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Thursday, 27 November 1941

Senator ALLAN MacDONALD (Western Australia) . - I regret exceedingly that the Government has seen fit to disagree with these amendments. There has been a consultation with the Government on the matter, and the Senate. has again been placed in rather a false position, inasmuch as the committee on taxation which reviewed the incidence of this amending Income Tax Assessment Bill came to certain decisions, in regard to which the members of the Senate were not consulted. Apparently the Government holds the view that acceptance of the Senate's amendment to exempt the first £50 in respect of calls paid to mining companies would mean the subsidizing of the investment by S3 per cent. According to the figures supplied by the Government, it would appear that under the amendment the exemption would increase alarmingly compared with the pre-war exemption. On an income of £300, the tax benefit received by the taxpayer prior to the war, in respect of a payment amounting to £50, was 16s. 7d. Under my amendment, it would be increased to £6 13s. 4d. The Government proposes to increase it to £1 2s. 3d., consequently the investor will receive some additional benefit. So the story continues, until the wealthy mining investor on the £5,000 mark is reached. His tax benefit, pre-war, amounted to £10 7s. 9d. This would be increased to £41 13s. 4d. under my amendment, and to £108s. 4d. under the proposal of the Government. I am not particularly interested in the wealthy mining investor, but I am concerned about the gold-mining industry of Western Australia. The Government is doing a disservice to that industry by declining to accept some amendment, if not the amendment passed by the Senate. I had no intention of asserting that the £50, representing the initial exemption, should be a rigid figure. It could be reduced, and the more highly salaried man could be restricted by the limitation or cancellation of the deduction when the amount paid in mining calls exceeded, say, £200 or £250. The Government remained adamant, however, and we have no alternative but to accept its decision. It would appear that the Government does not think the industry as important as we consider it to be. I repeat that the gold-mining and oil exploration industries and afforestation schemes will be affected by this tax, because once we commence a policy of whittling away inducements to pay calls no one knows where it may stop. The effect of this measure on the investing public may be detrimental to these industries. In future when committees are appointed representative of all parties in this Parliament to inquire into the effect of proposed legislation, this chamber should be properly represented. Honorable senators should refuse to continue to be the " Yes men " of the members of the House of Representatives. I have consistently objected to the Senate being placed in such a position. The Government does not improve its standing in this chamber by ignoring the rights of honorable senators to participate in the deliberations of such committees.

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