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Thursday, 25 November 1965

Mr FALKINDER (Franklin) .- I am bound to say that I agree with the contention of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) that the people living on the islands in Bass Strait should be considered for zone allowances. I think the honorable member will remember that I have myself on occasions spoken in favour of this, and recently I have been conducting a round of correspondence with the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in relation to fishermen who more or less live permanently on the west coast and the north west coast of Tasmania who, I believe, ought to be treated in the same way. I propose to speak quite briefly on this Bill because the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) have already spoken on the very subject to which I wish to direct my attention. The honorable member for Sturt ably went into considerable detail on the subject of superannuation funds which will be affected by this tax Bill. As he has done that, and as the honorable member for Swan has also dealt with the matter, I do not propose to recapitulate the details. I am one of those who believe that there is far too much tedious repetition in this House, and I have no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that you have been tempted on occasions to apply Standing Order No. 85 which deals with tedious repetition.

I want to express a very firm view on this matter of taxation as it affects superannuation funds because there are aspects of the matter that I do not like. The Bill itself is very complex and because of that I wish to devote my attention to the one aspect of superannuation. The Bill provides for a tax of 10s. in the £1 on all superannuation funds unless certain conditions are complied with. These conditions, as the honorable member for Sturt clearly told the House in detail, are set out in section 23f. The point arises: Can the various funds meet the requirements of this section? The association which represents these organisations says that the funds cannot fulfil all of these conditions and that they will have to rely on the discretion of the Commissioner of Taxation to grant them exemption. It is on this question of discretion that I disagree with the general trend that is obviously taking place in taxation legislation. I believe that too much power is being put into the hands of the Commissioner. This is a trend not only in this Bill but in other bills which we will be discussing during the present sessional period. 1 have always held the view that politically we have propounded the philosophy that we believe very much in the encouragement of the establishment of superannuation funds and similar forms of saving, but I cannot regard this Bill, as it is presently framed, as giving any encouragement to the various superannuation bodies. The Ligertwood Commonwealth Committee on Taxation said that action should not prejudice the operation of bona fide superannuation funds. I say quite plainly that in my view this Bill scarcely seems to carry out that recommendation. For instance employers are compelled to make a payment to the fund for each employee and this, as the honorable member for Sturt said, is a new provision. What I object to is that the Bill appears to go much too far into the domestic matters of private enterprise. This already is, I believe, a general trend in legislation. Sir Winston Churchill once said -

We must beware of building a society in which nobody counts for anything but the politician and the official.

Those are words that we ought not to forget. 1 am not suggesting that taxation commissioners are a race apart or have an avidity for power. My experience over not a few years now in acting on behalf of my constituents is that taxation commissioners and their deputies are very much more human than some people seem to think. We can liken our attitude to them to that of a person going to the dentist. A lot of people are afraid of going to the dentist, but they find in the long run that with modern equipment, dental treatment is almost a painless operation. As I have said, the trustees of these funds, if they cannot comply with the necessary conditions, will have to pay a tax of 10s. in the £1. So it is almost a question of asking the Commissioner for Taxation to establish policies for the funds, and this puts the funds into what one could only call a rather unpleasant state of uncertainty.

There appears to me to be one other aspect of this Bill which should be commented upon. It may well be that the Bill will induce a lot of additional paper work. If there is one thing that is becoming more and more evident in commerce and industry right throughout the whole structure of life in Australia it is the ever increasing paper work which ought to be discouraged and not encouraged. I propose to state the views of the study group of the Association of Superannuation and Provident Funds of Australia. Although I realise that this is a body interested in this matter I think that anybody who considers this document will come to the conclusion that it is not biased. The Association states -

Saving is usually accepted as) a desirable requirement in any modern community but where there is a continuing shortage of capital funds as in Australia it is necessary to consider the reasons for and the method of achieving this.

If the social economy is to have the necessary capital available for its enormous development requirements then the appeal to save must be made to the little man. Superannuation funds provide the most valuable medium because they involve regular deduction from the employee's remuneration before he receives it and they represent an effective manner of consolidating the fund of many personnel into one group.

Past history has shown a deficiency rather than an excess of available capital so that from a savings aspect only a compelling argument can be sustained for an extension of the encouragement rather than any reduction.

Recent taxation amendments have required many amendments to deeds but it is a matter for concern that the best interests of superannuation provision have become secondary to the necessity to avoid the punitive penalty which is involved in not meeting the Commissioner's taxation requirements.

The Federal President of the Association in a letter to the Treasurer said -

We would like to stress how unreasonable we regard this section in relation to 23F Funds. Its requirements involve obtaining information from ali employees of their private affairs each year and the supply of this information to the Commissioner followed by subsequent correspondence when queries arise.

I said that I would be brief in dealing with this matter, but I want to emphasise that I have a very firm opinion. I clearly protest against the tendency of Government legislation to interfere in the domestic affairs of private enterprise. This is a trend that the Government should rake care to alter.

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