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Thursday, 12 November 1964

Senator McKENNA (Tasmania) (Leader of the Opposition) . - I am obliged to the Minister for his assurance that the matter will receive consideration. I should be grateful if he would ask the appropriate Minister, whoever he may be, to advise me when a decision is made, whether or not the Parliament is sitting. There are urgent cases in the field and there is a good deal of concern about this matter. I hope that consideration of the proposals will not be too long deferred. I think the Minister in another place expressed the view that this was a matter not for this Act but for an alteration of the taxation law. I express my very respectful dissent from that view, because since 1954 the income tax law has expressly exempted not only Australian war pensions but also British war pensions from taxation. The taxation policy of the nation is completely clear, and it is not this nation that is taxing in this case. My own view, which I put quite strongly; is that this is not a matter for taxation policy, which is clearly laid down but which has attracted British taxation to the few people in this particular field.

The Minister referred to a remission of tax as a matter for the Commissioner of Taxation. I would agree to that proposition, but I point out that this is a case not of remission of tax, but of denial of a full allowance to very few in the pension field. I hope that the Minister will impress that view on his colleagues, whichever Ministers are concerned in a consideration of the matter. There is no question at all of remission of Australian tax. lt is a question of the quantum of grant of a seaman's allowance at a uniform rate throughout Australia. It is completely clear that under the Government's taxation policy war pensions are free of both Australian and British tax.

As to a form of amendment, I am deliberately not moving a form of amendment. 1 know that these matters need consideration. Some modification may be required. I indicate that the form of amendment that 1 have in mind would be in these words -

In section 53a, after the words " the compensation so payable " insert the words " less the amount of taxation thereon collected by such country ". 1 record it in these words so that at least my thinking to date may be before the Minister when he comes to consider the matter.

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