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Thursday, 23 March 1961

Mr L R JOHNSON (Hughes) . - Mr. Speaker, we have just been listening to the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton), who is one of the Australian Country Party members and who has no prospect of being defeated at the next election. That is accounted for by the fact that he has seen the writing on the wall and has decided to leave the sinking ship. In the process of doing so he is prepared to tip the bucket over his mates who for so long have relied on the miserable preference votes of the Australian Democratic Labour Party that they have been able to scrape together. The honorable member for Canning who, with his ilk, has benefited from the dubious support of the D.L.P., is now prepared to jettison his mates and has indicated that he is unable to say in this chamber, and at the same time assist to maintain the decorum of the House, the things he would like to say about the D.L.P. How many of these evil thoughts and prejudices are being harboured by honorable members opposite? How many of them would care to rise and say what they think about the D.L.P., which has led the Australian people down the political garden path for so long, which has caused them to suffer under the yoke of Menziesism, and which has caused them to suffer the embarrassment that has been caused by the legislation we are now considering.

For the honorable member for Canning to say that the Government of which he is a supporter has been a low taxation government is ironical and fantastic. I do not know whether he has taken the trouble to look at the latest information that has been supplied by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on the subject of taxation. This authentic information to which I have referred will appear in the " Hansard " report of to-day's proceedings, if it does not already appear in yesterday's report. Let me remind the honorable gentlemen about the record of this low taxation Government. This Government's collections of sales tax rose from £42,000,000 in 1949-50 to £164,000,000 in 1959-60. It is supposed to be a low taxation Government. I repeat that the information supplied by the Treasurer shows that over the period to which I have referred there has been an increase of 400 per cent, in collections of sales tax. What political humbug and skulduggery is indulged in by the honorable member for Canning. I repeat that there has been an increase of 400 per cent, in collections of sales tax. Yet the honorable member has the temerity to say that he is a member of a low taxation Government.

Now let us examine the figures in relation to taxation generally. We find that direct taxes have increased from £39 10s. per capita in 1949-50 to £73 8s. in 1959-60, and that indirect taxes rose from £23 2s. lid. per capita to £49 5s. 4d. Those figures are beyond contradiction, because they have come from the Treasurer himself.

We all heard the honorable member for Canning speak about the luxuries that are to be found in people's homes - refrigerators, radios, lounge suites and things of that kind - and about motor cars. Unfortunately, in very many cases those articles have not been paid for and have been bought at extortionate rates of interest, about which this Government has never concerned itself. This Government has never sought to acquire the power - that is, if it needs to do so - to control these extortionate rates of interest. The position is that any one who falls victim to this Government's policy, such as those persons who worked in the motor car industry until unemployment was created artificially a short time ago and who are now out of work, finds that he has been living from hand to mouth. Such persons are up to the neck in debt. Their refrigerators, their radios and the other amenities about which the honorable member for Canning has spoken have not been paid off. They have all been bought on tick, with the result that the overall hire-purchase bill has risen from £79,000,000 to £450,000,000 during the lifetime of this Government. If honorable members opposite are proud of that situation, let them be.

Although you may not have thought so, Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill. All sorts of matters have intruded into this debate. The honorable member for Canning had the temerity to talk about the Liverpool Plains by-election. Of course, it is quite inappropriate to speak about such a matter during a debate of this kind. Nevertheless, may I say that we know quite well that members of the Country Party are watching the position in. that electorate with great interest. It is quite significant that whenever Australia gets into difficulties the Government turns to the Australian Labour Party for help. The Northern Territory is languishing because of the need for a proper programme of development, and the Government has turned to a New South Wales Labour Minister for help. Do not let the Government think it can embarrass us by an announcement of such a choice. We are proud of the fact that in the past the Government has always had to look to Labour for help. And it will do so again in the future. We have no doubt that it will be a policy of the kind that the New South Wales Labour Government has pursued vigorously over the years that will put the Northern Territory on the map, that will stimulate development, and which will give Australians an opportunity to establish their birthright to that area. The by-election to which the honorable member for Canning has referred is the result of a recognition of the fact that Labour has in its ranks persons of calibre and capacity who have faith in Australia. Labour will do quite well in the by-election which, as I have already indicated, was incorrectly raised by the honorable member for Canning as a topic for discussion during this debate. I apologize, Mr. Speaker, for the fact that the matter has been raised.

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