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Tuesday, 18 September 1928

Mr GREGORY (Swan) .- I do not think that the announcement of the Treasurer is at all compatible with his previous statement that all persons interested in prospecting except those making a living in trafficking in leases would be exempt from taxation. I wish to endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) concerning the difficulties experienced in the gold-mining areas. The report of the Development and Migration Commission on the gold-mining industry contains an appendix showing the price of gold over a period of years, and with the exception of a short period when there was a premium given on a sale of gold, the price has remained stationary. Before the war it was £4 4s. lid. an oz., and to-day it is the same ; but at the same time there has been an increase in the cost of living and in wages of nearly 100 per cent. Is it any wonder that to-day, notwithstanding the ' wonderful latent resources and the enormous auriferous and metalliferous areas of this country, we have difficulty in trying to develop it? I know that under this bill it is practically impossible to improve the position other than to give effect to the definite promise that the definition of prospector shall include a person who. assists prospecting other than a- trafficker in leases.

Dr Earle Page - I am quite prepared to accept an .amendment if the honorable member can suggest a means whereby a differentiation can be drawn between the trafficker and the man who is doing the actual work of prospecting.

Mr GREGORY - When I was in Perth the other day I was asked to take up a share in a syndicate. I took up a £10 share fully paid-up. Other shares were paid up to £5. About 50 other persons, including the late manager of one of the big mines of Western Australia, took up shares. By collecting money in this way we are able to send men outprospecting. The idea is to assist the gold-mining industry on the understanding that those who are giving the assistance shall be free from taxation on the sale of any leases. I have never made a penny out of the assistance I have given to prospectors. In the early days I was associated with mining companies, but they did not traffic in leases. The company promoter would come along and say "I shall- arrange to give you £1,000 in cash and £5,000 or £7,000 paid-up £1 shares in a company that we are going to form." The usual charge was 6d. or ls. each for the application and the allotment. The agreement provided that no shares were to be placed upon the market until the expiry of six months. As soon as the company was started, taxation would be demanded. I do not know the position to-day. In the early days I read in the Kalgoorlie newspapers of men who went insolvent rather than pay the tax that was demanded of them. I know that taxation was imposed upon the shares that I received. At that time we had the promise that those who were associated with prospecting should, in the event of a sale, be exempt from taxation. I stress that point to show that we should do everything within our power to encourage men to go out prospecting. I have known men to prospect for fifteen or twenty years before striking a good show, and no one deserves success more than that class of man. Something should be done to exempt from taxation the man assisting in prospecting. I do not think that the broker or company promoter should escape taxation in any shape or form. Only a few days ago I sent to the Treasurer a letter from the Income Taxpayers' Association, asking for certain information on this subject. If he will promise to give exemption- under this clause as I have suggested, I can assure him that the people on the gold-fields will be exceedingly thankful.

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