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Wednesday, 11 October 1972
Page: 1458

Senator WEBSTER (Victoria) - The Budget proposals of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) involved matters concerning estate duty and gift duty. We have before us the Estate Duty Assessment. Bill. It will he followed by a Bill relating to gift duty. Both these bills, in the first instance, will allow a greater exemption before an estate has to pay duty. In the case of gift duty with which we will deal later, a gift to a near relative or others to a much higher amount than was previously the case is allowable. The Government is to be congratulated on this measure. It is fair to say that honourable senators from all parties over a period of years have been drawing the attention of the Government to the inequity that has been created, firstly, by the very existence, of estate duty and the unfairness that applies when relatives receive some grant from an estate, and secondly, by the great problems that follow in having the estate assessed and having to pay the duty.

There has been a difference of opinion amongst honourable senators on the manner in which estate duty should be applied. In this instance the Government has decided to make a very substantial contribution to the statutory exemptions that apply in relation to estate duty. In the case of estates arising from deaths on or after 16th August 1972, the outright statutory exemption from duty will be $40,000 for an estate which passes wholly to close relatives - that is, a spouse, children or grandchildren - and $20,000 for an estate, of which no part so passes. These exemptions contain a shading out content in that they will shade out at the rate of $2 for every S8 by which the net value of the estate exceeds the exemption limits, with the complete shade out points being reached at estate values of $200,000 and $100,000 respectively. The proposals that have been put forward in that regard have gone a long way towards an acceptance of the argument that has been advanced in the Senate, particularly by my Party and certainly by others, for the complete elimination of Commonwealth estate, duty.

The matter proceeds further. As a Country Party representative I am pleased to say that the Government in recent years has further recognised the very important role that primary industry plays in the community. This is more so in view of the very disastrous results which harsh estate duty plays in weakening a rural primary producing estate by its very incidence. Under this legislation, the outright statutory exemptions applying to primary producer estates arising from deaths on or after 16th August 1972 will be 20 per cent higher than those for ordinary estates. In the case of an estate passing to a close relative the exemption will be $48,000, and foi estates passing to others, it will be $24,000. Those exemptions will shade out at the same rate as do exemptions for ordinary estates with the complete shading out points on estates in this class being reached at $240,000 and $120,000 respectively. I have with me an interesting table which is headed: 'Estate. Duty - Amounts of Duty Payable at Present and as Proposed', lt lists the values of estates and deals with those estates which are passing wholly to the spouse, children or grandchildren, and then with estates which pass wholly to other beneficiaries. This document was prepared by the Treasury. I ask for leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.

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