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Wednesday, 20 May 1936

Senator DEIN (New South Wales) . - I welcome this bill, because it is a step towards uniformity - a principle which should be encouraged to the fullest possible extent.. One of the most gratifying features of this bill is that it has developed from the findings of theRoyal

Commission on Taxation, which conducted its investigations a few years ago. It is not always that a government finds itself in a position to introduce legislation to give effect to the findings of royal commissions, which makes it all the more pleasing that in this particular case that happy result has been achieved. It may, in the circumstances, be justly claimed that, not only the appointment of but also the expense incurred by, the Royal Commission on Taxation has been justified. Of late years royal commissions have been 3et up with more or less monotonous frequency. They may be likened to a sink down which the public funds have been poured with remarkable liberality, while the unfortunate taxpayers have stood by in bewilderment. Happily, however, the Royal Commission on Taxation has amply justified itself.

A good deal has been said by the honorable senators of the Labour party regarding the distribution of taxation over the community. I have obtained some illuminating figures on this aspect of the subject which show quite clearly that income tax at least has been imposed in accordance with the general principle that taxes should fall most heavily on the shoulders of those who are best able to pay. In 1934-35 a total of 149,366 taxpayers with taxable incomes up to £200 paid £197,414 in taxes, or about £1 7s. a -head. It cannot be said that that is an unbearable impost. A total of 46,987 taxpayers with taxable incomes ranging from. £201 to £500 paid £374,427 in taxes, or 5.9 per cent, of the total income tax collected; 22,769 taxpayers with taxable incomes from £501 to £1,000 paid £656,925 in taxes, or 10.4 per cent, of the total amount collected ; and 13,245 taxpayers with taxable incomes exceeding £1,000 paid £3,079,697 in taxes, or 48.8 per cent, of the total amount collected. Those figures do not include company taxation. It will be seen from what I have said that the taxation of this country is distributed equitably over the whole community. We know, unfortunately, that the sales tax falls upon those in menial circumstances as well as those in a more affluent position, but it should be remembered that many commodities in common use are exempt from sales tax.

I hope that the list of exempt goods will be enlarged during the next financial year. I have made these remarks principally because the honorable senators of the Labour party devoted most of the time they occupied to the pointing out of alleged taxation injustices to the workers. No doubt they realize that their speeches will read well in Hansard, and will " go down " with people who do not know the facts of the case, and who are likely to believe the frequently-made contention that this is " a rich man's government ".

I shall support the bill because it implements, to a very large degree, the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Taxation. The measure has been well received by taxpayers generally, and the Government may be heartily congratulated upon having introduced it.

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