Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 27 November 1941

Senator COOPER (Queensland) . - The events of the last few days have made the need for an all-party Government more urgent than at any other time. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) proposes to raise in loans and collect in taxes £325,000,000 for the purposes of financing the services of this country. The taxation proposals which he outlined in his budget speech have already been found to be incomplete, and to have such repercussions on the industries of this country that a committee, representative of all the parties in this Parliament, has been set up to advise the Government as to amendments to be effected to those proposals which would make them more workable and acceptable to the people of this country. That shows more than anything else that the Government which now occupies the treasury bench is not capable of carrying on the administration of the affairs of this country alone, and that it needs the assistance of the Opposition to enable it to bring the war effort, to maximum efficiency. Senator Courtice, who spoke on behalf of the Government, said that it is seised of the importance of the responsibilities which have fallen to its lot in carrying on the Australian war effort. I remind the honorable senator however, that when the party which he represents was in Opposition, it should have been imbued with the same high principles that now govern its actions. When the supporters of the present Government were sitting on this side of the chamber and the previous Government brought down taxation proposals similar to those with which we are .now dealing, they condemned them as most obnoxious. I refer particularly to the proposal to withdraw the concessional deduction allowed to taxpayers for children in respect of whom child endowment is received. The child endowment scheme was instituted by the previous Government in order to assist those people in the community who had large families, particularly the basic-wage workers. The previous Government realized, just as does the present Government, that it was necessary to collect revenues from all possible sources in order to meet its heavy war commitments. The former Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) estimated the irreducible minimum requirement for that purpose at £217,000,000. After exploring avenues of taxation, the previous Government decided that it could not continue to allow the concessional deduction for children in respect of whom child endowment was paid. It realized, of course, that such a proposal would bear somewhat heavily upon certain taxpayers ; but it was forced to that decision by the urgency of its needs. Speaking in the House of Representatives on a Supply Bill on the 21st August last, the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley), who was then a member of the Opposition, said -

This scheme of child endowment has proved, under examination, to be in the nature of a trick perpetrated upon the community. . . . We considered that the principle ' of child endowment was very important.

Every honorable senator will agree with that. He continued -

For this reason we regarded the scheme as a step forward along the path of social reform. Now we learn that, instead of making endowment payments a real benefit to the people as we believed they would be, the Government has offset the amount which the workers receive in respect of their children by disallowing the concessional taxation deductions in respect of all but the first child in any family under the of sixteen years.

Taxation is irksome enough when all is said and clone, but it is much more so when such action is taken without legal authority. I direct attention to what is being dime with regard to taxation assessments for income

Binned during the- year 1040-41. In respect of this income the Taxation Department proposes to permit concessional deductions for only one child in each family. The argument advanced by the Taxation Department in support of this action is that taxation assessments are based upon the previous year's income. I admit that that is the general guiding principle of taxation, but its application in respect of the child endowment scheme for this year is entirely wrong. In the first place, the child endowment scheme did not come into operation until July, 1941. Therefore, even if there be any merit, in the department's argument in favour of exclusion of the concessional allowance of £50 each for all but the first child under sixteen years of age in any family, the practice cannot equitably apply to the 1940-41 year of income, when child endowment was not paid. Why is the Government, through the Taxation Department, robbing taxpayers of their concessional rights? The child endowment scheme 1ms been rigged against the workers.

Those statements were made only two months ago by a member of the House of Representatives who, since he has been elevated to ministerial rank, has completely somersaulted in his views in regard to principles of taxation. No doubt he realizes now the urgent need of the Treasurer for securing revenue from every possible source; hut before his elevation to office in the new Ministry, he was either not fully conversant with the difficulties that faced the then Government or he deliberately exploited them for the purpose of placing himself and his party in a false position before the people. Obviously, he had one eye on the anticipated general elections. I have no wish to be offensive, but I cannot refrain from saying that at that time the members of the then Opposition had every opportunity to ascertain the actual position which confronted this .country. It is remarkable that less than three weeks after the Labour party assumed office its supporters have been able to realize all the difficulties that confront a government in securing the necessary revenues with which to prosecute the war. The present Government cannot accuse the Opposition of having failed to facilitate the passage of the measures which it has brought down. In 'giving our assistance, in some instances we have had to reframe the measures brought down by the Government, in the interests not only of the Government, but also of the people of the country.

Suggest corrections