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Tuesday, 18 September 1928

Dr EARLE PAGE (Cowper) (Treasurer) . - I regret that, in my reply to the second-reading debate, I did not refer to the points raised by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), but I intimated that a number of matters mentioned by certain honorable members could better be dealt with in committee. The specific point raised by the honorable member should have been discussed on clause 5. This provision is inserted in the bill because a special deduction made in respect of ordinary companies has now been made general, so there is no longer a necessity to retain paragraph d of section 22. Some years ago the Government decided to exempt the gold-mining industry from income taxation altogether. It made a number of concessions to prospectors, and gave a certain measure of assistance to the industry by 'special grant, but the concessions from this grant can only be obtained as a result of applications from the State Governments concerned.

Mr A GREEN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Yes; but to the extent of only £4,000.

Dr EARLE PAGE - That is a matter for the State Government. All applications and any complaints about them should be made to that body. Regarding the position of prospectors, let me say that before I visited Western Australia some two or three months ago I answered certain letters on this subject, and in my replies I pointed out that no prospector would be charged income tax on the sale of his leases unless he were trafficking in them. The point really that has to be considered by the Taxation Department is whether the prospector has taken up his claim for the purpose of working it, or merely for the purpose of selling it at the earliest possible moment. If, in the opinion of the department, he is a bona' fide prospector, he is free of income taxation. When I was in Western Australia, this question was not raised, and I therefore took it for granted that it had been completely answered by the statement made by the Treasury and the taxation office. If it is felt that the position is not sufficiently covered, I am quite prepared to insert an amendment in the bill when it is before another place, to exempt specifically from taxation the proceeds of the sale of a mining proposition which has been prospected and worked by a field prospector; but it is considered that the backer who is making his living in trafficking in leases should not be exempt.

Mr A GREEN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - What does the Treasurer mean by field prospector?

Dr EARLE PAGE - The man who is doing the actual work of prospecting. It would be quite easy to differentiate between the field prospector and the man making his living by buying and selling leases. If necessary, I am quite prepared to have a clause drafted to ensure that prospectors shall be exempt from taxation.

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