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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 2584

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - I support previous speakers on this side in what they said about the Income Tax Bills and particularly the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 5) 1973 as it applies to the rural sector of this nation. It has created great uncertainty among primary producing sections about planning. Despite what many people believe to the contrary, primary producers do plan ahead; they try to plan 12 months ahead for all their expenditure and the goods or produce they hope to sell. We are well into December and we have not yet passed a Bill which fixes the tax rates for the last financial year. It is only now being considered by the Senate. A great deal of confusion has been caused to tax experts and accountants. They have only recently been able to issue circulars to their clients on what they think will be the final result. Even now, despite the spelling out in these Bills, much of the final decision will be left to the discretion of the Commissioner of Taxation. The Bills do not spell out everything and some things must be left to the discretion of the Commissioner.

Some sort of special attack appears to have made on the primary producing section. The investment allowances and other concessions have been either cut out or greatly reduced. We have to develop as a nation. We have to produce food and other things and it would be a very sorry state for this nation if as a result of government interference with conditions under which the rural sector operates we became an importer of food. Since European settlement of this country we have depended on our exports which through the years have mainly been foodstuffs; and the whole pattern of our settlement and development has been built on that. Tax concessions for the people producing the export income have been severely cut back and this has affected the expenditure of these people in many ways.

Senator Primmer - There is no barbed wire for them to buy. You told us that last week.

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - There is no barbed wire. That is right.

Senator Primmer - They cannot spend their money, can they?

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - Mr Acting Deputy President,when they have finished over there in the corner I will be able to proceed. If the Government only realised it, by allowing the investment allowances and other forms of taxation allowances to the rural sector, it would get the money back several times over as extra taxation from the machinery people, from people who sell seed, motor vehicles and that son of thing. The taking away of those concessions from the rural sector has affected the demand for many of the things produced in the cities, and it must have some effect on the economy in the long run. Even today it was said here that there is such a shortage of goods that people just cannot get parts for their vehicles and machinery. For some reason the price of petrol has gone up as a result of the removal of some of the concessions in the equalisation scheme and now we are told that concessions on diesel fuel, which is used extensively in the rural sector for tractors and stationary engines, will be removed and that the price of diesel fuel will go up to about 60c a gallon.

Senator Wilkinson - You had better start using methane.

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - We will have to do something if we are going to live. The Coombs task force made about 150 recommendations. Many of them apply to the rural sector. Somebody in the Department must have gone through everything very carefully to pick out all the alleged concessions which applied to that sector. This had repercussions pretty soon in the New South Wales elections for the rural sector in that State showed quite clearly that it was not very happy with the actions of the Whitlam Government in Canberra in these respects. I repeat that some stability must be afforded in taxation matters. Many people in the country areas are frightened that next year there will be a staggering increase in taxation, particularly income tax, and that the concessions that have been taken away will aggravate the position and make it much more difficult for them to carry on. If the Government wants to go to the people on this matter or on any of the other matters I have no doubt that it will get the message from the people who are suffering so much from the income tax laws. We as a Party realise that this is a Budget measure. For that reason we are not opposing it, but we are not accepting it very happily. We believe that if these measures go on any further we will have to reconsider our attitude. I have said these few words on behalf of the people I represent.

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