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Tuesday, 29 September 1942

Mr CHIFLEY (Macquarie) (Treasurer) . - in reply - I do not propose to deal with all the matters raised in the second-reading debate. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner) and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) raised the matter of the taxation of private companies. Their position will be examined ; but that examination cannot be made in this chamber while the bill is being passed. From time to time matters come to the

Taxation Office, which, prima facie, seem to have a lot of merit; but examination frequently discloses that they have none at all. This bill has been closely examined byme and my taxation officials, with the valuable assistance of the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) and the Special Committee on Taxation. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation of the work that has been done by the members of that committee. Its members, from the Government side and the Opposition side alike, have had a great deal of experience, technical and political, of taxation matters, and they have done most valuable work. I recall that when I was formerly a member of this Parliament governments did not have the assistance of such a committee, and the result was that taxation legislation was amended as it passed through the chamber, and very often the result was that, in seeking to correct certain anomalies, honorable members intensified them or created others. All the points raised by honorable members will be examined by the taxation officials, myself, as Treasurer, and the committee, which, I remind honorable members opposite, includes such qualified representatives as the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner). the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and Senator Spicer. If necessary, a further amending bill will be brought down. The only matter contained in this bill which was not dealt with by the special committee is that relating to the taxation of soldiers' pay. The Opposition members of the committee, on the ground that it was a matter of government policy, decided that it was not worth while going into that matter.

Mr Holt - The committee agreed to allow the matter to be dealt with when it came before Parliament.

Mr CHIFLEY - Yes. All the other aspectsof the bill were closely examined. In view of that, it would be foolish to fiddle about with this measure again. The matter of alimony has had the consideration of the committee, which recommended that it could be more properly dealt with by regulations than by amending legislation. Possibly the courts will be able to take into consideration the changed circumstances that have arisen as a result of the increased taxation. I hope that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) will inquire what can be done to meet the position. I think I have read in the newspapers that the registrars are already givingsome consideration to that matter in cases which come before them.

Contrary to the opinion of some other honorable members, I think that the system of rebates of tax is preferable to concessional deductions from income. We were told that it was not possible to prepare a ready reckoner that would completely satisfy needs; but I have had handed to me by the Taxation Office a most complete ready reckoner, possibly the best ever prepared in this country. It will save a tremendous amount of work for those who have to compute assessments in regard to companies and individuals. Honorable members will find the ready reckoner a most useful compilation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 -

After section twenty-three of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - "23a. - (1.) Where a person carries on mining operations in Australia (other than coal -mining) for the purpose of producing any base metal or rare mineral which is specified in the regulations as required for use in, or in connexion with, the prosecution of the present war, so much of the assessable income derived from those operations as is equal to twenty per centum of the amount remaining after deducting from that income -

(a)   all allowable deductions which relate to that income; and

(b)   any other allowable deductions, or part thereof, which, in the opinion of the Commissioner, may appropriately be related to that income, shall be exempt from income tax.".

Amendments (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -

That in proposed new section 23a (1.) the words " the purpose of producing " be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - " a purpose which includes the production of ".

That in proposed new section 23a (1.) the words " so much of the assessable income derived from those operations as is equal to twenty per centum of the amounts remaining after deducting from that income " be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - "an amount equal to twenty per centum of the amount remaining after deducting from the assessable income derived from those operations".

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