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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr SPEAKER - But not to refer to the second-reading debate.

Mr ANTHONY - I do not intend to do so., but I intend to stand by what rights I have on the motion for the third reading of the bill. If .this policy of slating the big companies continues, it must eventually react to the detriment of all those individuals who depend for their livelihood- on the successful management of those concerns. I draw attention to the inequity of the land tax. It was the first tax, apart from excise and customs duties, to be levied by the Commonwealth Parliament. It was imposed, in 1910, for the purpose of breaking up large estates, but it did not succeed in doing so. It imposed very heavy levies on city properties, but it also did much to weaken the financial position of many farmers whose circumstances were already bad. The report of the committee which inquired into the conditions of the wool industry in 1932 states that, in that year, uncollected land tax totalled about £700,000, due to the fact that those upon whom the tax had been levied were not in a position to meet their assessments. The amount of outstanding tax had been increasing from year to year, with the result that many farmers, who in any case had very little equity in their properties, were being forced into bankruptcy by the operation of the act. In order to show the unfairness of the tax, I refer to the statement by the Treasurer that the Government expects this surcharge to produce additional revenue in this financial year amounting to about £500,000.

Mr Lazzarini - The Government which the honorable member supported took an extra £1,500,000 from this source.

Mr ANTHONY - I do not deny that. The budget for 1940-41 proposed almost to double the existing rate of land tax. But there is a point beyond which the rate should not be increased. That point has been reached. From how many individuals is this extra £500,000 to be extracted? I have read the 22nd annual report of the Taxation Commissioner, which discloses that 2,370 land-taxpayers own land of a taxable value in excess of £20,000. Therefore, that number of individuals and concerns will be called upon to make this additional contribution to the Commonwealth's revenue. Honorable members should bear in mind that many of these individuals and companies are subject to the highest rates of income tax. The culmination of the Government's policy must be the extinction of the large corporations. Has the Government considered the economic consequences of its actions? I do not mean the consequences to the big companies, such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, the pastoral concerns and the big shipping companies, but the consequences to the thousands of men and women who depend for their livelihood upon the prosperity of the companies. A company which is unable to continue making profits must reach a stage at which it has to discharge employees. No company can continue to operate normally if its profits and its chances of future development are taken away from it. By striking directly at the big pastoral companies and city concerns, the Government will ultimately find itself unable to replace the structure which it is now destroying and upon the security of which thousands of men and women depend for their livelihood. Does the

Government propose to establish a governmentcontrolled concern directed by the workers? If it does not wish to lead this country into communism, socialism or some other political " ism ", it must abandon its present policy. Otherwise, our democratic system of government can not survive. I believe that the Government and its supporters have not given sufficient thought to the probable effects of its actions. I ask them to do some serious thinking now. Most of them are capable of intelligent thought and have a real desire to promote the welfare of the people who vote for them at the elections and who expect them to safeguard the interests of the community. They will betray their trust if they, allow their actions eventually to destroy the source of the people's livelihood.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

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