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Thursday, 12 August 1926

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) (1:20 AM) . - In reply to Senator Thompson's objection as to the measure being retrospective, I should like to say that I made a note of that feature of the bill, and intended to explain it when moving the second reading, but unfortunately I overlooked it. The circumstances are these: The Government came to the conclusion, in the last financial year, that the increased salaries should be paid, and instructions were actually given to prepare the bill. It was one .of those measures which we had on the stocks when suddenly it was decided to appeal to the people, and, with a number of others, it was held over. Of course, the officers concerned knew that the Government had approved of the increases, and this measure is made retrospective to honour the promise given to them during the last financial year. As to the late arrival of the bill in the Senate, I agree with the criticism offered. I have had long experience as a member of the Government, and I admit that it is strange that- heads of departments, for some mysterious reason, instead of having their measures ready for introduction earlier in the session, leave them until almost the last moment. As a member of the Government I must plead guilty. I have to confess that I know of no reason why this bill was not presented earlier. With regard to the point raised by Senator McLachlan, that the work of the department is likely to slacken off, I can only say that although the Government may. vacate certain fields of taxation, we shall be collecting this year about £6,500,000 in income taxation, as well as land tax and other taxes.

Senator Guthrie - How long will the Commonwealth be collecting land taxation?

Senator PEARCE - For the present financial year, at all events. We shall still be collecting 60 per cent, of the income tax, and, judging by the present financial outlook, we shall be doing that for someyears to come.

Senator Kingsmill - How long will it take to collect the arrears of land taxation?

Senator PEARCE - Judging by experience, I should say it will take a very loner time. The obligation of the Government with regard to arrears of taxation will, of course, continue. Cases of hardship have to be investigated, and time given to taxpayers, if necessary, to meet their obligations. As honorable senators are aware, a man may have a good income in respect of the year for which he is assessed, and in the following year, owing to business losses may have no income.

Senator Needham - Does the Minister include Sir Sidney Kidman and Mr. Jowett amongst the persons who are suffering hardships?

Senator PEARCE - Those cases have already been sufficiently argued. I do not propose again to state the Government's case. It was put before the people last year and the electors, by returning the Government to power with an increased majority, clearly indicated that they approved of our action. In reply to the point raised by Senator McLachlan, I should like to emphasize that the collection of £6,500,000 in income taxation under what is admittedly an involved system, calls for unusual qualities, and the Government considers that the salaries asked for are not unreasonably high.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clause 1 agreed to.

(2)   This section shall be deemed to have commenced on the 1st day of July, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-five.....

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