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Tuesday, 13 December 1927

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - I could understand an honorable senator proposing to exempt from taxation all lands that are used for agricultural purposes, but it is absurd to propose that we should give a concession to the man who works his land on the share-farming system and takes two-thirds of the profits, while at the same time we tax the man who employes labour and puts his land to its fullest use. I would not differentiate between land-owners in any part of Australia. I doubt whether this amendment can constitutionally be made. What a task it is proposed to set the Taxation Commissioner! He would have to increase his staff tremendously, so that they could visit every State and examine all farms worked on the share-farming system in order to prove to his satisfaction that that land was being put to its best use. I cannot seriously entertain a proposition of this kind. Would Senator Greene like the task of touring Australia together with experts and visiting every share-farm to see if it is being worked effectively?

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If I could not do the work without touring Australia I should eat my hat.

Senator FINDLEY - I think it would be necessary to pay personal visits to each farm.


Senator FINDLEY - The task might be easy enough to the honorable senator, but not to the Taxation Commissioner. The honorable senator's definition of " effective use " might be different from that of the Commissioner. In any case such an ambiguity should not be left to the Commissioner. The honorable senator would penalize hard-working farmers who observe arbitration court awards and wages board determinations in the employment of labour - such men, for their own benefit, would put land to its best use - and give an advantage to themen who let their land to share-farmers and dodge arbitration court awards and wages board determinations. We are told that in some parts of the Commonwealth whole families, even the children, are engaged in share-farming in some districts. Inspectors of schools have called attention to the sweating that is indulged in in the dairying industry. They have told us that in some cases the children of dairy-farmers are so tired when they go to school that they fall asleep.

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the honorable senator's indictment of dairyfarming.

Senator FINDLEY - It is not my indictment ; it is what the school inspectors say. The Labour party does not want sweating in any industry. It wants to remove the conditions that bring about sweating in the dairying industry. It wants to make it possible for people who desire to go on the land to get land as owners, and not as tenants on the sharefarming system. Senator Millen has said that there were 2,200 applicants for three blocks in the Grafton district, was evidence not of land shortage, but of speculation. Surely the honorable senator would not contend that, if there were two or three thousand applicants for three jobs, the majority at least would not be genuine applicants for employment. Surely he does not contend that there were not large numbers of genuine, applicants for the land that was made available in the Grafton district. Apart from the injustice that would be done to legitimate farmers if we adopted the suggestion of Senator Greene, there is the loss of revenue that would be involved. It was explained in another place that, if an amendment moved by Mr. Prowse were adopted, it would mean a loss of £300,000 in revenue, and Senator Kingsmill has suggested that the adoption of Senator Greene's amendment would mean a loss of £30,000 in revenue. 1 can give no support to a proposal that would deprive the Treasurer even of £30,000 in revenue, and at the same time penalize legitimate farmers while giving an incentive to the man who is not disposed to work his land as it should be worked. I arn sure the committee will not entertain the amendment seriously.

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