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Friday, 3 October 1902

Mr MAHON (Coolgardie) - Some time ago I asked the Acting Prime . Minister a question regarding the taxation of federal incomes by State Governments, and he replied that it was a matter for the decision of the High Court later on. In view of the recent judgment of the Victorian Supreme Court, I wish to know whether the honorable and learned gentleman will take action, to test the question whether the salaries of federal officers can be taxed by the States.

Mr DEAKIN -(In reply.)- With respect to thePacific cable, I have to inform the honorable memberfor North Sydneythat one new line fromBrisbane - a copperline - has just been constructed, and that foranother line the money has been voted on the Estimates. It is thought that these lines togetherwill provideample means of communication between that capital and thesouthern States. I do not think that time will permit of the discussion of the reports on the pearl-shelling industry by Judge DashwoodandMr. Warton. What is more probable is that the Governmentwillbe able to meet the House with some proposition based on a consideration of those reports, and any facts which may be collected in theinterval.The boring in Western Australia is undertaken by the State Government, which, I believe, does us the favour of forwardingcopiesof the reports obtained, but any control of those partiesrests solely with that Government. I have beenasked privately about the business to be transacted on Thursday. So far as I know, the only Government business will be the despatch of the Claims Against the Commonwealth Bill to the Senate, and thereturn of anymeasures with whichthe Senate may have been dealing. This afternoon the honorable member for Coolgardie hasgiven notice ofa privatemotion for Thursday next, and I do not think there can be any doubt but thatan opportunity forits discussion will then be found.The question as to the income tax payable by Commonwealth officials to State Governments is one for those officials only. It is not a matter in which the Commonwealthcan intervene. It rests betweenthe officersthemselves and the courts ofthe States, although, of course,therearepossibilities of appeal to thePrivy Council, and by-and-by to the High Court.Theprorogation willtake place, I hope, on this day week. I do not know that it will be attended by any special ceremony; certainly it will not be attended by any ceremony ofa social character, forthe very sufficient : reasonthat probably a majority of the members of the House will not he present. Although the session will be closed in the usual manner, it will not afford an occasion for the display witnessed at its opening, and which might, under other circumstances, have fittingly marked the close of so fruitful and laborious a session.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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