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Tuesday, 30 July 1946


Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) . - If the Minister's statements regarding taxation are no more accurate than that recently made by him with regard to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, we can write them off. In reply to a question which I asked upon notice, the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) has replied that the total amount of subsidy paid to that company was £100,000, although the Minister twice categorically denied that any subsidy had been granted. There has been a conflict of opinion between two distinguished and newly arrived members of this chamber. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) recently said that the great cure for inflation was to accelerate the velocity of money and not to worry about the actual amount. He stated, further, that, if money were put into the hands of the rich, it would merely go into the banks and into savings, and would not be put into circulation. This afternoon the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Mountjoy) said that, if money did get into the hands of the rich, it would be used for black marketing. I' have had a glance at the figures presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), and I have come to the conclusion that this proposal ought to bc called a bachelors' budget, because, however one measures the schedule, the reductions favour the bachelor as against the married man. It is of no use to argue that a man with a family has child endowment to assist him. The official figures show that a taxpayer in receipt of £250 a year, and without dependants, will get a tax reduction under these proposals of £9 17s. If he has a wife to maintain, his reduction will be only £5 7s. If he has a wife and child, he will receive a benefit of only £3 2s., and if he has a wife and two children he will be relieved of tax to the amount of 16s. If he had a wife and three children, perhaps he would be in further debt to the Treasury! The reduction allowed to a man in receipt of £300 a year, and with no dependants, amounts to £15. For a man on the same income, and with a wife, the reduction is only £10. If he has a wife and child he benefits ito the amount of £7 6s., .and, if he has a wife and two children, his reduction is only £5 lis. I turn now to taxpayers with an income of £500. In doing so I remind honorable members of the onslaughts made by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) on these " tall poppies " The Minister has said that no one should receive an income in excess of £500 a- year. Under the new schedule, a single taxpayer with an income of £500 will enjoy a reduction. of £38 6s., whereas a man. with a wife will receive a reduction of £33 13s.; a man with a wife and one child, a reduction of £24 18s.; and a man with a wife and two children, a reduction of £22 16s.- I shall deal now with the reductions in respect of a taxpayer with an income of £1,000, the man for whom the Labour party is said to have no time whatever. We on this side of the chamber are supposed to look after his interests. He is the bloated capitalist upon whom one would expect the Labour party to come down like a ton of bricks. But what do we find? A single man with an income of . £1,000 will enjoy a reduction of £82 ls., a man with a wife a reduction of £73 17s., a . man with a wife and one child a reduction of £67 14s., whilst a man with a wife and two children will also receive only a reduction of £67 14s. Thus, according to the Labour party's tax reductions it is just as profitable for a taxpayer to have one child as to have two. It is interesting to examine these figures from another view-point. A man with a wife and two children and an income of £250 a year is paying £2 18s. in tax, whereas a single man with the same income is paying £36 14s. in tax. So, according to the taxation principles of the Chifley Government, a married- man with a little extra in child endowment which, by the way, was provided by the

Menzies Government, is expected to keep a wife- -and two children on £33 16s. a year. This is arithmetic of which we must take notice. The Government must face these facts. The Opposition has not issued these proposals. I am surprised to be told that honorable members opposite have examined them carefully, because they include things which no Government can hope to persuade the country to accept. The deductions as worked out by the Treasurer in percentages would look amazing if one did not calculate what they really meant. For instance, the reduction of tax to be enjoyed by a single man with an income of £125 a year is shown to be 47.1 per cent. Taken as a rate that sounds perfect, but it actually works out at 9d.' a week. I suppose that honorable members opposite will go on the hustings and say to- persons on the lower ranges of income, "You poor fellows down on the lower rungs, looked at from the. Olympian heights of the treasury bench, will have a reduction of 47.1 per cent, in your tax, but in' actual cash, lads, that works out at 9d. a week ". I have a strong suspicion that when honorable members opposite try to argue these reductions in the light of certain criticisms which will be levelled at them from honorable members on this side, they will find that the Government's bachelor budget is not what it is cracked up to be. The remarks of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) contained much honest common sense. I have had occasion to refer to some of those matters in years gone by, but, to-day, they are vital matters. I refer particularly to the rebate system. I am amazed that the rebate system should ever have been introduced by a Labour government. I said so at the time it was introduced, -because all that the Government thereby seeks .to do is to dispense with the old- method under which a taxpayer was entitled to certain deductions in respect of his wife and children, and payments, such as, insurance premiums; whereas it now aims to get the highest possible rate in the £1 out of the taxpayers on the lower ranges of income. Honorable members opposite had much to say this afternoon about social service contributions. From the point of view of those people who have to pay, I have never been able to distinguish between income tax and social service contributions. First, the contribution is based on the same income; secondly, it is collected by the same method as income tax is collected; and, thirdly, under the Constitution, neither this, nor any other government, can do other than is being done now, namely, pay such money into Consolidated Revenue. AH of us know that all this talk about trust funds in the Commonwealth Treasury is eye-wash. They do not ' exist. There is only one big fund into which all receipts are paid. Honorable members opposite have had much to say about reductions of the interest rate. To-day, interest is a vanishing item in the nation's economy ; and we are approaching a stage when, with the huge savings that exist in the community and the limited reserve of goods and commodities for which those savings can be exchanged, the Government will have to give serious consideration to the payment of interest on an entirely new basis.


Mr Calwell - Is the honorable member suggesting repudiation?


Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - No ; and I do not think that honorable members opposite will suggest repudiation. However, I believe that I know the methods by which this Government will try to get out of its financial difficulties, should the people be so misguided to return it to office at the forthcoming general elections. Reverting to the list of percentage deductions, it sounds very well to say that a taxpayer with an income of £125 will receive a reduction of 47.1 per cent. On an income of £250 the reduction will bc 26.8 per cent.; and the percentage falls very steeply in the higher ranges of income, until it is down to- 15.6 per cent, on an income of £5,000. I do not complain about that, because on my experience of Labour governments in State and Commonwealth parliaments, if I were one of the big, wealthy capitalists in this country and wanted anything done I should always go to a Labour government to get it done. Big business has nothing to fear from a Labour government. The people who have most reason to watch o.ut for themselves when a Labour government is returned to office are those on the . lower ranges of income. They are the meat and marrow, brawn and brain of the community. The electors will have something to say about these reductions of tax.


The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member's time has expired.

Progress reported.

Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.







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