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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1249

Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) - It would be noted by those who listened attentively, as 1 have, subject to certain interruptions which are to be understood, that the Senate agrees with the Bills. Four Bills are being taken in a cognate debate. An honourable senator who wished to speak on a subject related to any one of the areas contained in the 4 Bills that we have just debated could do so. There is no great difference of opinion. There is general unanimity that the measures are useful, sensible and timely. I wish to make one or two brief comments that relate to some of the matters that were raised. Senator Guilfoyle remarked that the new deductions covered self-education expenses incurred in relation to a present career or employment. I am advised that it might be noted that the provision will not be restricted to a present career or employment. The deduction is also available when related to a new or future sphere of such activities. For example, a taxpayer who incurs self-education expenses to increase his future job opportunity will come within the scope of the new concessional deduction.

Senator Byrne asked that income tax Statistics be classified by occupation as a guide to enable people deciding on careers to see which positions are the more rewarding. I am sure that Senator McManus would comment that in the light of the parliamentary salaries, if they were so classified there would be very few applicants for the job. I have been advised that provisional taxpayers are classified by industry in the tables on pages 42 to 45 of the taxation statistics which are a supplement to the 50th report of the Commissioner for Taxation. The classification of over 4 million salary and wage earners by occupation would be a very big task that has not been practicable in the past. I am informed that the question of doing so is now under consideration although it is not practicable to say when it might be done. It should be mentioned that census statistics give some information on occupation of employees. It may not be as much as we would like, but none the less there is some information there.

Senator Webstersupported Senator Byrne, I think, who referred to the introduction of a deduction for fares incurred in travelling to and from the place of employment. The courts and boards of review repeatedly have labelled expenses of this nature as private expenditure and as such there is no scope for allowing such items under the present law. An amendment of the law to provide a deduction for private travelling expenses has been suggested in various quarters on a number of occasions. In fact it was included with a wide variety of other proposals which were considered when framing the 1972-73 Budget. However, as the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) explained in his Budget Speech, it was decided to concentrate on tax concessions. Whilst it has not been practicable to accede to the request at this stage I am assured that it has been listed for future consideration and review in a future Budget context at the appropriate time.

Referring to Senator Webster's speech again, I indicated in relation to Senator Guilfoyle's contribution that the new deductions for self education expenses are not to be confined to an existing career or employment. I must mention also that reference to qualification does not have the effect of confining the deduction to expenses incurred in obtaining formal qualifications. They have the broad effect that the honourable senator suggested that they should have.

I think that Senator Webster added some clarity to the taxation situation as it has developed in relation to what was said in the Budget Speech and for that I am indebted to him. He also mentioned that the description in the Budget Speech of the income tax rates change did not bring out clearly the point that no additional levy is to be payable in the present financial year. The point was made clear in the second reading speech to this Bill, I think, and it was said that the new scale will apply without an additional levy, The tax rates proposed for 1972-73 are 10 per cent less than would have been payable if the previous rates of tax plus a 2i per cent levy had been imposed. The new rates are approximately 12£ per cent less than would have been payable if the 5 per cent levy originally imposed last year had been continued.

I think that those are all the observations I wish to make to the various points raised. A number of other comments were made and they were all very helpful. As I have mentioned before, in these circumstances the departmental officers present during the debate take note of what has been said, and other officers in the Department of the Treasury and the Commonwealth Taxation Office study the Hansard report of the speeches. Therefore anything I may have missed undoubtedly will be picked up.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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