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Thursday, 1 July 1926


Senator ELLIOTT - -The intention of the principal act is to exempt a man actually engaged in business at the time of his enlistment. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) thinks that the department should discriminate between those who are wealthy and those who are not, but the measure operates irrespective of wealth. The act was intended to assist those who went to the war, despite their position. Many of those who were able to go were wealthy.


Senator Foll - Only those doing good business could come under the provisions of the principal act.


Senator ELLIOTT - -Therefore, the objection of the Leader of the Opposition falls to the ground.


Senator Foll - Not at all.


Senator ELLIOTT - My amendment is to assist those who have a small interest in a business and who have been penalized. I seek to rectify an admitted anomaly. The Treasurer admits that there are anomalies, but apparently the department fell down on its job, as certain officers had not sufficient intelligence to draft a provision to meet hard cases. I have already mentioned a South Australian case, in which a man had been carrying on business in the ordinary way when his health broke down two years before the outbreak of war. The owner of the business went abroad and handed over his responsibility to his principal officer, who carried it on. He returned at the outbreak of war, with his health restored, and, as he found the business was being satisfactorily conducted, considered it his duty to enlist. If he had assumed control of the business on his return, he would have been exempt from the provisions of the act, but because he enlisted immediately after landing in Australia, he has to pay the war-time profits tax. There is also the case of a father and his son, who were carrying on business together. The father was an elderly man, and the son was managing the business for him, although he had not been actually admitted as a partner. When war broke out the father, in a burst of patriotism, said he would carry on and allow his son to enlist. In a couple of years his health broke down, and the boy succeeded him. Under the act the son is not exempt from the provisions of the War-time Profits Act. Had he been formally admitted as a partner prior to the war he would have been in a different position. To make my amendment acceptable to the Minister, I have hedged it around with every possible precaution against fraud. The onus of proof in every case is thrown upon the applicant, who must satisfy the commissioner that he has not merely beer admitted as a partner to defeat the provisions of the War-time Profits Act. I am, however, now in a dilemma. The hill has been introduced to meet certain cases of hardship, and I am anxious that we should not lose those concessions. Therefore, the attitude of the Government alarms me. We have been told that if my amendment ib carried the Government will drop the bill. We should then lose what we have been promised in this measure. I appeal to the Minister to give my proposal a trial. I am satisfied that it will not have the effect which he fears it will have, and that there will not be so many applications.


Senator Crawford - Does the honorable senator' say that only a few people in the " know " will avail themselves of the benefits of his amendment?


Senator ELLIOTT - I suggest that there are only a few cases which will be able to comply with the conditions set out in my amendment.


Senator Crawford - The commissioner bays that it will mean the loss of scores of thousands of pounds.


Senator ELLIOTT - I think that the commissioner is unduly pessimistic. A great majority of returned men are so absent-minded that many have not even claimed their war gratuities.


Senator Crawford - But the honorable senator's amendment involves much more than the payment of a war gratuity.


Senator ELLIOTT - It is possible ihat in the aggregate the concessions will amount to some thousands of pounds; but. the number of individual applicants will not be very great. I cannot see the force of the Minister's objection. Why should a man be exempt from the provisions of the act simply because he happened to be the manager of a business before enlisting? The chances are that the man who was the manager of a business prior to the war drew a fairly substantial salary during the whole of the time that he was away, whereas if he were only an ordinary partner or shareholder in a firm he would not get anything while on active service. The Treasurer admitted that there were anomalies, and my purpose is to help him to remove them.







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