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Wednesday, 16 December 1914

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - I cannot agree to postpone the clause, as the issue is clear cut. Estates are seldom distributed over a great number of people. Testators, as a rule, are not so socialistic.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [11.6].- The trouble arises from trying to provide for a series of succession duties. By leaving out paragraph 6 we can avoid inflicting hardship on a number of people who would otherwise be asked to pay probate duty for the benefit of a number, of smaller beneficiaries. The will, when proved, will, under the Bill already passed, be subject to certain duties, according to the amount of the estate. If the testator wishes to leave £200 to some one, free of duty, he can do so. If, on the other hand, he thinks everybody should pay a fair proportion of the duty, he can make the bequest without that provision. If he leaves a bequest of £200, free of probate duty, the duty is paid by the estate in the first instance. The Government, in that case, will not be deprived of the amount of probate duty to which it is entitled under the previous Bill. In a small estate, with a number of small legacies, paragraph b may have the effect of making a man getting a £250 legacy pay probate duty, while another receiving a £200 legacy may pay none.

Senator Pearce - A man receiving £200 would pay his proportion in respect of his share.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - It is not so, according to the clause.

Senator Pearce - Yes; in an estate of £1,000 a bequest of £200 represents onefifth, and the beneficiary pays one-fifth of the duty in respect of his share. It is a transfer of a portion of what, otherwise, he is liable for.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - A man who is left a bequest of £250 will share the duty of a man who is to receive a bequest of £200, but the latter will not share the duty of the former. Is that a fair thing, particularly in the case of small estates? I can understand a distinction of that kind being made where a man is to receive a gift of a couple of thousand pounds, or a considerable sum; but even then it is a question which ought to be left in the hands of the testator. If we had succession duties it might be a different tiring for a man getting £200 to pay a smaller percentage than a man who is to receive £400. I could understand a provision under which a stranger should pay 10 per cent., and the widow or child of testator should pay, perhaps, 1 per cent. This paragraph will, I think, only tend to complicate matters, create unnecessary difficulties, and interfere with a testator's desire as to the distribution of his estate.

Senator SENIOR(South Australia} [11.12]. - The discussion has shown thai the wording of paragraph b should be altered by substituting "such" for " the " before " beneficiaries " where lastoccurring.

Senator Pearce - We do not want to do that.

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