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Wednesday, 26 October 1910

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) . - The definition of " absentee " in the New Zealand Act differs somewhat from the definition in this Bill. I move -

That in paragraph b the words " twelve months" be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " three years."

I think that the adoption of my amendment would have the effect of liberalizing the definition of "absentee." We must recollect that in these days people travel a great deal, and it seems hard that a man who may be absent from Australia for twelve months should be regarded as an absentee. It is of advantage to Australia ihat our people should move about. 1 trust, therefore, that (he Government will recognise the reasonableness of my proposal.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [2.38]. - I wish to say a few words in regard to the earlier portion of the clause. I find that in it " absentee " is defined to be a person who is absent from Australia or the territories under the authority of the Commonwealth "at the lime when the ownership of his land for the purposes of this Act is determined." But paragraph b provides an alternative in that under it an absentee may be a man who " has been absent from Australia and such territories during more .than half of the period of twelve months immediately preceding that date." Thus, if a man has been absent from Australia for seven or nine months prior to the determination of the ownership of his property, he will, strictly speaking, be regarded as an absentee. It is perfectly true that the subsequent portion of the paragraph provides that He may satisfy the Commissioner that he resides in Australia or a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth. I wish to get from the Vice-President of the Executive Council a clear statement as to the construction which the Government place upon this provision. Under it, will it he possible for a man who mav be absent on a visit to another part of the. world for a period of twelve months to be still regarded as a resident of Australia, and not ns an absentee? Very many of our people leave the Commonwealth for twelve months or two years---

Senator Rae - If they can afford to take a pleasure trip of that sort they can afford to nay the tax.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD. - I am endeavouring to discuss the construction which will be placed upon this provision. I am not debating the question of whether persons who undertake a pleasure trip can afford to be taxed. If that is the spirit in which legislation is to be enacted, God help Australia ! It would be a disgraceful thing if such a provision were included in a Statute for that reason. Of course, if the determination of this question is to be left entirely in the hands of the Commissioner, that arrangement will be satisfactory, because I presume that the Commissioner will be chosen on account of his standing and fitness for his office.

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