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Wednesday, 18 July 1906

Senator MULCAHY (Tasmania) . - I do not think I can support the motion, which will impose on some one an extraordinary amount of work.

Senator Pearce - Does the honorable senator think that we should act in the dark?

Senator MULCAHY - I do not desire the honorable senator to act in the dark. In the absence of any Government machinery, we shall be imposing on some one the duty of furnishing a return, the information necessary to which does not exist in three States out of the six, and which cannot be obtained except at great cost.At the present time there is an Assessment Bill before the Tasmanian Parliament, involving an expenditure of £7,000 or £8,000, in order to obtain this information; and when that Bill is passed - if it is passed at all, a similar measure having been several times rejected - months, and probably years, will be required to gather the facts. All the Statisticians will give us will be an approximation of the relative value of the whole of the property in Tasmania, as distinguished between the capital value and the unimproved capital value.

Senator Henderson - The motion will not impose any expenditure on Tasmania.

Senator MULCAHY - I am pointing out to Senator Pearce the difficulty there will be in getting the information.

Senator Pearce - If the honorable senator will read the motion he will see that I recognise that, because I use the words " in those States in which returns are available."

Senator MULCAHY - I have pointed out that in the case of three States only these returns will be available.

Senator Pearce - I recognise that.

Senator MULCAHY - It is possible to get from the Statisticians the whole capital value of private property, but they may give an estimate which will only amount to a guess of the relative proportions of the value of that property which exists in land. When the honorable senator asks the Statisticians to give this information in detailhe asks them to do what is impossible.

Senator McGregor - We are asking them to give only what they can give.

Senator MULCAHY - No, the motion asks them to give something which they cannot give unless a detailed assessment is made. Honorable senators must surely see that?

Senator Millen - That does not apply in all the States; to New South Wales, for instance.

Senator McGregor - If he has net sufficient data to supply a return, he is asked to give an estimate.

Senator MULCAHY - In New South Wales there is an unimproved capital value tax.

Senator Millen - Apart from that, it would be possible to obtain the number of different holdings in all the States.

Senator MULCAHY - That is quite so. There is no doubt that we could get the number and areas of the different holdings. I presume thatthat information could be obtained, even with respect to Victoria, although in a place like Melbourne blocks of land insignificant in area are of immense value. Of what use is it to know the areas of blocks when We know that land has been sold in Melbourne at £2,000 per foot? I point out that it will be impossible to obtainany returns under this motion within the next twelve months or two years that will be ofanyvalue to the party who wish to use the information. I know the purpose for which this information is desired, and I do not approve of it. I shall from the first do my best to prevent its accomplishment, and shall therefore vote against the motion.

Amendment (by Senator O'Keefe) agreed to -

That the following words be added : - " and the duration in each case of such absence."

Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.

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