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Wednesday, 7 December 1938


Mr Blackburn n asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice - ls it a fact that the Government lias promised to introduce legislation enabling the owners of trade marks to control the prices at which the trade marked goods are retailed?


Mr Menzies - No such promise has been made.

National Insurance: Comparison of Act with New Zealand Social Sec i: rjty Act. «


Mr JENNINGS (WATSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

With reference to the respective merits of the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act and the New Zealand Social Security Act, will he offer some comparison of the legislation in regard to the national character and the rale of contributions of both?


Mr Casey - The New Zealand project is "national'' in the contributory sense, in that every person receiving a wage or other income must contribute both by direct and indirect taxation to the cost of the social security scheme. As I understand the New Zealand scheme, benefits are not to be distributed on a national basis, but are, in the main, restricted to those people who can pass the various tests as to means, residence, and conduct. Under the Australian National Health and Pensions Insurance Act. benefits will be paid as a contractual right to all who have paid the required number of contributions, and there are no means tests o«- residence tests or other restrictions. Because of this, the Australian scheme will be more national in the distribution of the benefits it provides than will be the New Zealand scheme.

The New Zealand social security project is quite different from national insurance. It does not relate contributions to benefits, and, as previously stated, imposes tests as to means, residence, and conduct. It does not set out to establish any fund to secure future benefits as liabilities increase, but relies on a flat-rate wage and income tax and on increases in other tax revenue.

The rate of tax levied on employees under the New Zealand Social Security Act is considerably higher than the amount of the contribution payable by employees under the Australian National Health and Pensions Insurance Act. In New Zealand, in addition to a flat-rate tax of ls. in the £.1. on wages and other income, an employee is required to pay a registration fee. This registration fee for a man is at the rate of £1 per annum (i.e., over 4-kl. a week), whereas, under the Australian National Health and Pensions Insurance Act. an employee earning the average Australian weekly wage of £4- lis. pays a contribution of ls. 6d. a week (ls. for women). Under the New Zealand Social Security Act an employee on the same wage would be taxed to thu extent of 4s. 11.2 id. (i.e., practically 5s.) a -week.

Constitution a i. Reform : Recommendations of Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers.


Mr Lyons s. - On the 2nd December, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) asked the following question, upon notice -

What action (if any) has been taken by the Government in the matter of the recommendations made by the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers on constitutional matters, held at Melbourne in 1034, on the following matters: - Company law, navigation, jurisdiction of the High Court, quarantine, exhibition of cinematograph films, wireless broadcasting, fisheries in territorial waters?

I have since had an opportunity to go into this matter. At this conference the Commonwealth was represented by eight Ministers, including the late Minister for Trade, and Customs. As I stated at the opening of the conference, the inclusion of a subject on the agenda of tho conference did not necessarily mean that the Commonwealth was asking further powers respecting it. It was thought that the States might desire to discuss the matters included on the agenda, as the Commonwealth might possibly submit proposals to the people.

Of the seven matters specified by the honorable member, six related to amendments of the Constitution, and it was not possible to arrive at a unanimous recommendation with respect to any of these proposed constitutional alterations.

No formal resolutions were passed regarding these matters, but the discussion that took place at the conference cleared the air. For example, the first matter referred to by the honorable member is company law. Only one State expressed itself in favour of giving the Commonwealth any increased powers. As the result of the discussion, however, all the States have brought, or are bringing, their companies laws up to date.

Again,take the subjectwhich was placed before the conference by the honorable member - cinematograph films. Three States expressed themselves as being definitely opposed to the constitutional alteration proposed by the Commonwealth, so no resolution on this matter was carried.

The States adopted a similar attitude towards constitutional amendments relating to navigation and wireless telegraphy, and accordingly no resolution was agreed to.

The proposed amendment relating to the jurisdiction of the High Court was discussed, but it was not possible ' to obtain any general agreement in this matter. The Commonwealth representatives undertook to give the matter further consideration. This has been done; but, as the matter is of comparatively minor importance, the proposed amendment has been allowed to stand over until other amendments to the Constitution are proposed.

The matter of increased powers in relation to fisheries in territorial waters was received sympathetically by the States' representatives. The position, as the result of the conference, was that it was a matter for working out details of an amendment of the Constitution or a reference by the States. The Commonwealth has been in correspondence with the States in this matter, but so far it has not been possible to secure a general agreement as to the form the proposed alteration to the Constitution should take.

The remaining matter - quarantine - which is of minor importance, does not relate to any amendment of the Constitution. It was merely that a joint committee of Commonwealth and State experts should examine and report on all particulars of entry of goods or animals on the ground of disease. All the States agreed to refer the matter to their governments; but, so far, no agreement has been arrived at, and no committee has been formed.







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