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Wednesday, 10 October 1956

Mr MENZIES - In spite of my advanced years I have a lively recollection of 1934, when, as Acting Premier of Victoria, I advanced a similar proposal, at a Premiers conference, to that outlined by the honorable member. My clear recollection is that it was not very well received, and I am very interested to hear that the proposal has been resuscitated. I am prepared, of course, to consider to-day what 1 advocated 22 years ago, but the honorable member will, of course, realize that the problem is a pretty complex one. I and my colleagues have, from first to last, wished io devise a system under which the restoration of taxing authority to the States would be accompanied by as great a degree of uniformity as possible, so that there would not bc a duplication of returns or a multiplicity of conflicting laws. We stand ready at all times to consider any suggestion along those lines. No State has, in what are termed modern times, put forward a suggestion that it should be given some form of taxing power now exclusive to the Commonwealth. As the honorable member clearly understands, of course, any proposal that a particular kind of tax now exclusive to the Commonwealth should be made available to the States would involve a constitutional amendment, to which the people would have to agree, and experience does not suggest that people vote very heartily in favour of proposals that some one else should have a chance to tax them. That seems to me to be one of the facts of life, but hope springs eternal, and I am always prepared to try anything.

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