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Tuesday, 3 December 1935

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - Many people would be glad to pay £1,000 a year in income tax.

Senator PAYNE - I always pay my income tax cheerfully enough because I realize that the revenue obtained from this source is necessary for the carrying on of governmental activities, but I agree with Senator Foll that the tax burden on the community should be as light as circumstances will permit, in order to encourage industry to expand and provide more employment. The excellent manner in which the Government has managed the finances of the country during the last few years has enabled it to give considerable relief from taxes of various kinds, and with Senator Foll, I hope that before long the sales tax will be repealed because it inflicts great hardships upon small retail shop-keepers. As it is impossible for small confectionery retail shops to pass on the sales tax on proprietary linos which sell at from Id. to 6d., the effect of the tax is in some cases to increase their rent expenses by probably 100 per cent. Senator Foll said that Austraiian produce sold in London does not realize the good prices obtained for similar products from the sister dominion of New Zealand. He suggested that this is due probably to the quality of the Australian product, and to lack of publicity given to it. A few days ago I received the following interesting letter from Melbourne : -

I 1, ave just returned from a holiday abroad, and seven months lived in England. We found it very difficult to purchase Australian butter. When occasionally in London one did find our product, which was sold for 9J per lb., and never once exceeded Hid., whilst almost everywhere New Zealand butter was retailing at ls. and ls. Id. When inquiring repeatedly for Australian butter, we were offered " Blended Empire ", and it was explained to us that it was mixed butter from all over the Empire, which we found most unsatisfactory for table 11Fe. We are sending these fact* thinking they may be interesting to you " Blended Empire " butter is cheaper than New Zealand butter.

That letter, which was written by an Australian who visited Great Britain recently, contains direct evidence of the fact that the conditions under which Australian butter is marketed in the Old Country are unsatisfactory. I trust that the Government and those interested in this subject will conduct further investigations so that Australian butter may be able to compete successfully with the New Zealand product. I maintain that as Australian factories can produce butter equal to that made in any part of the world, there is no reason why the conditions mentioned in the letter which I have read should prevail.

Some time ago, I directed the attention of the Senate to our unsatisfactory population figures. Recently I read an article in the Age newspaper by Sir Stanley Argyle, an ex-Premier of Victoria, who recently visited Great Britain. He said -

Australia's population was becoming stationary, and we could not hope to defend ourselves against foreign aggression . in the event of a world conflagration unless our population was increased. It was not necessary to repeat the ghastly experiment of assisted migration, which failed so lamentably in Victoria, but there was a case for Australians and Englishmen to study the possibility of better distribution of the Empire's population. In Britain the area of arable land had decreased in the last century by nearly 50 per cent, to6,000,000 acres. Britain grew only one-sixth of her wheat requirements, half of the barley, 15 per cent, of the butter, 40 per cent, of beef, 50 per cent, of eggs, and 50 per cent, of mutton and lamb requirements. We could take greater advantage of the market by reducing our purchases from countries outside the Empire. Suggestions had been made in England that English capitalists might be induced to put money into dominion development schemes which could be guaranteed by the British Government for the first few years. The dominions would be asked merely to make the land available, and the British chartered companies would supply the money for development purposes so that chains of small villages composed of immigrants could be formed to market their produce through one organization. The scheme would repay examination.

That is an excellent suggestion, and I trust that the Commonwealth Government will communicate with the British Government to see if the proposal cannot be adopted. No time should be lost in formulating a plan for the permanent increase of Australia's population. Some time ago, I referred to the success which has attended the Fairbridge farm school in Western Australia. I understand that 98 per cent, of the4,000 or 5,000 children who have passed through that school have become excellent citizens. There is room for similar farm schools in every State of the Commonwealth, and I believe that if the Government would approach the British authorities, a large proportion of the finance necessary would be provided by the British Government. I was glad to noticethat Sir William Campion, a former Governor of Western Australia, is to visit the Commonwealth on a mission of this character. I mention the subject in the hope that the Government will get in touch with this gentleman and see what can be done by the Commonwealth in co-operation with, the British Government and the State governments.

I now wish to refer to the subject of afforestation. A few months ago, I visited Japan, where I noticed that probably the whole of the land unsuitable for cultivation is being used for afforestation purposes. I was informed that large sums of revenue are now being received through the commercial exploitation of forests established by the Japanese many years ago. Our afforestation policy should be pursued more vigorously than at present. There is ample room for a scheme similar to that in operation in Japan, and if proper safeguards are taken to ensure the maintenance of forests, and to protect them from bushfires, it should be remunerative. A forestry league initiated in Australia some years ago performed fine work, but unfortunately, through lack of interest it is not now functioning as successfullyas one would wish. I do not wish to deal with the benefits to be derived from afforestation, or with the dangers arising from soil erosion, because they are well known to honorable senators. I submit these suggestions in the hope that the Government will proceed more vigorously with the scheme it introduced some time ago.

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