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Wednesday, 24 October 1956

Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) .- I strongly support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), on behalf of the Opposition. I suggest that the proposal to increase the zone B allowance from £20 to £30 is an insult to those who live in that zone. If honorable members look at the map of Australia they will find that that zone covers some of the central part of Australia and extends from north of Adelaide to Alice Springs. This zone allowance is the only incentive to which the Government believes the people in that area are entitled - a miserly, petty £30. Do honorable members opposite really think that that will encourage people to go there? As my friend the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. H. V. Johnson) has said, it will do nothing of the kind. Even an allowance of £90 would not be such a large amount. Certainly it would not be large in relation to salaries or incomes of £5,000, £3,000, £2,000, or even £1,000. I protest at the paucity of the proposed increase of £10 for zone B. It is proposed to raise the allowance for residents of zone A from £120 to £180, which is a little more just.

Zone B in Tasmania covers the west coast. Much of the zone is in my electorate which, by the way, covers an area of 13,500 square miles, or half of the area of the island of Tasmania. Queenstown, which is in zone B, is 190 miles from the nearest large town, which is Hobart, the capital. I find that the boundary of zone A, in Queensland, is only 75 miles from Cairns, so that people who live 75 miles from Cairns are to receive an allowance of £180. whereas people who live at Queenstown, 190 miles from Hobart, are to have an allowance of only £30. There is no justice in that arrangement. The west coast of Tasmania is noted for mining activity and mineral resources. Large hydro-electric establishments are located in my electorate, and in addition, there are in the area two great forestry undertakings. The west coast is a very isolated area of the State. Yet, as I have said, the residents of the area will be entitled, under this bill, to a taxation exemption of only £30!

In principle, of course, zone allowances are excellent, but they do not go far enough. [ consider that the people living in zone A should be exempt from taxation altogether. If they are prepared to go into that area, that is the least that the Government should do for them. I understand that the residents of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea are exempt from federal taxation. If honorable gentlemen opposite contend that those people are more isolated than are the residents of this vast zone A, then I cannot understand their reasoning.

Mr Pearce - Of course they are!

Mr DUTHIE - Nothing of the kind. Because of the modern facilities and amenities that now exist in New Guinea, the residents are not as isolated as are the residents of the central part of the continent of Australia. I believe that the people who go to central and Northern Australia, particularly to the Northern Territory, are just as much entitled to exemption from taxation as are the residents of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I understand that the Government of "Canada gives large tax concessions to the people who live in the isolated north, particularly in the mining districts. Perhaps it would be a good idea to examine the Canadian legislation with a view to seeing whether we might not be able to adopt some of its provisions. Although I appreciate that the amendment put forward on behalf of the Opposition will not be carried, I entirely approve of it.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Crean's amendment) stand part of the clause.

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