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Tuesday, 2 May 1961

Mr WILSON (Sturt) .- I congratulate the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) on the thought he has put into his amendment. One of the weaknesses of the bill before the committee is that it does nothing to increase the general savings of the community. Its effect is to transfer savings and capital from the private sector to the public sector; and most of us feel that that is essential because the public sector undertakings are lagging behind the production of the private sector. The honorable member for Mackellar feels, as many of us do, that what is clearly needed is something to increase the total savings. I feel that the Treasury has not shown sufficient imagination in the last few years in meeting the market needs of the investing public. Bonds, generally, have remained in the same form and pattern over the last ten years and they do not meet the needs of the investing public. The one exception to that was the special bond issue. It was something entirely new. It met the needs of a certain section of the community and has been highly successful.

The proposal of the honorable member for Mackellar is also new, and it is designed to meet the needs of another section of the community. I believe every thinking person in the community realizes that one of the greatest inflationary pressures exists among the young members of the community, who, unfortunately, do not save enough to provide for the necessaries that are consequent upon marriage. As young people with high wages they fail to provide for the future and unfortunately do not save a large enough proportion of their wages to enable them to purchase homes or furniture on marriage. Consequently they have then to borrow large sums, very often at high rates of interest, and thus saddle themselves for many years, if not for the rest of their lives, because they do not save sufficient during their younger years. The suggestion of the honorable member for Mackellar is that we should give some encouragement and some prize to the young people of the community who are prepared to save and receive a benefit as the result of their savings, either on marriage or on the birth of a child. So we find that the theme behind the proposal of the honorable member for Mackellar is that if people save they are entitled for tax purposes to deduct the amount of the special bonds in the year of purchase, and they have to pay tax on the same amount in the year in which they withdraw the money, except in the case of marriage, when they get something in the nature of a marriage advantage, and, after marriage, on the birth of a child, when they will receive an additional advantage.

I have not had time to study the full implications of the amendment and, therefore, I cannot say at this stage whether I support it in every detail.

Mr Curtin - Did you not congratulate him on his amendment?

Mr WILSON - I congratulated him on the thought behind the amendment, and I repeat that congratulation. If we could get a little more original thinking in this Parliament, particularly on the part of members of the Labour Party, Australia would benefit more than it does to-day. It is therefore welcome and refreshing to find an honorable member putting forward a new thought, and I trust that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Government will not simply dismiss this idea without further consideration.

A very strong case exists for more imagination to be shown in the issue of bonds. On several occasions in this chamber I have put forward suggestions for the issue of special bonds that would have a tremendous attraction to certain sections of the community. Private enterprise has been able to get the money in the past at the expense of the Government because it has shown imagination and initiative. Private enterprise has provided the kind of securities and investments that sections of the people want. Now that the Government is in active competition with private enterprise to obtain the scarce capital that is available in the community, the Government must show the same degree of imagination in the types of public securities it issues as has been shown by private enterprise. If the Government issues securities that meet the needs of the investing public, it will get the money. What we need, Mr. Chairman, is more savings in the community and not simply a transfer of savings from one sector to another. Therefore, I ask the Treasurer and the Government to consider seriously the principle and the thought that are behind this amendment even though the Government, like myself, may not have had time to consider all of its implications.

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