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Wednesday, 26 October 1910

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) - - It appears to me that all honorable senators who have spoken desire to do the same thing, although some desire to do it in a different way from others. The first thing that a land-owner has to do under this Bill is to send in a return to the Commissioner, who will tax him. If he disputes the amount of the tax, he will be able to appeal to the Commissioner. If he is not then satisfied, the action he will take will depend upon the amount he has to pay. If the amount be small, in all probability, he will prefer to pay than to fight the Commissioner. Suppose a man is connected with a business house in Sydney which has a branch establishment in New Zealand. He must spend a good deal of his time travelling backwards and forwards. The clause, as it stands, will put such an individual to a good deal of trouble. I do not desire to see any genuine absentee escape payment of the tax. I believe that absentees should be taxed. But a man who lives in Australia, and merely goes abroad on business should not be treated as though he were not a genuine Australian citizen.

I cannot see how the amendment would create a loophole of escape. A person who takes up his residence abroad cannot avoid taxation under this measure. When the Bill was first introduced, we were told by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that it was perfect. Now, however, the Government have brought down a whole sheaf of amendments, showing that the measure is very defective. Of course, we know from experience that we have to take statements by Senator McGregor with a grain of salt. In his humorous moods, observations that he makes cannot be regarded as sober statements of fact. If every amendment is to be met as this one has been, what is the use of parliamentary debate at all ? The Caucus meets in advance, the Government rely on their majority, and no amendment is considered on its merits.

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