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Wednesday, 11 October 1972
Page: 1481

The PRESIDENT - Order! The Committee was appointed by the Senate.

Senator MILLINER - I am terribly sorry. That Committee was appointed unanimously without Party policies involved in it at all. We all recognised the validity of the argument that this matter should be investigated. It was the unanimous thought that the Senate should refer this matter to a Senate Standing Committee. The Committee is in the process of inquiring into this matter, and I would believe, from what the Chairman of the Committee said tonight, that the Committee has substantial?/ concluded its inquiry. Why then would honourable senators opposite do something to take the place of what the Committee is doing? Surely the decision of this Committee which honourable senators opposite set up must be paramount over a decision that is introduced at the last moment. If honourable members opposite support the first amendment that was moved to the Bill tonight, they will be in the position of debating something not with knowledge of the facts which the Committee has at its disposal but in an emotional way. Reference has been made tonight to the taxation statistics for 1970-71. I wish to refer to those statistics, too.

Senator Maunsell - I did noi say 1970- 71.

Senator MILLINER - Senator Lawriesaid that he did not use the taxation statistics for 1970-71. I do not want to be critical, but when people interject in that way I like to state the position. Senator Lawrie held up a bundle of papers and said: 'This provides some information that the rural section provides 6 per cent of the taxpayers and 40 per cent of the estate duty payable'. I said. 'Where did you get the information from.' He said. 'Out of these documents'. He did not say anything about taxation returns at all; he said: 'Out of these documents'. They were the documents that had been presented to the Committee, of which he is the Chairman and which this Senate established. He supports the attitude expressed in the amendment. I say to him: If he does not support the amendment moved by Senator Wilkinson, he will be in a topsy turvey position; he will find difficulties presenting themselves.

It is all very well to say that many people have been crippled by estate duties. One can take that right across the board. Many people have been crippled because of unemployment or because they have been unfortunate enough to suffer a severe illness during their working lives. So it is not a good argument to say that some people have suffered a disability. We appreciate the fact that some people have suffered a disability, and those Government senators who tonight said that we are opposing the legislation are entirely wrong, because Senator Wilkinson has indicated that we are supporting the legislation. Those honourable senators on the Government side, particularly of the Country Party, who are now running away from their own legislation are the ones who are doing their own party a disservice. Every one of them said: 'This is a shocking form of taxation. It should be eliminated from the statutes of the Commonwealth Parliament'. They have had 23 years in which to do it, but they have done nothing about it. On no occasion have we heard any complaints from Government supporters. I do not know whether they have complained in their party room. I do not think that they would be game to say one word to their Prime Minister because they would be talked out of it immediately. They do not have the intestinal fortitude to express in their party room the views that they have expressed tonight.

Let me refer to page 201 of the taxation statistics 1970-71. Under the heading 'Assessments issued from 1st July 1970 to 30th June 1971' the following categories are listed: Primary production, mining, manufacturing, building and construction, transport and communication, wholesale and retail trade, banking and insurance, professions - and I noted that a lot of professional people spoke in the Senate tonight - government employees, other industries, and 'not gainfully occupied'. Tonight we have heard a lot about the rural industry. Again I say that honourable senators opposite have done nothing in the 23 years in which this Government has been in office to introduce legislation of this nature. The statistics indicate that 5,714 assessments were issued to people who were not gainfully occupied. Honourable senators opposite will say: 'These people should not make any contribution at all to the running of this country; they should be exempted from making any contribution'.

Let me indicate the earnings of some of these people who are making no contribution whatsoever to the progress of this country. Amongst estates valued at between $100,000 and $119,000 there were 150 in the category 'not gainfully occupied' during the year, and amongst estates valued at between $120,000 and $139,000 there were 104 in the category 'not gainfully occupied' - not putting one penny piece into the coffers of the Commonwealth Government. Amongst estates valued at between $350,000 and $499,000 25 assessments were issued for estates in the category 'not gainfully occupied'. Amongst estates valued at $lm and over - and honourable senators opposite say that these people should not have to pay one penny piece into the coffers of the Commonwealth Government - there were 5 in the category 'not gainfully occupied'.

I have every sympathy for people who find themselves in dire difficulties because of estate duties, but I have no sympathy whatsoever for people who have amassed an estate worth more than Sim. I believe that those people should make some contribution to the welfare of the Commonwealth of Australia. But honourable senators opposite are saying: 'We express the opinion that all these should be exempted from contributing to the welfare of the Commonwealth of Australia'. I repeat for the. information not only of honourable senators but also of the public generally that the Labor Party has complete sympathy for those people who find themselves in difficulty because of the penalties imposed by estate duties and gift duties, but it has no sympathy whatsoever for people who have estates of more than Sim, because in my humble opinion these people have been parasites, to some extent, on the people of Australia in order to amass such an estate over the years.

As I say, 5 estates which amassed more than $lm were in the category 'not gainfully occupied'. When I find people who have sympathy for that type of citizen of Australia, Mr President, I believe that it is time we had a look at the whole structure of many of these things. 1 do not wish to be personal.

Senator Hannan - That is only a year's profit for 4KQ.

Senator MILLINER - That is an inane interjection. Mr President, 1 am going to be personal now.

The PRESIDENT - Order! 1 advise you not to be personal.

Senator MILLINER - I certainly will be personal because Senator Hannan is being provocative. Here is someone who makes inane interjections and who attends meetings of this Senate for about a quarter of the time; and yet who says that he is a valuable asset to the Senate, Mr President, when inane interjections of that nature are made I believe that the Senate is losing its value. I repeat that, contrary to what has been said tonight by Liberal and Country Party senators, the Australian Labor Party welcomes the legislation and will support it. But we will not support an amendment that cuts right across the work that a committee of this Senate was set up to do, and that is the very work which they are suggesting would be done by this amendment. I ask honourable senators in all conscience to await the report of the committee which was set up as a result of their own action and which is referred to in the amendment moved by Senator Wilkinson.

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