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Tuesday, 19 May 1942

Mr JOLLY (Lilley) .- Whatever may be the result of this debate, it will at least serve one good purpose, in that it will make clear to the people of Australia that the Commonwealth is moving towards uniform social conditions throughout the whole of its territory. Uniform taxation proposals presuppose uniform social conditions. The committee which was appointed to consider whether the Commonwealth should be the sole taxing authority in the field of income tax for the duration of the war stated in its report -

If, during the war, the Commonwealth should decide to provide uniformly for the whole of Australia a social service provided at present by some or all of the States such, e.g., as widows' pensions, .the Commonwealth should use the machinery set out earlier in the report to effect a reasonable reduction from the income tax compensation paid to those States relieved from the cost of providing such a service. [ agree that that paragraph supports what the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) said earlier this evening,, but I draw attention to another paragraph of the report in which the committee said that, in order to preserve flexibility, the following formula should be adopted: -

I.   A State may submit a claim to the Commonwealth that its financial circumstances arc such as to warrant an increase in the amount of compensation for any financial year subsequent to 1042-43.

That recommendation means that, ultimately, the Commonwealth must accept the financial responsibilities of the States. Why is it that the Commonwealth Government, in opposition to the desires of the State governments, intends to introduce uniform taxation proposals? The reason is, not that the proposal is popular, but that financial necessity compels the Commonwealth to do so. It is being done to assure an equitable distribution of the burden of taxation throughout Australia. If taxes are to be spread equitably over the whole community, the members of the community should share equitably in the distribution of benefits .paid .for out of taxation. Those who make equal contributions to revenue .should share equally in social services. The clause as it stands will enable a widow in New South Wales to receive £97 1.0s. a year, whereas in any other State a widow will not be able to draw more than £65 a year. There is no equity in that. I agree with the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) that the time has come for us to adopt a true national outlook in these matters. I was amused at the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), who said unblushingly that he was a supporter of unification. I remind him that, under unification, widows would receive the same rate of pension whether they lived in Darwin or Hobart.

Mr Harrison - No. Rates would vary in different localities.

Mr JOLLY - I make no apology for this amendment, and I assure the Minister that I have consulted nobody in connexion with this matter. As a matter of fact, the honorable gentleman knows that I have already expressed to him privately my strong opinions in favour of introducing a uniform system of social services throughout the Commonwealth. I am a great supporter of uniform taxation,, but I am not prepared to subscribe to that policy unless, at the same time, we have a scheme of uniform social services.

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