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Tuesday, 3 March 1970

Mr GORTON - I think the honourable member, if he had bothered to read the newspaper reports of the Premiers Conference or the transcript of the Conference, which was held in public, would scarcely have needed to ask the question he has because be would have got the answer from such reading. We pointed out to the Premiers the difficulties involved and inherent in transference of income tax to State governments and proposed a number of other means by which State government finances could be assisted. I will again not repeat what was said in the GovernorGeneral's Speech but refer the honourable member to that Speech, because there these alternate methods of assisting State governments are clearly set out. I believe that he is right in his assumption that the Constitution is silent on the question of income tax, but I would point out to him that there have been High Court cases on the subject of the right to levy income tax and that the High Court, as the legally and properly constituted interpreter of the Constitution, has brought down judgments which have led to the present situation. The answer to the third question is no.

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