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Thursday, 5 April 1973
Page: 1203

Mr McVEIGH (Darling Downs) - Mr Speaker,you may be assured that I am not ashamed to rise and participate in this debate because I want to relate to the House some matters on which I have deep personal convictions - matters which cause great concern to many Australians. One of the issues on which one often hears discussion - discussion which in the enlightened and fair mind always leads to the inevitable expression that they should be abolished - is the vexed question of death duties, probate and succession, both Federal and State. I can assure you, Mr Speaker, that Senator Negus does not have the same concern about the people of Australia as do honourable members who sit on the benches occupied by the Australian Country Party. Permeating all sections of our society and inflicting hardship on many, these duties should be abolished forthwith. The Government is challenged to state where it stands on this issue. The Country Party attitude on this is, as it is on all issues, crystal clear and definite in its expression, namely the complete abolition of these duties in both the Federal and State spheres.

It is true that some movement towards these aims has been accomplished in Queensland, obviously because of the influence of the Premier of that State, the honourable Joh Bjelke-Petersen and his Country Party colleagues, and in the Federal sphere due to the efforts of the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party which are aware, as they have always been, of the grave injustices caused by these savage duties which owe their existence to tradition and the vagaries of Federal-State relations. The duties were introduced to facilitate the redistribution of rural lands in the days when the land policy was to supplant squatters with agricultural settlers.

This proved quite successful, and to our credit, in developing our pioneering industries. But the situation is now vastly different. We have rural reconstruction schemes to build up farms, legislation to prevent foreign takeovers and suggested legislation to prevent and prohibit foreign ownership of our land. Honourable members on this side of the House wish to retain Australia for Australians. That is our clarion call.

The States entered the field of death duties in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s and the Commonwealth in 1914. Thus, as one would expect, we have 7 different forms of death duties operating now, with the relative impor tance as a public revenue source greater in the States than in the Commonwealth. Mr Speaker, I seek leave of the House to have incorporated in Hansard a table indicating the amount of State and Commonwealth Government collections of probate, succession and estate duties for the years 1960-61 to 1969- 70, and also a statement indicating these duties expressed as a percentage of government taxation revenue for the years 1969-70 to 1972-73.

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