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Tuesday, 2 May 1961

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) .- Again, for the same reasons as previously, we offer no objection to the amendment, which is intended to clarify what is not very clear. But I ask the committee to look at this clause which begins on page 11 of the amendments that we are contemplating and continues on to page 16.

Mr Killen - Can I ask my friend if he understands it? I confessI do not. I think we should have an examination.

Mr CREAN - I do not understand it, and I said so during the debate on the second reading. I do not know whether any one else was quite as modest. But at least I ask honorable members whether in all their experience they have ever seen a formula similar to that appearing on pages 12 and 13 of the bill. On the night it was introduced somebody asked, " Have you been brushing up your algebra?" I was trying to follow the syntax of the speech and had not had time to look at the clause; but I can understand what was meant by that question because this peculiar formula begins on page 12 and continues on page 13. Consider, for example, the provision in proposed section 115(1.) (a) for a deduction in accordance with the formula


or the formula


whichever produces the greater amount. It is very difficult to determine, to begin with, an amount at all. This simply shows the peculiar position you get into if you try to do indirectly what you ought to be doing directly.

Earlier in the debate on this measure we had a little bit of what I was going to call breast-baring, but which I shall refer to as expression of personal opinion by three honorable members, whose courage did not take them to the point of dividing on the matter. However, they showed that they thought the Government was moving in the wrong direction. For our part, we do not say it is moving in the wrong direction, but simply that it is going about things in the wrong way. If the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) were really honest about this matter he would admit that what the Government is trying to do is to induce insurance companies to put 30 per cent. of their investments after 30th June into government securities, either Commonwealth loans or loans of State or semi-government instrumentalities. But instead of saying so straight out, the Government has tied in the income tax formula so that it can indulge in the luxury of saying that there is no compulsion connected with the provi sion, and that the scheme is a purely voluntary one. In my view, this is simply a piece of polite hypocrisy, which has resulted in these peculiar legislative difficulties. I ask honorable members to consider seriously where we are getting to with legislation of this kind. Look closely at these two or three pages of formulae in clause 9.

As I have said, we have an amendment brought forward this evening to clarify what certainly is not very clear. I am prepared to accept the assurance of the Treasurer that it does clarify the position to an extent, but I suggest that it still leaves the position very obscure, because of the subterfuge that the Government has indulged in. Let me suggest a kind of competition. I ask honorable members who have been in this Parliament for many years to look through all the statutes of the Commonwealth and see whether they can produce a provision that resembles in any way the one that the committee is now discussing. There will be no prize for success in this quiz, but at least it should lead to some salutary examination of the procedures of this Parliament In my view it is absurd to ask the members of this committee, after the little time they have had to consider the measure, to say seriously that they understand what this paraphernalia means. I contend that it is only paraphernalia, that the actuary is usurping the rights of the Parliament and that something should be said against such a practice.

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