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Wednesday, 30 November 1960

Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- At the outset, let me thank the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) for bringing to the attention of the Parliament certain restrictive trade practices which have an important bearing on the import position which is so closely allied to the legislation under discussion. I am extremely grateful to the honorable member for the lengths to which he went to give me answers which were more satisfactory than those given by Ministers on important questions of this nature. As the honorable member for Hindmarsh mentioned, restrictive trade practices indulged in by Conference shipping lines are seriously affecting our returns from imports and causing the Government to lose control of the economic situation. This is exemplified by the legislation under discussion. I am gratified to know that the honorable member for Hindmarsh has noticed these important matters and has given me the benefit of his extensive knowledge.

Mr Jones - It would be an improvement to make him a Minister.

Mr DALY - It would probably be a very desirable improvement and in due course it may be achieved. In the course of this debate it has been quite apparent to members on this side of the Parliament that Government supporters are deliberately ignoring the pledges on which they were elected. In case the people have forgotten it should be made generally known that the Government was elected as a tax-reduction government. Whether Government supporters belong to the Liberal Party or the Australian Country Party, that was the policy on which they were elected. I intend, at the outset of my discussion of this measure which will raise taxation from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent., and from 161 per cent, to 25 per cent, on the products of one section of industry, to show the background of the Government, its repudiation of its pledges, and the fact that, by direct and indirect means, it has raised substantially the cost of living for every person in the community, particularly by substantial increases in taxation.

As I have said, this is supposed to be a tax-reduction government. In a policy speech made to this country on 10th November, 1949, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stated -

We still believe that rates of taxation must be steadily reduced, as national production and income rise, and as economies are effected in administration.

We will institute a prompt overhaul of the Taxation laws by a competent commitee, to simplify the Statutes and remove anomalies.

We will review the incidence of indirect taxes (which are a huge though sometimes unrecognized item in Australia) upon basic wage and cost of living items and housing costs.

That was the Prime Minister's pledge to start with. Let me now run through some of the Liberal Party's election dodgers which were distributed throughout the country. In one entitled " The Australian woman . . . her future and opportunity ", it is stated -

The Liberal Party is a tax reduction party.

In another leaflet, under a nice photograph of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) the following appears: -

If you have saved enough money to buy a car, they make you pay 10 per cent, of its cost for the privilege of buying it.

It was 10 per cent, then! Now the Minister is supporting a Government proposal to raise sales tax on cars to 40 per cent., an all-time record!

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - When was the rate of sales tax only 10 per cent.?

Mr DALY - That was at the time of the Chifley Government. In 1950 the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) was so excited about the Liberal Party's tax reduction policy that he had a leaflet prepared in Italian. I cannot read it, but there is a nice photograph of himself, and his name, which is underneath the photograph, is the only thing which appears in English. It has the word " Socialismo " on top of it, and no doubt the Italian passages underneath describe the Government's socalled tax reduction policy in an effort to pull the wool over the eves of the electors. I could run through these dodgers indefinitely if only to remind those who sit here to-day under false pretences of the promises that they have ignored. Another Liberal dodger is entitled "The Victorian woman ". This sets out a policy on which the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) was elected. It says -

Much indirect taxation is purely government robbery to provide funds for fantastic experiments that would have no place in a practical Liberal government's plans. Taxation relief will be provided for industry, to enable it to function at a high productive level.

Did you ever hear such hypocrisy as this? Another dodger was issued by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean), who is known in this Parliament as the red Dean because he was elected on Communist Party preferences. It states -

The Liberal Party will reduce taxation. Stop wasteful government expenditure - and your £ will buy more.

Another leaflet issued by the Prime Minister, a beautiful publication printed no doubt at great cost to the private banks, says under the heading "Taxation" -

The Prime Minister said: " We can confidently look forward to making still further reduction of tax in our next Budget ".

I want honorable members to listen to these things because later in my speech I shall give details ot what the average person is paying in taxes under this Government. The point I make after reading these matters is that this Government was elected on a pledge to reduce taxes, both direct and indirect, yet we find that although in 1949 the government of this country was getting what might be described as a mere pittance from direct and indirect taxes, this year every citizen and every family in the country pays more in both direct and indirect taxes than they have paid at any other time in history. And this, I repeat, under a government pledged, in all the literature I have been reading to the House, to reduce taxes and indelibly recorded on the minds of the people as being elected on a policy of reducing taxes. Although the Government may laugh as much as it likes, the public outside knows that it has repudiated its pledges. That is why honorable members opposite have been condemned, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh has said, by the tycoons who put them into office. They are condemned because the tycoons know that they have neglected to honour the promises on which they were falsely elected.

Let me bring the House up to date on the level of taxation in this country, because I think it is well to remind honorable members opposite of their sordid past. Here is what a speaker on the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill 1949, had to say on 19th October, 1949, as recorded at page 1658 of " Hansard "-

Pay-roll tax, land tax, and sales tax must also be elements of the cost of production that must be passed on to the public in the form of increased prices.

He went on -

The items that I have mentioned have an immediate and direct impact upon the cost of living and also upon the weight of the burden that rests upon the taxpayers of the nation.

And who was the speaker who made that statement? It was the right honorable gentleman who is the Treasurer in this present Government, who brought down the Budget last August and who introduced this measure only a few days ago. He went on to say -

Despite the proposed reductions-

We of the Labour Government were reducing sales tax under that measure - the sales tax is expected to yield £35,000,000 or more in the current year - -

But this year, this present Government is taking £77,000,000 from the motor industry alone! He continued - or £5 a head per annum, or at least £20 per annum for the average Australian family.

That is the present Treasurer, crying about the things that happened when the Labour Government had levelled out sales tax to a rate of 8i per cent., preparatory to abolishing the tax, which was intended, in the first place, to be a temporary measure. Now we come back to the tame cats on the Government benches who were the roaring lions in Opposition in the days of the Labour Government. " Hansard " reports the present Treasurer as saying, on 10th April, 1946-

As all honorable members have pointed out from time to time, sales tax is a most unsatisfactory tax, because its incidence does not, as the income tax does, relate to the circumstances of the person who has to pay it. The sales tax bears heavily upon the family man in the lower income ranges, who carries a much heavier burden, proportionately, in sales tax than in income tax. This tax has a depressing effect upon industry and causes increased prices. That, of course, in turn, has a deadening effect upon economic development. I therefore ask the Government to investigate, before the budget is presented, the practicability of granting substantial reductions of the rates of sales tax.

These words are taken from a speech made in this Parliament by the present Treasurer in the days when he realized the importance of abolishing this tax because of its effect on the cost of living. Do not forget that, like his colleagues, the Treasurer was. elected to office on a tax reduction policy. What approach must other members of the Parliament make to a Treasurer and a Government, knowing their backgrounds, knowing the promises on which they were elected, having heard and having read the speeches that they made in this House when they were in Opposition. If I had the time I could read a dozen more statements on the subject of the effect of sales tax that were made by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), and which- were much more vehement against sales tax than were the statements made by the Treasurer, which I have just read. What must we think of a government which introduces a measure to impose sales tax of 40 per cent, on the motor industry alone, in addition to raising a record amount from taxes, indirect taxes in particular?

I point those matters out because they are tremendously important. At the present time this Government is taking more from the taxpayers through all avenues of taxation than his ever been taken from them. I have here a document, " The Taxpayers' Bulletin ", of Saturday, 20th August, 1960, issued by a great supporter of the Government - a friend of those on the other side of the chamber - Mr. McKellar White of the Taxpayers Association of New South Wales. He is a wellknown supporter of the Government. In this document he reveals, in a very telling way, the amount of taxes that this Government has taken and is taking from the people, despite its election pledges. He states that in 1961-62 the Government will take in an additional £441,000 in sales tax alone. It will take in an additional £265,000 in sales tax on motor vehicles, £150,000 in sales tax on silverware, £20,000 in tax on milk tanks, and £6,000 on sundry items. The document then goes on to deal with the tax burden, and shows that in 1938-39 the tax yield was £17 19s. 5d. a head of population. In 1948-49 it was £67 12s. lid. Under the Government's tax reduction policy the yield has risen to £135 2s. a head in 1959-60. In other words, since 1948-49 this Government has doubled the rate of tax on every individual in the community, under the policy of reducing taxes on which it was elected. Is it any wonder that business tycoons scream, and that people in the lower income brackets are resentful of the Government's policy? In the last full financial year of the Chifley Government the average family of husband, wife and two children paid in tax £5 4s. a week. In 1959-60 it paid £10 7s. lOd. - an increase of 100 per cent. The honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) says that the taxpayers are making three times as much money now as they did in 1948-49. That does not excuse the Government for repudiating its promise to reduce taxes.

Honorable gentlemen opposite promised not only to reduce taxes, but also to increase the purchasing power of money - to put value back into the £1 - and give the people real benefits and real returns from the money that they earn. Those promises have been repudiated.

Now let us look at the other side of the picture - the hidden taxes. The average price of a packet of cigarettes now is 3s. 3d., and included in that price is a tax of ls. lOd. When, a man smokes a packet of cigarettes he is smoking two of every three cigarettes on behalf of the Treasurer. The tax on a bottle of Scotch whisky costing 33s. 9d. - a commodity of which the Government would know more than I do - is 10s. 9£d. The tax on a gallon of petrol costing 3s. 6£d. is ls. Id. The tax on the worker's bottle of beer is ls. 73d. on every 3s. Id. So, for every beer the worker has, the Treasurer has a couple. That gives an indication, of how the burden on the individual in this community is increasing under this Government pledged to reduce taxes. Sales tax on a television receiver costing £234 is £39. All round, there has been a tremendous increase in taxation under this Government, which was pledged to reduce taxes.

As the document issued by Mr. McKellar White from which I have obtained some of the details I have given to the House is more or less an official document of the Government I should like to have its statements, charts, graphs and so on incorporated in " Hansard " as an indication of the Government's failure to carry out its promises. Accordingly, with the concurrence of honorable members I will incorporate the document in " Hansard ".

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