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Wednesday, 19 October 1910


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.

Does the honorable gentleman still think that?


Senator McGregor - Yes.


Senator MILLEN - Then why does he not propose to tax the dairy farmer?


Senator McGregor - Is not that what the Bill will do?'


Senator de Largie - Very few dairymen will escape.


Senator MILLEN - I wish that my honorable friends had a larger knowledge of Australia, because they would not then speak in that way. As a matter of fact, very few dairymen will pay this tax. If we calculate £40 an acre as the cost of a dairy farm of 100 acres, its capital value would be £4,000 and not one dairyman in fifty has land of that value.


Senator de Largie - Only a few weeks ago I saw dairy farmers working on land which they would not part with at less than £150 per acre. They are taking six crops of lucerne off it each year.


Senator MILLEN - I do not doubt the honorable senator's statement, but there must be some circumstances connected with that land which are quite abnormal. Some of the best lucerne land with which I am acquainted is to be found on the Hunter and Peel Rivers in New South Wales. But it is not worth anything like £150 per acre. When Senator de Largie talks about £150 per acre being paid for lucerne land, I say at once that there must be some exceptional local circumstances to account for the price.


Senator de Largie - All the dairy farmers in that district go in for cultivation.


Senator MILLEN - That is not my point. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has affirmed that noncultivation is an evidence that a dairy farmer has too much land. If he be really sincere in his statement, then why does he not propose to tax such an individual ? I would further point out that on the northern rivers of New South Wales there is an enormous area of land which, owing to the mildness of the climate, it is not absolutely necessary to cultivate. But some of the dairy farmers who are not cultivating have deemed it wise to increase the area under artificial grasses from r, 000, 000 acres to 2,500,000 acres.


Senator Rae - They could not carry cattle on that country if they did not put it under artificial grasses.


Senator MILLEN - We could not have any bread if we did not grow wheat. In all fairness, the area which has been placed under artificial grasses ought to be added to that which is under cultivation.


Senator O'Keefe - The growing of artificial grasses is a form of cultivation.


Senator MILLEN - I certainly had no intention of occupying the attention of the Senate for such a prolonged period ; but if honorable senators will bear with me a little longer I will deal with what are supposed to be the two principles of this Bill.


Senator Givens - We are only asking for a little interest, not for the principal.


Senator MILLEN - It seems to me that my honorable friends wish to take a great portion of the capital. From time to time we have heard dissertations in this Chamber to the effect that community-created values should be preserved to the community. Nobody has urged that more strongly than has Senator Stewart. But can it be contended that this Bill will impose a tax on incremental values? It proposes to tax where there is no increment, but does not tax where there is. It violates that principle in every corner of it. It is, to my mind, quite an arguable theory that the increment of land is a fair subject for taxation. But this Bill does not do that. This Bill comes along and says, " Increment or no increment, if land is held in a certain way by certain people, we will impose a tax upon it. But, on the other hand, increments may exist and stare us in the face, and we will not lay a hand on them as long as they are held in a different form." If this were a tax by means of which any portion of the publicly created increment was to be taken it would receive respect, if not support. But I say again that the Bill violates every sound principle of land taxation. Let us look at it from the point of view of land policy. It has been said that it is impossible to get land in Australia, except in districts which are unsuitable for small settlement. Well, this tax falls heavily on those very lands which are admitted to be unsuitable for settlement. What is the use of putting a tax on them? The object of the Bill is to provide land for settlement, and that, I suppose, is why the Government are going to put a tax on land on the Paroo, and at Tibooburra, with a rainfall of from 6 to 8 inches, in just the same way as they impose a tax on city blocks.


Senator Rae - Very little of that land is freehold.


Senator MILLEN - That does not matter. I am reminded of the story told by Charles Lamb, of the Chinaman who burnt clown his house in order to roast a pig. Some honorable senators will remember how that land became freehold. Not a single squatter desired to freehold his property in that country. But under the legislation passed by the New South Wales Parliament they had no option. A law was passed under which any selector could enter and select a portion of" a leased estate, and if improved, secure the improvements for nothing. The object was not stated in so many words, but that was the effect. But in order to give the landholder protection for his improvements, they allowed him to buy an area ot land around each improvement made to the extent of 1 acre for every £1 he had spent. That was the only way by which these men in the far western country could protect themselves ; and that country is no ideal place for the small selector, as you well know, Mr. President, from your experience of similar country in Queensland. The only way, I say, in which these squatters could protect their improvements was by buying areas of land around them.


Senator RAE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It was not a Labour Government that did that.


Senator MILLEN - No, but the men who have these big estates did not go out into the back country with the idea of building up areas of freehold land. They purchased their land as the only means by which they could maintain the integrity of their holdings. A man who was putting down a 20,000-yard tank, which could have been ruined by some selector picking 640 acres around it, and simply paying £60 down as an original deposit, had to protect himself by purchase, or not a single one of his sheep would have been allowed to water there.


Senator Rae - The Labour party was not responsible for that legislation.


Senator MILLEN - But it is desirable to show the circumstances under which some of these men obtained their land.


Senator Givens - The circumstances which enabled them to peacock their holdings.


Senator MILLEN - There was no peacocking of holdings in the western district of New South Wales to which I am referring. A little later, the Government of the country proposing to subdivide holdings which were ill-fitted for settlement, introduced a proposition by which a run-holder was able to exchange acre for acre scattered blocks upon which the original squatter had erected his woolshed and his tanks for one block close to the homestead. The result is that to-day, in the western division, there are many holdings consisting of considerable areas which were got together under compulsion. The land ib absolutely unsuitable for what is called small settlement. I venture to say that Senator Rae has not an enemy in the whole of Australia whom he would recommend to settle in such country. Yet we have in this Bill a proposal - which may be good in itself as applied to a great deal of land - which, in order to tax certain lands, will also put a heavy impost where it will be utterly unsuitable.


Senator St Ledger - This is a platform Bill.


Senator MILLEN -- It is a Bill prepared in accordance with a platform drawn up by some people who, like Senator Rae, do know better, but also by others who know nothing about the lands of this country. There was never a more crude and ill-considered proposal than this which would apply to the whole of Australia, or even to the whole of New South Wales, one system as though one system were fairly applicable to all the lands of that State.


Senator Rae - We could not constitutionally do otherwise.


Senator MILLEN - Now we have an admission that my contention is right - that this Bill will operate absurdly in some districts, but that the Government are going to impose a tax which will operate in this manner, because they have no constitutional power to deal with land otherwise. Is not that an admission that the subject ought to be left to the States, and that the Government are straining at the Constitution - seeking to go beyond it in every direction - in order to carry out the policy of taking from those who have land for the benefit of those who have not? Similar considerations apply to the proposal to tax city lands. Until this Bill was introduced, no member of the Labour party anywhere had ever suggested the possibility of taxing city lands for the purpose of bursting them up.


Senator Rae - I did.


Senator MILLEN - I always exempt Senator Rae, for the reason that what other people do not do he is always willing to do, whilst what other people do he is never willing to do. But even he, I venture to say, never proposed that a tax should be levied with the object of bursting up city lands.


Senator Givens - The main object is to raise revenue.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator's party did not tell the people that when they wanted their votes. Not a word was said about revenue then. The whole purpose was represented to be to burst up the big estates, and the progressive element in the proposal shows that that was the object in view.


Senator Ready - I said, from dozens ot platforms, that we wanted revenue.


Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend is so new in these matters that we need not take him as an authority in the presence of better-informed members of the Labour party.


Senator Rae - Was not Mr. Fisher abused in the newspapers of New South Wales because he proposed to tax city lands ?


Senator MILLEN - I do not even take the newspapers as authorities - except when they adversely criticise my honorable friend, and then, in all probability, they are right. It is possible that some members of the honorable senator's party did advocate a tax on city lands. If the Government were proposing a land values tax for revenue purposes, no one would think of exempting them. But when the progressive element was introduced, the object clearly was to bring about the bursting up of large estates, and it becomes an absurdity magnified ten times to apply that principle to city lands, which cannot be subdivided.


Senator Rae - Why is there graduation in the operation of the income tax?


Senator MILLEN - In the case of the income tax, there is an exemption at what is considered to be a living rate of income, and beyond that the more a man has the more he is able to pay to the State. But that principle does not apply to land.


Senator Rae - It does largely.


Senator MILLEN - Take the case of a large block of land used for an important manufacturing enterprise which it is impossible to carry on upon a smaller block. The progressive element of this tax would undoubtedly operate for the purpose of subdivision. No one can deny that. But you cannot divide city lands, for the simple reason that if you did business could not be carried on.


Senator Rae - A big industry can afford to pay a larger tax than a smaller one.


Senator MILLEN - That is another matter altogether. If we are going to act on that principle, we should levy the tax according to the profit derived from the business, and not according to the value of the land on which the business is conducted. There are some businesses which with a turnover of £100,000 are conducted on land worth, we will say, £6,000, and there are other businesses with a turnover of £60,000 conducted on land worth, say, £100,000. But this Bill does not take that into account, for the simple reason that the Constitution does not enable a differentiation to be made between one class of land and another.


Senator Rae - Would the honorable senator help us to extend the Constitution?


Senator MILLEN - I am not prepared to help the honorable senator's party to do anything, except to extend to them that measure of rope which I am prepared to let them have at all times. To show how absurdly this Bill will operate as to lands which no one desires to make available for settlement, because they are not suitable, let me point out that there are probably, in New South Wales, hundreds of estates over £20,000 in value, lt is customary for Labour orators to point to the few really big estates of Australia, as if they were typical of the whole. But, as a matter of fact, the bulk of our better class land is not held in enormous estates. It is held in areas ranging in value to about £20,000, ,£30,000 and £40,000.


Senator Givens - Those estates will pay very little.


Senator MILLEN - Then the tax will be ineffective.


Senator Stewart - Then we shall have to make the tax effective.


Senator MILLEN - I have said that I do not regard this Bill as conclusive in itself, but merely as a finger-post marking the road on which we shall have to go if it is passed. It is now admitted by Senator Stewart that this is only the thin end of the wedge ; and it is to the honorable senator's credit that when he once makes an admission he will stick to it - as long as it suits him. In New South Wales the land most suitable for settlement - the land which, if I were called upon to set it aside for smaller holdings, I should choose for the purpose - is not held in estates which are large in themselves. They are very much smaller, in fact, than the typical estates which have been picked out for the purpose of platform illustration. But let me show the effect of the tax upon these estates. Take an estate of the taxable value of ,£30,000. On an estate of that kind it may be taken for granted that in our better districts - and it is only in such districts that I would do anything to encourage small settlement - you may safely add on 10s. or 15s. an acre for improvements and stock carried. If you do that, you will probably run an estate worth £30,000 up to ,£40,000.


Senator Pearce - Would the honorable senator say that 25 per cent, is a fair average value for the improvements?


Senator MILLEN - That would depend upon circumstances. What I say is that on an estate worth £30,000 in New South Wales, it would be fair to estimate another £10,000 for improvements and stock. The owner of that property looks for a return on his total investment whether it is in land, or improvements, or stock. Therefore, he will calculate his return on a sum of £40,000.


Senator Pearce - What percentage would he recognise as a fair return - 10 per rent. ?


Senator MILLEN - Suppose that we say 8 per cent.


Senator Pearce - With a 1.0 per cent, return, he would be all right.


Senator MILLEN - If he got 10 per cent, every year, he would not be doing wrong, but in New South Wales there are such little incidents as droughts. We have had droughts lasting for very many years, in fact, so pitiful that they have left behind them a legacy which has not been wiped off to-day in spite of the phenomenally good seasons we have had. On an estate of that value, which would pay in land tax from ,£100 to £125, or £130, and return say 8 per cent, on a value of £40,000, that is a total of £3,200 a year, your land tax will be a mere insignificant income tax on the total investment.


Senator Givens - What is the honorable senator growling about, then?


Senator MILLEN - I am not growling. These lands which I affirm are the best situated for small settlement will not be broken up by the land tax.


Senator Rae - Then we shall increase the tax.


Senator MILLEN - That is the point to which I am leading. My honorable friend admits not only my facts, but my contention that this is but the first of a series of measures of this kind. In order to carry out their pledge to the electors, about which, by the way, they have already treated them very cavalierly, they must go further, otherwise this measure will fail. It cannot be effective in its present form.


Senator Rae - Prudence in Parliament will make it effective.


Senator MILLEN - lt is clear to me that a man with a property worth £40,000, on which he is getting a good return, is not likely to disrupt it because he has to pay an income tax ranging from 3d. to 4d. in the £1 of his income. There are, I quite admit, very big estates which may be subdivided, but most of the good which my honorable friend will do in that way will be more than balanced by the amount of harm done in respect of lands which are unsuitable for settlement. It will not be effective in the case of the great bulk of the land which is fit for settlement. This Bill, it appears to me, has been shaped not merely with the desire to carry out the policy of the Government, but has had jammed into its compass as much harshness as possible. There is not merely the desire to collect this revenue, and to enforce the principles of the Act, but a manifest desire to act in the harshest possible manner. All through the Bill, the land-owner is treated not as a citizen, or a taxpayer, but as a malefactor who has to be dealt with by the rigorous application of legislative penalties. It is full of instances of that kind. Take, for instance, the provision for the return of the assessment. The Bill throws upon the owner the obligation of valuing his own land, less improvements. In other words, to give the total value of the estate, and to strike off a certain amount for improvements-


Senator Findley - He is best able to do that.


Senator MILLEN - The Vice-President of the Executive Council said that at the commencement of its operation, it will be necessary for every land-owner to value his own estate. Why? Not for the reason just given by Senator Findley - not because the land-owner was the best person to do the work - but because the Government have not the time in which to appoint assessors.


Senator Pearce - That is not the sole reason.


Senator MILLEN - That was the sole reason given by Senator McGregor. I have no doubt that if Senator Pearce had had charge of the Bill he would have given another reason. Senator Findley has already given another reason. I do not hesitate to say that Senator McGregor gave the correct reason.


Senator Findley - No ; it is one of many.


Senator MILLEN - The Government being anxious to get the Bill into operation, throw upon the land-owner the obligation to make his assessment, but that does not justify the penalty attached to it. If a man misjudges the value. of his land by 25 per cent., it is to be taken from him.


Senator Findley - Not necessarily. It would have to be shown that he intentionally did so.


Senator MILLEN - There is no such intention indicated in the Bill as it comes here. I wish to show how impossible it is - for even unbiased experts to arrive at anything like unanimity as to the value of land. It is assumed, with more or less justification, that public servants proceed about their business in an unbiased way. But let me draw the attention of the Senate to valuations arrived at by valuers in the Lands Department of New South Wales, in order to show what great variations occur in regard to some classes of land. We have a law which provides for the reappraisement of conditional purchases and conditional leases. We also have a law under which the State resumes land. The State is placed under one measure as a seller, and under the other as a buyer. It sends out officers of the Lands Department to value land, and we are told that they are unbiased. Well, here are some figures showing actual valuations. In the case of one estate which came before the Land Board, die valuers for the Department valued the land unimproved at 50s. per acre, and improved at 60s. A little later, when the State wanted to resume the estate for the purpose of closer settlement, it sent out other valuers from the same Department, and they valued the land at 31s. 6d. per acre on the existing titles - that is, with a certain amount due to the Crown. What it was I cannot exactly say, but it could not have been much. It never could have been more than £1 on the whole area, and it must have been less on a great deal of it considering when the land was originally taken up. As it was an old estate, and liable to pay is. per acre per year, the probability is that very few shillings per acre remained unpaid. If I take one-half of the original amount as being still due, it means that the land which the Department's assessors valued at 60s. per acre before the Land Board, when they were fighting for a high value for the Department, was valued by them at 46s. per acre when they were trying to depress the value with a view to purchasing the estate. There is a case showing a variation of 50 per cent, in the valuations.Again, take the case of a number of conditional leases on one holding which were leased at 1 1/2d. per acre. In the exercise of its right to re-appraise the value, the Lands Department sent out its assessors. Before the Land Board they gave evidence iti which they put the yearly rental of these blocks, which were originally leased at i£d. per acre, at 3s. 4d., 2s. nd., 2s. 4d., and is. 1 id. per acre. In spite of the evidence given by the experts of the Department, the Land Board, which is composed of practical men, fixed the value at 3d. per acre where the departmental experts had recommended 3s. 4d., at 4d. where they had recommended 2s. nd., at 3d. where they had recommended 2s. 4d., and at 4d. where they had recommended is. nd.


Senator Findley - Perhaps something had happened in the interval.


Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend is not acquainted with the procedure of our Lands Boards; the whole business is done at the one sitting. There is no limit to the extent to which a Land Board differs from expert valuers.


Senator Pearce - I guarantee that the honorable senator could give an explanation of that variation.


Senator MILLEN - It is impossible to get any two or three experts to agree as to what should be the .basis of the valuation of land. I have spoken at much greater length than I intended to do. I can only express the hope that I have not unduly wearied honorable senators. To my mind, this Bill is crude in itself, and illconceived, and whatever temporary benefits may be conferred on a limited number of persons, its ultimate effect will be disastrous, rather than beneficial, to Australia as a whole.


Senator Chataway - I draw attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]


Senator Pearce - Foiled again !

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

Senator Lt.-ColonelCAMERON (Tasmania) [8.0]. - I rise to address myself to the second reading of this Bill with a good deal of diffidence, because I know it is assumed that I am one of those who have a personal interest in the measure. There are, however, various aspects of the question upon which I should like to say a few words. I believe that it has been urged that the primary reason for the introduction of the measure is the necessity of raising revenue for the purpose of defence. I need hardly say that at first blush such a reason very naturally appeals to me. But when I -look into the Bill I find that, instead of being restricted to a proposal to raise revenue for the purpose of defence, it is a new and most sweeping piece of legislation. Under the cloak of an instrument for the raising of revenue for defence, a direct attack is made upon a small section of the people that alone is asked to provide the revenue required. This small section is practically confined to those holding land in fee-simple. That being the case, I consider the measure is tainted, and I am forced to regard it from the outset with suspicion. The holders of land in fee-simple have .relied upon contracts with past Governments for the assurance that they will be permitted to enjoy the use of their land subject to reasonable taxation. I intend to submit for the consideration of honorable senators the particulars as to three estates which will serve to illustrate the ill-considered effect and hardship which this measure will bring about. I take first the case of a property which was sold recently for .£16,500.


Senator Rae - In Tasmania?


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- Yes, I am alluding to Tasmania.


Senator Givens - Would not some of that amount be represented by improvements ?


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- I hope to be able to make everything connected with these illustrations quite clear before I sit down. Honorable senators may be quite sure that I am in earnest about this matter.


Senator Mcdougall - We all believe that.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- And honorable senators will have reason to do so some of these days. The capital value of this property is £16,500. The annual value on which State taxation is paid toda> 's £^70. There is a mortgage on the property of .£12,500, the interest on which amounts to £562 10s. annually. I quote this property as a fair example of what may be the effect of this measure in a number of cases. If any honorable senator should care to verify my statements concerning it, I have no doubt that permission might be obtained for them to inspect the property. I have taken the market value of this estate as the capital value. I deduct for what I consider to be improvements on the property, a sum amounting to ,£2,500, covering a house, fencing, and other improvements. This leaves the unimproved capital value at £14,000. From this amount there must be deducted £5,000, the amount of the exemption under this Bill.


Senator Pearce - The property is very badly improved.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON - The Honorable senator will be good enough to hold his tongue, and to keep his interjections to himself unless he addresses me through the President.


Senator Pearce - I made a reasonable interjection.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- I do not care whether the honorable senator is a Minister or not. I appeal to the President to make him hold his tongue.


Senator Pearce - The honorable sena= tor cannot do that.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON -.- I shall make you do it, sir.


Senator Pearce - The honorable senator will not do it by threats.


The PRESIDENT - Order I


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- The figures I have given show that the taxable value of this property, under this Bill, would be £9,000. The proposed Federal land tax on that would amount to ,£48 15s. a year. The State taxation on the property, at the present time, amounts to £51 ns. 3d. annually. It is higher than the proposed Federal graduated land tax. I desire to point out that the effect of the superimposition of the Federal tax upon this already highly taxed property will be very serious.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Is the Tasmanian taxation levied on the full value of the property, or is any exemption allowed by- the State?


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel CAMERON.- The State taxation is imposed on the capital value of the property, namely, £16,500. There is no exemption provided for at present. A new graduated system of land taxation is proposed to be introduced in Tasmania, under which improvements will be exempt, but I believe that system is to be accompanied by an income tax. I have not gone thoroughly into the proposals now put forward in Tasmania, but I believe they include an income tax. It is intended to have a graduated tax from id. up to 2jd. in the £1, and, so far as I can gather, the new system will bring in a larger revenue to the State, and impose a heavier tax on each property in the State. Even allowing for the proposed exemption, I believe that each property in Tasmania, without exception, will have to pay more in land taxation under the proposed new graduated system than it previously had to pay.


Senator O'KEEFE (TASMANIA) - The honorable sena: tor is speaking now of a taxation proposal which has not yet become law.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel CAMERON.- That is so. Under the existing system of State taxation, the property to which I have referred pays ,£51 ns. 3d. on the total value of the estate, including improvements.


Senator Ready - The honorable senator has stated that land-owners will have to pay more taxation under the new system of land taxation proposed in Tasmania.


The PRESIDENT - Order ! Senator Cameron wishes to be heard without interjections.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON - I am very much obliged to you, sir. I do not wish to waste the time of the Senate, but I may reply to Senator Ready by saying that I worked out the new taxation proposal in Tasmania, as it would apply to my own case, and I found that the effect of it will be to increase the amount I have to pay in taxation under the existing system by about 50 per cent. In addition to that, I understand that there is also to be an income tax imposed in Tasmania. I have said that the annual value of the estate to which I have referred is £070 The annual obligations, including the

Federal land tax, would amount to £662 16s. 3d., leaving only £7 3s. od. a year for the owner of the property.


Senator Givens - He is merely the nominal owner when there is such a heavy mortgage on the property.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- That is perfectly correct. If the owner were working the property himself, he would have to procure more capital for the purpose. As the mortgage amounts to £12,500, the owner's interest in the property is £4,000, and, in view of the obligations, it would be impossible for him to get a revenue of even £1 a week out of it.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Is not the capital value stated a boom value?


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON - I do not intend to go into that matter. I am stating facts for the information of honorable senators. If Senator E. J. Russell wished to buy this property a few years ago he could not have secured it for less than the capital value I have stated. I intend to quote another case, and state, as the capital value, the amount that was actually paid for the property. Any one who contends that I am undervaluing these properties misstates the fact. The capital value of the second property to which I refer is £17,600. The annual value is £650. There is a mortgage of £14,000 on the property, on which £560 has to be paid annually in the shape of interest. In this case, the improvements are valued at £3,600, leaving the unimproved value of the estate at £14,000. That would make the taxable value of the estate, under this Bill, the same as in the other case, namely, £9,000, and the Federal land tax £48 15s. a year. The State taxation in this case amounts to £55. In this case, allowing for the deduction under the State law of one-sixth of id. in the £1, the annual outgoing would amount to £654. As the annual value is only £650, the proposed Federal land tax, added to interest and State taxation, would account for more than the annual value of the property.


Senator Givens - Does not the honorable senator think that the annual value of the estate is set .down very low ?


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- It is impossible to get more for the property. I wish to show the Senate and the country how unfairly in its incidence this tax will operate in the case of a State like Tasmania. I have heard it declared that the values of estates there are not fairly appraised. I say that they are, and I am citing instances in support of my contention.


Senator Millen - Capital values are really immaterial to the honorable senator's argument. It is the annual value, upon which interest has to be paid, which he has to consider.


Senator Pearce - That is 4 per cent, on the capital value.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON - I admit that where there is good cover money ran be obtained at 4 per cent. But I have never secured it at that rate. I am paying 4J per cent, and 5 per cent.


Senator Pearce - I was referring to the annual value, which is only 4 per cent, of the capital value.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- I am taking into consideration the rental which is actually paid for these places. I know another property which is valued at £34,290, and from which the rents received amount to £1,540. There is a mortgage of £22,000 upon it, the interest payable upon which is £990 per annum. This estate is closely settled, inasmuch as there are ten farmers upon it. The improvements are valued at £6,290, so that its unimproved capital value is, approximately, £28,000. In other words, its taxable value under this Bill will be £22,000. The interest and taxes payable upon that property will be £1,284, so that its owner will receive only about £250 per annum for its upkeep.


Senator Stewart - What size is the estate ?


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- It contains more than 5,500 acres and less than 6,000 acres, but I cannot give the exact figures.


Senator Blakey - Its owner can escape taxation by subdividing the property, and allowing poor people to be settled upon it.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- Poor people are already settled on it, and are doing very well. They are the small farmers whom the honorable senator's party is endeavouring to ruin.


Senator Blakey - Endeavouring to help.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- The honorable senator will never give them any help. I have cited three typical instances in which the equity of redemption is already pledged up to the hilt, and I say that this Bill will destroy the chance of these owners ever recovering it. I would further point out that under this measure between £70,000 and .£100,000 annually will be collected from Tasmania alone. It is difficult to say precisely how much. But when we recollect that the Van Diemen's Land Company alone will be called upon to pay more than £6,000 in the form of land tax, we can easily understand what a heavy impost it will be in the case of the State which I represent.


Senator Walker - Is that company an absentee company?


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- If it be an absentee company, it will pay a great deal more than the sum I have mentioned.


Senator Rae - Are all the big estates in Tasmania mortgaged ?


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON - A very great number of them are. I have in my pocket a letter, which I am not at liberty to read, from an owner of land there, who is an octogenarian, and who for years has struggled to pay off the mortgages on his holding. He informs me that within the next few years his estate must be broken up, because there are sixteen or seventeen persons interested in it; and that, as the result of the operation of this Bill, the women folk will receive very little from the division. That is the position of one of the large land-holders in Tasmania. I do not desire to mention his name, although my honorable friends opposite know very well the gentleman to whom I allude. If the land tax which it is proposed to collect from Tasmania was to be spent in that State, there would be less fault to fmd with the Bill. But it will be taken away from Tasmania-


Senator Stewart - Hear, hear !


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON - I am quite sure that the honorable senator will take all that he can get. This vast revenue, which will exceed the amount which is already being collected from land tax by the State Government, will be spent outside of Tasmania. What will be" the effect of that? It is patent to everybody. One has only to walk through the streets of Launceston to-day to realize that business is at a stand-still. If ever a Bill was calculated to ruin Tasmania it is the measure which is now under ''consideration.


Senator Rae - How does the honorable senator arrive at the conclusion that the money collected in that State will be spent outside of Tasmania?


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON .- At all' events, that is my opinion. I. have endeavoured to place the position fairly be- fore the Senate ; and I do not think that my colleagues from Tasmania will disagree with my statement as to the probable result of the proposed tax. I have already emphasized the point that one class only is being asked to provide the revenue necessary for the purposes of defence - the class which holds the fee-simple of the land. Whether they are best able to stand this impost, is immaterial to me just now. I am not concerned with the cry that the Government will get at the other class later on. To single out one class for taxation is unworthy of any great political party," and unworthy of any Government. It cannot be disputed that any man who has lawfully acquired property as the result of entering into a contract with the State, is entitled to retain it. This tax invades that inalienable right which every person under the British flag ought to possess. I have no hesitation in saying that the Bill seeks to give legislative sanction to an act ot plunder, pure and simple. The proposed tax is an outrage upon public decency, upon justice, and upon the honour of the Commonwealth.







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