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Tax Bills.

55. Laws imposing taxation253 shall deal only with the imposition of taxation254, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect255.

Laws imposing taxation, except laws imposing duties of customs or of excise, shall deal with one subject of taxation only; but laws imposing duties of customs shall deal with duties of customs only, and laws imposing duties of excise shall deal with duties of excise only.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—In the Commonwealth Bill of 1891, clause 55 provided (sub-clauses 2 and 3) that “Laws imposing taxation shall deal with the imposition of taxation only,” and that “Laws imposing taxation, except laws imposing duties of customs on imports, shall deal with one subject of taxation only.”




  ― 675 ―

At the Adelaide session, in 1897, these provisions were adopted in the first draft. In Committee, Mr. Reid moved to insert “proposed” before “laws,” in order to prevent the clause from affecting the validity of a law when passed. A discussion followed on the expediency of some such amendment, it being argued on the one side that the matter was merely one between the Houses, and on the other that it involved an important principle of State-rights which should have the protection of the High Court. Finally the amendment was withdrawn. Sub-clause (3) was then amended to read:— “Laws imposing taxation, except laws imposing duties of customs on imports or of excise, shall deal with one subject of taxation only; but laws imposing duties of customs shall deal with duties of customs only, and laws imposing duties of excise shall deal with duties of excise only. (Conv. Deb., Adel., pp. 578-603.)

At the Melbourne session, drafting amendments were made before the first report; and after the second report Mr. Isaacs again moved the insertion of “proposed” before laws; but after a long debate this was negatived by 27 votes to 17. Mr. Barton moved to insert “and collection” after imposition, but this also was negatived by 26 votes to 16. An amendment by Mr. Deakin to enable customs and excise duties to be imposed in the same bill was negatived by 20 votes to 19. (Conv. Deb., Melb., pp. 1999-2075.) Mr. Reid moved an amendment to the effect that the prohibition of the section should not invalidate in a law any part thereof which did not infringe the prohibition; and that if a tax bill contained more than one subject of taxation, the tax first in order of enactment should be valid. This was negatived by 27 votes to 15. After the third report, Mr. Reid moved to add, to the first paragraph, “and any provisions therein which do not deal with the imposition of taxation shall be of no effect.” This was agreed to. Drafting amendments were made after the fourth report. (Conv. Deb., Melb., pp. 2450-1.)

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