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Wednesday, 20 May 1942

Mr FALSTEIN (Watson) .- It is remarkable that honorable members opposite should propose an amendment which is patently intended to benefit persons having large estates.

Mr Ryan - Why?

Mr FALSTEIN - The amendment moved by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) proposes that in addition to the exemption limit of ?5,000 already granted in respect of the estate of a person who dies on war service, exemption should also be granted to an amount calculated at the rate of 3 per cent, per annum, compound interest for the period of normal expectation of life according to tables compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician. It is obvious that the majority of members of the fighting services do not own estates of a value greater than ?5,000. Indeed, how many of them would own estates valued at more than ?1,000? It is very patent that generally the value of estates of members of the fighting services would not exceed the exemption limit of ?5,000. That being so, why should an additional exemption be provided in respect of a sum computed at the rate of 3 per cent, per annum, compound interest for the normal period of expectation of life? How many members of our fighting services would qualify for such exemption? On the other hand, such a provision might operate unfairly to the advantage of estates up to a value of ?100,000. That could be the case should the owner of a very large estate be killed on active service at a comparatively youthful age. The Treasurer's proposal definitely expresses the Government's appreciation of the services being rendered by volunteers serving in the front line. I am under no illusion that very many civilians will perform service in this war equivalent to service in the front line.

Mr Holt - We propose that civilians be included.

Mr FALSTEIN - The Opposition's amendment would defeat its own purpose. The Treasurer's proposal definitely makes a distinction in favour of those persons who actually bear arms, as compared with civilians. I do not think that any honorable member opposite would suggest that no distinction should be made between men who da the actual fighting in the front, line and civilians.

Mr Holt - Has the honorable member studied the British practice?

Mr FALSTEIN - I am not concerned with the British practice. What this Parliament is concerned about is the best practice to be adopted in respect of Australians serving in this war.

Mr Holt - The honorable member knows what a Labour government did in the last war.

Mr FALSTEIN - I know that the Government of which the honorable member was a member did nothing in this war. The Treasurer's proposal adequately expresses the Government's appreciation of the distinction to be made between men actually serving in the front line and civilians who may become casualties but who are actually in the rear. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Wakefield is dearly designed to advantage members of the fighting forces who have large estates. In my opinion such persons should not be so advantaged. As one who is about to enter upon training for service in an air crew, and as one who may possibly be the subject of this particular provision, I am satisfied that the bill makes adequate provision in this respect.

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