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Thursday, 28 November 1935

Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES (South Australia) . - >As the amendment raises the whole question of Commonwealth taxation, I think it desirable that I should state my general views with regard to it before a vote is taken. I wish, at the outset, to dissociate myself from the method adopted by Senator Johnston. Since it does not help in the discussion of the amendment to talk about legalized robbery, I shall not deal with it from that angle. Nor do I intend to vote for it, because to do so would be to take the business out of the hands of the Government. In the budget the Government announced the taxes which it intended to impose, and the remissions which it proposed to give ; but there are some things which justify, I think, some criticism. One of these is the fact that the Government has budgeted for a surplus of approximately £l,000,000.Thus it would appear that Senator Johnston has at least some justification for his amendment. Times are difficult. A substantial surplus may be considered desirable in a year like this, but I believe there would be less chance of adverse criticism if the Government kept its expenditure and income fairly equal. To budget for a surplus of over £1,000,000 is to invite criticism, especially from those business interests which consider they could very well do with that one million pounds. This sum, it should be noted, would be sufficient for the purposes of Senator Johnston's amendment. There can be no questioning - I say this without hesitation - that there is widespread disappointment at the small remissions of direct taxation this year. Senator Johnston was on safe ground when he emphasized that point. There is a general feeling that the remissions should have been greater. It is admitted that the Government is com:mitted to heavy expenditure for defence, but it is also known that its commitments in respect of pensions have been increasing at the rate of about. £1,000,000 a year, and that various public works, which may or may not be developmental, such as, for example, the Red Hill to Port Augusta railway, are being proceeded with. There is undoubtedly a feeling that the Government is spending money which it would be wise to leave in the pockets of the people by a further reduction of taxes.

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