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Tuesday, 29 September 1942

Mr SPENDER (Warringah) .- As the clause is drawn, this concession would apparently, apply to part-time members of the defence forces, such as members of the Volunteer Defence Corps. I do not think that the Government ever intended that it should apply to men whose association with the forces may be confined to a period of eight or ten days in camp. Whilst I agree. with the principle of a flat rate of exemption, I believe that it should apply only to members of the fighting forces. The concession was designed for the benefit of members of the fighting forces, not because they were in uniform, but because they were fighting, or could be called upon to fight. On this principle, also, the flat rate exemption is justified, because the concession is properly related to the service which the taxpayer is rendering to his country, and not to the amount of his income.

Mr CURTIN (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Does the honorable member suggest that the principle of disappearing exemptions should not apply to members of the fighting services ?

Mr SPENDER - I do. I say that there ought to be a flat rate, irrespective of rank, and irrespective of pay and allowances. I also maintain that, since the concession should extend only to members of the fighting services, there is no reason why it should apply, for instance, to some members of the pay corps, who, though in uniform, are engaged upon duties exactly similar to those which they performed in peace-time. I summarize my submissions by stating that the concession should be given only to those engaged on full-time defence work, and then only to persons in operational units or such units or personnel as the Governor in Council shall from time to time determine.

That is designed to cover cases which are difficult to provide for under a specific formula. I recognize that some men not in operational units may, because they are serving in lines of communication, for instance, be as much entitled to the concession as those serving in operational units.

Mr Curtin - The honorable member's proposal would give the government of the day, as distinct from the Parliament, discretion to determine who should be taxed and who should not. That is an entirely new principle.

Mr SPENDER - I agree that taxation should be exact, but in the matter of deductions and allowances, the principle is already admitted that discretion may be left in the hands of some one other than Parliament - the Commissioner of Taxation, for example. The difficulty is in finding a proper formula.

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