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Tuesday, 24 November 1959

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- First, I should like to say that I think that members of the Opposition have been dealing with many matters that do not come within the ambit of the bill. I shall read to the House part of the Treasurer's secondreading speech, because I believe it covers the position very adequately in a few paragraphs. He said -

The sole purpose of this bill is to take legislative action to prevent partial avoidance of sales tax which has arisen from a marketing procedure adopted by a number of manufacturers of the station wagon type of motor vehicle. The existing law requires payment of tax at the rate of 30 per cent, in respect of motor cars designed primarily and principally for the transport of persons, including station wagons, estate cars, and vehicles similar in design to station wagons or estate cars, but not including delivery vans. The latter bear tax at the rate of 16} per cent, which applies to commercial type vehicles.

Only some manufacturers are endeavouring to avoid partial payment of this sales tax.

It is unfair that some of them are being allowed to avoid sales tax while others are paying the full amount on station wagons and other vehicles that come into this category. I point out that although the existing law requires that these vehicles pay 30 per cent, the law is being evaded. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird), the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) are against the rate being 30 per cent. I say good luck to them. They can advocate a reduction of the rate. But the purpose of this bill is simply to eliminate an anomaly, to prevent certain traders obtaining an unfair advantage. As a Country Party member I have been asked to explain my attitude to the measure. I believe this anomaly should be rectified. I have listened very carefully to certain taxation experts with whom I have had interviews on this subject. Do the members of the Labour Party who have spoken believe that all motor companies dealing in station wagons should adopt the same practice and sell them at the lower rate of sales tax, providing at the same time the means of converting them into passenger vehicles immediately?

This is a very simple bill, as the Treasurer has said, designed only to overcome an anomaly. It has nothing to do with the question whether tax is too high or too low - nothing whatever - and no one knows that better than the honorable members who have spoken. An anomaly has been found and it is being rectified by the bill. That is all there is to it.

Mr Bryant - Well, sit down, if that is all there is to it.

Mr TURNBULL - As far as the bill is concerned, that is all I want to say about it, but I want to say one or two things about honorable members who have sought to taunt the members of the Country Party. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) found fault with the Liberal Party collectively and with members of the Country Party individually.

Mr Bird - Where are they now?

Mr TURNBULL - There is the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) and myself. He said that the Country

Party had been very silent on this measure, and that none of its members had spoken in the debate. No one knows better than the honorable member for Batman that members of the Country Party have not been able to get the call until now. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who is interjecting, knows also that this is the first opportunity that a Country Party member has had to speak on the bill. The first speaker in the debate, after the Minister, was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). He was followed by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) on behalf of the Liberal Party, and then the call went again to the Labour side, and the honorable member for Batman made his speech - and he realized quite well that he was flogging a very dead horse. Now it is the turn of the Country Party and I have got the call.

The honorable member for Batman appealed for fair play. Fancy the honorable member for Batman making such an appeal! He has demonstrated that he knows nothing about fair play, by the way he referred to the Country Party.

I now wish to say something about my attitude to sales tax when I was a member of the Opposition. I was in this House from February, 1946, until 1949 as an Opposition member. What was my attitude then? The honorable member for Batman, of course, was not here then, but he says that he has read in " Hansard " certain remarks of mine supporting some things and condemning others. Why did the honorable member not bring the copies of " Hansard " into the House and read the extracts to which he refers? If honorable members have definite evidence in " Hansard " to support a charge against another honorable member, they always substantiate the charge by reading the relevant passages from " Hansard ". I challenge the Opposition to bring into the House the copies of " Hansard " that are alleged to contain these statements, and to read them.

As far as sales tax is concerned, I might just remind the House of my fight in this House, when I was a member of the Opposition, to have changes made in the provisions relating to sales tax on trailers. The honorable member for Lalor will remember that at the time sales tax, amounting to about £30 on the average, was payable on a trailer fitted with a drawbar, but no sales tax at all was payable on the same kind of trailer if it had a pair of shafts instead of a drawbar.

Mr Bryant - I rise on a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I suggest that the honorable member's remarks have no reference to the bill before the House.

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