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Wednesday, 26 October 1910

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I am not at all surprised that the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Walker should put forward any and every amendment in the interests of the class they so ably represent. They are very anxious that land-owners should not be taxed on the original price paid to the Crown for their land. But they seem to forget that, whether those in possession of land paid a large or a small price to the Crown for it, they have had the use of the land, in most cases for years, and have also had the benefit of a ten or twenty-fold increase in its value.

Senator Millen - But the Government proposes to tax them on that increase.

Senator GARDINER - We do not propose to tax them on the profits they have derived from the increase in the value of their land. I can give honorable senators a case in point. At a land sale held here in 1837, Henry Howie purchased three blocks of land within a few hundred yards of this building for £40 each ; and from 1860 to the present time, those blocks have returned an annual rental of £30,000 a year.

Senator Millen - Not to Howie.

Senator GARDINER - To the same family.

Senator St Ledger - Well, tax their wealth.

Senator GARDINER - I wish honorable senators to understand that, as the result of that investment of £120, in 1837, members of a family who have never seen the land, have reaped an annual rental of £30,000 from it for fifty years. In 1880, that land, which was bought for £120 in 1837, was valued at over £1,000,000. We are not going to tax the wealth of this family. We do not wish to do that. We are content that they should retain the profits derived from the investment. But what we say is that, in the future, the community is going to tax these land values, because it is the community that created them. If I paid £1 an acre for land, I have had the use of it free of rent.

Senator Millen - Free of rent? The honorable senator has to pay1s. a year for it.

Senator GARDINER - We cannot compare land and cottages on the same basis, because while a man by his own industry may build a number of cottages, no man can create land. Honorable senators opposite are anxious to prevent land-owners being taxed on the original amounts they paid for their land, it may be fifty years ago. They forget that, during the fifty years, they have not only enjoyed the products of the land, but, in many cases, a hundred-fold increase in its value, which the people have created for them, but which they have put into their own pockets.

Senator Millen - If that is the honorable senator's argument, why does he not agree to exempt lands which have not increased in value?

Senator GARDINER - I am not aware that land has any value at all, except that which is created by the community. If we gave a man the whole of Australia, and there was no community with which he could trade, he might get a living for himself if he worked hard every day in the year. The community gives land the whole of its value. If a man is in possession of a few acres or a few thousand acres, for which he paid a very small sum, it may be many years ago, he has annually been able to reap the productive value of the land, and in almost every instance, has reaped and pocketed the profits from the community-created value as well. The Leader of the Opposition and the honorable senator who moved the amendment are fighting for a section in the community that has, so far, shirked paving a fair share towards the cost of the government of the country, and will continue to shirk it as long as they can.

Senator Millen - No, but we have some regard for the men whom honorable senators opposite would ruin - not the men in Melbourne, but the men out back.

Senator Findley - Ruin the Howies? They have ruined many a tenant in Melbourne.

Senator GARDINER - I have paid a fair amount of attention to what has been said by honorable senators opposite.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator was asleep all the time. *

Senator GARDINER - That was early this afternoon. But it was like the honorable senator to direct attention to the fact, when I had been up for three nights travelling. We may yet have to call attention to some honorable senators opposite, and it may not be for sleeping either. The honorable senator can mark my words, that if I have to wait here for six years, I will take advantage of the opportunity-

Senator Millen - We know the honorable senator's vindictive character.

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