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Thursday, 27 November 1941

Senator ALLAN MacDONALD (Western Australia) . - I move -

That paragraph (6) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following new paragraph : - " (b) by inserting in paragraph (d) of sub-section (1.) after the word calls ' the words not exceeding £50,'; and".

The purpose of this amendment is to retain the taxation exemption in respect of those individuals who, by the payment of calls on shares, encourage those conducting small gold-mines to increase their production of gold. The amendment affects Western Australia in particular, but it also affects other States in which gold-mining is carried on. By excluding the first £50, we shall retain exemption from income tax for the individuals whom I have mentioned. I am not concerned with these people personally, but with the future of the industry. This exemption is an encouragement which hasbeen given throughout the history of the gold-mining industry. As I have pointed out on several occasions, this industry was the first to be taxed under war conditions. In Western Australia alone, the gold tax yields £1,000,000 per annum, and that money is received by the Treasury, not after a long delay following the issue of an assessment, but from month to month as the gold is won. The State Taxation Department also mulcts the industry to the extent of 4s. in the £1. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to say that the goldmining industry is already bearing an equitable share of the burden of providing revenue for Avar purposes. To discourage the industry at this stage would be fatal. The production of gold is a very important factor of our war effort.

Senator Cameron - The honorable senator supported the gold tax.

Senator ALLAN MacDONALD - I did not. Senator Cameron should be fully acquainted with the facts before making such an absurd statement. The gold-mining industry can play a major part in the rehabilitation of Australia, and contribute substantially towards the cost of the war. Only gold can help us materially to create the needed dollar exchange. The request is reasonable. The amendment which has already been foreshadowed does not go far enough. The one-third rebate might benefit the more wealthy investors. I am not interested in those people. My sole aim is to ensure that there is a continuance of encouragement to prospectors and to owners of small mines, because only by these people can the industry be continued after the larger concerns have ceased to operate. Fifteen thousand workers are at present employed in the Western Australian gold-mining industry, and we should be very careful not to whittle away any of the privileges which the industry has enjoyed in the past, and which have been the means of bringing gold production up to its present level. There is an imminent danger that the industry will deteriorate. Already, gold production in fine ounces in Western Australia has fallen considerably, and if the exemption be abolished altogether, the result may be disastrous. It is the prospectors operating in a small way and the owners of small mines who ensure the stability of the industry. The Government's proposed rebate of tax would benefit the. wealthy shareholders. A mining investor with an income of £300 a year and who had paid £50 in calls during a year would receive a tax deduction of 16s. 7d. at the old rate, but at the new rate of tax would receive a benefit of £1 2s. 3d. The investor on an income of £5,000 a year would receive a benefit of £31 instead of £10.

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