Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 9 November 1964

Senator CANT (Western Australia) . - I support the Bill. Like Senator Branson, I come from Western Australia. I notice that the amount claimed by Western Australia was £8,646,000 and that the amount recommended by the Commission is £8,560,000, which means that the Western Australia claim was not satisfied to the extent of £80,000. That, of course, is perfectly reasonable. Tasmania claimed £7,267,000 and the amount recommended is £7,300,000, which means that it will receive £33,000 more than it claimed. That should make the Premier of Tasmania reasonably happy. There are a couple of aspects of this matter that I wish to consider. In paragraph 159, at page 85 of the report, the Commission states -

In arriving at its adjustments for the relative severity of State non-income taxation in 1962-63, the Commission has followed the procedure of recent years. This procedure is to calculate the revenue which would have been raised by each claimant State if it had levied taxes at the average rates and with the average exemptions applied in the standard States of New South Wales and Victoria in respect to the subject-matters of the various taxes actually existing in each claimant Slate. The revenue which would thus have been raised by each claimant State is then compared with the revenue which that State actually raised.

There is a comparison of the. tax rates. In past years some of the claimant States have been adversely affected because their revenue-raising field was not sufficiently exploited.

Then paragraph 160 states -

The Commission's calculations show that, in 1962-63, if the claimant States had levied taxes at the average rates and with the average exemptions applied in the standard States, Western Australia would have raised £217,000 less and Tasmania £72,000 less than they actually raised.

Because the two States are claimant States and because they are forced to maintain some comparability with the standard States, they have applied taxation at greater rates than were necessary. This, of course, places an added burden on States that are striving for development. To me, this is not a good thing because these are States that have to attract capital. One of the reasons why Sir Thomas Playford was able to attract so much capital to South Australia in past years was that South Australia became known as the low wage State of Australia and industry was prepared to go there. No doubt, if taxes and levies on industries are lower in a particular State, that State will attract industries. But the claimant States, in order to conform with a set standard, are forced to lexy taxes at higher rates than are necessary. Thus, they will not be very successful in attracting industries. For this reason, I think that we should have a look at this matter.

One of the standard States has threatened to impose an income tax in addition to the uniform income tax that is imposed by the Commonwealth Government. It is increasing public charges, such as freights and fares, within the State. Mr. Bolte has said that he must have an extra £5 million, and that is why he proposes to introduce State income taxation. If Victoria increases taxes and other States raise their standards of taxation to keep up with Victoria, that will not be good for the development of the two claimant States. It will not reduce the time for which they will bc claimant States. In paragraph 167 the Commission states -

Adverse adjustments have been made for Western Australia of £200,000 in respect of railways and £50,000 in respect of metropolitan transport.

Of course, Western Australia is a very large State and its population is scattered. The railways have to run over quite a lot of country that does not attract freights or passengers. Passenger traffic has almost gone out of existence in country areas. Because of the long distances over which goods and passengers have to be carried, it is very difficult to make the Western Australian railways pay. It seems to me that the State should be given greater consideration in this regard. Instead of being adversely affected to the extent of £200,000 in respect of railways, perhaps some adjustment could be made. An adverse adjustment of £50,000 has been made in respect of metropolitan transport. This is a public service that must operate. Whilst it is true that greater numbers of people are travelling by their own motor transport, there are people within the community who cannot afford private motor transport. They must use public transport. It is almost impossible to run metropolitan transport at a profit, particularly when one considers the cost of replacement of equipment. I think the States will have to be given more assistance in providing public transport.

Senator Wright - Why should not a service be made to pay its way.

Senator CANT - If one looks at metropolitan transport, one finds that if charges are increased to make it pay, traffic will be driven away from it. This is the type of problem that the people who operate these transport systems have to face. The honorable senator can drive around in his motor car, but what about the man who has not got a motor car? He must have some sort of transport to enable him to get backwards and forwards to his work, and his family must have some sort of transport in which to travel. If we raise transport charges we will only force him to travel with a friend who has a motor car. If we adopt that attitude, in a short time we will not have a metropolitan transport system at all. In paragraph 168 the Commission states -

In addition, an unfavourable adjustment of £64,000 for Western Australia has been made in respect of the impact on the financial results of State business undertakings of differences in State basic-wage policies . . .

I do not know what the Commission means by that paragraph. The only difference in State basic wage policies that I know of is that in Western Australia there is a discretion in the State Industrial Commission - in 1962-63 it was the State Industrial Court - to apply quarterly adjustments to the .basic wage. The State Government has said that this discretion must remain in the hands of the Commission and it is to be exercised if the Commission thinks it should be. If an arbitration authority determines that it should exercise its discretion in favour of the working people that is not a reason why the State should be penalised to the extent of £64,000.

Senator Wright - If Western Australia adopts an artificial basic wage, in relation to Sydney, it cannot expect Sydney to subsidise it.

Senator CANT - I do not think it is an artificial basic wage. It is not a wage that has been determined in accordance with the material that is presented to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It is a wage that has to be made up within the State itself. The Industrial Commission determines the wage. Surely, if the Commission determines the wage, it has the responsibility to maintain the value of the wage. That is all that happens in Western Australia. The method of maintaining the value of the wage is to adjust it in accordance with the consumer price index. If there are movements in the consumer price index in excess of ls. in any one quarter, the wage must be adjusted if its value is to be maintained. Because the Commission has seen fit to adjust the wage, the State is penalised to the extent of £64,000. I think that should not happen. These are matters that should be considered.

It is true that the Western Australian Government supported the different method of assessment of social services. The State comes out of it better than it has done in other years. It has favorable adjustments for 1962-63 of £250,000 in respect of social services and of £220,000 in respect of non-income taxation and it has an unfavorable adjustment of £314,000, which gives it an overall favorable adjustment of £156,000. If the State is to progress as it should and if it is to catch up with the development that has taken place over the years in the south-east corner of Australia it will need to have more money. As the Commonwealth Government has almost the sole responsibility for gathering money from the taxpayers of Australia, it should do more for the development and decentralisation of the claimant States so that the time may arrive when they will not be claimant States. With these remarks, I support the measure.

Suggest corrections