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Wednesday, 16 September 1942

Mr BARNARD (Bass) .- The purpose of this bill is to raise, not some hundreds of thousands of pounds, as the honorable member for "Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) stated, but £3,250,000 for a complete financial year.

Mr Harrison - A few hundreds of thousands of pounds from each State.

Mr BARNARD - The statement of the honorable member was clear and unqualified. He implied that the tax would raise only a few hundreds of thousands of pounds. Honorable members must not overlook the fact that the Government requires additional revenues for the purpose of financing its ever-expanding war effort. Regardless of how the problem is approached, some people will always complain about the incidence of the tax. Such criticism is inevitable when money has to be extracted from the pockets of the people. No tax has yet borne equitably on the shoulders of every section, or every individual. No perfect system of taxation has yet been devised.

Mr Jolly - Taxation is never popular.

Mr BARNARD - Taxation is never popular, and it is never quite fair. But the fact remains that money has to be raised for the conduct of the war. The Government, in its wisdom - I use the word "wisdom" advisedly - has selected a tax on entertainments as a means of increasing its revenue. How can anybody reasonably object to taxing a luxury which people seek and enjoy. It is all very well to say that the tax is not in conformity with the principles of the Labour movement. I agree that it is not.

Mr Lazzarini - Nor is war in conformity with the principles of the Labour movement.

Mr BARNARD - The war has been forced upon us by a ruthless foe, and we have to accept the challenge. Honorable members must be realists. To wage this titanic struggle, we require everincreasing sums of money. The facts are inescapable. To finance the war effort, we must increase taxation above peace-time levels, and utilize the credit of the nation.

One thing that impelled me to speak on this measure is the fact that whenever taxation is mentioned, honorable gentlemen opposite raise the bogy of inflation. They exhibit the same kind of mind as precipitated the depression when, on the score of lack of money, thousands of men were thrown out of work in spite of the fact that all the material resources necessary for work to be undertaken were available. Talk about inflation has in- truded even into this debate about the necessity for the Commonwealth Government to enter the field of entertainments tax in order to raise some of the money needed to wage the war. The people to-day are more enlightened than they were in the depression years and the word " money " has lost much of its magic. Those who control finance have overplayed their hand.

Mr Collins - It is no disgrace to be without money, but it is mighty inconvenient.

Mr BARNARD - I concede that a mon has a better spring in his step when he has a £5 note in his pocket than when he is " broke " and hungry, but, at the same time, people are beginning to realize that in the scheme of things money is merely small change. The honorable member for Wentworth used catchphrases about forcing money from one corner to another, and went on to advocate the imposition of compulsory loans on the earners of small incomes.

Mr Beck - How do the earners of high incomes fare?

Mr BARNARD - They pay heavy taxes and so they should. That is their obligation to the community in which they live.

Mr Martens - But how they squeal!


Mr Beck - They have never squealed yet.

Mr BARNARD - Their representatives in Parliament make a lot of noise, whether it be squealing or not, on their behalf. Apart from that, national credit must be used in financing this war. The Opposition has labelled the use of the nation's credit resources as inflation, but, since the outbreak of war, national credit has been used, and it will be used increasingly as the war goes on, in spite of the same old cry from those who represent the entrenched vested interests of this country that we are inflating the currency.

Sir George Bell - Is the honorable member advocating inflation?

Mr BARNARD - The honorable member must not put words into my mouth. No one is more opposed to inflating the currency than I, because I know that the people who ultimately pay when inflation occurs are those who have least of the world's goods, but I am not opposed to a sensible use of the credit of the country by the Government, or the people's bank, but not by the banking institutions. I agree that public recreation is a necessity even in war-time; nevertheless it is a luxury from which the Government ought to be able to draw a reasonable amount of money. I, therefore, support the bill.

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