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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) . - I propose to direct my remarks to the provision for the exemption of deceased soldiers' estates of a value of not more than £5,000. This matter came before me when I held some responsibility in the Treasury, and I felt that an injustice had been done. I am confident that had the last Government remained in office it, would have been rectified.

Mr Lazzarini - The honorable member said nothing about it before.

Mr ANTHONY - I am saying now that it ought to have been done. If the Assistant, Treasurer (Mr. Lazzarini) does not agree that what I propose is just he will, no doubt, reject it. The exemption of £5,000 ought to apply irrespective of the value of the estate. Under this provision, if the estate be worth more than £5,000, even if it be worth only £5,001, no exemption is granted at all. It is very much as if exemption were granted from tax on income up to £200, but if the income exceeded £200, no exemption was granted at all, even on the first £200. In New South Wales, an exemption of £5,000 is allowed for estate duty purposes, irrespective of whether the total value of the estate is more than £5,000 or not. If it were possible to move an amendment, I should do so, but I understand that there are some difficulties in the way. If it cannot be done, then I appeal to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) to recognize this elementary principle of justice. I freely admit that the last Government was in some measure at fault. I regret that the act did not make it clear that the exemption of £5,000 should apply, no matter how large the estate. I thought it did, but apparently, owing to some accident of drafting, the point was not properly defined. However, the time is ripe, now that thousands of our soldiers on the other side of the world are in grave danger of their lives, to put this matter right. It would be most unfair if the wives or relatives of soldiers still overseas had to pay duty on the full amount of estates over £5,000.

Mr Mulcahy - Those men who were on the dole before they went away are not likely to be affected.

Mr ANTHONY - Those who were on the dole when they enlisted have my respect as much as those who were in possession of a considerable estate. However, I remind the honorable member that many of those who enlisted, and have gone overseas, made a great sacrifice in addition to their enlistment, when they took the risk of their estates suffering because of their absence. Such men are entitled to consideration. Why should we seek to obtain revenue because men are exposing their lives to peril on our behalf? Those men would have had a greater expectation of life if they had remained behind. Any insurance company would have recognized the probability of their living for 30, 40 or even 50 years more. The Treasurer must realize the imperative need to amend this provision, and I hope that he will take action accordingly.

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