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Wednesday, 2 April 1941

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) . - vn reply - Very little has been said in this debate which calls for a reply from me. I am not surprised that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) disclaimed any responsibility for this method of financing the child endowment scheme. The Government is quite willing to accept that responsibility ; provided it is given the credit for child endowment, it should be prepared to take all the blame in respect of financing the scheme. Senator A. J. McLachlan suggested that one of its weaknesses was that it might give to, say, the small grocer an advantage over- the big business man. If it does so, I thank God. The small grocer will not be subject to this tax, and, at any time, I should sooner give encouragement to him than to the big man. The objection was also raised that the primary producer would be severely hit by this proposal, because he is unable to pass on a pay-roll tax. I point out that at least 90 per cent., if not more, of the primary producers will not pay this tax. Another complaint was that the pay-roll tax would adversely affect the gold-mining industry. When we remember that before the war the price of gold was £4 an ounce, whereas it i3 now £11 an ounce, surely the addition of 6d. an ounce to the cost of recovering gold will not adversely affect that industry. I thank honorable senators generally for the manner in which they received this bill. I hope that they will allow it, together with cognate measures to be introduced later, to be passed as quickly as possible, because the Government desires to inaugurate this scheme by the 1st July.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 (Imposition of pay-roll tax).

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