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Wednesday, 26 October 1910

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - What Senator Rae has said is unanswerable, but the clause does not support it. The difficulty is that the definition as set out in the first paragraph comes into conflict with the second, in which an en tirely different definition is given. It rests as an obligation upon the friends of the Bill to reconcile this difference. If they accept the definition which Senator Rae has given as the basis for determining the value of an improvement, they should not accept the next paragraph, which says that the value of the improvement shall be estimated not on the basis of what it cost to make it, but on the basis of the additional value which is added to the land. That is the very thing which Senator Rae does not desire.

Senator McGregor - The honorable senator is putting it upside down.

Senator MILLEN - I do not think so. There is a conflict between the two paragraphs. Senator Rae has contended that no improvement should be valued at more than it has cost.

Senator Rae - But sometimes at less.

Senator MILLEN - I said at not more than it has cost. To take that as a basis would be in accordance with the first definition. But let me ask the honorable senator how he can support the next definition, that the value of an improvement is to be the value it adds to the land irrespective of the cost of making it? I take the case which Senator Rae has suggested of ring-barking as an improvement. The timber is rung and left there for a time until it has become so dry as to reduce the cost of clearing the land for the plough to a minimum. The ring-barking may have cost 2s. or 3s. an acre, and may have added £1 an acre to the value of the land to a man who wants it for the plough. Senator Rae, following the first definition, says that what we must deduct from the value of the land is the cost of the improvements ; we must value the land as if the improvements were not there. But the second definition provides for an entirely different basis of valuation. It provides that we shall ask what the improvement has added to the value of the land. It may have cost 2s. 6d. an acre, and have added £1 an acre to the value of the land. Honorable senators must recognise the conflict between these two definitions, and if they will not adopt my method of removing it, they should themselves accept the responsibility of bringing the two definitions into harmony.

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