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Tuesday, 29 September 1942

Mr CHIFLEY (Macquarie) (Treasurer) . - The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has touched on a delicate subject. I have received several letters which indicate that certain localgoverning bodies are increasing their rates. For that reason I have caused inquiries to be instituted to discover whether the move in that direction is widespread. I have also drawn the attention of the Government of New South Wales to the matter, pointing out that it is causing some concern. Such action by the local-governing bodies could be dealt with in two ways: First, steps could be taken to prevent such increases, and, secondly, increases of rates could be allowable deductions for income tax purposes.

Mr Spender - Increases of rates could be made only with the consent of the Treasurer.

Mr CHIFLEY - In either case the result would probably be unsatisfactory. It seems to be rather impertinent for local-governing bodies to increase rates at a time when they are unable to render the service that they formerly provided for their ratepayers. Because of war conditions, it is not practicable for localgoverning bodies to maintain their roads in the order that was formerly reckoned to be desirable, for road-making machinery has been requisitioned for other purposes and man-power is not available for normal road work, nor are ratepayers able to use the roads as much as they formerly did because of petrol shortages and other restrictions. I am having the subject examined, and I shall refer it to Cabinet in due course.

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