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Wednesday, 16 September 1942

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) .- I should like to be assured that this measure can be amended during the current financial year, and that we are not committed to paying all the money here provided for. I think that the States are receiving too much under this measure. All of them are showing surpluses, and their actual surpluses are twice as much as they show. Amending legislation should be brought in to reduce the amount which is now being paid to the States. We should not be giving away so much Commonwealth revenue while, at the same time, imposing taxes that bear so heavily upon the working classes. Again I repeat that the Treasurer ought to take from the States the £3,000,000 surpluses of which they have not disclosed, and should take a larger proportion of the surpluses which they have disclosed.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to8 p.m.

Mr CALWELL - In many cases, the amounts that the States have disclosed were more than the States were entitled to get from the Commonwealth. The Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, has intimated his intention to use his surplus for the purpose of repaying the holders of State securities. In war-time, no Premier should have so much money as to be able to reduce the indebtedness of the State. Such debts should not be reduced at a time when Commonwealth debts are increasing.

Mr Holt - The money should be invested in war loans.

Mr CALWELL - The money could be usefully employed in a number of ways in connexion with the war effort; but it should not be used for the purpose of discharging State indebtedness while the Commonwealth is obliged to raise a similar sum by imposing a tax on amusements. This bill may be bad for either of two reasons. If attendances at various forms of entertainment do not decline dnring this financial year, the Commonwealth Government will obtain too much money from this source, because the tax' that this bill imposes will, levied on the same number of people as attended various entertainments last year, bring in a much greater sum of money than the Government expects. But if attendances fall off substantially, the Commonwealth will not receive so much money as it expects, but the States will still get the amounts that are set out in the bill. In that event, they will receive too much money.

Because of the large unbridged gap between expenditure and revenue, I believe that the Treasurer will be obliged to present supplementary budget statements during the current financial year. On one of those occasions, he should amend the uniform income tax legislation, and the present measure, as they grant to the States sums of money in excess of their legitimate requirements for discharging the functions that are still left to the States in these days of war.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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