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Wednesday, 26 October 1910

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . -I intend to support the amendment as it has been amended. I told Senator Walker that I could not support the amendment in its original form, and that if certain words were not excised I should oppose it. I believe that under the Constitution the Government have no right to 'tax land at all, as that is a matter for the States to deal with. But as the Bill has passed the second reading, I am quite willing to support any reasonable amendment, which will, at least, do a little justice. The Bill proposes to tax, not only the unearned increment, but also the amount which the holder originally paid for his land. We have heard a great deal about persons not losing money. I know that, while some persons have been successful in land speculations, others have lost a lot of money. I know that in a portion of Queensland where the Government had land sales, you could not get to-day£1 for every£10 which they received for the land. I could cite any number of such instances. I also know of cases where the holders could get ten times as much as was paid to the Crown. But these are not the only persons to be considered. Last night Senator Lynch told us that in New South Wales he paid£10 an acre for land which to-day is not worth £2, and I take it that it will be taxed on the higher amount. That shows that honorable senators on each side of the Chamber have made bad investments and good ones. This tax will touch them all. If land for which a man paid £1 per acre ten, or fifteen, or twenty years ago is still worth£1 - and I believe that in the western portion of Queensland you can buy land to-day for 15s. per acre, which was bought from the Government at £1 - he will be taxed, of course, on the amount which it is worth to-day, and, therefore, he will be losing both ways. I do not think that we should tax the principal. I admit that it would be fair to tax the unearned increment. I have always believed that every form of wealth should be taxed; but this Bill deals with only one form of wealth. I regard the amendment as a just one. In speaking upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill, I mentioned that the Vice-President of the Executive Council introduced it in a very briefspeech, and that he described it as a perfect measure which required no amendment.

Senator Long - Then is it not presumptuous of the honorable senator to endeavour to amend it?

Senator SAYERS - Everything is presumptuous which emanates from the Opposition, because my honorable friends opposite have the big battalions upon their side. I repeat that the amendment is a reasonable one. In its original form I did not regard it in that light, because it would have permitted some persons to obtain a larger exemption than that to which they are entitled. Only to-day I was talking to a gentleman who informed me that the State taxes, the Divisional Board tax, and the tax proposed in this Bill would have the effect of absorbing the whole of the receipts from his property. He assured me that, when next year he is called upon to pay income tax. he will simply have to declare that he has no income. If I were at liberty to mention his name, I am sure that every honorable senator would be willing to believe his statement. Surely we do not wish" to entirely deprive a man of his living. If that is going to be the result of the tax in good years - and the past seven or eight seasons have been so good that they are almost without a parallel in our history - what will be its result in bad years?

Senator McGregor - Is this a secondreading speech ?

Senator SAYERS - I am advancing reasons why the amendment should be accepted. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council arrogates to himself the right to prevent me from expressing my views, I shall simply tell him to mind his own business. I care no more for him, though he is the Leader of the Senate, than I do for any ordinary member of it. If I described his conduct as I should like to do, my language would be deemed unparliamentary. He has made himself most obnoxious to every member of the Opposition, and he does not possess the ordinary manners of a man. I recognise that it is idle for any honorable senator upon this side of the Chamber to endeavour to influence the Government. We can only express our views, and leave the country to decide, in the light of experience, whether we are right or wrong.

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