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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I ask the honorable member for Melbourne to refrain from interjecting.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I am discussing this matter from the agricultural and pastoral standpoint. If it were not for some of the big holdings in each State during the last 100 years, our great wool industry would not have reached its present dimensions. In any new country, somebody must be a pioneer and bear all of the risks that are inherent in pioneering. To designate the pioneers of Australia as the '"'squattocracy" is to ignore their magnificent work in developing our agricultural industry.

Sir George Bell - Honorable members opposite describe it as "unearned increment ".

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - Some of the persons who criticize this unearned increment would not be prepared, even in return for the daily payment of three or four times the equivalent of the basic wage, to bear the hardships that the pioneers bore.

Mr Lazzarini - All of those pioneers are now dead.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - If the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr. Lazzarini) thinks that the days of pioneering in Australia have passed, he has much to learn. A big discrepancy exists between the ways and methods of life in the country and in the city. Whilst recent inventions have assisted to reduce that margin, the discrepancy still remains. Grit and pluck are still required of a man who ventures into the outback areas for the purpose of engaging in mining, pastoral or agricultural pursuits. The application of the tax to thu metropolitan areas is justified only by considerations of defence, because the buildings, not the land, will be damaged by enemy action. Incidentally, the buildings are not affected by this tax, which is an imposition upon the value of the land.

Mr Calwell - That is its virtue.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - Does not the honorable member for Melbourne realize that an aerial or naval bombardment will damage, not the land, but the buildings? The only justification for this tax, as applied to the metropolitan area, is to provide special protection for the owners of buildings.

Oau other item affects the oversea investor. It has been fashionable in the Parliament of the Commonwealth since I. became a member - I do not know what happened before them hut I Iia ve no doubt that the same policy was pursued - to talk about the necessity for inviting overseas capital to come to Australia. In fact, overseas capital was not only invited but conditions were also made attractive to persons to invest their money in the Commonwealth. But we shall induce no hig manufacturing enterprises to establish factories in Australia unless the ownership of the land is held out, as the attraction. Under the land tax laws of Australia, any property the value of which exceeds £3,000, and which is owned by an investor living abroad, is subject to a double rate of tax.

Mr Calwell - Absentee landlordism has been a curse in most countries.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - Obviously, the honorable member lives in the past, whereas his eye should be fixed upon the future. If we persist with the policy of attracting overseas capital to Australia, the double penal rate will deprive the invitation of much of its hospitable nature. The invitation will not be accepted, even by investors in Great Britain and the United States of America. I do not propose to vote against the bill, because the Government has the requisite numbers to ensure the passage of the measure, and in addition, the time is not ripe to offer active hostility to it. But the hour of reckoning is coming. If federal land tax is to find a place in our taxation economy, the subject will have to be reviewed presently, in order to ensure that justice is done as between landholder and landholder, and city and country.

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