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Wednesday, 21 October 1970

Mr Kevin Cairns (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) - It had not been my intention to speak on this series of Bills tonight, but the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) has provided sufficient provocation for me to make at least one or two comments on his speech. I have been intrigued by the attitude which underlies the honourable member's speech, in that he was concerned about the position of the States in the federation. One could almost say that the unstated presumption of what he was talking about tonight was States rights. He was concerned that the States would not have sufficient power to determine their own future and that by various means the States have had to develop a tax such as this in order to pursue their own paths of progress. But of course the States have always opposed a tax whereby they would have been able to pursue their own paths of progress.

Let me just make this point, and I think it is appropriate: The Party opposite is not a party that has ever understood State rights. It is a party which, particularly in financial matters, is completely devoted to the abolition and the denigration of States rights altogether. So that is the necessary basis upon which one is to understand the contribution of the honourable member for Adelaide. I have been intrigued with one or two of his other comments. I shall speak for only 8 or 9 minutes, but these things need to be said. It is true that no taxation is acceptable. I do not know of any taxation that is acceptable. I know nobody who pays a tax which is acceptable to the payer. But one has to look at the alternative to a tax not being paid. The Commonwealth gave an undertaking in respect of the receipts duty tax. It was a very generous undertaking which followed the meeting of the Commonwealth and the State Premiers earlier this year. The Commonwealth was quite incredibly generous to the States.

I fail to understand why anyone should raise objections to that series of circumstances, to the generosity on the part of the Commonwealth to the States earlier this year and to a more than generous attitude in relation to the States involved in this series of Bills. I do not want to go into the figures. They are there. Anybody who analyses the Budget knows quite well that the room for manoeuvre by the Commonwealth in respect of the Budget was narrowed significantly by its generosity to the States earlier this year. So we come to the tax itself. The Opposition says it is regressive. What it is regressive in relation to is never made perfectly clear. It is like the amendment that was moved by the shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) in relation to the income tax Bills, that those Bills should be withdrawn and redrafted because they were regressive. Regressive with respect to what? The income tax Bills simply meant that those on higher incomes paid higher taxes, both average and marginal taxes. No tax is regressive where one pays a higher taxation, average and marginal, as one's resources increase. I suggest that honourable members opposite have not quite understood what the word 'regressive' means. When they apply it to the receipts duty tax they completely undercut the amendment upon which they voted earlier in respect of the income taxation measures. The alleged regressiveness in respect to these matters-

Mr Hurford - Would the honourable member allow me to be more progressive in relation to his own tax?

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