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Wednesday, 2 November 1910

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - I wonder whether in the framing of this, measure the draftsman and the members of the Government ever took their eyes off New Zealand. They seem to have followed blindly everything in the New Zealand Act. Does the Vice-President of the Executive Council know how long it would take for a notice of an assessment for land tax to reach Cooktown from the Commissioner's office, and a reply to be received ? I can tell him that it would take about twenty-nine days.

Senator Long - The notice could oe posted to Cooktown from the Deputy Commissioner's office in Brisbane.

Senator Millen - Is there to be a different period in each of the States?

Senator Long - Notices might be issued simultaneously by Deputy Commissioners in each of the States.

Senator ST LEDGER - I presume that as, in the case of income tax notices,, this notice will be sent direct from the office of the Commissioner of Land Tax. I have said that to communicate from the Seat of Government with Cooktown, and receive a reply, would take twenty-nine days, and, of course, it would take longer in the case of Normanton, Croydon, and Port Darwin. It will be quite impossible for land-own erS in remote portions of Australia to avoid the penalty under this provision. The person to whom the demand is sent is not to be given a moment to look up his books, or, should he think it necessary, to take legal or other advice in the matter. The errors throughout this Bill arise from the fact that a large number of legislators down here know little or noth ing of any place beyond the banks of the Yarra, and it is necessary to drive it into their heads that there are other places to be considered. Some were living alongside a ditch or creek until they came here, and they have no idea of the size and importance of the rest of Australia, and very little of the geography of the Commonwealth. This provision is absolutely impossible of compliance. When that is pointed out, the Vice-President of the Executive Council tells us that a longer period may be allowed ; but the Government should come forward " wi,th a proposal which will give the taxpayers of the Commonwealth a reasonable opportunity to comply with the provisions of the law.

Senator Long - So they will.

Senator ST LEDGER - If that be so, the Leader of the Government in the Senate can have no hesitation in accepting the suggestion from this side that the period provided for in this clause should be extended. That might be done without prejudice to the revenue or the administration of the Act, but with great advantage to taxpayers in remote parts of the Commonwealth.

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