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Thursday, 14 May 1942

Senator FRASER (Western Australia) (Minister for External Territories) - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) should be fair in his remarks on these bills. He will agree, I think, that, the conditions obtaining in Australia at present are vastly different from those in December, 1940. T have yet to learn that any additional sum granted to the invalid and old-age pensioners would he expended on luxury goods. No increase of the sales tax on basic foods is proposed; but increases are to he made of the sales tax on luxury goods. All medicines are to be exempt from the tax. The Leader of the Opposition was not logical in picking out the increase of the tax on cider and referring to the effect that the increase would have on primary producers.

Senator McLEAY (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I thought that the Government was anxious to dispose of the apple crop.

Senator FRASER - That is being done as fast as possible. The present Government is in a better position with regard to- the apple industry than was the Government with which the honorable senator was associated. We hope that the increases of the sales tax will assist in the transfer of man-power from civil to war production. The Leader of the Opposition, in referring to the increase of the invalid and old-age pension, spoke of the unfortunate plight of the wheat-farmers. Despite all of the disabilities with which the Government has had to contend, it has put into operation measures beneficial to the primary producers. It is not ashamed of the work that it has done and it has no hesitation in telling the people that they must respond to the call of their country. The Leader of the Opposition and Senator McBride were not fair in suggesting that the increase of the sales tax and the increase of invalid and oldage pensions amounted to taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another. This Government has done what the Menzies Government was afraid to do.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bills read a second time and reported from committee without requests or debate; report adopted.

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