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Thursday, 10 September 1942

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) . I.' direct attention to the necessity for the Government to do something to stimulate the production of tin in this country. Prior to the entry of Japan into the war the great bulk of the tin requirements of the British Empire and the United States of America was drawn from Malaya, but with the loss of that country to Japan its tin deposits are no longer available to the United Nations. Australia has never been a great tin producing country, although it did have an exportable surplus of tin until recently. Owing to the increased demand for this metal for the making of munilions more tin than ever is required, but there is a diminishing supply owing to the unprofitable price paid for this metal. The present price of tin is profitable in some districts but not in others with the result that there is a decline of production. The tin industry is a protected undertaking; men engaged in tin mining are exempt from the military call-up, but that fact has not prevented the drift of a large number of men from the Tingha, Torington, and Emmaville districts of New South Wales to more profitable jobs with the Department of Munitions and the Allied Works Council. Most of the tin mined in Australia is won by small groups of miners, but it is not possible for them to continue to produce this metal at the prices now ruling. One would have thought that in the matter of such importance as the production of tin the control would be in the hands of the Department of Supply and Development which needs the product, and with the Controller of Metals Production, Mr. Malcolm Newman, a most competent man with a wide experience; but neither Mr. Newman nor the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley) is in a position to stimulate tin production unless the Prices Commissioner agrees as to the price. I have brought this matter before the Prices Commissioner, as well as before the Controller of Metals Production. I raise it now in this chamber so that should there be any shortage in the future it will not be because the Government was not warned. I am convinced that unless prompt action be taken many men now engaged in tin mining will leave the industry never to return to it.

The control of aliens i3 a matter of some importance to many districts in Australia, including the district of Richmond. When the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) was speaking the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) asked by way of interjection, whether these persons are not liable to be called up for national service. The point is that a great majority of the Australians who enlisted did so before persons engaged in rural industries were granted a general exemption from military service in April last. Many sons of farmers enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, or were otherwise called up for service, whilst aliens were not called upon for the labour corps until a month or two before the general exemption was granted. The consequence is that in many districts aliens in the same military group as farmers' sons who have been called up have remained undisturbed. This has caused great dissatisfaction in many districts, because aliens have been able to enjoy the higher prices and better conditions which have resulted from the diminished quantity of goods available. There has also been a certain amount of tax evasion by these aliens. I have reason to believe that they sell their products in small parcels to several different agents and cash their cheques at the stores as soon as they get them. They keep no record of their transactions and submit no, taxation returns. This may be true, too, of some Australians, but I am informed that it is a fairly common practice among aliens. I have no specific cases to bring to the notice of the Government, but my information was provided by[ reputable people. I suggest that the taxation authorities should investigate the matter.

Mr Calwell - The taxation authorities have been chasing tax dodgers of all nationalities for several years.

Mr ANTHONY - I am aware of that fact, but there are special reasons why individuals of the class to whom I refer should be brought to book. If necessary, special regulations should be framed to cover these cases. All i aliens should be called upon to keep proper books of accounts whatever may be the volume of their transactions.

There is good ground, also, for special attention to be paid to other tax evaders in the community, particularly now that taxes are imposed at such high rates. I have had my attention directed to the fact that many professional men, such as doctors and dentists, 'are not giving receipts in these days for money paid to them, and consequently the money they receive cannot be traced.

Mr Coles - Are we a nation of "crooks"?

Mr ANTHONY - I make no such accusation. I simply emphasize the need for the authorities to keep a sharp lookout for tax evaders. If dishonest people in the community evade their taxes, the honest people will be required to contribute larger amounts to the revenue. The matter requires the fullest investigation.

Mr Calwell - Is the honorable gentleman able to say whether it is true that certain doctors are in the habit in those days of giving their services free in certain cases, so that their income will not become taxable at the heaviest rates ?

Mr ANTHONY - I do not know whether that is so or not. I am aware, however, that certain people make no effort to increase their income beyond a certain figure, because to do so would involve them in heavier taxation. I understand that some individuals who have been earning an income of, say, £3,000 a year, are not at all disturbed in these days if their income does not exceed £1,000 a year. I realize the difficulty of meeting the situation, but I suggest that special regulations could be framed to deal with the worst cases.

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