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Wednesday, 17 December 1941


Mr BLACKBURN (Bourke) .- The taxation to be raised will be paid out of either the accumulated wealth or property of the taxpayer or his current income. By most people it will be paid out of current income. The great number of the people who are to be increasingly taxed under these proposals have no accumulations of wealth from which to pay taxes. They have no savings. Their savings have been canalized, one might say, in insurance policies, and in provision for the education of their children and so forth. They will pay their tax out of their current income. That is an important fact which we ought to remember. It should be possible for any country to devise a scheme whereby people could pay their income tax out of their income, as and when t'he.y earn it, instead of being called upon to pay a lump sum. Australians are in general allowed to pay by instalments, but, they have no right to that concession. We should base our income tax system on the payment of amounts week by week, fortnight by fortnight, or month by month, as the taxpayers' incomes are received. If we curtail the civil employment of people in the way that has been suggested, we shall curtail their ability to pay income tax. As war employments and war activities increase, so civil employment and civil activities will diminish. But what are we going to do about those who are displaced as the result of this change? It is true that our young men will be absorbed in the defence forces and receive service pay. Their places will be taken to some degree by older men, but to a far greater degree by young women. Many of our older men will be displaced from employment altogether, and will therefore have no opportunity to earn income. If there is to be a diversion of capital and labour from civil employment to war employment, a vast number of people will be left without the means of living. They will also be without the means of paying income tax, but the fact that they will have no means of living is far more important than that. This country must face this problem. For the duration of the war, we should place everybody in the community beyond the fear of want. Every person should be placed on the " strength ", to use a military term, and should be maintained. In the early part of next year, this country will face a period of unemployment and industrial crisis comparable with that which it had to face in the early stages of the war of 1914-18.


Mr Anthony - Is the honorable gentleman referring to the displacement of unskilled persons, whose services will not be required in defence industries?


Mr BLACKBURN - Yes, and also to a number of skilled persons who will not be absorbed. Certain skilled occupations are of no use to the defence effort. Not all weavers and spinners, for instance, will be absorbed in defence industries, and ageing law clerks will not be absorbed.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable member's remarks are wide of the motion.


Mr BLACKBURN - I am trying to discuss this measure as other honorable members have discussed it. I did not originate this line of discussion, but if you, sir, are not prepared to extend to me the indulgence that you extended to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), I must defer to your ruling. I have never led an insurrection against the Chair in my life.


The CHAIRMAN - I was not in the chair when the honorable member for Warringah made his remarks.


Mr BLACKBURN - If the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) believes that it will be easy to get this income tax from the community under the conditions that will prevail next year, he is gravely mistaken. It will be very difficult to get any income tax from a large number of people, not only working people, but also other persons with small incomes. I agree with what was said by the honorable member for Warringah. I have pointed out before that the effect of taxation and of government policies has been to curtail the opportunities of a large number of people to earn income, to destroy the businesses of small tradesmen, and to take away their prospects of security.







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