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Wednesday, 14 July 1915

Mr GLYNN (Angas) .- With the second of the proposals in the Bill - the collection of a wealth census--] shall deal very shortly. We must not, at present, assume that this will determine what taxation shall be imposed when the expense of the war, which is increasing, reaches a certain limit, rendering further taxation necessary. It will then still be open to us to decide whether the tax

Mr. Glynn.shall be on wealth, or on incomes produced by wealth, or by energy. It cannot be assumed that on the spur of the moment we should come to a decision on a point of economic policy in regard to which, for the last thirty years, there has been such a divergence of opinion amongst Radicals, and upon which, so far as any decision has been arrived at, it is one adverse to a general tax upon wealth without differentiation between its component parts. I need not elaborate the matter, because honorable members generally are perfectly familiar with the distinctions that are drawn between the income produced under economic conditions, from land, and that produced from capital, which is being continually turned over in the course of commercial operations, and with the question whether taxation should be imposed on the income earned during a year, or on capital, which may, perhaps, under the conditions of the moment be earning nothing. I do not think that it is possible to get, within a week or a fortnight, anything like a return effective for guidance as regards the wealth of the Commonwealth. I know personally an estate whose value it has taken three months to assess approximately for the purposes of State taxation, and the whole matter has to be gone over again in connexion with the taxation imposed by the Commonwealth Estates Duty Act, which has only just come into force. In a valuation of this kind there are many elements to be considered, which cannot be dealt with within the time prescribed in the Bill, and it would be futile to expect even men of means with clerical assistance at their disposal, to make a return at all acceptable even for the purposes of a sudden policy. I shall be only too pleased to show to the Attorney-General the results of some inquiries within my own knowledge to prove that statement. The position of comparatively poor persons who have never been asked to make a return of their property, which contains, perhaps, assets which on the grounds of common decency we would not attempt to attach, is even worse. By asking for the information we should merely irritate. Mr. Glynn.

Mr Fenton - Has the honorable and learned member paid attention to the way in which the wealth census of the United States of America is collected?

Mr GLYNN - I have read a great deal on the subject, including many of the reports issued during the last twentyfive or thirty years. I have read the works of Ely and Sumner on the matter. They are all condemnatory of the effects of the imposition of a wealth tax.

Mr Fenton - I refer to the wealth census.

Mr GLYNN - I cannot speak from intimate knowledge of the method employed, but I know from professional, and sometimes personal, experience of the administration of State Acts, that it is impossible to get from average persons, within a fortnight or three weeks, returns sufficiently accurate to guide us in the imposition of taxation. As regards methods of taxation, the greatest difficulty is to find a means of carrying out the common object. I, for one, am not going to accept the theory that because the Government say that a certain method must be adopted, the existence of the war is an apology to my conscience or to the public for agreeing to it. What we ask from the Government is the assurance that certain measures are necessary for the public safety, and that certain monetary provision must be made to attain our ends. But we are not going to bow our heads to authority, and say that whatever way of raising money Ministers may suggest must be agreed to without demur. We cannot throw to the winds our knowledge of economics and our experience of practical conditions, and accept the* crudest notions, it may be, of comparative amateurs as to the best methods of meeting our common desires. As to the proposal to register the men of the country, a similar proposal was mooted in the United Kingdom by Lord' Selborne some four months ago, and it was turned down. I read a good deal of the criticism directed for and against it - there is an article on the subject in a copy of the Nation, which reached me by the last mail - and I notice that in the newspaper articles it is discussed as the first step to conscription. I do not say that it is the first step to conscription, but this criticism is significant. The article in the Nation is headed " The Peril of Conscription." In it the writer pays a high tribute to the effect of the voluntary system. Attention is drawn to what is being done in the Dardanelles, and over the' whole field of operations, by persons of British blood, in answer to the deep though unexpressed desire of the Empire that all should rally round the flag. The danger of some of these cheap expedients which are often sprung upon the community spontaneously, on the spur of the moment, is made plain. The writer says -

Some people are urging, like Lord Selborne that we need a new organization to draw up a register, showing what arc the available resources of the population, and what kind of service different persons can best perform. At first sight the proposal has an engaging simplicity. But it is important to remember that to carry it out involves a most elaborate piece of organisation (let anybody think what a vast business thd taking of the census is), and that the time and energy spent on it would be time and energy subtracted from some other pressing task.

It is stated that early in the war -

Mr. Bellocpointed out that to introduce conscription would be a serious impediment to the successful prosecution of the war, for the very reason that the machinery would have to bo created, and that it would work much worse than voluntary methods. The right way surely is to begin at the other end. We have to mobilize men and women for the production of munitions, and to secure that industry shall be as little disorganized as possible in consequence of the demands of the Army and of armaments. What machinery already exists? We have the Committee on Production designed to prevent interruptions of work on munitions. Wo have the Workmen's Advisory Committee, the Local Armaments Committee, representing the trade unions as well as the employers, and the Board of Trade, With its Labour Exchanges and its register of special war workers.

I accept any method that on the whole seems conducive to the end in view, and shall not object to. the proposed registration, but it does not follow that it is necessary, I confess that I cannot see the necessity for it, unless it means conscription. The honorable member for Flinders, whose authority is very weighty with the House, has urged that, perhaps, by getting this return, we shall know who are the shirkers - who are the men who are not responding to the call of their country. It "is suggested that we might approach them, and let them suffer the moral coercion that would result from informing them that they have been somewhat lax in the recognition of their imperial and local obligations, and that we shall see. when the return has been com[177]_2 piled, how many shirkers there are. Personally, I do not believe that the spirit of the people has failed. I do not believe that, comparatively speaking, there are many men of the unmarried class between twenty and thirty years of age who are not responding, or who require any sort of moral coercion or an imperative call to duty.

Mr Boyd - There are thousands of them.

Mr GLYNN - Perhaps so; but there was a splendid response last week. The result of the recruiting campaign in Victoria has shown us that members of Parliament may not have sufficiently advocated the needs of the situation ; that the public have not had their minds sufficiently shaken up, so that there shall be nothing in the shape of lethargy, and. that everybody shall realize the magnitude of the issues, the greatness of the risks, and the consequent weight and pressure of general responsibility. I recognise as well as any one that the present is not the time for anything like complacency, or for deluding ourselves with the idea that records and prestige, however high, and not spirit and self-sacrifice, will pull us through. I recognise that this is not the time for chanting about " the boys of the bulldog breed." When ten nations are at war - when more than half the peoples of the earth are at war - I believe that every man who has the vigor of maturity in his loins, and who is capable of rising to the measure of a great emergency, ought to take his stand with resolution, and show in action as well as in words his appreciation of the duty he owes to his country. We cannot ignore the fact that Belgium - the vicarious sufferer from credulity on the one side and ruthlessness on the other - still suffers, and is despoiled ; that part of France - gallant, chivalrous France, to whom I am pleased we paid a just tribute of respect to-day - is still in possession of the enemy ; that it is only the spirit of Servia that sustains it in a trouble and a suffering that must have broke'n the spirit of a people of less vigorous fibre; that Poland - the name that was the inspiration to glory in our boyhood, and which I trust will again brighten the pages of romantic history - is now overrun by the armies of Germany and Austria; and that little Montenegro - active again according to the cables of the last two or three days - holds out with a vigor and intrepidity in a period of great stress and trial in a manner that, under the immutable decrees of an all just Providence, must, in the end, prevail. If we bring home to the youth of Australia a recognition of these facts, I believe that they must respond. They have done much up to the present. Mindful of what was done last week in Victoria, and with the memory of Gaba Tepe still fresh in our minds, we must feel that they will respond to the very utmost call of Empire and country. In the Mother Country there has been a splendid response. I noticed in the papers the other day that about 2,000,000 men have volunteered for the front, and that there are no fewer than 2,000,000 other men engaged in the manufacture of munitions for the use of those who have gone to the front. Oxford and Cambridge have sent about two-thirds of their average students to the front. The universities in every part of the United Kingdom have responded splendidly. I see also that tribute has been paid to- the patriotism of the workers. It was stated in the last White Paper issued by the British Government that 78 per cent, of the workers in some of the Admiralty dockyards were working from twelve to fifteen hours a week more than their average time, which is, if I am not mistaken, ten hours per day. The same rule holds good throughout the Admiralty service. With these facts before us we must expect that a proper appeal made to the mettle of which our men are composed must result in our getting all that we require. There never was a time when we wanted men of the very highest mettle more than we do now - men of the mettle of those whose endurance under galling conditions in the trenches on land, and whose efficient vigilance in the North Sea had no higher emotional stimulus than a steady sense of public duty. I hope that the measure introduced to-night will not result in anything in the nature of precipitate compulsion. I cannot but believe that the offer from Canada to provide 150,000 men for the front will be capped by Australia. Canada has, I think, already sent 100,000 men to the fighting line, but Colonel Hughes, the Canadian Minister of War, said the other day that Lord Kitchener could command 50,000 more when they were required. We have only to remember the tribute paid to the patriotism and the fighting qualities of our men at Gallipoli to know what we

Mr. Glynn.can produce. Even, the War Office report of the landing on Gallipoli, chilled as it must have been to some extent by the intimacy of the Department with the official censor, spoke with some emotion of the vigour and determination of the men from the Dominions. It told how the operation of landing in the face of modern weapons, with mines in the sea as well as on the land, with deep pits with spikes at. the bottom, had been accomplished successfully, and one cannot ignore also the splendid spirit of the Canadian troops. We read that 150,000 Germans attacked the Canadians at Ypres, and that, though the Canadians were outnumbered by ten to one, they met the emergency with such spirit that they kept their lines-

An Honorable Member. - And recovered their guns.

Mr GLYNN - And recovered their guns, although two-thirds of their artillery horses had been shot down at the very beginning of the battle. All I can say is this : It is for us now to realize the gravity of the situation which, I believe, we can combat if we push our energy and resources to the utmost, and if every one of us is ready to contribute his meed of effective service to the common local and Imperial cause. Youth and energy, with their associated buoyancy and alertness of mind and limb, are splendid personal endowments, but they are nothing when not manifested at a vital crisis like this, in the defence of one's country' and the inviolability of one's home. The gratitude of a nation, and the respect of one's friends, are a great, perhaps the best, reward for the patriotic discharge of duty, while the ignominy and shame that must be the penalty of recreance, and of ignoble ease, are a poor heritage to leave to those who come after us - to our children, whose greatest pride and patrimony should be a pure ancestral name. I feel that all we need do is to make a strong, forceful appeal to the youth of - Australia to find that they will follow the example of those who have gone before, that they will follow the men who have already reached the summit of spirit and achievement, and to find that there are thousands of men here waiting only the opportunity to emulate their comrades'' glory, and to show the Empire the stuff of which they also are made.

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