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Wednesday, 26 November 1941


Mr HARRISON (Wentworth) . - Time after time supporters of the Government have told honorable members on this side of the chamber that those who are pulling their weight in this war are drawn principally from the lowerincome groups and do not include, to any marked degree, persons in the higher ranges of income or those whom they choose to describe as " capitalists ". We have just heard an extraordinary speech by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard). Stating the case on behalf of the rich man who remains in Australia, he asked, in an impassioned address, " Do you think that the children of a soldier who has lost his life should be placed at an advantage compared with the children of the man on the dole ? " The children of a soldier who is killed in action will lose not only a portion of the estate, but also the care, love and guidance of their father. But the people for whom the honorable member spoke are really the rich men who stay at home. They will derive advantage from the estate for years, and the children will have the benefit of paternal guidance. From time to time supporters of the Government speak glibly of the advantages of the voluntary form of enlistment, and contend that conscription is not necessary. Under conscription, this provision would be eminently fair, because every person would be placed upon the same basis. The estate of the rich man, who enlists for service overseas, would be subject upon his death to estate duty. The rich man would have no opportunity whatever to stay at home; he would be compelled to do his " bit ". Under the voluntary system, which honorable members opposite support, he has the choice of enlisting or staying at home.


Mr Calwell - The party to which the honorable member belongs has also espoused it.


Mr HARRISON - We recognize that an anomaly crept into the legislation. Having made that acknowledgment, wc suggest a method by which it can be removed. Honorable members opposite are welcome to whatever kudos may come from effecting the amendment. We simply ask them to adjust the anomaly. It can be easily done.


Mr Lazzarini - The honorable member expects the Government to correct in a fortnight all the mistakes that were made by the Administration of which he was a member.


Mr HARRISON - The Minister could easily make the adjustment. If honorable members opposite are sincere in their championing of the voluntary system, they should protect the estates of the patriotic men who are prepared to sacrifice their lives for their country. During the last war the estate of the fighting man was exempt from tax. The point may be taken that that gives an unfair advantage to a man who is prepared to sacrifice his all on the altar of national service.


Mr McEwen - The Fisher Government granted total exemption.


Mr HARRISON - That makes the matter more pronounced. The Labour party appears, since the last war, to have lost its democratic spirit. Even if honorable members opposite cannot approve entirely the action of the Fisher Government in exempting the estates of soldiers from tax, they should at least support an amendment to bring the law into line with the practice in Great P>ritain. Members of the Opposition would be satisfied with that. Unfortunately, honorable members opposite attempt to defend their attitude by declaring that, although a man may volunteer to fight for his country, his children should be placed at a disadvantage compared with the man who elects to remain at home. Such an attitude cannot be justified.







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