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Tuesday, 21 June 1949


Mr HOLT (Fawkner) .- I shall not retard the passage of this measure. However, for reasons best known to himself, the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) threw into the ring the subject of uniform taxation. The Chair has just indicated to my colleague the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) that that matter cannot be debated at any length during discussion of this bill. I point out that the whole of the Minister's speech, short though it was, dealt with this item and no other. We of the Opposition ask for a corresponding privilege. As the representative of a Victorian constituency, the Minister should be fully conscious of the circumstances in which that legislation was first introduced to the Parliament, the assurance given by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), who is also now Prime Minister, and the way that it has since operated unfairly against the citizens of Victoria. I shall make two references for the purpose of illustration. When the Treasurer introduced the legislation on the 15th May, 1942, he said that the Government was bringing about a single taxation authority for the period of the war and for one year thereafter, and that the bill would provide machinery for the temporary transfer to the Commonwealth of certain State taxation staffs. He repeated that pledge in his 1942 budget speech, and included a similar undertaking in section 16 of the Income Tax (War-time Arrangements) Act, which states -

This Act shall continue in operation until the last day of the first financial year to commence after the date on which His Majesty ceased to be engaged in the present war, and no longer.

This was the undertaking given at the time. We protested then that the impact of this legislation in that form would result in a serious injustice to Victoria. In 1945, the average increase of collections under uniform tax over the separate Federal and State income , taxes in 1940-41 in the four States other than Victoria and South Australia was 145 per cent. The increase in South Australia under uniform taxation was 198 per cent. The increase in Victoria was 231 per cent. That was an enormous difference. The people accepted the new arrangement at the time, because they were given an assurance that it was purely a war-time measure. Injustices to the people of Victoria will not be alleviated until the uniform tax legislation is repealed. The Minister, a Victorian ^representative, has asked what the attitude of the Opposition is on this subject. My reply is that any government drawn from this side of the House will review the uniform taxation legislation and see that a reasonable measure of justice is done to all of the States.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

The bill.







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