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Wednesday, 16 September 1942

Mr SPOONER (Robertson) .- The Government has done well in taking this second step towards complete uniformity of taxation and the proper organization of finance in Australia. The revenue from the entertainments tax will be small in comparison with the revenue for which the Government has budgeted ; but this legislation is a natural corollary to the uniform income tax to which this Parliament has already agreed. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) has no cause for complaint, because this bill will do exactly what he says should be done, namely, extend the principle of uniformity in taxation. The measure follows the principle established in the uniform income tax legislation, in that it compensates the States for the amount of revenue which they will cease to collect by vacating the field of entertainments tax. As the result Queensland, which had no entertainments tax, is not entitled to any compensation under this measure, and New South Wales, which had a relatively light entertainments tax, will receive relatively small compensation, whereas Victoria and South Australia, which complained that their compensation was not enough under the uniform income tax, will receive relatively high compensation under this measure. Accordingly, Victoria and South Australia are not so vociferous in their protests against this legislation as they were against the uniform income tax. If the Government applies that principle all the way through the field of taxation, there can be no objection from States which, in their wisdom, have in the past properly exercised their taxing powers.

In the last couple of weeks I have asked the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) whether he has heard of a proposal by the Government of New South Wales to impose a new land tax, but his replies have not been very definite.

Mr Chifley - I did not see the scheme until yesterday.

Mr SPOONER - For the last two or three months the details of the scheme have been anticipated in the press, and a State Minister unofficially foreshadowed early legislation. For that reason I urge the Commonwealth Government to proceed quickly with the extension of the principle of uniformity in taxation to the land tax field. I shall have no complaints if the State of New South Wales receives no compensation from the Commonwealth by reason of the fact that it has no land tax, and if the States, which do levy land tax, receive from the Commonwealth as compensation amounts equal to what they would have obtained had their land tax legislation continued. But I should complain if New South Wales, by imposing a new land tax, placed certain revenues beyond the reach of the Commonwealth Treasury, and if the effect of that were that the individual taxpayer would have the advantage of a deduction from his personal income tax return, so that the Commonwealth would be paying a large proportion of the land tax received into the coffers of the State Government. The reason advanced for the proposal to impose a new land tax in New South Wales is that the revenue derived from it will provide a fund for repatriation. I ask the Commonwealth to deal with this matter immediately and to say just who is the authority in Australia to deal with the repatriation of Australian soldiers. This bill is the second step towards uniformity of taxation, and I ask the Government to hesitate no longer than is necessary in proceeding with the third step, namely, the imposition of a uniform land tax.

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