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Tuesday, 13 December 1927

Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia) . - I have listened with a good deal of interest to the discussion on the amendment suggested and now submitted by Senator Greene. Perhaps I am. to some extent to blamefor the irregularity of the debate, because I did not earlier indicate the attitude of the Government towards the proposal. The consideration of the merits of share-farming might very well engage the attention of the Senate in a discussion of a measure relating to land taxation. Senator Findlev has given us the benefit of his views. There is, however, another side. Share-farming has enabled many men to get on their feet and finally to acquire the freehold of a considerable amount of property. The Government cannot accept the amendment moved by Senator Greene. The Commissioner of Taxation has already considered the proposal from a somewhat wider angle. Mr. Prowse, a member of another place, sought to include in the bill when it was being discussed elsewhere a provision to exempt from the land tax all lands used for agricultural purposes. So impressed was the Government with the suggestion that the Treasurer promised to have inquiries made before the measure was dealt with by this chamber. Accordingly the deputy commissioners were invited to express their opinion on the suggestion, and also its probable effect on the revenue. They have reported that it would be difficult to administer the provision, and that, if adopted, it would result in a loss of £300,000 per annum. Something has been said about the de-, sirability of putting land to its best use. I know of no class of men in the community who are better able to judge when they are getting a full return from land than the owners of it. There is a good deal of misapprehension amongst certain people on this subject. Apparently many people think, when they see sheep grazing on a property, that it would be put to much better use if it were ploughed and cultivated. I have had some personal experience, and perhaps I speak with some feeling on this subject. The prospect, I admit, is very alluring to a land-owner who thinks that by letting his property out on the share system he can get his work done for nothing and still enjoy a substantial return. As a matter of fact, under present conditions a considerable area of land that is now let on the share system for cultivation would give a much better return if it were judiciously and properly handled as a grazing proposition. Because of the difficulties in administration mentioned by the officers of the department, the Government was reluctantly obliged to reject the proposition made by Mr. Prowse in another place, and I now reluctantly oppose the amendment submitted by Senator Greene.

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