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Wednesday, 26 October 1910

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - When I find Senator Givens affirming that what is proposed in the paragraph under discussion is an alternative, I feel that it is incumbent upon me to direct attention to what we are really doing. Neither the case that Senator Givens mentioned, nor that of the imaginary millionaire suggested by Senator Rae, would be covered by the provision which it is proposed to amend. It is idle to say that the amendment would in any way affect those imaginary millionaires who are the bugbear of honorable senators opposite, and who, it is supposed, might come to Australia for a few days in order to escape the tax. They are dealt with in the first portion of the clause, which defines what an absentee is. Then the clause goes on to include others, but not to exclude those already defined.

Senator Rae - Suppose a person had been a resident of Australia, and went away. Would he retain the advantages given to him by his temporary residence?

Senator MILLEN - At present I am only showing that the imaginary characters brought into the discussion by the Vice-President of the Executive Council and by Senator Rae - who resorted to an air-ship - have been introduced to cloud the issue. Those individuals are covered by the first portion of the clause. There is no loophole of escape for .them. They can come here as often as they like, but they will still be taxed as absentees. Then, however, the clause goes on to deal with other people, residents of Australia, who may be temporarily absent.

Senator McGregor - Residents of Australia who intend to make themselves absentees.

Senator MILLEN - We cannot tax people on their intentions. I have no doubt that it is disappointing to my honorable friends opposite to know that. Persons resident abroad, but who might come to Australia for a few days of the year, would not be exempt from being classified as absentees under the Bill itself. But then the clause goes on to deal with those who have been absent from Australia for certain purposes. They are the people in whose interest the amendment has been moved - residents of Australia who are called upon, because of their business, to visit other countries, but whose absence is not permanent. Their homes and their families are here, and they are legally resident here. Vet this Bill throws upon them the obligation once a year of going to the Commissioner, and proving to him that they are residents. What advantage is it from the point of view of this Bill to require such persons to prove their residence in Australia?

Senator Long - Is not that an exceedingly simple process?

Senator MILLEN - It is not such a simple process as my honorable friend may suppose; but even if it were, why should we throw an obligation of that sort upon residents? It would entail upon busy men some amount of worry, trouble, and inconvenience. The amendment does not enable a single individual who is not a resident of Australia to escape. He is already tied up by the first portion of the clause. A provision is proposed which, without affording any protection to the revenue against those who may fraudulently desire to escape just taxation, will be a source of irritation and annoyance to the taxpayers of the country. I can see no reason whatever for the refusal to accept the amendment, seeing that under the first part of the definition genuine absentees are completely provided for.

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