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Tuesday, 2 May 1961

Mr COPE (Watson) .- I watched the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) on a television programme a few weeks ago and heard him outlining this scheme. However, I do not think it is fair to ask the House to consider an amendment of this kind at such short notice. I believe the Opposition should have been given copies of the amendment some time last week, at the latest, so that we could have given it proper consideration. There are many aspects to be considered. First, what would be the cost to the Treasury? Approximate figures could have been obtained by the honorable member for the information of members of the Parliament, and could have been cited at the time the amendment was proposed. If the honorable member's amendment involves additional cost to the Treasury, will the extra amount be found by way of indirect or direct taxation? These are questions that must be answered.

There is another point that should be considered. It is quite true, I suppose, that some young people spend their money indiscriminately on non-essentials. On the other hand, there are many who spend their money on actual necessaries. One must always realize, too, that if spending in the community is curtailed, there will be fewer essentials bought, and this will cause unemployment, which is a problem that we are trying to overcome at the present time. It may be said that young people are spending too much on beer, or that they are buying too many milk shakes. To curtail expenditure in either of these directions would mean a loss of revenue to the Government on the one hand, by means of reduced excise collections, or on the other hand a loss of income to the dairying industry. All these questions must be considered before we jump in and accept a proposal of this kind.

What would be the cost to the Treasury? That is one question. What would be the cost to the Australian economy generally? That is another question. Would it mean further unemployment? Let me remind the committee that the young people involved in this proposal are the ones who keep industry going. Do not let anybody kid you that they are not. These young people are mainly responsible for keeping industry going. They are the ones who are spending the money at the present time, and if their spending is significantly reduced we will see a great deal more unemployment in Australia.

In any case, I believe that before presenting an amendment of this kind the members of this Parliament should have had more notice of it. We should have been told what the cost would be. If the acceptance of this proposal were to result in considerable cost to the Treasury, where would the extra money come from? Would taxation be resorted to in other directions? These are the matters that should be explained. If we cannot have adequate notice of an amendment of this kind it is of little use to ask for Opposition support.

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