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Tuesday, 25 November 1941

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) .- 1 deplore this kind of taxation, as I do all forms of taxation other than income tax, land tax and probate duties.

Mb. McDonald. - Land tax: is the unfairest of them all.

Mr CALWELL - It is a> tax which may press unfairly om some land-holders in country districts) but it also- operates on city properties.

M,r.. SPEAKER.: - Order ! The honorable member may not discuss the land tax in connexion- with this measure.

Mk. CALWELL. - An additional impost of one halfpenny on each letter will place a further burden- on the masses of the people. It would appear that the proprietors of newspapers have been carefully excluded from this additional tax because,, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) pointed out, although each letter will have to bear an additional halfpenny stamp, the proprietors of newspapers- will have to pay only the same amount for newspapers in hulk weighing i20 oz. I could understand that rate applying to COUntry newspapers with a small circulation, but

I cannot see any reason why the owners of metropolitan daily newspapers should, at a time when other sections of the community are making great sacrifices, be allowed to escape their share of the burden. The bill does not provide for equality of sacrifice. I suggest that each newspaper should boar an additional halfpenny stamp if each letter must do so. Since the war started, the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner has authorized an increase by 331/3 per cent. of the prices charged for newspapers, notwithstanding that they have been reduced considerably in size and that consequently the cost of production must be less than it was previously. It would appear that the owners of newspapers are able to convince the authorities that they really perform some useful public service in the dissemination of news, notwithstanding that frequently they do not tell the truth, and indeed are more a menace rather than an instrument for good in the community. I ask the Government not to be too tenderhearted when dealing with newspaper proprietors, or too solicitous of their welfare, but to call upon them to share the increased burdens which are being placed on the community generally under this bill.

Mr Sheehan - They would pass on the increased charges.

Mr CALWELL - There is a limit to the degree to which that can be done. I have heard it suggested from the Opposition benches that a tax should be imposed on newspaper advertisements. Indeed I have advocated such a tax myself as a means of disciplining the people concerned and making them contribute towards the cost of the war. I should prefer a tax on advertisements in newspapers to a tax on letters which people generally are sending to their friends more frequently now than in normal times. Although I am not enthusiastic about the bill, I shall support it. but I hope that we shall have an assurance from the Minister that there will be no further increases of postal rates. I fear that this budget, bad as it is, is not the worst which will be presented to this Parliament, but that subsequent budgets may provide for still higher postal rates.

Mr Chifley - Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Mr CALWELL - I do not think that the Treasurer should adopt catchascatchcan methods, and I trust that something better will be found in the future. This additional tax will not be popular among the workers, and, therefore, I ask the Minister to give an assurance that the rates set out in the schedule will not be further increased, and that the operation of the bill will be confined to the war and a definite period thereafter.

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