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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr JAMES (Hunter) .- I agree with the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) that the Government should compromise in the case of the gaoled bankrupt hotelkeeper and former member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, Mr. Theodore Charles Trautwein. The Government should accept the compromise offered by the relatives and friends of this septuagenarian and release him from imprisonment. At the same time, the Government should also seek to compromise in some of the other outstanding cases of understatement of taxable income. It is very interesting to read schedule 4a of the 22nd report of the Commissioner of Taxation, which sets out the names and occupations of people who have understated their taxable income, the amount of understatement, the additional tax charged, and the financial year or years concerned. A glance at the columns shows that in New South Wales alone a huge sum of money is owed by such taxpayers to the Commonwealth. I should say that, unless compromises be negotiated, the Commonwealth will have no hope of collecting a large part of the' money owed. The penalty tax imposed increases steadily year by year, but the money remains unpaid. I should say that, at the age of 74 years, Mr. Trautwein's memory would not be so good as it might have been years ago. Some people will say that it is an advantage to have a convenient memory where debts are concerned, but we all know that, as we grow older, our memories deteriorate. Reference to the schedule shows that Theodore C. Trautwein, hotelkeeper, from 1921-22 to 1927-28, understated his taxable income by £156,825, in respect of which the additional tax charge amounted to £47,106 13s. 4d., and from 192S-29 to 1936-37, by £240,731, in respect of which the additional tax charged amounted to £65,030 18s. 4d. The total additional tax charged amounted to £137,000 lis. Sd. The total understatement of taxable income amounted to £397,556. Therefore, the penalty imposed was about 30 per cent, of the understated taxable income. Reference to the cases of other defaulting taxpayers indicates that Mr. Trautwein has been discriminated against by the Commissioner for Taxation. Thomas Glover, grazier and storekeeper, from 1925-26 to 1930-31 and from 1934-35 to 1938-39, understated his taxable income by £55,414 and the additional tax charge 'amounted to £2,875 15s. 2d., which is a penalty of only about 6 per cent. John F. Metcalfe, municipal contractor, whom most of us know, from 1930-31 to 1936-37, understated his taxable income by £31,683 and the penalty amounted to £6,830 9s. 4d. - about 20 per cent, as compared with the 30 per cent, penalty imposed on Mr. Trautwein. Cook and Williams Proprietary Limited, manufacturers, from 1933-34 to 1937-38, understated their income by £19,270 and only £81 penalty was imposed, whereas, probably because the Commissioner for Taxation did not like the colour of Luigi Filippi's hair, the penalty imposed by them on him for having understated his income from 1931-32 to 1938-39 by £22,347 amounted to £2,283. David Burke, deceased, builder, between 1915-16 and 1937-38, understated his income by £25,203, and the additional tax charged amounted to £990, which is about 25 per cent, of the understated income. One would think that a case going so far back as 1915-16 would have the highest accumulated fine of the lot. Members on all sides of the House have taken up Mr. Trautwein's case with successive Attorneys-General. I think it is a standing disgrace that each year the report of the Taxation Commissioner should include these figures. Some of the people concerned are dead and the Taxation Commissioner has no hope of getting the money involved. The Government needs money now more than ever before, and it should use this means to negotiate to get some of what it requires.

Mr Mulcahy - Why waste money on legal proceedings?

Mr JAMES - Yes. Mr. Trautwein is in and out of gaol merely because he has been tried by another individual in a state of senility. It is a shame. Legal costs are steadily mounting. Meanwhile it is impossible for Mr. Trautwein to recollect the things he is asked to remember. It is impossible for him to pay all the money involved, and the Government should accept the offer made to it by his relatives and friends. If the Government were prepared to negotiate it would probably be able to obtain 50 per cent, or 60 per cent, of the money which it claims that Mr. Trautwein owes to it.

I have been approached by the Municipality of Cessnock and other organizations iri that district with regard to the Cessnock aerodrome. Already £20,000 has been expended on it, and it is not yet entirely satisfactory because of a depression at one end. The aerodrome has been contour surveyed. The Commonwealth Government has been advised by its own experts in the Air Force, and in the Department of Civil Aviation, that to put the aerodrome into proper working order so that it could be taken over by the Department of Air from the Department of Civil Aviation would be too costly. To show that the cost would not be so great as the Government's experts say, the Cessnock municipality points out that at the nearby Aberdare Main and Aberdare Extended Collieries, there are huge dumps of refuse which could easily be carted to the aerodrome for filling. The aerodrome is secluded and well sheltered. If fully developed it would augment the protection not only of the Newcastle iron and steel works, but also the coal-mines. I advocated the development of the Cessnock aerodrome before the site for an aerodrome was chosen. The Cessnock area could well be developed as an auxiliary aerodrome. Prior to the war, when a grant was made for the construction of this aerodrome, the then Minister for Defence, Sir Archdale Parkhill, attended the opening ceremony. Reference was then made to the important strategical position of the aerodrome. To-day we are engaged in a war, and attacks have already been launched upon this country. I ask the Minister to investigate the suitability of this area for Air Force purposes. He should at least make an inspection of the aerodrome. He should not rely entirely upon the advice given to him by Air Force officers, who cannot have estimated the position as accurately as the local surveyors have done. They have reported that the cost of putting the aerodrome into a satisfactory condition with a three-way runway would be much less than that estimated by Air Force and civil aviation authorities. Newcastle occupies a position of unique importance in Australia on account of the heavy war industries situated there, and more aerodromes should be provided for its protection.

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