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Monday, 26 November 1973
Page: 3832

Mr KING (Wimmera) - I support the remarks made by the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) on this subject. I commence my remarks by saying that if ever there were a Bill on which one could spend a great deal of time in criticising certain of its provisions, this would be it. I appreciate that, if a government is to spend a lot of money it, of course must take certain action to increase taxation revenue to meet the additional costs. In other words, it is virtually a body blow to many sections of the community. During the second reading debate we heard a number of honourable members, particularly from this side of the chamber, refer to the problems caused by the wine tax and the changed taxation provisions for primary producers as a whole. I should like to make brief and quick reference to taxation as it affects pensioners. I appreciate that the Commissioner of Taxation has issued a pamphlet entitled 'Income Tax and Pensions 1973-74 - An Explanatory Booklet'. I point out directly to the Treasurer (Mr Crean) that since the Budget was introduced in this place, a few months ago, I have had numerous requests for information from elderly people. I do not want to go into all the ramifications of the problems faced by elderly people. Having examined this document which was put out by the Commissioner of Taxation one, to say the least, would need to have a little knowledge of the general run of taxation before one could understand it.

Quite naturally, one of the first problems facing people of the age of 75 years or over is that their eyesight starts to fail. In many cases they are not used to worrying about figures. Take the case of a widow who usually left those things to her husband. Now, because of alterations to our system, made here in Canberra, she is expected to fill out a taxation return. I appeal to the Treasurer and ask him or his Department to put out a simple explanation for those people who naturally would find this document terribly difficult to follow. It is easy for those of us who have made a close study of these things and have been filling out taxation returns for a period of years. We can work it all out but the people I mentioned want to know what sort of returns they have to put in. They want to know what sort of income is subject to taxation. I am thinking particularly now of war widows, for instance. Such people want to know whether they have to include in their returns income received from the Department of Repatriation because of the death of their husbands, and so forth. I will not take up any more of the time of the Committee. I appeal to the Treasurer to see whether he can simplify this particular document and forward it to those people who are eligible for pensions under the new age principle applying to those of 75 years of age.

Motion (by Mr Crean) agreed to:

That the question be now put.

Amendments agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.

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