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Wednesday, 25 November 1959


Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) .- It is not often that I agree with the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on anything, but I do agree with him when he is right.


Mr Harold Holt - More often than you will admit, publicly.


Mr CALWELL - I agree with him privately with regard to the desirability of certain things happening. He does not always see eye to eye with me as to the practicability of a suggestion though he might see some merit in it. However, he has to deal with other people and, of course, he cannot be expected to get his own way in everything. But I do agree with him on this bill because he is right. 1 wish he would give me more public opportunity in that respect.

This bill, though simple enough in its wording, is very necessary. The Treasurer proposes that we shall have a second Second Commissioner of Taxation because of the increase in the work of the Taxation Branch. If inflation continues, of course, we might need, in the space of a year or so, a third Second Commissioner of Taxation, or maybe, a fourth. It is true that, since 1916, for a variety of reasons - most of them not under the control of anybody in this country - arising out of wars, depressions and the like, the taxation imposed on the people of Australia has grown very considerably.


Mr Bandidt - Australia has grown, too.


Mr CALWELL - Of course, Australia has grown. I am sorry that, in our time and generation, we have not 30,000,000 or 40,000,000 fellow Australians to share the burden of taxation and also to help by their contributions to make this country greater and greater still. The Minister has said that we have additional taxes. So we have. We have sales tax. I do not know whether it was by accident or design that he did not mention the pay-roll tax. That is not a very popular tax with a lot of people.


Mr Harold Holt - No tax is popular with a lot of people.


Mr CALWELL - Of course. No tax is popular with anybody. All taxation is confiscation; it is just a matter of degree. In 1941, the Treasurer was responsible for introducing the pay-roll tax. He has had to submit to a lot of criticism in recent times, but that tax was introduced for a very real purpose and that purpose still exists. However, pay-roll tax was not mentioned in the speech, but I can imagine that it occasions a good deal of work in the department, the same as other forms of taxation do.

Then, of course, there was the uniform taxation decision handed down by the High Court of Australia, to the great surprise and consternation of the Treasurer of the day. Nobody expected the High Court to declare that uniform taxation could be levied in time of peace. But that, too, has increased the work of the Taxation Branch, and I am very happy to know, and I hope all right-thinking Australians are, too, that uniform taxation is here to stay.

The Treasurer wishes this bill to go through very quickly, and we will give it all the support we can. I was intrigued by the observation in the Treasurer's second-reading speech that -

Administration has been accomplished by delegating authority to assistant commissioners, directors and deputy commissioners to undertake duties and functions that normally would have been performed by statutory officers.

I presume that there is no need to have any validating legislation passed now or in the future to make sure that any decision made by those officers was in accordance with the law of the land.

May I say, even though it may seem to be a little outside the Standing Orders, that this will probably be the last bill which the present Commissioner of Taxation will be responsible for before his retirement next year. If we do not see him here, sitting in the precincts of the House and advising on taxation measures, we will still think of him as a very kindly, generous gentleman who always gave us as much assistance as the law would allow. He leaves his office with great credit to himself, and with the kind regards of all officers and members who have served in this Parliament in the nineteen years that I have had the honour to be a member of it.







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