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Wednesday, 19 May 1965

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- This debate has produced clarification of the position. I think there is merit in the viewpoints submitted by both Senator Cavanagh and Senator O'Byrne, but they do not dispose of the fundamental verity on which Senator Wood's argument and my argument are based. I remind Senator

Cavanagh (hat in the Housing Loans Insurance Bill we were dealing with a class of persons who would be benefited by the legislation. Here we are dealing with persons who are designated as persons to pay a levy. The imposition of taxation, as distinct from acceptance of a benefit, has always been jealously guarded by the Parliament as its essential duty to define, and it is the right of the individual taxpayer to have himself defined in the legislation so that he will know who he is. The position is not that this is a case appropriate to regulation; it is a case appropriate to definition in the legislation itself. Clause 7 states -

Levy imposed by this Act in respect of a hen is payable by the owner of the hen.

My point - and the principle underlying Senator Wood's point - is that if we are to say, in a case where the owner of the hens cannot be ascertained, that the levy shall be imposed upon the person in control of the hens, the principle would not be denied, because that represents the Parliament's point of view. Liability may in the course of one year amount to £1,000, but even if it is only £10 the principle is just as important from my point of view. However, it will be possible for an officer in the office of Minister X to transfer the liability from the real owner to a person whom the official conclusively designates as the owner, by an instrument in writing which is secret until it is produced in a court of law. It is this sort of edict, coming from an official office, against which individuals have no right to be heard in protest, that erodes the very principle upon which parliamentary democracy is founded - the principle that if a taxation measure is being passed it is for the Parliament to define the person who is to be the taxpayer, the person upon whom the levy is made. That is the principle upon which my request was based.

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