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Wednesday, 10 April 1946

Sir EARLE PAGE (Cowper) .- I am pleased that the Government has decided to grant additional concessions in sales tax, particularly in regard to food and building materials. I wish that greater relief could have been given, because those items have a considerable effect upon the cost of living. It is desirable that this tax should be lifted as early as possible from all items essential to the man on the basic wage. The pyramid effect of sales tax is very great and the value of -the tax, in relation to some items at any rate, is out of proportion to the amount of revenue received from it. The tax should be removed as early as possible from all foodstuffs and all building materials which are still subjectto it. The tax should also be lifted from all goods required for agricultural production.

I bring to the notice of the Government, two anomalies which should be corrected at once. I refer first to septic tanks and chemical materials required in connexion therewith. The Government has removed the tax from certain items but, unfortunately, not from tanks required by country people for the storage of water for domestic purposes. All items connected with drainage and water supply in cities and towns have been exempt from the tax, but tanks for the storage of water on farms are still taxable. I am confident that this anomaly needs only to be mentioned to ensure that it will be rectified without delay. Galvanized iron for the manufacture of tanks should also be free. All nails required for building purposes should be exempt from the tax. It will be appreciated that great quantities of nails are used in constructing timber houses in country towns. Whereas nails may not be a very important item in brick and cement buildings, they are important in timber constructions.

It is urgently necessary to reduce transport costs in country districts. All food products should be transported at the cheapest possible rate from the farms to the market.For this reason, I ask that sales tax be removed from lorries required for such purposes. A great deal of co-ordination has been effected in motor transport services in country districts because of the shortage of petrol and the difficulty in securing tyres. Although I appreciate that there might be some difficulty in differentiating between lorries required for different purposes, I am sure that a method could be devised which would permit of exemption being granted in respect of lorries required for the transport of food. Such a concession would beof inestimable value in country districts' Unless we can reduce costs to dairy-farmers, I fear that many of. them will divert their 'activities to the raising of cattle for beef. We should not do anything to accelerate the tendency in that direction. I therefore urge the Government to give early consideration to the points I have raised. In particular, I hope that it will remove the two anomalies to which I have referred.

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