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Wednesday, 16 September 1942

Mr FADDEN (Darling DownsLeader of the Opposition) . - Members of the Opposition do not oppose this measure because we recognize, perhaps better than any one else, the necessity which confronts the Treasurer to tap every available source of revenue in an attempt to bridge the gap between receipts and expenditure. In pursuance of the adoption of a policy of uniform taxation, the Commonwealth is now free to impose a tax upon entertainments and amusements, a field which was previously reserved for the exclusive use of the States. This field has now been vacated by the States, which are to be compensated under an arrangement which will be the subject of legislation that is to be introduced later.

It would be unwise for the Government to prevent in war-time the holding of organized sports which, in moderation, serve a useful purpose in maintaining morale, and providing that relaxation which is necessary after a week's hard work. Those forms of sport which are wasteful of resources, and do not give a full measure of relaxation, should be investigated, and eliminated or reduced as far as possible. Hitherto, the Commonwealth Government has refrained from imposing a tax on entertainments because of an agreement with the States that this field should be enjoyed exclusively by them. In addition, the revenue that would have been obtained if a Commonwealth tax had been superimposed ;on the State taxes would have been small. The introduction of a uniform entertainments tax will overcome that difficulty. If, in the future, the Government finds that it is necessary to increase the rate of tax, the alteration will be introduced with a minimum of administrative adjustment, and without the necessity for making an allowance for the different rates that have, to date, operated in the various States.

When considering this bill, honorable members should realize that the revenue which the Commonwealth will derive from the introduction of this measure will assist in the proper conduct of the war and the preservation of our people. Personally, I hope that the bill will be only a temporary measure, but at this juncture, no one can prophesy how long it will remain in force. A tax on entertainments should be the means of reducing the spending capacity of the people. From this source the Government expects to obtain £2,400,000 during the remainder of this financial year, and £3,250,000 for a complete year. How the Government arrived at that estimate I do not know. No doubt, the Treasurer was guided by the experience of the States in the collection of entertainments tax. But if the Government considers that their experience provides an accurate guide, it is obvious that the Treasurer does not expect that the bill will be anything other than a measure to raise revenue. He has evidently given no consideration to the major necessity for reducing the spending power of the people in order to divert more money to the war effort.

Mr.Calwell. - How would the Leader of the Opposition divert the money?

Mr FADDEN - By a system of postwar credits. Unfortunately, the Government will not adopt that sensible proposal. Honorable members should not overlook the fact that out of £2,400,000 which the Commonwealth expects to collect from the entertainments tax for the remainder of this financial year, the States will receive £600,000 as compensation for vacating the field. The sum of £1,800,000 will be a meagre contribution towards bridging the gulf of £300,000,000 between estimated expenditure and revenue during the current financial year.

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