If all of it still remained in the hands of the estate, it would be worth £1,000,000. The Howey family contributed nothing towards the foundation and growth of the city of Melbourne. The descendants, who resided abroad, were able to live upon the values created by the pioneers who braved the elements to develop this country. Now, the honorable member for Barker complains because overseas investors who put their money into the country have to pay a double rate of tax. I shall supply to the honorable member a pamphlet upon land values inMelbourne. The author, Mr. E. Craigie, is one of his former colleagues, and was, until the last election, a member of the South Australian House of Assembly. When the honorable member reads the pamphlet, he will be better informed than he is at present upon matters of land values and land taxation. South Australia has been the home of Henry George-ism in this country. Most of the great apostles of the theory of the taxation of land values have come from that State. I wonder how the honorable member for Barker has escaped its influence. Certainly he would be better informed about our political economy if he had read a little more of Henry George and dreamt a little less of Karl Marx.


Dr PRICE (BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The apostle of Henry George lost his seat.


Mr CALWELL - That is often the fate of the reformer. A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.


Mr CALWELL - I understand that the Government desires that some other business shall intervene. Accordingly, I ask leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.







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