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Friday, 14 October 1910

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I move -

That this Bill be now read a second time.

It is evident from the welcome I received on rising that this measure has been long looked for by a very large section of the people of the Commonwealth. I know that for the last twenty-five years and more-

Senator St Ledger - The honorable senator might as well say fifty years.

Senator Barker - More than twenty-five years. Forty years at least.

Senator McGREGOR - I know that for the last twenty-five years and more in South Australia an earnest expression of opinion has been continually given with respect to the land question. As an honorable senator has interjected, the question has not had an existence of only twentyfive years. It may be considered that for thousands of years the proper method of dealing' with the lands of different countries has been under serious consideration. This measure has a two-fold object. Every honorable senator must realize that in order to carry on the Government of the Commonwealth, divided as it is into so many Departments, some of them requiring the expenditure of very large sums, it is necessary to tap almost every avenue for the purpose of making up the revenue required. As regards the Government and those who are supporting us, for at least some of the requirements of the Commonwealth, especially with respect to Defence and other matters, we believe that direct taxation is the proper source from which the greater portion of the revenue should come. Again, it will be recognised that principles are involved in the different methods of taxation. The first principle is the raising of revenue, and the second is the economic effect which the taxation may have on the community. In connexion with the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth we have a protective Tariff. That necessarily yields a very large sum; in fact the greater portion of our revenue. The Government and their supporters have no desire that that position should continue longer than is really necessary. The economic effect intended by Parliament when it imposed the duties which are raising revenue was that they should stimulate industries and build up a nation worthy of the name. If that economic principle of the policy takes effect, it will be found that the revenue from that source will decrease, and therefore it will become necessary to look to other sources to make up the deficiency.

Senator St Ledger - There is no sign of that yet. The Customs revenue is increasing.

Senator McGREGOR - The honorable member knows, or ought to know, that if a protective policy is going to have any effect in a protective direction, that result must come some day or other, The fact that the revenue from Customs and Excise in Australia amounts to ?2 10s. per head per annum, and in a more highly protected country, namely, the United States of America, to less than 30s., shows that although it takes a considerable time for a protective policy to have that effect, it is bound to come. It is not when you find yourself without a penny in your pocket that you ought to begin to look for new sources of income. Therefore one of the objects of this measure is to raise revenue. It has been estimated on a very careful basis that it will raise at least ?1,000,000 per annum.

Senator Vardon - "At least?"

Senator McGREGOR - Yes. There are persons in Australia, including many of the petitioners whom the honorable senator so ably and so persistently represents here, who tell us that we will raise ?2,000,000 or ?3,000,000 under this system. Well, we hope that we will.

Senator Barker - All the better.

Senator MCGREGOR - It will be all the better for the Commonwealth.

Senator St Ledger - Oh, make it ^5,000,000 then.

Senator MCGREGOR - We are not attempting to make it anything. There is something else underlying the principles of taxation to which I have referred. We consider that the measure will raise at least a little over ,£1,000,000 per annum. A great many persons in the Commonwealth who are opposed to the Labour party are continually asking, ' How do you ' arrive at that estimate of the revenue? You must base it on something." I can assure honorable senators that the statistics of the Commonwealth relating to lands - and I do not blame those who are responsible for the collection of that kind of information - are in such a condition that it is nearly time that some radical step was taken to bring about an improvement. You can get scarcely any reliable information in any of the States with respect to the subdivision of their lands, their tenures, or their values. To arrive at an estimate of the amount of taxation that can be really expected to be obtained, it was necessary to take some State which can afford us reliable data. Therefore, we have taken Victoria.

Senator Fraser - The Government might also take New South Wales, because there is a land tax there.

Senator McGREGOR - There is, but the facts are in such a muddled condition in New South Wales that I would defy the honorable senator to make anything out of them. In Victoria we have a more complete system of shire council valuation than obtains anywhere else in Australia.

Senator Fraser - There are shire councils in New South Wales.

Senator McGREGOR - But they only came into existence, as far as land values - assessment is concerned, within the last few years. Moreover, conditions there are in a state of flux. Senator Fraser ought to be very thankful that we can take Victoria as an example in formulating an estimate. As I have said, for purposes of calculation we have taken the Victorian estimate. We find that land values in the shire councils have been under-stated to the extent of from 7 \ to nearly 60 per cent. In every State where land taxation exists at the present time the valuations are almost as absurdly low. I,shall have reason to refer to that .point again by-and-by.

Senator Guthrie - The same applies in Great Britain.

Senator McGREGOR - The same applies wherever the taxpayer sees an opportunity of defrauding the Government. It is considered legitimate to "do" the Government wherever possible.

Senator St Ledger - If you create an artificial crime that tendency must always be expected.

Senator McGREGOR - I shall explain hereafter how offences of that kind are dealt with by this measure. In calculating the probable amount of revenue for the whole of Australia, we have estimated what might be raised in Victoria j and we have found, by taking the shire council under-valuations at about 25 per cent., and limiting the calculation to estates held to a value of over £5,000, both as to country and city lands, that a revenue of £222,000 might be expected to be obtained in this State. We have taken Victoria as representing about one-fifth of the whole Commonwealth. That was the only method at the disposal of any one attempting to make an estimate in connexion with this question. Calculation on that basis gives a revenue of a little over ,£1,000,000 for the whole Commonwealth. I hope - indeed I anticipate - that we have been too liberal in connexion with the under-valuations of land for taxation and rating purposes in this and the other States. We believe that the undervaluations average nearer 50 than 25 per cent.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Especially as to the large estates.

Senator McGREGOR - Especially as far as concerns the large estates. The poor man who has two or three hundred acres is, as a rule, valued up to the uttermost farthing, but the wealthy land-owner with 501000 or 60,000 acres of the best land in the country is generally valued for taxation purposes at only about one-quarter of the true value of his estate.

Senator St Ledger - How many of such land-holders are there in Australia ?

Senator McGREGOR - I will tell the honorable senator by-and-by.

Senator Fraser - The statement is a gross exaggeration.

Senator McGREGOR - Mr. President,in making this "gross exaggeration " in my second-reading speech, I am giving the honorable senator an excellent opportunity of disproving my statement. If I were to say that estates were under-valued to the extent of only 5 or 10 per cent., Senator Fraser would immediately retort, " Oh, .that is a mere nothing," and would not take any notice of the statement. But when I put the under-valuation at what I really think it amounts to, he is afforded an opportunity to bring forward reliable testimony in contradiction of my assertion.

Senator St Ledger - Why did not the Government give some persons who desired to do so an opportunity of exposing their charges as to under-valuations ?

Senator de Largie - They have that opportunity now.

Senator St Ledger - Will the Government give the opportunity now ?

Senator McGREGOR - We are dealing with the second reading of a Land Tax Assessment Bill, and, of course, Senator St. Ledger will have an opportunity of presenting to the Senate any facts that he can collect.

Senator Guthrie - Any that he can scrape up.

Senator McGREGOR - He can scrape them up from any source he pleases, and the Senate will be able to judge them at their true value. As far as concerns the amount of revenue to be derived from this taxation, I hope, in the interests of the Government and of the people of Australia, and for the good name of the Commonwealth all over the world, that instead of ,£1,000,000 we shall have ,£2,500,000 per annum. But I can hardly expect so large a revenue.

Senator Fraser - The Government will get it.

Senator McGREGOR - All the better if we do. As I have said, we have done our best to make an estimate with the information at our disposal. I wish now to refer to the economic value of taxation, and particularly of land taxation. As the Customs House may be made an instrument to stimulate the secondary industries of the country, so land taxation may be made an instrument to settle people upon the land, to prevent the aggregation of large estates, to increase the population, to afford greater facilities for employment, and to make Australia a nation enjoying a position in the world. to which she never could have attained by allowing things to drift as they have been drifting for the last fifty years. Senator St. Ledger has said that there are not many people in Australia owning over 50,000 acres of the best land.

Senator St Ledger - I asked how many there were.

Senator McGREGOR - In the State of Victoria there are three estates over £150,000 in value, but in New South Wales there are 103.

Senator Chataway - They may be city properties.

Senator McGREGOR - Of estates over £20,000 in value there are thousands in all the States. Consequently there are great possibilities in connexion, not only with the revenue-producing aspect, but also with the economic aspect of this legislation. I have heard many people ask the question, " Where is the necessity for any legislation that will have the effect of bringing about closer settlement in Australia? Is there not plenty of land available at the present time?" Senator Sayers, a few days ago, was kind enough to read certain extracts from a book to show that there was no necessity for land taxation. But did honorable senators notice the prices required for some of the lands that he mentioned? They ranged from ,£7 10s. up to nearly £100 per acre.

Senator Guthrie - Over £100.

Senator McGREGOR - Over .£100 in some cases. There was nothing false in the book ; it merely contained evidence of the extent to which land monopoly has advanced in Australia, and particularly in Victoria. It contained evidence enough to inform the people of other parts of the world that if they want to settle in Australia, at all events in the settled districts, they must be prepared to pay £7, £10, £^5, £20. or £100 per acre for land.

Senator Guthrie - Or work on shares.

Senator McGREGOR - Or work on shares. I should call that system winter farming. I know a little about it, and I dare say that my honorable friend, Senator W. "Russell, will be able to tell us something about it, because he has had experience in that kind of business. I wish to call attention to the fact that land monopoly also exists in other parts of the world. T have seen in older countries, where there is a settled population, hundreds of thousands of people leaving their native shores every year because of land monopoly - because they could not get on to the land of their own country.

Senator St Ledger - Can the honorable senator make that assertion good ?

Senator de Largie - Senator St. Ledger ought to know that it is true.

Senator St Ledger - Mere "assertion is of no value. We should^ have proof of a statement like that.

Senator McGREGOR - Does the honorable senator want to see people emigrating from Australia? Does he want to see the same conditions brought about here as prevail in England, Ireland, and Scotland? Ireland has lost 100 per cent. of her population within the last fifty years.

SenatorFraser. - Does the honorable senator wonder at that?

Senator Barker - Scotland also.

Senator Fraser - Scotland can hold her own.

Senator McGREGOR - I can tell the honorable senator something about Scotland. I could take him to localities where many years ago the Frasers and McGregors flourished. I could take him to the top of a certain hill commanding a view of a country wherefifty years ago at least ten thousand people could have been collected. But when I was there last, there was only one old man and one old woman in the whole area. All the others had gone - to Canada, to Australia, to the United States, and to other parts of the world. The land on which their mothers and fathers lived has been turned into shooting grounds for the pleasure of English visitors, who have made fortunes from brewing beer and manufacturing soap. That is the condition of affairs existing in Scotland. Senator Fraser is well aware that the hills and glens of that country are nearly deserted at the present time. He is aware that hundreds and thousands of people made a living in that country in the past, and that, owing to the lack of proper land legislation, there is nothing but desolation now. Human beings have been cleared off to make room for red deer and pheasants ; and the few who do live there dare not keep a dog or a cat for fear the animals should go around looking for a living on their own account. The same sort of thing obtains in Ireland at the present moment.

Senator Fraser - In Ireland £14,000,000 have been spent in buying land for the people.

Senator McGREGOR - It does not matter if you spend£114,000,000 in buying land. Unless there is legislation in operation that will prevent the future aggregation of estates the money might as well not be spent at all. It is merely a slight palliative. It may have a beneficial effect for a few years, but it can do no more. I am hoping that the wisdom of British statesmen, that inaugurated the land-purchase policy in Ireland, will ulti mately see the necessity of passing legislation to prevent aggregation in the future.

Senator Fraser - There is no aggregation. It is the other way about.

Senator McGREGOR - The honorable senator need not tell me that. I know more about the conditions in Ireland and Scotland than he does. If we go to England also we shall find that at the present time hundreds of thousands of people are leaving the country every year. Missionary associations and religious institutions are being established for the purpose of sending away the poor people of England, in order that they may be rescued from the starvation and misery that exist there. Have we not the statement of a late Prime Minister of England that twelve millions of the population of the country are continuously on the verge of starvation? This is in a country which possesses some of the finest land in the world, and a climate which, for the purposes of agriculture, is not surpassed anywhere.

Senator Fraser - Yet they spend £40,000,000 a year in drink.

Senator McGREGOR - It is mostly the big landlords who spend money on drink. I have seen something of that kind of thing. The poor Britisher has to be satisfied with his pot of beer.

Senator Barker - And small beer at that.

Senator McGREGOR - And small beer a lot of it is.

Senator Fraser - He would be better with a pot of milk.

Senator McGREGOR - He would need land on which to graze a cow in order to get the milk. That is where the difficulty is. Instead of the country being occupied by a yeomanry, as it ought to be, it is used for sheep and bullocks, red deer, and other animals of that kind. The twelve millions who are on the verge of starvation have no opportunity to secure any of the land.

Senator St Ledger - The statement referred to has been contradicted over and over again, and it has even been denied that a Prime Minister of England made it.

Senator McGREGOR - Any one can deny a statement. The truth has been contradicted and denied for the last 5,000 years. Some people make it their business to contradict everything that is true. So far as the Government is concerned, itis regarded as the duty of the Opposition to contradict everything they say, whether it is true or false, and the honorable senator is well qualified to take up either position. We have recognised the disastrous effects of land monopoly in the older countries, where about thirteen dukes own about 75 per cent, of the whole of the land, and, by letting it out on shares, or leasing it, screw the uttermost farthing from the poor industrial classes. Australia is a new country, but I am sorry to say that the same methods have been imported into this country, and their adoption is being followed by similar conditions.

Senator St Ledger - The eviction of tenants by rapacious landlords has, apparently, been illustrated only recently near Sydney.

Senator McGREGOR - Is the honorable senator making a speech? I cannot always tell the difference between his speeches and his prayers. They are both so incongruous.

Senator Fraser - Some persons do not pray at all.

Senator McGREGOR - That is all right; no one ever accused the honorable senator of anything of that sort. The evils following from the adoption of these methods have gradually been increasing in Australia, until to-day we find that nearly 130,000,000 acres of the pick of the land has already been alienated, or is in process of alienation. I may be told that, as compared with the total area of 1,903,000,000 acres, that represents but' a very small area, but honorable senators must bear in mind that there is nearly 800,000,000 acres held on lease, and the land alienated or in process of alienation and held on lease represents 49 per cent, of the whole. Nearly one-half of the lands of Australia is under the control of private persons, and a considerable proportion of the remainder is supposed to be of no very great value. I hope the time will come when even the worst land in Australia will be put to some profitable use. I wish, so far as some of the States are concerned, to show the false impression that has been created in the minds of the people of this country in connexion with the progress of land settlement during the last ten years. I had a table in my possession not long ago giving particulars of the land alienated in the various States, and the area under cultivation, but I have no intention now to enter into those details. I do not wish to occupy a very great deal of time in dealing with this question at this stage of the session, because there are other important measures before the Senate. T may say, however, that the table shows that, " in spite of the area of lands purchased for settlement, and of Crown lands opened for settlement by immigrants from other countries, the proportion of land under cultivation is less to-day than it was ten years ago. Will honorable senators deny that? I make the statement emphatically, speaking from the table to which I refer, that in 1900 the proportion of land under cultivation to the area alienated was 8 per cent., and in 1909 it was reduced to 7^ per cent., although in the meantime the total area alienated had been increased by some 1-2,000,000 acres.

Senator Fraser - That is easily explained. Dairying has superseded a great deal of cultivation.

Senator McGREGOR - The dairyman who does not cultivate fodder crops is not worth having in this country.

Senator Fraser - Many of them do not cultivate crops.

Senator McGREGOR - Then they are unworthy occupiers of the lands of Australia. If the honorable senator's statement be correct, I have only to say that the man who is engaged in dairying, and does not cultivate fodder crops, has too much land. If he is depending entirely on the natural grasses of the country, he has more land than he ought to have. A man occupying land in this country is not a good citizen of the Commonwealth if he does not make two blades of grass grow where one would grow naturally. The fact is that the area of land that has been thrown out of cultivation as a result of the progress of the dairying industry is infinitesimal.

Senator de Largie - People do not go in for dairying in the dry parts of Australia.

Senator Fraser - They are doing so now at Swan Hill and in the Riverina.

Senator McGREGOR - It is only by growing hay by irrigation for fodder in the summer time that they can do so. There is nothing in the honorable senator's statement that the progress of the dairying industry accounts for the reduction in the area of land under cultivation. In New South Wales, although the area of land alienated between 1900 and 1909 increased by 3,250.000 acres, the area under cultivation decreased by 130,000 acres. When the statement was made that the area under cultivation in New South Wales within a certain period had been reduced by 250,000- acres, members of the New South Wales Parliament would not believe it. Eachsaid that no reduction of the area under cultivation had taken place in his district.

But when the official agricultural returns were consulted, it was found that the area under cultivation had been reduced by 12,000 acres in one district, 9,000 acres in another, 6,000 acres in a third, and that there had been a reduction even in the Dubbo district, where it was thought that land settlement was going on apace. In Queensland, where we hear so much about the influx of immigrants, and the great progress of settlement during the last five years, although the area alienated has been increased by nearly 20,000,000 acres, there is only a little over 500,000 acres under cultivation. This is in spite of all the immigration, the repurchase of land for closer settlement, the sugar bounties, and everything else. With all this immigration and new settlement, the production from the land in that State has not been increasing.

Senator Fraser - How can that be, when the exports are greater per head than in any other country in the world?

Senator McGREGOR - I am speaking of the area under cultivation. The honorable senator forgets that a larger production may be secured by better cultivation and the adoption of better methods of farming. A few years ago in Queensland the people scarcely did anything with their land, except in the sugar districts. Now the Queensland farmers are learning something. I admit that the possibilities of Queensland are enormous, and it is legislation of this kind that will give the greatest impetus to the settlement of land in that and in every other State of the Common- wealth. In South Australia we have had immense areas of land opened up for settlement. On the west coast hundreds of thousands of acres have been brought under cultivation, and yet within the past nine years the area under cultivation has decreased. What does that mean? It means that so long as we permit of the aggregation of large estates, that aggregation will proceed at a faster rate than will settlement. We wish to prevent that. We desire to limit the occupation of land by any individual to a reasonable area, to make it impossible for him, or for any company, to acquire immense tracts of our best lands, and to farm them out either on lease, or on the share system, for the purpose of bleeding the people of Australia. After the land has been settled, we wish to prevent the possibility of it again being aggregated into large estates. That object can be achieved only by legislation of this description. I come now to some of the

States in which land tax legislation has been operative. In New South Wales, a land tax of a1d. in the£1, with an exemption of £240, has been in force for some time. For a time it worked very well, but the land-owners soon discovered that they fared much better if they undervalued their holdings, and the result - from a revenue stand-point - was therefore disappointing. If honorable senators will look at the Year-Book for New South Wales, they will find that a year or two ago, a revenue of between£300,000 and £400,000 was derived from this tax.

Senator Barker - It costs as much as that to collect the tax.

Senator McGREGOR - The collection of the tax costs a good deal. But my point is that nearly double that amount should have been collected, if the lands had been honestly valued. There was a time in New South Wales when all outside country, instead of being administered by the local Government bodies, was administered by the Central Government. But Local Government legislation was enacted as the result of which every local body which chose to raise its revenue upon land values was permitted to do so. Where these bodies did that, the Government tax was not collected. The result was that the returns from the land tax in New South Wales last year amounted to only about £80,000.

Senator Fraser - The Government handed the tax over to the shires by Statute.

Senator McGREGOR - No. They handed over to the shires the power to collect the tax.

Senator Fraser - That is the same thing.

Senator McGREGOR - It is quite a different thing. In New South Wales, kind assessors, in certain instances, have appraised land at 60 per cent. below its real value for the collection of such rates.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Human nature is the same everywhere.

Senator McGREGOR - Human nature in New South Wales is the same, if not a little worse, than it is anywhere else. Having lost the power to collect any land tax, the Government of that State may find that they have entered into a rather bad bargain. But we must hope for the best. Australia is entering upon a new era. Another power is about to take a hand in land taxation, and we must await the result. The method of taxing land values which is proposed in this Bill is one that is more stringent, and which, I hope, will be more effective, than that which has been adopted by any of the States, or by New Zealand. Some time ago, I laid a paper on the table of the Senate setting forth the rates of land taxation in Australia and the Dominion, and I hope that honorable senators have studied it closely. I intend to have it brought up to date so far as this Bill is concerned, so that they may be in a position to see how things are done in the different States. The paper in question shows the land tax proposals which passed the Legislative Assembly of Victoria last year, but which were rejected by the Legislative Council. Of course, we all recognise that the Legislative Council in all the States is the great bulwark of the land-owners. For many years, a progressive land tax has been operative in New Zealand, and running side by side with it has been a flat rate. For a time this tax proved very effective. But, ultimately, the land-owners began to perceive that it was not such a drastic tax after all. It amounted to an all round impost of id. in the £r, with an exemption of .£500 on unimproved values, and a progressive tax rising by one-sixteenth of a id. in the £1 up to £40,000 worth, of land values. Upon estates valued at ,£40,000 the tax levied is 10s. per cent., and it continues to rise till upon estates valued at ,£200,000 it amounts to "z\ per cent. Honorable senators will readily recognise die difference between that legislation and the legislation which is proposed in this Bill. We propose to levy a tax of z\ per cent, upon estates valued at ,£80,000. In South Australia, a land tax has been operative since 1884. It was originally fixed at £d. in the £1. But in 1894, another step forward was taken, and upon estates of more than .£5,000 in value an additional Jd. in the £1 was imposed. In 1902, the tax was increased by £d. in the £1 upon estates of less than £5,000 in value, and also upon estates over that amount. But that rate was enacted for only one year. It then lapsed, but it was reenacted the following year, at the expiration of which it ceased to operate. So that at the present time the land tax in South Australia is Jd. in the ,£1 upon estates up to £5,000 in value, and id. in the £1 upon estates over that value. I wish to show how that tax operates, and the necessity which exists for enacting cer- tain provisions which are contained in this Bill.

Senator St Ledger - Are not the Government proposing to go far beyond that principle?

Senator McGREGOR - I intend to show the necessity which exists for going far beyond it. The effect produced by the land tax and the progressive land tax in New Zealand was purely of a temporary character, and the authorities there are beginning to perceive that they will soon have to amend the legislation of the Dominion in that connexion, if they wish to prevent land monopoly. I intend to show that the land taxes levied in New South Wales. Victoria, and South Australia have not prevented the aggregation of large estates. Consequently, we must go a good deal further than does the legislation of those States if we wish to achieve the object which we have in view. At the commencement of legislation of this character, it will be necessary for every land-owner to value his own estate, because the Government have not the time at their disposal within which to appoint assessors to make the assessment. The quickest and the surest method of securing that assessment is to allow land-owners themselves to make it. When the Land Tax Bill was passed by the South Australian Parliament, in 1884, it contained a provision that the land-owners should value their own land! inclusive of improvements, and that they should also value separately their improvements. The difference between these two values gave the total amount upon which the land-owner was taxable. At the time the idea was very prevalent that if the land-owners undervalued their holdings the Government had power to acquire them. I believe that such a provision was originally contained in the Bill, but that it was eliminated. In 1884, the land values of South Australia, as valued by the owners themselves, amounted to ,£44,000,000. But these people - especially the largelandowners - soon discovered that if they appealed, even against their own valuations, and continued to appeal long enough, they would obtain a reduction inthe amounts upon which they were taxable. Consequently, these appeals werecontinued until in less than twentyfiveyears the land values of South Australia were assessed at only £27,000,000.

Senator St Ledger - Bad seasons, might account for that.

Senator McGREGOR - Not at all. To-day the land values of that State, notwithstanding that it has enjoyed nine good seasons, and that railway improvements and development have taken place there, are assessed at only £28,000,000. That shows the necessity for such provisions in legislation of this description. I have gone carefully through the measure, and, so far as my experience in politics enables me to judge, it is one of the most complete pieces of machinery which could be invented. It provides for almost every conceivable contingency, and if the future should disclose loopholes of escape whereby dishonest men can take advantage of honest men, I hope, if this Government or this party are in power, that such steps will be taken as will close them, and so perfect our land taxation scheme. I do not intend now to go into the details of the measure, because they can be best dealt with in Committee. I have not the least doubt that my honorable friends on the Opposition benches will avail themselves of the opportunity to pick all the holes they can in our proposals, and if that be possible, endeavour to make the measure more perfect than it is. But as I do not believe that it is possible, I hope that all their amendments will be resisted. The Bill is divided into eight parts, dealing with different aspects of the scheme. Part I. is introductory, and comprises clauses 1 to 3 Clause 3 contains all the definitions respecting the measure. Part II., which comprises clauses 4 to 8 relates to administration, that is, the appointment of a Commissioner to administer the Act, and other matters relative to such appointment. Part III., which comprises clauses 9 to 13, deals with the land tax. Part IV., which embraces clauses 14 to 41, is devoted to returns, assessments, and liability. Clauses 14 and 15 refer to returns, clauses 16 to 23 to assessments, and clauses 24 to 41 to the liability of taxpayers. All these matters will come prominently before honorable senators in Committee. Part V., which consists of four clauses, refers to appeals. It gives the right of appeal to the High Court, or any other Court which may be appointed, if any person finds that his assessment is too high, or if any difficulty arises. Part VI. consists of one pretty comprehensive clause, dealing with the acquisition of land, where it is undervalued.

Senator St Ledger - Where do you derive the power to take over a man's land?

Senator McGREGOR - We derive the power from the Lands Acquisition Act, which was passed by this Parliament, probably when the honorable senator was not here, and which he has forgotten.

Senator St Ledger - I was here. That Act depends upon the Constitution.

Senator McGREGOR - Part VII. relates to the collection and recovery of the tax, and Part VIII., which embraces clauses 59 to 72, deals with miscellaneous matters, and contains some important provisions in connexion with penalties and other questions of that description. Honorable senators will find that the measure contains almost every provision to prevent aggregation, to make it impossible for a person to evade taxation, and to deal fairly between the Commissioner and the taxpayer. A great deal has been done to smooth the way for institutions of various kinds. Honorable senators will, of course, have opportunities of discussing such questions.

Debate (on motion by Senator Fraser} adjourned.

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