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Wednesday, 30 September 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - The Opposition does not intend to oppose the bill. We welcome every proposal for a reduction of this special form of indirect taxation, because the taxpayer does not know to what extent he is being penalized. I was interested in the attempt by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to assure me that my fears, expressed when the nine sales tax bills were being passed last week, that a considerable proportion of the proposed reductions of taxation would not be passed on to the people .upon whom, finally, all taxation falls, were foundless. 1 am not now convinced by his statement, and I ask him if he can inform me what was the rate of sales tax on tea prior to the exemption proposed in this bill.

Senator Sampson - It would be 5 per cent.

Senator COLLINGS - Then the reduction of the tax on tea retailed at 2s. a lb. should be about 1¼d. ; and as the average working-class family - the only one in which I am particularly interested - does not consume 1 lb. of tea a week I doubt that retailers will pass on to consumers any appreciable amount of the reduction of price due to exemption from sales tax. Even if they do I do not intend to work myself into a state of excited approbation of the Government's action, because I know that, in respect of tea, the reduction of price will not amount to very much in the course of a year. However, we on this side are pleased to know that the list of exemptions from sales tax is being extended. The Leader of the Senate warned us, wisely I think, not to submit hastily, further items for exemption. Even if we did the Government would not take heed of any suggestions made. I hope that honorable senators will not have the idea that in passing this bill they will be doing something to relieve very greatly the financial pressure which always 13 felt by that section of the community whose income is so meagre - the working classes. The Leader of the Senate urged that the passage of the measure should be expedited because the Government had decided that its provisions should operate from the 26th September. J do not approve of that procedure. No legislative proposal, whatever its nature, should become operative until the Senate has had an opportunity to express its views upon it. The ordinary course should have been followed in connexion with this bill. After having been passed by the House of Representatives, it should have been presented to this chamber for its concurrence or otherwise and, if approved, submitted for the Royal assent, before becoming law. I register my protest against the somewhat cavalier fashion in which these matters are settled by the Government without reference to the Senate.

SenatorLECKIE (Victoria) [4.3 j. - I welcome the bill because I believe in giving relief from the sale3 tax by exemptions rather than by gradual reductions of the rate of tax. I also note with approval that at. last the Government has acceded to the wishes of manufacturers by exempting some of the " aids to manufacture ", including oils, greases, &c, which represent a fairly substantial amount. I do not cavil at the Government's proposals, but I do not think that they go far enough. In his secondreading speech this afternoon, the Leader 'of the Senate (Senator Pearce) referred to the relief that is being given in respect of wasting tools, his reference being, I presume, to such articles as files, emery wheels and the like, which certainly are aids to manufacture, and by their nature, are wasting assets. They should have been included in the bill. Although the Government has included in the bill definitions which, to some extent, meet the wishes of manufacturers, it could have gone further, and included such items as patterns, dies, &c. I do not know why those goods are subject to sales tax. If the matter were not so serious to those who have to pay this form of impost, some of the anomalies of the sales tax would be laughable. For instance, a manufacturer in the course of his business makes dies in a machine shop which may be attached, to his premises; very often they are made in the same room as products intended for sale. The sales tax is imposed when the dies, which may cost from fi to £20, are moved from one portion of a shop to another. Apparently the department has given close attention to the list of exemptions embodied in the bill, but it should have included some of the goods I have mentioned. I have had only a casual glance at the bill, but it appears that if one is to understand the purport of such a complicated measure, constant reference to the principal act, the amending legislation, and some of the definitions is necessary. The Government should not be anxious to pass the bill to-day.

Senator Collings - It deals only with exemptions.

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