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Tuesday, 11 April 1961


Mr BROWNE (Kalgoorlie) .- It is quite obvious that the Labour Party seeks not to effect a refund of sales tax but to gain, by this amendment, some cheap political publicity. I can support that statement by saying that never before has anybody on the Labour Party side advocated a refund of sales tax or any other tax. No Labour Government, or, for that matter, any other government, has ever refunded money. So, the only reason that presents itself for this sudden outburst from honorable members opposite is that the Opposition actually believes that the Government made a mistake in imposing the increase of sales tax originally. Whether that is right or wrong - and I believe it to be wrong - the fact is that the only foundation upon which the Opposition's so-called logic is based is that the Government made a mistake. Upon that rock honorable members opposite have built their case for the amendment.

I say that the Government did not make a mistake by imposing the increase of sales tax in November. This is borne out by the fact that the purpose of the tax was to deter people from the unnecessary purchase of motor cars. That that effect was achieved is evidenced by the reduction of demand for motor cars during the period in which the increased tax operated. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) asks if this effect has been achieved as desired, and if the increased tax was not imposed for revenue purposes, why we should not refund the increased tax collected during the period. Well, Sir, the very purpose of the tax would be defeated if the precedent were created of refunding a tax imposed as a deterrent. If people knew that the Government would later refund taxes imposed as deterrents to the purchase of certain commodities there would be no deterrent effect to be gained. I think that that is the whole crux of this matter. The crux of the matter is not, as the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) has said, that it would be practicable to refund the amounts collected. That is entirely beside the point. The point is that a tax imposed as a deterrent would ceases to be a deterrent as soon as people realized that the amount collected would be refunded later.







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