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Tuesday, 26 March 1968

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - lt is true, as the honourable member has said, that we are anxious to help the South Vietnamese and our other allies in South Vietnam in any way we reasonably can. I remind the honourable member that under our present taxation laws gifts of this kind cannot be made without alteration to the taxation laws. The reasons for the decision are clear. Firstly, if a deduction is allowed, in many circumstances the Government itself makes the major contribution. In other words, the amount is paid by the general taxpayer rather than by the person making the contribution. Secondly, we have a great number of applications to consider each year for payments overseas to be made subject to income tax deduction.

At Budget time, when these matters are considered, we have to make up our minds what degree of priority we will give to each of the requests made. I point out to the honourable member that our assistance to overseas countries given directly, and without any tags whatsoever, is of the order of $142m. The proportion of our gross national product that we give for these purposes puts us well up towards the top in the international league. The only other country, as has been stated by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, which is in a higher position in this context is France. However, knowing the interest that the honourable member has in this problem, I assure him that we will look at the matter during our forthcoming Budget discussions, and the decisions we make will be made known when the Budget itself is introduced.

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