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Friday, 11 November 1910

Senator LONG (Tasmania) . - I should like to hear from the Minister what is the object of selecting the salaried and wage-earning classes as those which should be required to furnish returns of salaries and wages? If we wish to ascertain the wealth of the people and its proportionate distribution, why should not all incomes be included? There are thousands of people in Australia who are in receipt of large incomes, but who do not earn wages or salaries.

Senator O'Keefe - Do not the income tax returns give particulars as to the others ?

Senator Givens - The income tax returns are secret.

Senator St Ledger - Secret as to individuals, but not as to the total amount.

Senator LONG - The information that might be obtained under this heading would be very valuable, but it must be incomplete unless we have information regarding incomes as well as salaries and wages. I should like to see the first question amended in the direction I have indicated. What we want to get is reliable information. I entirely disagree with question iv., for the reasons which have been very well advanced by Senator Givens - that we are not likely to obtain reliable information under that heading. But with the concluding questions on the paper I am in entire agreement. It has been claimed that the temperance cause has progressed very rapidly in recent years.

Senator Givens - The honorable senator should not make the mistake of confusing total abstinence with temperance.

Senator LONG - I use the word temperance in the sense in which it was used by Senator Findley. We usually speak of a temperance man as one who abstains from the use of alcoholic liquors.

Senator Millen - I should resent that use of the word.

Senator Givens - The honorable senator would not say that a person who used a moderate quantity of alcoholic liquor was intemperate?

Senator LONG - Certainly not. If the honorable senator is so particular about the word, I will say that some people are keenly interestedin the progress of total abstinence in Australia. It has been claimed that total abstinence is largely on the increase, and that as a consequence the social life of the people has been materially improved.

SenatorSt. Ledger.- The drink bill is becoming higher; that is the trouble.

Senator LONG - That may be so. But we wish to obtain information on the subject so that we may be able to ascertain definitely what the consumption of intoxicating liquor amounts to.

Senator Millen - We know that.

Senator LONG - We know it only by dividing the total quantity of liquor consumed by the total number of the population, but that method of calculation does not give us accurate information as to the number of people who are total abstainers. It is for that reason that I think that a question on the subject is rightly included in the census-paper.

Senator Millen - Why not obtain similar information in regard to the use of tobacco?

Senator LONG - Surely information regarding the use of alcohol is far more important than information regarding smoking habits. I have nothing to add except that if the questions which I have mentioned are amended as I have suggested, I intend to support the Government.

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