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Thursday, 28 May 1942

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - This bill also represents the result of a promise given by the Government to certain suggestions made by honorable senators on this side of the chamber to treat more generously certain classes of persons who are affected by legislation relating to estate duty. The measure has been carefully considered by Senator Spicer, and generally the Opposition has no objection to offer to it, although there have been some observations as to this country's lack of generosity to those members of the fighting forces who are serving us so gallantly in various fields of war. As, however, this measure gives to them some relief in that an exemption is made of the first £5,000 of their estate, whereas previously a man who left an estate valued at £5,001 had its whole value taken into consideration in assessing the amount of duty, that objection has largely -been overcome. That is certainly a step in the right direction, but the measure still falls far short of what other portions of the Empire have done in their treatment of men who risk their lives in its interests and whose estates are likely to be affected. Very strong comparisons have been made between the treatment we meted out to our soldiers during the last war, and Britain is meting out to its soldiers on this occasion, and the treatment which we propose to mete out to our soldiers during this war. However, these are the Government's financial proposals. On the whole they represent an improvement od what was originally suggested. They are also much fairer. At the same time, they do not satisfy some critics, who are of opinion that our income tax, estate duty and gift duty provisions are not in keeping with each other. The arguments which I used in relation to the Gift Duty Assessment Bill apply to this measure. As the Minister pointed out in his second-reading speech, an effort is being made under this measure to give a degree of relief to people who benefit under life assurance policies. "Were that principle applied all round, honorable senators on this side would be better pleased. Senator Spicer desired me to make these remarks, and also to say that the matters with which we were mainly concerned, were brought to the notice of the Minister and departmental officers who have promised to give early consideration to them. Senator Spicer also said that the departmental officers were impressed with the views he had expressed. I have no criticism to offer of this measure; but certain people outside seem to think that it is not easy to reach finality in dealingwith the commissioner even in cases of taxpayers who are perfectly honest. The provision to permit the re-opening of assessments is likely to giverise to a great deal of trouble so far as taxpayers generally are concerned.

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