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Friday, 21 October 1910

Debate resumed from 2nd October(vide page 4910), on motion by Senator McGregor -

That this Bill be now read a second time.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia) [10.39]. - I wish to give some reasons why I strongly oppose this Bill, and why I intend to vote against the second reading, and I wish also to appeal to my honorable friends of the Ministerial party to reconsider the attitude which they take up, both as to the subject-matter of the Bill and the object which they apparently have in view. I cannot agree with some of my honorable friends on this side, and regard the situation as one of despair, or even of dismay.


Senator Stewart - It is full of hope.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I think so. It is very seldom that there is a dark cloud without some spot of brightness in it, and when things come to the worst they generally mend. I think that in this measure we have reached about the worst point we have approached during the existence of this Parliament, and my belief is that when the measure comes into operation, and when the injustice and inequality of its incidence become known and felt, there will arise a wave of reaction amongst the people of this country that will sweep it away and deal out to its authors the fate which is generally in store for those who do wrong.


Senator McGregor - The experience of New Zealand has not been in that direction.


Senator Givens - The people will be so pleased that they will demand more.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I am very glad to know that these remarks at the very inception of what I have to say have gone home so effectively that there are interjections from I do not know how many of my honorable friends opposite.


Senator Pearce - You are stirring them up.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I want to stir them up. I do not think they have given this question sufficient reflection. I make these remarks in no spirit of antagonism, because I sincerely regret that the Government have with so much readiness introduced a measure of this kind. Last year I had the satisfaction, and I look back Upon it with a good deal of pleasure and some pride, of resisting with them what they and I considered to be a proposal to interfere with the Constitution. I regret that on this occasion, unmindful of what passed last year, my honorable friends in a less direct or more veiled way, are following the course which, with me, they condemned last year, and in this measure are infringing, if not the letter, at least the spirit of the Constitution. It is sometimes said that those of us who are called old Federalists are unduly influenced by con siderations of this kind, but just the same considerations influenced me last year when I joined with my honorable friends in resisting what we then considered to be an undue interference with the Constitution. My honorable friends opposite may not think so, but the reasons operating there are identical with those which now induce me to take the stand I do with regard to this Bill. Senator Needham yesterday reminded me that I had not heard the whole of 'his speech. That is always to me a source of great regret. I am always sorry when I lose any of the pearls of wisdom that fall so freely from his lips. He has a talent for lecturing honorable senators on this side, and sometimes even his own political friends do not escape his chastisement. The honorable senator in his lecture of yesterday said that no arguments had been offered from this side against the principle of this Bill. I wonder what sort of argument in opposition to this Bill would appeal to my honorable friend, or, indeed, to any honorable senator opposite.


Senator Barker - None.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Is that the mind in which my honorable friends approach the consideration of a question which involves at least the imposition of a serious tax upon the people of this country ?


Senator McGregor - We are not approaching its consideration. We have considered it for twenty-five 3Tears, and are now finishing its consideration.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Right or wrong, my honorable friends mean to go on.


Senator McGregor - After considering the matter for twenty-five years.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - That is to say that my honorable friends have made up their minds and decline to open them to any arguments from those who have considered the question from the other side. That is a remarkable confession. I quite understand Senator Millen's feeling of despair when the attitude assumed by our honorable friends opposite is that of the stone wall. They say, " You might as well talk to a stone wall as to us. We are impervious to criticism. We are dead to argument. Our minds and consciences are dulled to any injustice or wrong you may point out." My friends are aware that on these constitutional questions I am not unfriendly to them in any way, but I do say that this is a confession

I am sorry they should have made. Still it represents the position, and it is because I felt that that was the position taken up by the Government that at the outset I said I intended to appeal with a few reasons for a reconsideration of the subject. I am not deterred by the interjections that have been made.


Senator Givens - Where proof of guilt is positive, does the honorable senator think that any address by counsel at the conclusion of a trial will save a man from a verdict of guilty?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I am astonished that Senator Givens, who is the most argumentative and controversial man in this Chamber should suggest that a Judge on the Bench at the outset of a case should say, " I have made up my mind that this man is guilty and I shall not listen to the other side at all."


Senator Givens - No, after hearing the evidence. The impassioned appeal of counsel is not evidence.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - My honorable friend makes the impassioned appeal. He has made it from the platform, and I have no doubt that he has made it in the Caucus. I suppose that differences of opinion have to be overcome there, and we know that they sometimes overflow on to the floor of this chamber. The honorable senator Has shaken off the fetters of the Caucus on more than one occasion this session.


Senator Givens - That is where the honorable senator makes a mistake.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Perhaps I do, and if so, I say we can never know when we have our honorable friends opposite. We cannot know now whether on this subject they are really a stone wall or whether their minds are still open. But when my honorable friends declared so vehemently that their attitude was that of a stone wall, I assure them that that is the attitude I attributed to them. That is the reason why I say, with regard to the remarks of my sententious friend, Senator Needham, that I wonder what kind of argument would appeal to him. It seemed to me purely gratuitous for the honorable senator to say that he had heard no argument from this side.


Senator Givens - How would it do to argue with an axe?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - A shillelah would be a more appropriate weapon for my honorable friend. But that is not the sort of argument indulged in here. From what we have just heard I suppose that if one rose from the dead the other side would not be convinced. A miracle might convince them, but then they would deny the miracle. In order to make the position perfectly clear, I wish to say that I am not, any more than are my honorable friends opposite, in favour of the aggregation of great estates. I never have been.


Senator Barker - That is to say the honorable senator does not dispute the principle of land taxation?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - But this is not land taxation.


Senator Barker - What is it?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - It is confiscation. I was saying that I have never been in favour of the aggregation of large estates, but land taxation, as properly understood, has nothing whatever to do with the aggregation or the distribution of large estates. Taxation is one thing, and the bursting up of large estates into small fragments, is quite another. This is not land taxation at all. To put it shortly, I have used the term " confiscation," because I think it may fairly be applied to this measure. I would remind honorable senators that the aggregation of large estates in Australia has been very useful in its day and generation. No one can deny that. I am not sure that even now it would not be a good thing if men like the pioneers of settlement in Australia could be induced to take up large areas of the many thousands - nay, millions - of acres that are still available for settlement in remote districts. Any settlement, sparse though it may be in the outlying parts of this great continent, would be better than none. I am not defending the aggregation of great estates. I have been too long a resident of settled districts in this country to do that, but I remind honorable senators that the problem in Australia is quite a different problem from that which exists in closely-populated countries like England. I am sure that it would not have been possible to have developed this country in the way in which it has been developed if large areas had not been settled, and used for the pasturage of sheep or cattle, the best use to which it was possible to put them in the past. At any rate, there is no crime in the possession of a large estate. There is no offence committed by the man who holds it. So far as I am aware, and I do not think one honorable senator opposite will differ from me in this, there is no culpability in the ownership of a great estate, for which the owner, merely because he is the owner, should be penalized. I wish the matter to be clearly understood. The bursting up of large estates is an economic question. If so, upon what principle does this Bill rest? The strongest arguments used in support of it are those in connexion with the bursting up of estates. I say that is an indefensible argument in regard to taxation which rests upon a totally different footing. I asked Senator Needham what he thought was the principle of the Bill. Instead of answering my question he read the title, which does not convey any idea of the principle. We are sometimes told that language is given us to conceal pur thoughts. Very often the title of a Bill conceals its object, and the title of this Bill is no exception to that rule. I am not saying these things merely to be controversial, but because I think I should be failing in my duty if I did not put the matter as fairly as I can before the Senate. Naturally enough my honorable friend did not answer the question, because, if he had done so, he would have shown that the Bill is one which ought not to pass this Parliament.


Senator Givens - Why?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I will tell my honorable friend. Senator Needham complained that certain estates were not being utilized to the best possible advantage. But that is not an argument in favour of this Bill.


Senator Givens - The first principle of the measure is to compel those who are best able to do so to contribute something towards the revenue of the country.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - That is not so. Senator Needham followed Senator de Largie, who cited instances in Western Australia - some of which it was suggested were not appropriate, because they related to leaseholds, and not to freeholds - with a view to showing that huge tracts were being held by various persons, who were not putting them to their best use. Other honorable senators have done the same thing. I say that that is not the principle of this Bill . If the Government had submitted a measure to put a stop to the holding of lands which are not being utilized to the best advantage, I would have supported it. I do not believe there is a man in Australia - except, perhaps, a few of the land-owners themselves - who would hesitate to say that it is a wrong to the community that persons should hold either large or small areas without putting them to their best use. If the Bill be intended to prevent that sort of thing, how monstrously unjust it is. It will operate alike upon those who use their lands well and upon those who do not use them at all, or who use them ill. Its weight will fall upon the just as well as upon the unjust. It will visit its penalties upon the innocent as well as upon the guilty. I do not propose to cite illustrations of its injustice. Those injustices appear upon its face. When we fix an arbitrary exemption of £5,000, we drag into the net every person who holds land in excess of that value, however well he may be using it, and we punish him as well as the man whom alone we desire to reach. Therefore it is idle to offer an observation of that kind by way of argument.


Senator McDougall - It is not a punishment.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - What is the object of imposing this tax? Is it not to compel those who do not use their land properly to part with it ? Why ? Because they are not using it properly. Because they are acting in defiance of what is economically right to the people of this country. But my honorable friends intend to apply the same dose of medicine to the man who is using his land properly.


Senator McDougall - It is easy for him to take.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Is that a reason why we should administer a dose of medicine to a man who is in good health ? I never listened to such logic in my life.


Senator Givens - The object of the Bill is to settle people on the lands of this country.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Upon what lands? Obviously upon lands which are not being utilized to the best possible advantage.


Senator Givens - Land is not being used to the best advantage unless it is supporting a large number of families.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I can tell my honorable friend of scores of farms which are being put to the best possible use, but each of which supports a man and his wife and family, together with a few labourers. Are my honorable friends going to expatriate these men? .


Senator Givens - The Bill will not touch them.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The honorable senator astonishes me. In the extreme character, of his views he does not comprehend the effect of the Bill. It will touch every person who owns land the unimproved value of which exceeds ^5,000. Senator E. J. Russell read some interesting details regarding the great increase which has taken place in land values in the city of Melbourne. We know that such increases have taken place in every city. It is said that at one time a town acre in Adelaide could be purchased for 7s. 6d., whereas to-day it is worth many thousands of pounds. Why could it be bought then for 7s. 6d. an acre? Because South Australia was nearly, if not actually, bankrupt. Indeed, she was saved from national bankruptcy only by the gold escort bringing gold from the gold-fields, which had just then been discovered in Victoria. During that period the people and the State itself were in such a condition of destitution that it became necessary to establish a coinage of tokens made out of the gold which was brought from Victoria. But that circumstance does not affect the immense increase which has taken place in the value of city properties. That increase may form the material for a very excellent argument iri favour of land nationalization. But this Bill does not embody a scheme for land nationalization. My honorable friends know that I voted for the principle of land nationalization in connexion with the Federal Territory, and I would do so again tomorrow. In that respect, I am just as radical as they are. Land nationalization is, at least, in principle, an excellent thing, but so far it is only in an experimental stage. I voted for the principle because I believe in it, and because I am willing to give it a trial. I asked Senator E. J. Russell to show me the article from which he quoted last evening, and when he did so I found that it was an article upon land nationalization. The arguments which it adduced were very appropriate in that connexion, but they have no bearing upon this Bill.


Senator Givens - This Bill proposes the nationalization of a small portion of the unearned increment.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - In so far as it is a taxation Bill, it merely proposes to do what is already done in connexion with spirits, tobacco, and other articles which pass through the Customs House, lt does not touch the question of 4he unearned increment. So that the honorable senator's quotations, interesting as they were, have no bearing upon this mea sure, although they do bear upon the question of land nationalization. So far as the Bill is an attempt to burst up city lands, he must realize that the Government are seeking to. bring force to bear upon the wrong man in most cases, because very few of the present holders of city lands were original purchasers of it from the Crown. Indeed, the same remark is applicable to country lands.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - My object was to show that with each succeeding generation it is becoming increasingly difficult for young men to get land.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I am not at all sure that that statement is well founded, because we must pay some regard to our limited population. If my honorable friends succeed in -bursting up country lands - success in the case of city lands is absolutely impossible - where are they going to find purchasers for them? When we take into consideration the fact that there are vast areas of Crown lands in the country still available for selection, the problem becomes still more difficult. Where are my honorable friends going to secure the purchasers for all this land in small areas ?


Senator Givens - They cannot get land now.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - They can.


Senator Givens - There are hundreds of applicants for every block that is available.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - We shall always have that condition of affairs. A few years ago the same cry was raised in South Australia, but since then, large areas like Pinaroo, Loxton, and various other tracts on the river Murray have been opened up in parts of the country which were formerly regarded as incapable of settlement and production.


Senator Givens - Those are the places to which honorable senators opposite wish' to drive the settlers.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - My honorable friend does not know what he is talking about. There is no part of Australia which is more attractive from the stand-point of settlement. I have been there lately, and I have seen happy prosperous homesteads, and indications of comfort and thrift, which it was a pleasure to witness. 'To tell me that the Crown lands of this country are all opened up and settled is to tell me what any one who knows anything about Australia would not; believe for a single moment. No member of the Senate is better acquainted with South Australia than is the Vice-President of the Executive Council. He knows the initiatory steps that were taken- I think by the late Mr. Kingston, when he was head of the Government of that State - to establish village settlements, as they were called, along the River Murray. They were settled, as I think, on wrong principles, and afterwards had to be abandoned. But those were, as I have said, initial steps, and all honour to those who took them, because they led people to examine and take up country which, instead of being the waste it was supposed to be, is susceptible of prosperous settlement and of great production. I say so much in reply to what Senator E. J. Russell has suggested. It is a little off the track which I had thought out for myself, but it is an interesting diversion, and is a good answer to what he has said. When he puts the case with regard to city lands, and suggests that this Bill is introduced with a view of enabling young men to get land, surely that is a preposterous thing to say. What are the young men going to do with the city lands when they get them ? We want to spread out the young men over our vast areas. We want to open up the country, and divide the great estates, when there are people ready to take them. But we can do that better by State methods than by such a method as is proposed by this Bill. As I have said, I am not going into any particular examples of hardship with regard to the holders of great estates. But I am going to give one case, and then I shall say no more on the subject. I am going to give a case which relates to a branch of the subject which, I venture respectfully to think, has not been sufficiently considered. I allude to the position of the children of a deceased land-owner,' who has made provision for them in his will, or in a settlement for their maintenance, after his death - such provision as a prudent man will always make to insure their enjoyment of it during their lives, and also, perhaps, during the lives of their children. In the case that I am about to mention, the will of the deceased acts as a restriction on sale, and if it were possible to sell, it would be an exceedingly imprudent thing, and even a wrong to the man who is in his grave. I can vouch personally for the standing and respectability of those who have sent me the letter from which I shall quote, and which was written as long ago as the 31st August. They are the trustees under a will. The deceased died in 1867 - long before this particular land tax, and the agitation out of which it originated, was dreamt of. He left an estate consisting chiefly of 7,000 acres of land, in a part of South Australia called the district of South Rhine. I should say that most of the land in that district is, in the present state of the market, worth probably at least £10 an acre. That would make the value of the estate worth about £70,000, bringing it under the maximum scale of taxation fixed by this Bill. Of course, bad times may come, when down would go the value to an extent which could not be predicted. The deceased left that land in the hands of trustees for the benefit of his children and grandchildren, and directed that the estate should not be sold until all of his children had died. In the interval, it was to be leased, and the rentals divided amongst the beneficiaries.


Senator Givens - A good example of landlordism.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I know what my honorable friend has in his mind. But there is good landlordism and bad landlordism. At any rate there is no such landlordism in this country as the landlordism which my honorable friend and many others who sympathize with his view in that respect consider to be no blessing to the country to which he alludes.


Senator Rae - It is coming here too.'


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - No, it is not coming here. In this country, with its 3,000,000 square miles, the thing is a positive impossibility. We shall have an alien invasion and an alien occupation before we have to fight landlordism in this country. It is not landlordism that is going to be our danger. It is not those within our borders, it is those from without, that we shall have to resist.


Senator Fraser - There is no law of primogeniture here.


Senator Givens - It is exemplified in the letter from which Senator Symon has been quoting.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - This is not primogeniture. Surely my honorable friend makes provision for his own children. Is that a crime?


Senator Givens - I should not want to tie up any estate that I had.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - You do not tie it up by bequeathing it under conditions. Would my honorable friend leave an estate unrestrictedly to a daughter who might marry and whose husband might dissipate it?


Senator Givens - I would not tie it up for the whole length of her lifetime and the lifetime of her children after her.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Surely my honorable friend would tie up an estate during the lifetime of a daughter?


Senator Givens - No.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The phrase was used here yesterday, " He builded better than he knew." My honorable friend is better than his own language would lead one to believe.


Senator Fraser - Otherwise he is not so wise as he looks.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - As I have explained, this estate was to be leased and the rental divided among the beneficiaries. What else could be done? If there was to be a provision for the family they could not all manage the estate. The best way to promote dissension in a family is to leave all the members of it together to undertake the management of a property. Since his decease the land has been let in small holdings and has supported nearly twenty .different families, besides considerably assisting to support seven beneficiaries, whose families now consist of about thirty members. That is a total of fifty-seven persons.


Senator Givens - Not very many on 7,000 acres.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - It is a step towards a better state of things, anyway. I quote now from the letter -

It may be safely asserted that from 125 to 150 persons are being materially assisted in obtaining a living on the land in question. The ostensible reason for a land tax is to break up large estates, in order that they may support more people.


Senator Gardiner - - -The real reason is to raise revenue.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - No, it is not. Nothing hurts me more than to seem to differ from my honorable friend, but really what he has stated is not the case.


Senator Rae - Can there not be more than one reason for this policy ?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The real reason is to burst up big estates. That is the main reason, is it not ?


Senator Rae - That is one reason.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Is not that what is provided for in the party platform? I have been on the platform with some of my honorable friends opposite, and have heard what they have said. To some extent I agree with them. If they get at the right people, I do not differ from them at all. I merely differ from this scheme, which I think Senator Rae, when he comes to consider some of the objectionable things in it, will agree does not provide a means to accomplish the end that he has in view. The letter proceeds -

But we maintain that the estate which we represent has been, and still is, made the greatest possible use of by being divided into small holdings and supporting as many persons as can reasonably be expected, and that the purpose of the tax has been attained in this case by the instructions of the deceased. Under instructions contained in his will, and on account of the beneficiaries in the next generation, the trustees are prevented from selling the property until all of the children are deceased. Otherwise they would be only too pleased to dispose of it at the present high values. If you agree with our contentions we shall be glad if you will endeavour to avoid an injustice being done to those we represent and others in a similar position.

Now, I am not personally acquainted with those who sent me this letter, though I know them by repute. They have had no communication with me except by this letter. I offer this as one example of what may happen under an indiscriminate measure like this, which has for its object a sinister design not indicated by the title, and wholly different from that which appears in the actual print. There may be a vice in landlordism, but if my honorable friends opposite say that' this Bill is introduced to put down landlordism, I reply that that is not an object which it can accomplish. Furthermore, my honorable friends must know that it is just as economically beneficial to divide up large estates by leasing as by selling them.


Senator Givens - We should not obtain that- spirit of sturdy independence that invariably accompanies a peasantry if they were merely tenants.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Well, I come from Scotland, and the great majority of the farmers of Scotland are tenant farmers. My honorable friend is entirely mistaken. There is no body of men in this world more independent than are the tenant farmers of Scotland. There is no body of men in this world who are better farmers than are the tenant farmers of Scotland. They stand in the very forefront of the scientific farmers of the world. If you want to get lessons in farming, where do you go? To Scotland. If you want lessons in cattle breeding, where do you go? To

Scotland. If you want lessons in Liberalism, where do you go? You go to Scotland, for the Scottish tenant farmers were Liberals, and their country was the stronghold of Liberalism in the days when Liberalism was seriously at a discount.


Senator Gardiner - If you want lessons in the cruelty of landlordism towards a tenantry, you go to Scotland.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - You do not do anything of the kind. I venture to think that I know as much about the landlords and tenants of Scotland as my honorable friend does.


Senator Gardiner - I can give instances.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - My honorable friend can give instances if he pleases. It would not be Scotland, but Heaven, if he were unable to find an example of injustice or cruelty somewhere.


Senator Rae - Senator Gardiner means that he could prove his case.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - My honorable friend would have to give us strong authorities and statistics to prove such a case. I do not desire, however, to deal further with that aspect of the matter. I did not mean to deliver an eulogium upon the tenant farmers of Scotland.


Senator Givens - The honorable senator did it very well.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I did it because it is just and true.


Senator Rae - There is a delegation of Scottish farmers in Australia now to find out how they can get away from their own country.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Dr. Johnsonsaid that the most beautiful prospect that any Scotsman ever saw was the high road to London. Scotsmen are the leaven who have leavened the world. But, at the same time, I do not think you will find any Scotsmen who are unpatriotic enough to defame their own country when they are out of it. On the contrary, they are said to be so excessively patriotic that they remember it too much, even in a great and glorious country like Australia.


Senator McGregor - The case in South Australia, to which the honorable senator has referred, has been provided for very fairly in clause 32.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - That clause refers to a mere method of computation. It does not meet the case at all. I thought that what my honorable friend was referring to was clause 64, but if he was not doing so, I need not trouble the Senate by referring to it now, as I shall have a word to say about it later. I have no objection to land taxation, and, in proof that it is no novel opinion of mine, in 1884 I was I suppose as instrumental as any one in having a system of land taxation introduced into South Australia in conjunction with the late Mr. Kingston.


Senator McGregor - It was very harmless.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - It was land taxation.


Senator McGregor - Oh, yes.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I think that all land taxation, if it is properly taxation, and not confiscation, is more or less harmless; and there isnot the slightest reason why a person who possesses some portion of his wealth in the shape of land should not pay his just contribution to the revenue in common with a man who possesses his wealth in money, or some other form of property. But in South Australia we accompanied that land taxation with an income tax, and I hold that you ought never to have a system of land taxation, certainly a severe system, unless it is accompanied with taxation on other forms of wealth. It is a monstrous thing to single out one form of property, and exact the uttermost farthing from that, leaving the rest untouched. So when we introduced land taxation in South Australia we accompanied it with an income tax.


Senator Rae - We are leaving that to the States


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The more appropriate thing to leave to the States is the land tax, because a fundamental principle of this Constitution is that the States not merely own all the Crown lands, but have, and ought to have, control of the lands within their respective jurisdictions. If you leave the income tax to the States, how are you going to adjust it? Income tax and land tax ought to be correlative, and imposed for the one purpose of contributing to the revenue.


Senator McGregor - If the States do not act fairly with the income tax the honorable senator suggests that we should also take over that?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - What I am saying is that if you do not mean this land tax to be, as it was expressed yesterday, a vindictive class tax, but a tax as properly understood, you should take the income tax over now. What is it that you are going to tax? By all means tax the rich ; by all means tax the luxuries of the rich; by all means make those who are best able pay most of the taxation of the country, or, at any rate, make every man contribute fairly according to his means. But here you are bringing in confessedly a class tax. It is a class tax because you single out a particular kind of property, and it is a class tax as far as regards the person, because" you single out the owner of a particular kind of property. To my mind, that is wholly indefensible. The danger which attends this kind of taxation is that it resolves itself into class taxation, or lends itself to other, and what I call sinister, and, from the taxation point of view, really dishonest purposes, not properly denominated taxation. In the present position of the Commonwealth and State finances, I object to this land tax as unnecessary, oppressive, and unjust. I. have no objection either to the taxation of those who are properly called absentees, but there are absentees and absentees. I consider, and always have been of opinion-, that Australians who have made their money and gained their property in Australia should be proud of being Australians, and remain here and spend their money wisely and well. I do not mean that they should be tied down and imprisoned here, but should be able to take a trip now and again, for instance, at Coronation time. I think that if Australians go away to England or any other country there is no reason why they should not pay a little extra for the privilege of going away. I am with my honorable friends on that point. But I do not think that persons who have never been in Australia, but sent out their money to assist us when we needed it, should be regarded as absentees.


Senator Rae - Philanthropists !


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Not philanthropists. Theirs is the kind of philanthropy in which my honorable friend indulges when he makes a good bargain ; none of us is above the philanthropy which makes a profit when it can. Why should the people I referred to be penalized ?


Senator McGregor - Because we conferred a great favour upon them.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - In borrowing their money?


Senator Rae - Just so.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Upon my word, we are living in strange times.


Senator Rae - They are drawing capital out of this country, not putting it in.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - This is like the case of a man who was largely indebted. A friend asked him, " Why do you not pay off your debts ? " " Good gracious," he exclaimed, "if I did, my creditors would not touch their hats to me. ' ' That is the principle on which my honorable friends opposite are going. A man who is an Australian, and shakes the dust of Australia off his feet, and goes to another country to spend his patrimony or the wealth which he has acquired in Australia, ought to pay handsomely. But why penalize the man who lent you money at the time when you wanted it, and assisted you to develop* this country, and make it what it is, who assisted with his money - of course, much was due to the brains of the people - to put on what you call the unearned increment?


Senator Clemons - Why is he not to be penalized when he lends his money to the Government ?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - That is another suggestive aspect. Why is not a man in another country to be penalized when he lends his money to the Government? I suppose that we should have as little borrowing as we can, but at present we owe about £250,000,000. I do not know whether you intend to put an extra absentee tax on all the bond-holders, or try to do so, but really that is the logical thing to do, is it not? I appeal to Senator Long, who is a shrewd man. Is it not absolutely indefensible when you come to examine it with a little detail ? .


Senator McGregor - He answered that question long ago.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - See this iron band which is put round all my honorable friends, this stone-wall as they confessed this morning. No arguments will convince them or appeal to them, so I am not arguing. I am merely submitting a few common-sense considerations which I hope they will allow to filter into their minds.


Senator Long - The honorable senator's arguments may change our opinions, but I doubt very much whether they will change our votes.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - That is excellent.


Senator Long - The honorable senator has heard that before, I think.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - That is the iron hand of this tyranny.


Senator Rae - It is not a stone wall, but an impregnable fortress.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - An impregnable fortress within which you have the men who say, " Honour and justice demand we should surrender."


Senator Rae - Not I, never.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - But the command has gone forth, " No." It is a fortress within which you shelter wrong and injustice.


Senator Long - Who sent the command forth ?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Was it the Prime Minister?


Senator Long - The people of Australia.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I do not believe that the people of Australia ever gave any sanction to such a Bill as this, and my belief is, too, that my honorable friend will find that out before very long. There are three questions which may be considered. First, is the Bill constitutional ; second, is it just ; and third, is it politic or wise? As to its being constitutional, I am not going to offer any opinion. There is a tribunal constituted to determine that question, and if anybody chooses to seek a determination, of course, he can do so. But so far as the Constitution is concerned - I am dealing not with the Bill, but with the power of taxation - there is no doubt in my mind that the Commonwealth, like every other nation, has the power of imposing land taxation properly so called.


Senator Givens - Under the Constitution our power of taxation has no limit.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I am not going to question that at all, because I admit, and everybody must admit, that the power to impose and collect a tax carries a power to pass provisions necessary and proper for the execution of that purpose. That is for taxation strictly so called, and the whole field of taxation may be, and to my thinking must be, open to any community professing to be a nation, whether young or old. In my view it would be hampering its national destiny if it were otherwise. That must be accompanied by this consideration, which is exceptionally well, put in one of the finest compendiums in relation to Federal government that was ever printed. I refer to The Federalist, in which Hamilton, writing on this subject, says -

There are certain emergencies of nations in which expedients that in the ordinary state of things ought to be foreborne become essential to the public weal.

I think that is a very excellent statement, and it seems to me to apply to the present position. I know that the framers of the Convention never contemplated-


Senator Givens - That is a blessed phrase very often used.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - May I not use it again? They never contemplated an interference by the Commonwealth with direct taxation unless in case of national emergencies and as a principle of Federal constitutional government that ought to be maintained. That is to say, we ought not, unless in a case of national emergency to ava.il ourselves of this power of direct taxation. Certainly, we ought not to avail ourselves of it by way of class tax upon a particular kind of property, a.nd for an indirect purpose such as the splitting up of big estates. We have the power to which I have referred under paragraph ii. of section 51 of the Constitution. I. am not offering any opinion, but these are matters which may possibly arise for debate elsewhere in relation to this Bill. In the first place, paragraph ii. of section 51 provides that there is to be no discrimination between States, or parts of States. In the United States Constitution that limitation as to discrimination applies only tc> duties and imposts in the nature of Customs duties, and so on. It does not apply to the general field of taxation outside that source of revenue. In our Constitution it does. That makes it rather important to consider the position of the Commonwealth in relation to the States. The Commonwealth and the States, in relation to all taxation, except Customs and Excise, have u concurrent power and right. The result of that is that, if the Commonwealth were not to have some regard for the inherent principles of the Constitution, the larger aspects underlying it and by which its powers must be determined, it might levy taxation in a particular direction, and to such an extent as to dry up the whole fountain of that particular source of taxation, and so take away the State right altogether. Honorable senators must see that such a thing is possible. Without expressing any opinion upon it, I say it is a matter which may have to be very seriously debated. I doubt, myself, whether the Commonwealth could so exercise this power as to seriously interfere with, much short of destroying, the corresponding right or power in the States. If it did so, if, for instance, this Bill were considered to be - and it might be a matter for judicial determination - of such a character as to seriously impair the States power to levy this kind of taxation, it would run great risk of being held to be an unconstitutional abuse of the National power. All I say is that I think it well worthy of consideration. As I have stated, there is one source of revenue given exclusively to the Commonwealth, and that is the revenue from Customs and Excise. Other taxation is concurrent.


Senator Givens - And has absolutely no limit.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Yes, it has a limit.


Senator Givens - No.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - My honorable friend said so, and I know that he is a great constitutional bush lawyer. He may be right.


Senator O'Keefe - The honorable senator may have a fair knowledge of the Constitution, though he is not a lawyer.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I have said that.


Senator Stewart - I think the lawyers are mostly " bushed," anyhow.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Then I am endeavouring to extricate them. I do not want lawyers to reap wealth from the litigation which unconstitutional land taxation may create if I can help it. Is not the point worth considering, when, as in this Bill, we are singling out a particular kind of wealth, namely, property in land, and are letting all other wealth go free.


Senator Givens - This Bill may be unconstitutional, but certainly not for the reasons the honorable senator is now putting forward.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Again I say my honorable friend sits in judgment. I am not pronouncing judgment at all. I am merely suggesting these matters for consideration. I say that they are worthy of consideration in connexion with the desirability of pausing from pushing on with this Bill in its present shape. We are all agreed that this graduated system of taxation is very heavy taxation, and that it must be so if it is to carry out the indirect object to which my honorable friends confess. I should like to say that the power of the Commonwealth to make laws with respect to taxation must apply to taxation as properly understood as a means of levying contribution for revenue. So far as regards discrimination, this difficulty arises, and Senator Givens may think it of some importance. The Constitution provides that we are not to discriminate between States, or parts of States, but there will obviously be an inequality and a discrimination if we pass this Bill, because in some of the States land taxation is already imposed. So far as I am aware, the land taxes now levied in some of the States vary considerably.


Senator O'Keefe - That is their look out.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - But my honorable friend must see that if the land taxation to be imposed by the Commonwealth is concurrent with the taxation by the States, and if we levy taxation upon something which is already taxed in varying degrees in different States, we make the same taxation unequal in the different States.


Senator Givens - No, we do not. So far as our taxation is concerned, it will be equal in all of the States.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The honorable senator can deal with the matter later, and he may be right, but he forgets that the States are not tied up by written Constitution's as we are. The States can impose unequal and discriminating taxes as much as they like upon their people, and if the Commonwealth, legislating for the people as a whole, imposes a land tax which, by reason of existing land taxes imposed by the States, makes the land taxation in different States unequal, that, in my view, will constitute a discrimination. It may be dealt with in another place, and we cannot settle it here. I put it to my honorable friends as an injustice. Is it not an injustice? We are dealing with the whole of the people of the Commonwealth as one people, and if landowners in South Australia pay a heavier land tax locally than do land-owners in Victoria, will there not be a discrimination in the land taxation upon owners of land in these States, if we pass this Bill?


Senator O'Keefe - The State Parliaments can adjust that.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Why should we not adjust it before we pass this Bill?


Senator Rae - If the honorable senator's contention be correct, should we not carry the adjustment to the extent of considering the rates imposed upon land by local authorities ?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - No; the honorable senator is referring to municipal rating, which has nothing to do with national taxation. The taxation imposed by the State Parliaments prior to Federation, and now, is as much national taxation as the taxation imposed by this Parliament, but the taxation we are seeking by this Bill to impose, and municipal taxation, are two entirely different things.


Senator McGregor - Because one State taxes land, and another does not, we should notimpose land taxation at all, according to the honorable senator's argument.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - My honorable friend is illustrating the very point I am putting. The Government are in this matter discriminating between the States.


Senator McGregor - No ; the State Parliaments do that.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - But the honorable senator knows that we are now asked to legislate for the taxation of the same people.


Senator McGregor - But we do not propose to differentiate.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - We shall do soby passing this land tax. By imposing this taxation upon the same people of the Commonwealth in Victoria and in South Australia, for instance, we shall be discriminating in the land taxation of this country resting upon landowners in different States.


Senator McGregor - No ; it is the States that are discriminating.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - My honorable friend has formed his opinion, and nothing I can say will affect it.


Senator O'Keefe - Nothing that Senator McGregor could say would affect the honorable senator's opinion.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I do not think that my honorable friend ought to say that.


Senator O'Keefe - I think it is a fair reply to the honorable senator's statement.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - It is not a fair reply, because I have never ostentatiously declared, as some of my friends opposite have done, that my mind is not open.


Senator O'Keefe - I speak of this question.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - On this question, my mind is as open as the day. If my honorable friends could show me that this Bill is within the Constitution, and necessary to prevent large estates being left derelict, I should be one of the first to support it. The Vice-President of the Executive Council holds a view with which at present I do not agree, but I am prepared to give it every consideration. I do not submit any of these matters in a positive way, as though I were not open to listen to what might be said on the other side.


Senator O'Keefe - It is simply a matter of a conscientious difference of opinion.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - No ; it is not, because my honorable friend must have heard over and over again that whatever honorable senators opposite may think, they cannot vote against this Bill.


Senator Long - Does not that apply equally to the other side?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - No.


Senator Long - With the exception of the honorable senator ?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I am glad my honorable friend has said that. I am, of course, free to vote as I please. I have already said that this Bill - as Senator Givens very well put it in an interjection yesterday - must necessarily interfere with the State management of lands. Now the underlying principle of our Constitution is that the control of the lands of the States shall remain with the States. Certainly a tax of this kind, which is intended to have the indirect effect of inducing persons who hold large areas to subdivide them, must necessarily re-act on State lands and their management. We cannot tax State lands. When Senator Clemons pointed out that we had no power to legislate in regard to land tenure, Senator Givens interjected that we possess the power of taxation, which implies the power of interference in some degree. I quite agree with him. That is a matter which has to be carefully considered, especially when a Bill is put forward the avowed object of which is to burst up large estates, because such a measure must necessarily interfere with the lands of the States, which are directly under State control. What will be the effect of the Bill if all the large estates in Australia are cut up and sold at auction ? The State lands will be very greatly reduced in value, because we have not the population to absorb them-


Senator Rae - They will keep.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - But I thought that the honorable senator's party did not wish them to be kept ?


Senator Rae - Those which are not sold will keep.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Then my honorable friends opposite wish to leave this burden of taxation upon the holders of large estates for an indefinite period? They want them to sell their lands, but the object of the Bill is that they shall not sell them? I thought that the object of the Labour party was to burst up large estates straight away.


Senator Rae - So it is.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Then, would it not be better for my honorable friends to do what is being done in the different States, namely, resume these lands as they are required for closer settlement purposes at a fair valuation?


Senator Givens - A rotten system.


Senator Long - Cannot the States themselves do that under this Bill?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Then my honorable friends propose to doubly penalize the holders of large estates, because, whilst they intend to subject them to this tax for an indefinite period, they propose that the States shall resume land for closer settlement purposes from time to time.


Senator Rae - We shall get the revenue when we do not get the land.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Then why force all these estates into the market at once? Why not recognise the fact that there are no buyers?


Senator Long - The Victorian Closer Settlement Board receives ten applications for every single block that it offers for selection.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I recollect the time, in the seventies, when lands were resumed in South Australia around Crystal Brook by the Playford Government, and were sold by auction. The prices of those lands were run up in' such an extraordinary way that hundreds of purchasers were ruined, and further legislation had to be introduced to put an end to their agreements, and to reduce the prices of the land.


Senator Givens - The ruin was brought about by artificial prices, owing to an artificial scarcity of land.


Senator Long - The "boomsters" got in.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The " boomsters " did not. The purchasers of the land were residents of the locality. The same thing happened when land still "further north - land beyond Quorn - was resumed and sold at auction. It was purchased by farmers who eventually left the district penniless and bankrupt. The fact that there are so many applicants for different blocks of land is no proof that there is a dearth of land available for settlement. I say emphatically, without fear of contradiction, that there will be no sufficiency of buyers if all these estates are at once thrown into the market. My honorable friends opposite say that for this legislation they have a mandate from the country. Then the object of the Bill is not to obtain revenue, but to burst up large estates. I deny that they received any such, mandate. But, if they did, I ask them,. "Are you going to obey it?" If they are, then this Bill is really legislation under false pretences. I say that its purpose ought to be stated clearly upon its face. We ought not to evade the" Constitution by a mere pretext. That is the ground upon which I say that this is a measure for confiscation, and not for taxation. It is avowedly intended to put the owners of large estates on the rack, in order to force a sale - a. sale when required. They are not even to have the option of selling straight away, but are to wait, and be subjected to this extortionate tax, till sufficient buyers are available.


Senator Gardiner - They ought to pay their fair share of taxation.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Why do not my honorable friends make the owners of millions of money pay their fair share of taxation? Why single out this class? Why not tax all alike? Why do they not join land taxation with income taxation, and then I shall be with them.


Senator Rae - We cannot do it all at once.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - My. honorable friends can do it at once. There is no State which has adopted land taxation unless in conjunction with income taxation. We cannot make fish of one and flesh of another. Yet that is my honorable friends' sense of justice.


Senator O'Keefe - Would the honorable senator support land taxation in conjunction with income taxation ?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Certainly. But this Bill does not provide for land taxation. It is intended to burst up big estates, and I. cannot support any such proposal, because we have no constitutional power to give effect to it. I do not hesitate to say that when the effects of this Bill become apparent they will inspire in the minds of the people a spirit of revolt. I do not think that they - any more than the people of England - will submit to class exactions, either as to the persons taxed or as to the property which is to be taxed.


Senator Rae - The people of England have been submitting to that for generations.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I do not think they have. They have submitted to an income tax because it is a perfectly fair wealth tax. I am one of those who say, "Tax the wealthy. Tax their luxuries. There is a great deal too much luxury in Australia."


Senator Rae - The honorable senator says that, but his party does not give effect to it.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - What party ?


Senator Gardiner - The honorable senator has been in public life a good while, and is, I suppose, identified with a party?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Surely the honorable senator could not have been present when I stated that in South Australia I assisted to turn out of office a Government which was opposed to an income tax, and to instal a Government which was in favour of it. I was then Leader of the Opposition. I have never departed from the views which I then held. Let my honorable friends bring in a fair Land and Income Tax Bill for taxation purposes only and it will find in me one of its most sympathetic friends. But it must have taxation for its object - it must not have an indirect object in view.


Senator Long - This Bill is intended for taxation purposes.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I say that it is not. My honorable friends went to the country with the cry that it was necessary to burst up big estates.


Senator Long - Is not the honorable senator bound to consider the terms of the Bill?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I am not bound to concern myself with a fiction. I am bound to penetrate the veil, and to discover what was the mandate - if any such mandate were given - which my honorable friends received in this connexion. I say that it was land taxation with a view to the promotion of closer settlement by bursting up large estates.


Senator McDougall - And finding money for defence purposes.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - No such thing. I never heard of that suggestion.


Senator McDougall - I mentioned it in every speech which I made.


Senator Rae - The Prime Minister also made the fact very plain that the money was required for defence purposes.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - There is no need for this Bill for defence purposes. The Commonwealth has agreed to return to the States 25s. per capita, which will probably amount to about £6,000,000 per annum. It is estimated that £1,000,000 per annum will be produced by this tax, or that that is the amount required for purposes of defence. Why did not the Commonwealth Government deduct that £1,000,000 from the £6,000,000 and allow the latter to impose their own land taxation?


Senator Rae - What a howl there would have been if that course had been proposed.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The States would be mad indeed not to agree to such a proposal, because it would have kept the hands of the Commonwealth off their lands. But they were not asked to agree to it. There is no need for this tax for defence purposes. The financial necessities of the Commonwealth do not require it. We have to return to the States £6,000,000 annually out of the Customs and Excise revenue. The Commonwealth possesses the exclusive power of taxation in that connexion, and yet it is proposed to hand that money back to the States, and then to interfere with the direct powers of taxation which they enjoy concurrently with the Commonwealth.


Senator Givens - Some members of this Senate did not agree with the proposal to hand back that money to them, but the honorable senator did.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Of course I did. But I never dreamed that a confiscatory Land Bill would be introduced.


Senator McDougall - The honorable senator knew that it was coming.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I did not.


Senator McDougall - Then the honorable senator should have done so.


Senator Rae - It has been on our platform for years.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Of course.


Senator Rae - The honorable senator did not think that we were going to win ?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - My honorable friend speaks of a time after this Parliament met.


Senator Rae - We had no limit as to rates in our platform.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Good heavens! Were my honorable friends going to tax people out of house and home ?


Senator O'Keefe - Did not the honorable senator think that we were in earnest about this matter?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I did not think that ray honorable friends were going to be so abandoned. I thought that the responsibilities of office would temper their extreme opinions. But do not honorable senators agree with me that it would have been a very good thing to keep another £1, 000,000 or £2,000,000 for the Commonwealth, and to say to the States, " We will give you £1, instead of 25s., and will undertake not to interfere with your direct taxation."


Senator Rae - For all time?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Ten years is the time mentioned in the Act which we passed. Would not that have been a statesmanlike thing to do? There is no fun in imposing taxation. My honorable friends seem to have forgotten that taxation means and involves a just and proper distribution of the public burdens. This Bill does not do that at all. I do not know what the proportion actually is, but I should think that there is just about as much money invested in other forms of enterprise in this country as is actually invested in land. Is it not a blot upon the policy of the Government that this is to be regarded as a Bill to penalize one particular form of investment? The Bill makes no pretence to bring about a proper and just distribution of the public burdens.


Senator Pearce - A proper distribution of the public wealth.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Ah ! A proper distribution of the public wealth ! Communism! It is just as well that the people of this country should know that. They should have an opportunity of saying whether they desire to put their means into a common bag and have them distributed.


Senator Pearce - I did not say the private wealth, but the public wealth.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON -What is the public wealth?


Senator Pearce - The public-created value that is now filched by the landlords.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The unearned increment?


Senator Pearce - Yes.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - But the Government are going to take that unearned increment out of the pockets of the man who has not benefited from it, the man who yesterday, we will say, gave £20,000 for a bit of land. The unearned increment has been pocketed by his predecessor, and the Government think that it is fair play between man and man to pass a law of that kind. A has already paid for the land to B, who has pocketed the unearned increment; and public morality has sunk so low that the Government are going to compel A to pay to the public revenue the unearned increment which he has not received.


Senator Story - He took the risk with his eyes open.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON -I dare say that my honorable friend has some property in shares. How would he like it if, the original value of some of his shares being £1 each, and the present value being five or ten times as much, the Government stepped in and pocketed the difference?


Senator Story - That is totally different.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Because it applies to my honorable friend! Why, otherwise, is it totally different?


Senator Story - Because land values are created by the public.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Are not share values, to a very large extent, created by the public? Even the value of mining shares is created by value taken out of the soil. But, of course, as long as my honorable friend's shares are exempt it does not matter twopence about the landowner, who is to be made to pay over again the unearned increment which he may have already paid to, and which has been pocketed by, the person from whom he bought his land.


Senator O'Keefe - Is there not a difference between wealth in lands and wealth of other kinds?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I do not see the slightest difference. There is, as I have said, an economic question as to land, inasmuch as it is one of the instruments of production; and I think that the Government are perfectly entitled to say that there should be a law to compel owners of great areas of land to put their estates to good use. But that is not to be done by imposing a system of taxation which would make it unprofitable - perhaps ruinous - for a man, in many instances, to own land at all. Can it be right to impose a law with the intention of making it unprofitable to hold a particular kind of property ?


Senator Rae - I think so.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I say no. If it is wrong for a man to hold property, bring in a direct law to make him part with it. Do not do it indirectly. I dislike this underhand and sinister method. I do not like the principle of taxing a man out of his house and home, in order that he may be compelled to divide his property amongst other people.


Senator Story - Is it worse than taxing him out of his food ?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Who taxes anybody out of his food ? .


Senator Story - Revenue duties do that.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - It is the honorable senator who, as a Protectionist, does that. I am a Free Trader, and I want to make the food of the people absolutely free.


Senator O'Keefe - Does not the honorable senator think that land monopoly tends to tax the people out of their food ?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - If this Bill is aimed directly at land monopoly, it is not the sort of measure we can pass.


Senator O'Keefe - But it may have the indirect effect of breaking up land monopoly.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The proper object of taxation is revenue, and a tax ought not to be promoted with a view to bursting up estates as well. Land is an instrument of production. Are my honorable friends justified in attempting to destroy one form of industry in this country?


Senator Rae - Land speculation.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Bring in a Bill to stop land speculation if it is wrong.


Senator Rae - This Bill will do so to a large extent.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - If it is meant to do so, it goes beyond the powers of this Parliament. I repeat again that if the basis of this tax were to get at land which was not put to a profitable use, that would be a principle which could be understood and dealt with. But to strike in the same way at all land, whether it is used well or ill, whether it is profitable or unprofitable, is a senseless and arbitrary thing to do. In that sense, no one can deny that this Bill is senseless and arbitrary. In point of fact, this measure is a calculated attack upon land-owners generally, and not an honest attempt to get revenue. It is an attempt to force people, or frighten them, to part with their lands, to sell them at panic prices, rather than hold them under the imposition which is to be laid upon them. My honorable friend, Senator Story, would laugh at the idea of subjecting his own property to any such treatment.


Senator Story - There is no other kind of property that is created by public enterprise to the same extent as are land values.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - But by this Bill the Government are not getting at land values, but at the man who has paid to his predecessor the full value of the. land he holds.


Senator Story - In some cases.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - In most cases..


Senator Story - No.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Of course, you get a parrot-cry of that sort about the unearned increment, but you have to show that it is the man you are seeking to get at who is suffering in that way, and not the man who has already paid the full value out of his pocket.


Senator Givens - Suppose that some person stoleyour watch, or got illegal possession of it.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Being a lawyer, I should probably not prosecute him, but say, " May it be a blessing to you."


Senator Givens - Would the buyer of the watch, or the honorable senator, be the actual owner?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The buyer of that stolen watch would not be the owner of it.


Senator Givens - Of course not.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - But surely, my honorable friend does not mean to apply that as a parallel to the position with which we are dealing. The land is not stolen.


Senator Givens - It is appropriated.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - No.


Senator Givens - The public created the value, and the private owner appropriated it.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The land is not stolen or appropriated, nor is its. value. During my career in South

Australia I have known men who were ruined, and some who were nearly ruined, by being compelled to buy the land on which they were depasturing their sheep. I know men who incurred debts thirty odd years ago to the amount of hundreds of thousands of pounds in order to enable them to keep a house over their head and pasturage for their cattle and sheep. To introduce such a suggestion as theft in connexion with that is unworthy of my honorable friend.


Senator Givens - I used the word in connexion with the land. I say that they appropriated the land, legally I admit.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - They bought the land fairly and honestly, and the man who buys my watch is entitled to it, although it may happen, from some virtue of which I was unaware, to become more valuable than I thought.


Senator Givens - A great many stole land by dummying, and other means, too.







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