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Wednesday, 16 December 1914

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) .-I listened carefully to the explanation of the Minister, but I submit that if what he states is the intention of the clause it utterly fails to give effect to it. He affirmed that its purpose is to insure that the smaller beneficiaries under a will shall pay a lower rate of duty, whilst the larger beneficiaries shall pay a higher rate. I submit that it provides for a distinct transference of the liability to pay duty from the smaller beneficiaries to the larger ones. The clause means that the duty which would be payable in respect of small sums of money will be transferred to, and spread over, the other beneficiaries. That seems to me to be entirely wrong in principle. When the Minister suggests that two rates of duty ought to be collected upon an estate. I differ from his view entirely. The Bill which we passed to-day contains no provision that tlie duty shall be levied according to the amounts which beneficiaries receive from an estate.

Senator Pearce - I say that there will be two rates of contribution by the beneficiaries.

Senator MILLEN - Then the Minister concedes the point for which I am contending. This clause is intended to transfer the liability to duty from one set of beneficiaries to another set. I hold that when a person benefits under a will, each £1 which he receives should pay its share of the duty, irrespective of whether his portion of the estate be large or small. Otherwise, just in proportion as the duty is made lower in the case of small beneficiaries, it must be made higher in the case of large beneficiaries. That is to say, some beneficiaries will be called upon to pay a higher rate than we imposed upon them by the Bill which we passed to-day. They will have to pay, not merely the duty for which we provided in that measure, but also a share of the taxation which should fall upon other beneficiaries.

Senator Pearce - And which, owing to the £200 limit, would be infinitesimal.

Senator MILLEN - There is no reason why a beneficiary who receives £200 should not pay the duty. I will pay it willingly upon as many £200 as the Min ister can get for me. It is quite unreasonable that one beneficiary should be called upon to pay the duty in respect to a portion of an estate which goes to somebody else. He ought to be required to pay the duty in accordance with the scale which we approved this afternoon. I ask the Minister to postpone the consideration of the clause till to-morrow, in order that the matter may be thought out by Ministers in consultation with their legal advisers. It is unjust, and is a contravention of what we have already enacted. Under it we shall make the rate of probate duties higher than those which we fixed this afternoon.

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