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Wednesday, 16 December 1914

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - In view of the fact that the Minister says the issue is clear, and intends to press the clause, I think it is my duty to speak again, with the view of making, if I can, quite clear what at the present time does not appear to be so, at any rate, to Senator Senior. Having listened to the statements of the Minister, and studied the clause during the progress of the debate, I think it is perfectly clear what it intends to do, and the question then arises whether it is just. When the Minister says that the smaller bene ficiaries will pay their share, he does not mean that they will pay their share of the duty which the estate will pay to the Government. What he means is that if they have in the aggregate one-fifth of the whole estate, they will not pay onefifth of the duty; but that one-fifth which otherwise they would pay will be divided amongst all the beneficiaries, and they will pay their share of that one-fifth. If they have one-fifth of the estate they will pay one-fifth of a fifth. I cannot do better than impress on the Committee the admission of the Minister that the effect of the clause is to relieve the smaller beneficiaries of some portion of the duty which otherwise they would pay, and superimpose it on the amount which will be paid by the larger beneficiaries. Apart from what appears to be the injustice of it, that is in distinct violation of the Estate Duty Bill which we passed this afternoon, when we declared that estates of a certain amount should pay a certain duty, with a maximum of 15 per cent.

Senator Senior - According to your reasoning, instead of paying one-fifth, a man will pay one twenty-fifth.

Senator MILLEN - That is to say, the beneficiaries receiving four-fifths would pay, not only the duty in respect of that, but find four-fifths of the duty which otherwise would be payable by the smaller beneficiaries. I remind the Committee that when we fixed the table of rates this afternoon we did not have it in our minds or intend that those rates should be exceeded. We decreed that a maximum of 15 per cent, should operate, but under this clause the rate is going to be over 15 per cent, in certain cases, and where we decreed a rate of 10 per cent, it is going to be 10 per cent, and an additional amount. It seems to rr.e that under the other Bill, any one who is called upon to pay 15 per cent, may reasonably invoke the protection of the Court. I propose to call for a division on the clause, because it is too serious a one to allow to go on the voices. I did hope that the Minister would meet the objections I raised. I submit that they are at least entitled to consideration.

Senator Lt.-ColonelO'LOGHLIN (South Australia) [11.18].- So far as I can follow this rather intricate debate, the injustice under the paragraph is not so much that certain beneficiaries have to pay more than 15 per cent, as that certain beneficiaries have to pay an extra duty, not on account of the amount of their bequests, but because certain other beneficiaries get £200 or less. It seems to me to be unjust that the amount of duty which a beneficiary will have to pay under a will should depend upon whether certain other bequests are under £200 or over. I am with Senator Millen in this matter, because I think that the provision is unjust.

Progress reported.

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