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Tuesday, 13 December 1927

Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) . - The proposal submitted by Senator Green has much to recommend it, because share-farming under proper administration is likely to result in closer settlement and increased production. All who have had experience in this system of farming, either on the mainland or in Tasmania, know that it has given to industrious men without capital an opportunity to make a start. It has, undoubtedly, been the means of placing thousands of men on the land as successful farmers. I can, however, see many difficulties that would arise from the adoption of this amendment. The principal, in my judgment, would be with regard to the definition of sharefarming. How would the Commissioner determine what land should really come within the scope of the amendment It could be narrowed down to such an extent that it would be exceedingly difficult to say who was and who was not a share-farmer. The owner of a property whose sons usually worked on the farm could so arrange his business that his sons would be taken in as share-farmers, and although the sons were carrying out their work in the ordinary way the farmer would be exempt from a certain amount of taxation. I do not suggest that they would not be bona fide sharefarmers, but I mention the possibility to indicate a direction in which taxation could be avoided by those who so desired.

Senator Kingsmill - It is better for a farmer's son to be working under the share system than for nothing, as some do.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - A farmer does his best for his boys. Generally speaking I think it is the wish, of every farmer to settle his sons upon the / land if they so desire. If we wish to encourage migrants and city dwellers to reside in the country every possible facility should be provided for land-seekers. Each State has its land settlement schemes, and has legislation under which it can compulsorily acquire property suitable for closer settlement. The terms under which such lands are made available are very liberal, and provide for the land to be leased for a period, after which the freehold can bc acquired. In many cases properties, the unimproved value of which exceed £5,000, are subdivided in order to obtain the benefit of the exemption provided under the Federal Land Tax. Every encouragement should be given to share-farming, which at present is extensively carried on in almost, every part of Australia. The system provides a means for men with small capital to engage in rural pursuits - men who are frequently unable to obtain sufficient capital to start farm ing on their own account. I was reared on a farm and have been associated with farming pursuits sufficiently long to realize that it would be exceedingly difficult to give effect to the amendment moved by Senator Greene. During debates in this chamber frequent reference has been made to the small area of suitable land' available to settlers. I have, however, no hesitation in saying that we still have in Australia, convenient to railways and roads, large areas still awaiting settlement. No better land is available in any other part of the world. Senator Findley spoke of the manner in which share-farmers are sweated, but I do not think that such conditions exist in many parts of Australia. There are some who have undertaken pioneering work, and in blazing the trail in the outback country have made the way easier, for those who come after them. Some honorable senators opposite seem to think that a man in possession of a well-improved property has no right to own it unless ho is most heavily taxed ; they seem to forget that he has spent the best years of his life in developing it. In these circumstances surely he is entitled to some consideration. There are large tracts of country adjacent to railways and roads which are available for settlement, but which cannot be obtained at the price which they were offered a few years ago, because railways, roads, telephones and other services have been provided. Reference has been made to the necessity of subdividing large estates in order to increase our wheat production ; but there are large tracts of country which are more suitable for the production of wool. The returns from the wool we export assist largely to ensure our financial stability. As the framers of the Constitution intended that land tax should be imposed by the Federal Government only in the event of national emergency, the Government should now vacate that field of taxation. Notwithstanding the difficulties I have mentioned the amendment has sufficient merit to justify me in supporting it.

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