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TAX ON PROGRESS
WATER ACT CRITICISED. MINISTER EXPLAINS MEASURE.
Yesterday was private members' ' day In the Legislative Assembly, and
Mr. B. H. Corser took the opportunity io move the desirableness'of-introduc- ing a Bill to amend the Water Act, of 1926 In the direction of eliminating sub-artesian bores from the scope of the measure. He declared that the water tax was a tax on progress, and on the enterprise of the man who had gone to the backblocks to carve out a living for himself. Not only did the Act permit of a tax on water, but
also on any lifting apparatus which' might he placed on that water. He contended that there should be a bonus rathor than a tax.
The Minister for Lands (Mr. T. Dunstan) moved an amendment ex- pressing the desirabloness of settlers loyally observing the provisions of the
Act in order to promote effective < Irrigation and water conservation
Other members contributed to -the. discussion, but no vote had been taken
when the time for private monTbers' . business had expired.
After formal business liad been disposed of Mr. B. H. Corser moved, "That, in the opinion of the House,' it was debir able that a Bill should be introduced dur- ing the present session of Parliament tJ amend the Water Act of 1926 in the direction of eliminating sub-artesian boris (rom the scope of this measure, and re- moving the v.arious objectionable pro- visions which adversely affected and u-il warrantably interfered with the lignlo and operations of primaiy producers." It iraB not his intention, he said, to ask io» the repeal of the whole of the Act, but merely the clauses which were vejtat'OUB to a section of the community, and which unduly interfered with the rights of the individual. He was aware that the Act was largely a consolidating measuie, but there were new provisions which were ob- jectionable. He agreed that ai^esian water should be contiolled; this wat essential in the interests of the State. However, there was a provision in the Act imposing taxation on the produce! of water, and annoying restrictions aid methods of control. The nater tax was i tas on progress and on the enterprise of the man who had gone into the back blocks to carve out a living for himself. The Government evidently was out to harass him because he had found watir, and to confiscate that water and control it. It was tíllese oonfiscabory clauses dealing with, sub-artesian water that he objected to-the control imposed by the State as against control by the individual, and the provisions which adversely IIII/ÎT fcred with the rights of tho primary pro
ducers. Kot only did the Act permit of a tax on water, but SJBO on any lifting apparatus which might be placed on that j
water. Instead of taxation, the man out to produce water should be assisted. There should be a bonus rather than a tax-.'I The brains of the Stat« should be devoted to the development and conservation ci water supplies, rather than the exer- cise of control. Past experience had 6hown that Government control, particu- larly if it conflicted with the energy, enthusiasm, and desires of the producís, was the worst possible form of control. There could be no possible argumaut which would justify the control of water a person had foupd at his own cost. Instead of'tampering with the rig'nts'of the man who was' UBing water . which otherwise might be allowed to rirr, tú waste,- the Government should encourage him; he should be treated more like a public benefactor.' He knew a selector io his district who had sunk five bores-) down to 120, 101, 82, 03, and 42' feet, respectively. He had found water With the 42ft. bore> and had received com- pensation only »for that bore. TIIIB all the other expenditure had been disre- garded. ' ,
"STRAIGHT-OUT ROBBERY." ? Mr. Vf. Deacon seconded the motiom He said that most of the people who had to use sub-artesian water were small holdeis. It was most important- that anything affecting the primary producer, his tenure of land, and the taxation imposed on iii im should be clearly defined. The Act passed last session had embodied a bad principle -the imposition of a tax on improvements. In every country in the world, it was re- cognised as absolutely w long to tax an im- provement that a. man mad« at his own cost. If a man improved his holding so as to make it produce more he was doing good for the country, and should lie 'en- couraged, rather than harassed. It was straight-out robbery to tax those impiovc menffi. \AItliouith the tax had been with- drawn, the possibility of it being reim posed was still theie. Personally he was in favour of the decontrol of all water other than artesian water.
The Minister for Lands (Mr. T. Dun- stan) moved as an amendment that in the opinion of the House it was desirable .that all settlers concerned should loyally! ob- serve the provisions of the Water Act of 1926, in older to promote .effective irriga- tion and water conservation, and secure a complete survey of the artesian and sub artesian water supply of the State, Instead of criticising the action of the Government, he said, the member for Burnett should devote his energies with better result's to persuading some of the members of his own side of the House to observe the law and urge their supporters to do likewise. During the recent industrial dispute--mem- bers on both sides of the House had urged that the authority of the Government should be paramount, and that respect for the law, should be resisted upon .Yet at a meeting held at Oakey to consider the Water Act of 1026 thev found tb,e Leader of the Opposition nrsing the primary pro- ducers to take a firm stand, and go in. for passive .resistance to the Act, leaving the next move to the Government-prpsecu tion. That same person also had congratu- lated the Chairman of elie Wambo -Shire Council on the action ho took in getting a meeting of landowners to pass a motion which read : "We refuse to comply with «IP Act in any particular."
TThe Leader of the Opposition: I con- gratulated him on calling the meeting.
Mr. Dunstan: You also endeavoured to humiliate a member on jour side of the House who dared to explain the ¡Water Act, and also gave certain advice regard- ing its provision?. That was the lion, member for Dalby (Mr. W. A. Bussell), who, at least, has some practical know- ledge in regard to the water facilities of the State. Is it any wonder that there recently has been uttered a new Lord'» Prayer, beseeching deliverance from the Leader of the Opposition and all hi« poli- tical works? (Laughter.)
OBJECTS OF THE ACT.
The Minister added that the fees pro- posed under the regulations under the Water Act had been withdrawn, because the Government desired the good will and co-operation of the Settlers, whom the Act was intended to benefit. Certainly, mem- bers of the Opposition hac] been exceed- ingly busy in inciting tlieir friends among the settlers to show" hostility to the Act.
Mr. Corser: That is not correct. I deny that.
Mr. Dunstan said that as a matter of fact not more than three members of the Opposition had made any request to him for the removal of the fees, whereas the bulk of the representations andr the in- formation which led the Government to forego the revenue from winch it was intended to create an irrigation sfund had ' come from supporteis ot the Government. Xeither the Lands Department nor the Irrigation Commis- sioner had nnv desire to harass the set- tlor*.who weir- carrying on the noik of
production Hie inclusion of sub artesian «elis and bores undei the pro\isions of the Act however, w is one of the wtal principles of the measure As cvciy one knew the aitesian basin in Queensland practic-illj included all Queensland with the exception of the temtory east of the Diuding Range and i small portion of the State -idjoming the Northern Terntorj lhat «hovved the close relation existing be
tween the artesian and sub artesian svs terns Millions of gallons of water had been going to waste list jear and in many enses, bores put down in tlip arte «flin belt had ceased to flow and had come within toe description of sub artesian water facilities Now that the fees had been withdrawn the main objection on the p-irt of owners of sub artesian bores or nells had disappeared It suielj there fore, was fiir foi the Go\eminent now to auk the owners of such ficilitips to take the trouble to register them ind to sup- ply inv infoiimtion required by the Irri
gat)on CominiEfiionei in order to carry out the complete water supply plans he de sired ind which were so necessary in the interests of the State in general The onI\ fee now Um god was bv the driller of in artesian boie The whole purpose rtf the Act wat. to conseno water develop irrigation, prevent w iste legulntc the sup plv of water m drought periods prevent
the selfish bonding of water and gener / ilh to carrj out a comprehensive «urvejj of the State w iter resources and provide a fund which would enable water to be supplied to those financially unable to pro-]
vide water for themselves.
Mr. W. Cooper, in seconding the amend- ment, said the Act was passed to protect and not to harass the settler. He con- gratulated Mr. Russell for his far-sighted- ness in realising the value of the Act to
the settler. The Act should be given a, fair trial, and the settlers should be given an opportunity of testing whether thj administration of ,the Act was beneficio or detrimental to'them. / Mr. J. C. Peterson declared that n| minority Government had the right' t> pass legislation inimical lo the people I Queensland, nnd then claim that it ws constitutional. Tile House should' hale been afforded an opportunity of disciissifg the regulations of the Water Act; ti* regulations were withdrawn, not in fas interest« of the settlers or the people <f Queensland", but in the interests of , tie Government; a by-election was looming m the horizon. The motion moved by\,Sr. Corser aimed at giving the settler recopi tion of the right of ownership to the m provements ho had made on his land.'
Messrs. G. A. Logan and J. B. lîdwads supported the motion. > J
No vote had been taken when the'tmc for private members' business cxpiricL'