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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Senator COLLINGS - Whilst the nation is at war?

Senator McLEAY - With the object of scaring a number of uninformed people, the statement has been made on the Government's behalf that these uniform taxation proposals are essential for the proper prosecution of the war. That statement is not true. The Commonwealth has the power to tax and to borrow compulsorily without compelling or bludgeoning the States to enter into the scheme. If the States then found that their citizens were taxed too heavily they could reduce their own taxes. The onus would be on them to do so, but itis certainly not the responsibility of the Commonwealth to interfere.

Senator Crawford - They could then apply to the Commonwealth for a grant.

Senator McLEAY - There would be nothing wrong in the States applying to the Commonwealth for grants. I appeal to honorable senators not to be misled into believing that these measures are essential, for the efficient prosecution of the war, because it is not true. Another argument advanced in support of these measures is that man-power will be released. It is a pity that the Minister for Trade and Customs and his colleagues who profess to want to release man-power do not turn their attention to dog-racing and to the ranks of the union secretaries who are sheltered from war service. Very little man-power can be released by means of the uniform tax because, in Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, Commonwealth and State taxes are collected by the one authority. Moreover, State taxation departments are conconcerned with taxes other than income tax and a staff will have to be maintained to deal with those taxes. The Commonwealth has the power but not the courage to raise all the revenues it needs.

Senator Darcey - By the use of national credit.

Senator McLEAY - No, the national credit policy espoused by Senator Darcey would lead to disaster. According to the last figures I have seen the national income amounted to £800,000,000. I understand that this financial year it will rise to £1,000,000,000. Of that income 70 per cent, is earned by people earning less than £400 a year. This Government lacks not only the courage to tax the wage-earners sufficiently, but also to compel them to save by the system of post-war credits on which theFadden budget was based. People on small incomes would find postwar credits a godsend when the war ends. I oppose the bill and I trust that it will be rejected by the Senate.

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