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Wednesday, 12 November 1930

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - I wish, briefly, to supplement the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Sir George Pearce) in regard to the anomalies in the operation of the sales tax laws. 1" do it with the same object - that the Minister may confer with his colleagues so that we may be able to deal with these anomalies possibly when next the Sales Tax Assssment Bills come before us. 'I have not been able to understand why a differentation is made between a manufacturer who is' not a retailer, and one who is a retailer. As pointed out by Senator Pearce, a furrier who is a manufacturer and retailer of the finished article is compelled to pay sales tax on goods he held in stock prior to the beginning of August, whereas a wholesale furrier who is not a retailer pays no tax until the 1st August. The tax is called a sales tax; but the retailer who imports goods from overseas has to pay it at the timeof importation. The actualities are that a certain proportion of the goods upon which he has thus paid tax are never sold. They go out of fashion before it is possible to sell them, yet the tax has been paid on them. It is, therefore, a misnomer to speak of it as a sales tax, when it is really an importers' tax. The matter is one that calls for the consideration of the Government.

I have receiveda letter from an individual representative of many hundreds of small business people in Australia who are conducting small confectionery shops. The great bulk of their stock is based on standard lines, the price of which is fixed by the manufacturer, and is advertised on the packages. I am referring to half-penny, penny, and threepenny lines, the main trade in which is done with school children. I have seen four invoices received from the manufacturers, each averaging about £3 10s. or £4, and on the bottom of each was the line, "sales tax, 2s.", or "sales tax, 2s. 6d." The retailer has no opportunity whatever to pass on this sales tax. I estimate that each small shopkeeper is compelled to pay at least £13 a year, with no opportunity of recovering one penny of it. It is impossible to pass on the sales tax on two half-penny sticks of liquorice. It was never intended that elderly people depending upon these small confectionery shops for their living should have to pay as much as 5s. a week in sales tax, with no earthly hope of recovering it.

Senator Hoare -Can the honorable senator show us the way out?

Senator PAYNE - I cannot; but thore should be some way out. It was never intended that this particular section of tho trading community should bc penalized in this way. I hope that these comments will be borne in mind by Senator Daly, and that he will confer with his colleagues in regard to them.

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