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Wednesday, 20 May 1942

Mr DUNCAN-HUGHES ("Wakefield) . - I move-

That after proposed new sub-section (1.) of new section nine the following new sub-section lie inserted: - ,: (1a.) From the duty payable on any estate from which a deduction is made in accordance with sub-section ( 1 . ) of this section there shall be deducted so much of the duties leviable in respect of the remainder of the estate as exceeds the sum which, if accumulated at compound interest at the rate of three per centum per annum from the date of death with halfyearly rests would, at the expiration of the period of the normal expectation of life of a person of the age of the deceased at the time of death (calculated in accordance with the Australian Life Tables published by the Commonwealth Statistician) amount to the whole of the duties so leviable.".

The amendment is stated in highly technical language, but I submit it to honorable members in the form in which it appears in the English act, re-drafted by the Solicitor-General's staff, with only slight variations to bring it into line with our bill. The purpose of the amendment is to apply to Australia a provision which has been in force in Great Britain for the last 28 years. Tho effect of the amendment briefly is to provide that, in respect of the amount in excess of the first £5.000 of the value of an estate, the tax due shall be calculated by deducting from the amount for which the estate would ordinarily be taxed by the amount by which it would be taxed based on a calculation of the expectation of life of the deceased. I discussed this aspect in my second-reading speech, and pointed out that, in my view, it was only reasonable that if a man were killed in the prime of life his estate should not be treated for estate duty as though he had lived for the length of time which, on an actuarial basis, he might have expected to live. The expectation of life in Australia is higher than it is in Great Britain. I consider that it is not reasonable that the estate of a man who dies, say, 50 years earlier than he might have been expected to die should be treated as though lie had lived the full term that he might have been expected to live. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) had a few words to say about the introduction of amendments of this nature at the present stage. I point out to him this is the first opportunity we have had this year to move amendments of this description.

Mr Lazzarini - The amendments could have been foreshadowed.

Mr DUNCAN-HUGHES - This one was foreshadowed in my second-reading speech. Moreover, the honorable memmer for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) made a similar proposal of this description in this House on the 26th November last, when he said -

I suggest that the Government might consider the propriety of including such a provision in the Commonwealth law on this subject.

It is now claimed that the matter is sprung on the Government at the last minute.

Mr Chifley - As a matter of fact, it was considered and rejected by the special committee.

Mr DUNCAN-HUGHES - That surely does not prevent any honorable member from expressing his views?

Mr Chifley - I admit that it does not.

Mr DUNCAN-HUGHES - So far as I know, and without disparaging any other honorable member, the honorable member for Fawkner has taken more interest in this matter than has been taken by all the other Opposition members of the committee combined. He is perfectly entitled and, if I may say so, amply competent, to express his view. I need not elaborate the point. The amendment, with the slightest variation, in order to bring it into line with Australian conditions, follows the provision in the British Act, which has been in existence for 28 years. It has been altered and amended by an officer of the Solicitor-General's staff. It is exceedingly complicated, I admit; it i3 rather the work of an accountant than of a lawyer or a parliamentarian. But it has served the purpose of ensuring that the age of a man who loses his life, and his expectation of life, shall be taken into account in reducing the tax he would normally have to pay.

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