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Tuesday, 24 November 1959

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The Chair is taking care of that.

Mr TURNBULL - At least I am not talking about glassware and other things that were referred to by the honorable member for Batman. As I was saying, no sales tax was payable if the trailer was fitted with a pair of shafts. Week after week and month after month I fought this provision in the sales tax legislation until it was suggested that the honorable member tor Wimmera - which was my electorate at that time - did not understand the position regarding sales tax. I said at the time, " You can buy a trailer, take off the shafts and throw them in the nearest dam, buy a drawbar for £2 10s. and fit it, and thereby save yourself £27 10s." But the Labour Government could not see the force of my argument. We continued to fight, and finally we got the position rectified and the tax abolished. When the honorable member for Batman reads some of my remarks in "Hansard", I suggest that he read all of them. When he has read some of the things I have said on the subject of sales tax he may have a clearer knowledge of what went on in this House before he was elected.

So far as the bill itself is concerned, the Minister has told the complete story in his second-reading speech. If I were to canvass that story it would simply amount to what is called tedious repetition. Labour supporters have said that the country people will buy most of these station wagons-

Mr Bird - Station vans.

Mr TURNBULL - Or station vans, and will convert them and carry their children and other people about. Only the other day, a Labour member referred to the Jaguars and other big cars that the men on the land have. The Labour Party would have us believe that the man on the land is so prosperous that he would not need to buy a station wagon at a lower rate of sales tax and convert it for passenger use. The Labour Party, of course, changes its attitude to the question whether the country is prosperous or not. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition this afternoon suggested that if the country is prosperous and the Government does not need the extra money it should not bother about rectifying this anomaly. The honorable member for Lalor, however, contends that the country is in a very bad state, and, indeed, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggests that we are on the brink of a depression. That is their attitude when it suits them. They cannot have it both ways.

In any case, it does not matter, from the point of view of a consideration of this bill, whether the country is prosperous or not. If the Labour Party believes that sales tax is too high, let its supporters advocate a reduction. Let them fight for it. They might get more support than they think. But they will not get any support by opposing a bill the only purpose of which is to correct an anomaly. If the Government decides that 30 per cent., is the rate of sales tax that should be applied to these vehicles, then, whether the decision is right or wrong, that is the rate according to the law of the country, and the law must be upheld. The question is not whether the rate is too high or too low. The Labour Party is simply trying to follow the popular line of advocating lower taxes,, without concerning itself with upholding the law.

Let me make this statement, and the honorable member for Batman can read it in " Hansard " in the future: I support the bill. I believe the law of this land must be upheld. This does not mean that I am opposed to Labour members advocating lower sales, tax. The honorable member for Lalor is continually interjecting. If he would just keep quiet for a few minutes, he would look better and sound better. He would be given credit for possessing a bit more sense, and we would appreciate his presence in this House much more than we do at the moment.

This bill is merely a machinery measure designed to overcome an anomaly and to prevent a section of the motor trade taking an unfair advantage; The practice could spread to other dealers who are at present selling these vehicles- at the correct rate of tax. We are told that the loss of revenue at present amounts to £300,000 a year. If the change in the legislation is not made, the loss of revenue could, within the next few years* increase to £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 a year. The Government has made its financial arrangements for the current year; and it must rectify any anomalies' that it finds, which may reduce the amount of revenue that it can expect to receive, and which it must obtain to cope with its very heavy commitments, such as in the field of social services.

I support the bill: I believe it is in the best interests of the country, because I believe it is designed to uphold the law.

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