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Friday, 10 December 1965

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) . - Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to assist the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in giving the Bill a speedy passage if it is to be passed but I must disappoint him by indicating that we intend to vote against it. I repeat briefly the reasons that we gave previously for our opposition to the earlier tax legislation. First, we do not believe that there ought to have been any increases in taxes. Indeed, in view of the present state of the economy I believe that there is a rather good case for reconsidering some of the fiscal devices that were part of the Budget presented a little over three months ago. That is the first reason why we do not believe that tax increases are necessary. Secondly, even if increases are necessary, we object to the flat rate increases proposed, because they will result in an inequitable distribution of the additional burden as between all taxpayers. I do not want to traverse those arguments any more fully at this stage.

Like the Treasurer I consider that there are certain fascinating aspects of the treatment of the Government's tax legislation in another place. Like him I believe that in the very near future we in this House should consider the relations between this chamber and the other place on financial matters, with particular attention to what those relations should be. I find at least some elements of paradox in the treatment by a House that calls itself a House of review of Bills that, under the terms of section 53 of the Constitution, it may not amend. It can reject them but it may not amend them. This seems at least to imply that when that section was put into the Constitution in the historical context of the situation at the end of last century - the Constitution did not become operative until 1901 - some limitations on the powers of the Senate with respect to measures of this kind were thought to be necessary. I hope, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that Mr. Speaker, as the custodian of the rights of this House, will look into this problem in the future. As I have said, we offer no barrier to the passage of this Bill through all stages today if it is to be passed, though we intend to oppose the measure itself.

Question put -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

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