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Tuesday, 30 July 1946

Mr MOUNTJOY (Swan) .- As I have listened to the arguments of honorable members opposite I have noticed that many" of their arguments cancel one another. The speech of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) would give one the impression that only those sitting on the Opposition benches know anything of poverty. I was the youngest member of a family of nine, and my father worked from daylight till dark for 5s. a day. As a young married man I had to maintain a wife and family on £3 8s. a week. I claim to know more of the struggles of .the working man than does the ' honorable member for Darwin. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said that there was not sufficient money in circulation to give a fillip to industry, but according to the honorable member for Darwin the trouble is that there is plenty of money but nothing to buy with it. The honorable member for Balaclava also spoke of the prevalence of blackmarkets, but I point out that blackmarketing arises from a shortage of goods and large purchasing power in the hands of the public. If people have not money to spend there can be no blackmarket. Both the honorable member for

Balaclava and the honorable member 'for Darwin endeavoured to compare the tax paid by a single man with that paid by a married man with a family, but they resolutely refused to give any figures to show what tax was payable before the reduction was made. The former said that it was a pity that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) had not circulated figures showing the effect of his proposals. The honorable member for Balaclava said -

If the right honorable gentleman gave that information and at the same time made a forecast of the proposed future reductions it would go a long way to restoring the optimism of the people.

The honorable member has received a copy of the figures to which I shall now refer. They show that a single man in receipt of an income of £125 a year paid £6 ls. in income tax under the 1943 schedule, and will pay £3 4s. under the proposed schedules - a reduction of £2 17s., or 47.1 per cent. A single man on £200 a year paid £21 17s. in tax under the 1943 schedule and will pay £12 18s. under the proposed schedules, representing a reduction of £8 19s., or 41 per cent. A single man on £300 a year paid £55 under the 1943 schedules >and will pay £40 under the proposed schedules, the reduction being £15 or 27.2 per cent. Similarly, on an income of £500 a single man .paid £136 13s. under the 1943 schedule and will pay £98 7s. under the proposed new schedules, the reduction in this case being £38 6s., or 28.1 per cent. An income of £500 a year, of course, is considerably above that derived by the average worker. Let us compare now the payments by a single man under the proposed schedules with those of a married man with two children. A married man with two children, on an income of £500 a year, paid £80 17s. under the 1943 schedules, and will pay £58 ls. under' the proposed schedules, representing a reduction of £22 16s. or 28.2 per cent. Therefore, at this income level, a married man with two children will pay £58 ls., compared with £98 7s. paid by a single man. It is quite true that in some- cases the tax concessions now provided for represent only small weekly reductions. For instance, a married man with one child, in receipt of £250 a year, which is about the basic wage, will pay only £5 4s. a year under the proposed schedules, and, of course, will receive much more than that by way of social services. On. the same income, a married man with two children will pay only £2 2s. in tax. If there -be any merit in the arguments advanced by honorable members opposite that the Government is not giving sufficient concessions to taxpayers in the lower wage groups, it is that we should give all concessions to people in those groups and none to earners of higher incomes. With that I entirely agree. Let us look at the figures for incomes at the other end of the scale. A taxpayer with' an income from personal exertion of £5,000 a year . is to receive a reduction of only 6.8 per cent, compared with the 1945 schedules, or 16.6 per cent, compared with the 1943 schedules; but the latter reduction will be worth £586 5s. a year. When honorable members opposite talk about a flat rate reduction of 40 per cent., it is not difficult to see to what groups in the community such a. concession would be of most value. This apparent concern amongst Opposition members for members of the lower wage groups is so much political propaganda. Looking at a newspaper the other day I read that the Olympic Tyre Company had made £95,000 in profit during the last financial year, and that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited had paid out profits amounting to £750,000 after putting a substantial amount into reserves for taxation.

Mr Hutchinson - How many shareholders has the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited?

Mr MOUNTJOY - I am not talking about the shareholders. I am merely showing that the finances of these companies are in a buoyant' state, and that their turnover must be very high. Most industrial organizations are showing profits equal to or greater than/those of the war years. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said that, we should get back to pre-war taxation. He knows that is impossible.

Mr White - I said we should get as close to it as possible.

Mr MOUNTJOY - The honorable member said that we should get back to it. I have his words before me. He knows that social services are now costing £75,000,000 a year compared with £17,000,000 before the war. He is fully aware also that social services are a means of returning to people in the lower income groups some of the profits made by industry. In 1945-46, as has been pointed out in the financial statement, 48 per cent, of the budget war expenditure was made up as follows : - "


It is true that some of that expenditure is non-recurring, but war debt charges, for instance, will undoubtedly continue as they did after the war of 1914-18. Although we came through "World War II. practically unscathed, as far as material damage is- concerned, it cost much money and many lives. As the Treasurer's statement shows, war debt charges alone amounted to £42,000,000 last year. That sum is in addition to repatriation charges. These expenses must be met. We must face the fact that we cannot return to pre-war budgets immediately. Already taxation has been reduced by 22 per cent. - ranging from 6 per cent, on high incomes to 40 per cent, on low incomes - and it will continue to fall as expenditure goes down. Let us have a little more honesty in- our discussions. The agruments advanced by the honorable member for Balaclava, and the honorable member for. Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) are dishonestly designed to make people in the lower income groups believe that the Opposition will do something for them.

Dame Enid Lyons - I rise to order. I regard the remarks of the honorable member for Swan imputing to me dishonesty as personally offensive, and I ask that they be withdrawn.

The CHAIRMAN - The remarks of the honorable member for Swan are personally offensive to the honorable member for Darwin, and I ask him to withdraw them.

Mr MOUNTJOY - I withdraw them. The honorable member for Balaclava is the most confused speaker I have 'ever heard. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) also advanced arguments that were designed to confuse. As an ex-Treasurer, he should know better. I assume that we shall hear more from him in this debate. My main object in rising was to reply to honorable members opposite who have alleged that the taxation concessions proposed by the Government will mean only reductions of a few pence a week to taxpayers. ;They were not presenting a true picture. They should have shown what income tax will be paid and what the reductions mean in actual cash.

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