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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) . - I shall speak very briefly on these measures which have received the unanimous opposition of the parliaments and governments of all States regardless of their political colour. A resolution opposing this legislation was carried by both Houses of the Parliament of Western Australia, with only one dissentient. I have received from the Premier of Western Australia the following letter, dated 15th May last: -

I desire to inform you that the following resolution has been carried by both Houses of the Parliament of Western Australia: - " That this House expresses its strongest opposition to what are known as the uniform taxation proposals. These proposals would deprive the States of their constitutional power to levy income tax and thus seriously impair the exercise of functions entrusted to them under the Constitution for the welfare of the people. They would effect a fundamental change in the Constitution of Australia in an undemocratic manner without reference to the people, and would violate the rights of the States and the people. It has not been shown that the proposals are essentia] for the war effort and it is the opinion of this House that they should not be put into effect. The Western Australian members of the Senate be requested by this Parliament to exercise their privileges as protectors of State rights and in the interests of this State to oppose the proposals. Other State governments be requested by the Premier to take similar action ".

This is the first time within my memory that honorable senators representing Western Australia have been directly and unanimously appealed to by both Houses of the State legislature. The appeal carries great weight with me. The letter continues -

The fact that this resolution was carried by both Houses of the State Legislature with only one dissentient voice indicates clearly the feeling of the people of Western Australia on this issue.

The resolution is forwarded to you accordingly for your earnest consideration.

In view of that resolution and believing that the Senate should be essentially a States House I intend to vote against the second reading of the four taxation measures introduced yesterday. I welcome the desire of the State Parliament and the Government of Western Australia to co-operate with honorable senators representing that State as expressed in that resolution. I hope that it is the forerunner of closer association between the State Parliament and senators representing that State regardless of party.

Another matter of first importance to Western Australia engaged the attention of the State Parliament during the week in which that resolution was carried. The Western Australia Hansard dated the 13th May last, records the almost simultaneous passage through both Houses of a resolution regarding the gold-mining industry in Western Australia. That resolution reads -

That, in the opinion of this House, in view of the vital importance of the gold-mining industry to Western Australia, it is highly undesirable that the continuance of the industry should be imperilled by further heavy demands upon its personnel until there has been a comprehensive marshalling of the manpower available from other avocations less essential to the stability of the State and to the successful prosecution of the war effort.

Last week a deputation from Western Australia, headed by the Premier and the

Minister for Mines of the State, visited Canberra and presented that resolution to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman). I saw some of the members of that deputation about the Souse and at the Hotel Canberra, but I, as a Western Australian senator, was not asked to assist the deputation in any way.

Senator Collett - The honorable senator was not the only one overlooked.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I understand that my Western Australian colleagues on both sides of the chamber were overlooked. Honorable senators representing Western Australia, including yourself, Mr. President, have been endeavouring to protect the interests of the gold-mining industry of Western Australia. I am told that the deputation had a long interview with the Prime Minister and the Minister for War Organization of Industry and that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) was quite properly present at the gathering. I regret that the same privilege was not afforded to Western Australian members of the Senate who were in Canberra at the time. I should have appreciated the opportunity to be present as one of the representatives of the gold-fields of Western Australia. Believing that it is the duty of the Senate ro safeguard the interests of the States in general, and those of the less populous States in particular, I intend to oppose the second reading of this measure. If, contrary to my vote the principle of uniform taxation be approved by the passage of this bill, I shall then accept the Government's proposals, as a war-time measure only.

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