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Tuesday, 13 December 1927

Senator KINGSMILL (Western Australia) . - I have pleasure in supporting the proposal of Senator Greene, which I consider is a very valuable contribution to the debate. Share farming gave to France one of the finest systems of land tenure in the world. The rural population of that country is an example to other countries. I do not think that there would be any great difficulty about the definition of " share farming." Probably no one other than a State authority would be concerned with that definition. I feel sure that the Commissioner of Taxation would not allow anything to be classed as share farming, and thereby gain the benefit of an exemption, unless it could prove its title to be so considered. The Commissioner and his officers would be extremely careful in dealing with share farmers, because they would know that every case adjudged to be share farming would mean a loss of taxation. Honorable senators need not fear that in those circumstances there would be any considerable evasion of taxation. In mining circles we have what is known as a system of tributes. In several of the States, particularly in Western Australia, regulations have been adopted in relation to tributes on mines. The principle is much the same in share farming. If the suggestion of Senator Greene is given effect to - which I hope will be the case - it will be for the States so to amend their acts and regulations that there can be no doubt as to the right of any person to be regarded as a share farmer. It may be contended that the adoption of the honorable senator's suggestion would mean the loss of a certain amount of revenue from direct taxation. I am content to believe that that would be the' case, but I am of the opinion that if the productivity of this country could be increased, as I believe it would be if the suggestion were adopted, we could well afford to lose the small amount of direct taxation involved. I feel sure that after a few years any objections which the Commissioner of Taxation might now have to the suggestion would disappear, because the effect of the exemption would be to provide him with additional taxpayers and greater revenue. I hope, therefore, that the Government will agree to accept the suggestion of Senator

Greene. His proposal emphasizes the undesirability of the Federal Commonwealth being concerned with land tax at all. If, however, the Commonwealth is to remain in the field of land taxation, the tax should be imposed in a way which will not retard the country's progress. The Federal Land Tax has not had the effect hoped for when it was introduced. In my opinion the development of the share farming system would do more to break up big estates than would any system of land taxation.

Senator Herbert Hays - No amendment such as that suggested by Senator Greene is necessary to permit of share farming.

Senator KINGSMILL - That is so; but his proposal if adopted, would have the effect of inducing property holders to let their farms on shares to a greater extent than is now the case with beneficial results to Australia.

Senator Cox - The honorable senator knows that in western and southwestern New South Wales share farming is extensively practised.

Senator KINGSMILL - I am aware of that, but even so, share farming is not carried on to a sufficient extent. If we can by this means induce the owners of large properties to put their land to better use - something which the Federal Land Tax does not do - we shall have increased production and give further employment, with the result that any loss on direct taxation will be more than compensated for. If Senator Greene moves the amendment he has foreshadowed I shall support it.

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