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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1245

Senator BYRNE (Queensland) - The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports this group of Bills. I wish to make only a few minor observations. The concept and content of these Bills represent part of the economic plan of the Government as well as giving certain relief to promote activity in the community and to stimulate consumer opportunities generally. In view of this very strange, more modern phenomenon of stagflation, it will be interesting to see exactly how these Bills work out and whether this remedy applied at the proper time effects the result which it is desired to achieve. I think that the reduction in taxation at this time is commendable. It is just, and it is desirable that people in the categories in which such reductions are to apply should have been relieved of some of the burden of taxation.

I wish to make one or two minor comments, not particularly germane to the provisions of the Bill. The first is to ask the reason for the constant refusal of governments to accept the increasing burden that the working community is required to pay in transport fees to and from places of employment. Today we are living in a society where the decentralisation of industry is being attempted and people are moving more and more into the remote suburbs of the great metropolises. As a result, workers are required sometimes to travel across the city to their places of work. One of the great phenomena of our time is the level to which transport charges have increased. Workers are now required to bring their labour to the point of employment at great cost with tremendous depredation of their weekly income. No concession is allowed for the amounts paid by them for this purpose.

I have always thought that that was unjust. I think surely that it is a concept which should now be taken into account by those who frame the income tax law. A new approach should be adopted to it. After all, money which is expended in the earning of income is traditionally, and by the very nature and intent of income tax law, allowable as a deduction from the amount of assessed tax. I see no reason why expenditure of this kind should not move into the same category, more particularly as the burden is imposed upon those who are least able to bear it. J think that there is every justification for this concession being granted. Another observation 1 should like to make concerns the preparation of taxation statistics. I think it is important that the community should know the categories of employment, occupations and engagements in which incomes are being earned and on which taxation is being paid. At different times over the years I have asked whether the breakdown of taxation statistics should not include a more particular discrimination in occupation and a fragmentation in professional occupation so that the community could see the levels of incomes in the various categories. In my opinion this would not break the principle of confidence. It would inform the community and could indicate to those who wish to follow certain professions or to pursue certain vocations where the opportunities lie.

I see no reason why secrecy should be taken to that extent. There would be no violation of individual private confidence, merely an exhibition of levels of income earned by various categories. When we as legislators consider the incidence of taxation surely we are entitled to the fullest possible information as to the areas of income earned and the levels of income opportunity. However, for some reason best known to himself, the Commissioner for Taxation has consistently denied that request. Whatever the virtues of such denial might be there is ultimately, 1 think, a deprivation of an opportunity to those who have the responsibility for framing equitable, just and distributive taxation laws to do their job more adequately.

The Democratic Labor Party supports the income tax Bills because, as 1 have said, we think they are both timely and just. There may be other adjustments which are equally desirable, but certain concessional deductions and the raising of certain levels of exemption from tax are very desirable. We are hopeful, while not speaking politically or Party politically but in the interests of the nation, that the techniques which are applied partially by these Bills will have the effect which is contemplated. We are hopeful that this process of stagflation and of erosion of purchasing power and the other processes which are operating to the detriment of the community will at least in part be halted by this process and that they will make a due contribution and that the real value of income will again be sustained. For those reasons we support the Bills.

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