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Wednesday, 3 June 1942


Senator MCBRIDE - The honorable senator admits that it was a handicap.


Senator LARGE - It was, in the circumstances, but it is not now. I recall attending a meeting of a wages board many years ago, and, at the conclusion of the evidence tendered on behalf of the employees, the chairman said that he was convinced that the engineers had made out a case for the granting of the full amounts claimed, but he considered that he would be inflicting an injustice on the manufacturing section in New South. "Wales if he gave to the engineers the increase of pay sought by them, because it would act as a handicap to the employers in their competition with manufacturers over the border, particularly Victoria. The employers' representative remarked that they would not object to the employees receiving double the wage they claimed if similar conditions operated in the other States. Of course, Senator Spicer is a good party man, and he makes the best of a bad case, but he spoilt his effort in trying to preserve the disparity that existed between the States prior to the present attempt by the Government to secure uniform income taxation.

In the opinion of Senator Leckie, this bill is unconstitutional,, but he thinks that it is quite possible that the High Court will decide that the measure is constitutional, and, in the event of the court so deciding, the Government might introduce all kinds of drastic legislation on a similar basis without consulting the people. Obviously this measure is to operate only for the duration of the war and one year afterwards. I regret that fact, and I hope that, at the end of the period for which the bill will operate, a referendum of the people will be taken to determine whether the system of uniform income taxation should be maintained. 1 should have little doubt as to the result of a referendum on the matter. Personally, I am so incensed at the petty squabbles between the States that I should be prepared to abolish the State parliaments. There are too many parliaments at present. In place of the State Parliaments, I should substitute provincial councils.


Senator Foll - I should be happy to support such a proposal.


Senator LARGE - I have always advocated the abolition of the State parliaments, although many friends of mine are members of those institutions. Senator Leckie is concerned at the fact that New South "Wales will apparently benefit because it has been the spearhead of social legislation for many years. Were it not that that legislation was initiated in that State, we should not now be debating the present proposal. Many years ago, the Commonwealth Government should have taken the steps that it now proposes by presenting the bills now under discussion. During the last ten years, the parties in power have not represented the vast majority of the voters who were anxious for an improvement of the social conditions of the " under-dog I did not expect anything beneficial to the workers to happen during that period. The Commonwealth Government ought to have acted many years ago. Federation was secured by means of misrepresentation. The people voted for it under the impression that the Commonwealth would gradually assimilate various State activities, until eventually the many State Parliaments would disappear. To-day Senator McBride became jubilant at the prospect of facing honorable senators with statements that they made some time ago - statements contrary .to those which they have expressed when discussing this bill; but the honorable senator did not give one instance of such a reversal of form. He had another brain-wave when he advocated that the Prime Minister should first have convinced the State Premiers of the necessity for these proposals, in which event they would not have been opposed when brought before the Parliament. I cannot imagine any proposal which emanated from the present Government pleasing Senator McBride; nor can I imagine State Premiers, jealous of their own place and power, agreeing to a proposal which would take from them th? right *« levy taxes.


Senator MCBRIDE - Even though four Labour Premiers were among them?


Senator LARGE - Even though all of them were Labour Premiers. When travelling in Queensland recently, I met a number of prominent and wealthy citizens who reside in the Darling Down3 electorate. One of them said that the passing of legislation to provide for uniform income taxation would confer a great blessing on the community. Another who is an accountant, told me that if these proposals became law, his duties would be greatly simplified. He explained that his employers had financial interests in several States, necessitating the preparation of 30 different returns. He rejoiced in the prospect of uniform income taxation simplifying his task. Two other gentlemen in the party who had always voted for United Australia party candidates - that is to say. candidates who to-day would be classed as members of that party - said that if a decent, clean-living man of reasonable intelligence were to offer himself as a candidate in the Labour interests, they would vote for him. That statement was a sign of the times - an indication of the swing that is coming. The opposition to this measure is only a sham fight. When I compare the expressed desire of honorable senators opposite to support the Government's war effort, with the enthusiasm with which they take every opportunity to hinder that effort, I can come to no other conclusion than that they are insincere. A close analysis of the remarks of various Opposition senators who have spoken will be sufficient to condemn them in the eyes of the general public. I shall support the bill, which I am confident will be passed by the Senate.







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