13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I should like the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs to tell me what tariff items, if any, havebeen listed for review by the present Government, and if a list ofthem willbe placed on the table of the Senate for the information of each honorable senator?
– I am afraid that I cannot answer the question, seeing that it involves the tariff issue.
– How is it, then, that the press already has a list of the items to be reviewed?
– I am unable to say.
Deposits with State Governments.
– I should like to ask the Minister in charge of the Insurance Bill if the Government has given consideration to the funds deposited by insurance companies with various State governments, and, in doing so, I call his attention to the following press report: -
It is officially learned that the Queensland Government holds insurance deposits amounting to £1,479,715, of which £710,565 is in cash. The credit cash balance of the State at 31st January was £1,716,926, so that payment of £710.565 in cash would reduce the balance to about £1,000,000.
Will the Minister say what the Government intends to do in regard to these deposits ?
Senator McLACHLAN. Representations have been received from the various State Governments with regard to the deposits by insurance companies now in their hands, and provision will be made in the bill now before the Senate to prevent the infliction of any hardship. I do not anticipate that any difficulty will be experienced by State administrations.
[3.3]. - by leave - During the absence from Australia of the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), the following arrangements for the distribution of duties will be observed by Ministers : Mr. Bruce will act as Minister for External Affairs, and Senator McLachlan as Attorney-General and Minister for Industry.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Yes; but only if -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to construct any further Commonwealth lighthouse vessels (steamers) at Cockatoo Island, or the proposed federal trawler (steamer); if not, why not?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: -
There is no proposal at present to construct any vessels of the nature referred to. In the event of necessity arising for such work to be undertaken the question of where the orders therefor should be placed will be given consideration.
Debate resumed from the 24th February (vide page 169), on motion by Senator McLachlan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– It is not the intention of honorable senators of the Opposition to oppose this bill. We feel that it is sound in principle. Our only regret is that it hardly goes far enough. I do not, therefore, propose to debate the matter at length at this stage. I reserve to myself the right to move amendments and deal more exhaustively with the measure in committee. One aspect, however, to which I draw the attention of the Minister as the need for safeguarding deposits when lodged in the Commonwealth Bank, so that they may not be used for any other purpose than that of insurance. With these few remarks, I support the second reading.
– I congratulate the Minister in charge of the bill on having brought it down. It is overdue. I should like to have seen it on the statute-book long before this. Indeed, I should like to see the whole gamut of insurance covered by the Federal Government so that the Commonwealth would enjoy its full prerogative in that respect. I was glad to hear the Minister say in reply to .Senator Reid that Queensland deposits, and indeed those of other States, would be dealt with in a satisfactory manner. I know that it would embarrass the Queensland Government very much if it had to hand over to the Commonwealth the very large sum of money which is deposited by insurance companies.
I wish now to address my remarks particularly to one or two clauses. In the first place, I draw attention to clause 6, which deals with insurance business done on behalf of associations outside the Commonwealth and is similar to the provision that was included in the bill which came before the New South Wales Legislative Council, with the exception of two words, to which I shall refer later. The clause is intended to cover the operation in Australia of the great institution, Lloyds. As is well known, Lloyds is a group of underwriters, established over 200 years, which does the greatest insurance business in the world. I am unable to quote the latest figures, but I understand that the security now behind Lloyds has reached £16,000,000. In the last official statement that is available the figure quoted is £12,000,000. Lloyds is operated by a number of groups or syndicates controlling different forms of insurance. Each individual underwriter in the group has to make a large cash deposit and in addition is personally pledged to meet any loss that might be incurred by the institution, so that the security is of a most adequate nature. Lloyds does quite a variety of business in Australia, with the exception of life assurance. We may, therefore, dissociate the corporation from that branch of insurance. Lloyds’ business in Australia is done by brokers, of whom there are only three in New South Wales, and probably not more than five in the whole of Australia. It is very difficult and expensive to become a broker for Lloyds, as the conditions are so onerous. The corporation demands to be served by people of undoubted character, who have a good financial backing, and a sound knowledge of insurance. Therefore, those who handle Lloyds business are above reproach. These brokers are working in Australia independently of one another, and not in association.
I need not stress the benefits that Lloyds is to the community generally. The corporation has been the means of reducing insurance rates, particularly for fire insurance. Naturally that earned Lloyds the hostility of the Australian association of insurance companies, which I believe is the biggest monopoly of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and combines all our insurance companies. A strong attempt was made by the association to exclude Lloyds from Australia, but, of course, it was ridiculous to expect that effort to meet with success. Lloyds is one of the pillars of the British Empire, and it would be highly undesirable that the institution should be kept out of the Commonwealth. The association then sought to have each class of insurance that was done by Lloyds in Australia covered by a substantial deposit. The matter was fully threshed out in the Legislative Council of New South Wale3 by some of the most experienced men in insurance that can be found in Australia, and they arrived at the conclusion that it would be unwise to apply prohibitive conditions to Lloyds, comprised as it is of so many groups. I should like to see clause 6 slightly altered-
– I remind the honorable senator that this is a general discussion on the principles of the bill, and that he will not be in order if he deals specifically with any clause.
– I simply desire the word “ a group “ to be followed by the words “ or groups “. If that were accepted by the Minister, Lloyds would be equitably dealt with. I propose asking in committee that that amendment be agreed to. I prefer the clause that was drafted by the New South Wales Legislative Council rather than that embodied in this bill, and I should like to see it accepted by the Minister in its entirety. That also can be left until we reach the committee stage.
The deposits specified in this measure are high, and do not work out equitably. A company with a premium income of £10,000 has to lodge a deposit of £5,000, whereas one with a premium income of £10,500 has to pay £10,000. That requires revision, and it may be possible to overcome the anomaly in committee. It appears to me that the fairest way would be to have the deposit paid on the actual yearly premium. That, of course, would involve annual settlements, which might not be practicable; but this aspect of the matter demands careful attention. I nin very glad that the bill has been introduced, and I hope that it is the forerunner of other measures, which will finally place the whole gamut of insurance under the control of the Commonwealth Government.
– The point to which I propose to direct attention concerns clause 7, but in view of your ruling, sir, it may be deemed desirable to deal with it in committee. I take the view that if the clause is unconstitutional it might destroy the effect of the measure, and therefore wish, at this early stage, to direct the attention of the Minister to it. It reads - -
I doubt very much whether this Parliament has any right to pass a clause in that form. We are dealing with a matter which is not within the exclusive jurisdiction of ‘‘the Commonwealth Parliament. It is” one of the concurrent powers, under which the States have power to legislate, and which cannot be taken away from them by the Commonwealth. The only limitation imposed is that if a law passed by the Commonwealth is inconsistent with any law passed by the State, then to the extent of the inconsistency the State law shall- be invalid and the Commonwealth law shall prevail. So that if a State were to pass an act that required a deposit or a payment by way of a licence-fee - and following Privy Council decisions it seems to me that a State could require something by way of licence or registration fee - the matter could only be decided by the court, which would have to say whether, in fact, the act passed by the State was inconsistent with that passed by the Federal Parliament. If it were not inconsistent, then the declaration in this clause that it should have no force or effect, would be entirely nugatory. I mention the matter at this stage because it will probably be said that the very essence of this bill is the requiring of a deposit by insurance companies as a prerequisite to carrying on business. If that failed, it might be said that the act would be a different one altogether from what it is, and therefore the whole purpose of the measure might be defeated. I am aware that the original test which the
High Court applied to the question of inconsistency was, whether it was possible to obey both laws; and, if it was, there was no inconsistency. I am also aware that much later the High Court adopted, in Cowburn’s case, a test of inconsistency which differed from that laid down in the earlier case of the Bootmakers and the Wood-workers. Maybe the Government acted upon the definition of inconsistency laid down in Cowburn’s case in framing sub-clause 1 of clause 7. I call attention to the matter at this stage with the object of finding out whether the Government, or the Minister in charge of the measure, has considered this aspect; and, if so, are they satisfied that the clause as it stands is all right. If it is not all right, the whole act may be brought to the ground should any individual State think it necessary to test it by passing a law requiring the payment of a licence-fee or the lodging of certain deposits as security.
I heard the Minister refer to the question of government insurance, which i3 not within the purview of this Parliament ; but I have not been, able to find any reference to it in the measure. Nor is there any reference to the operations of insurance companies which do not extend beyond the limits of any one State. According to better informed opinion, the jurisdiction of this Parliament does not extend to those cases.
I understand that the insurance companies, like the honorable senator who has just spoken, agree that this measure comes not merely in the fullness of time but a little late. I do not desire to offer any criticism of it; I merely draw attention to the points that I have raised so that the Minister may advert to them, if he has not already done so.
.- The bill has had a favorable and even a friendly reception at the hands of honorable senators; but the remarks of the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat call for some reply by me.
With regard to State insurance, the honorable senator will see that there is a limitation imposed upon the Commonwealth under the Consitution, and that that limitation is recognized in clause 5 by the specific exclusion of any interference with such insurance. It appears ‘ to me that the honorable senator has apprehended limitations which are not all imposed upon the Commonwealth under Section 51 of the Constitution. An insurance company may carry on its operations in any individual State, and not extend its ramifications into any other State, yet it would still fall within the legislative power conferred upon the Commonwealth by Section 51 of the Constitution to enact legislation concerning it.
The honorable senator has expressed some doubt regarding the validity of clause 7. I put it to him that, taking either the earlier test laid down by the High Court, or its later test - upon which we are inclined to rely - the clause is good. Without going into a lengthy dissertation upon the matter, it is clear that we exclude specifically the payment of any deposit or the making of any payment by way of licence-fee as a condition precedent to the carrying on of insuranoe business; and in so far as we cover the field of insurance, our powers are paramount. We have not chosen to exhaust by this measure the field of insurance; it is rather a pity that we have not. We are dealing merely with one branch of insurance; and the decisions are such that, in the opinion of the Commonwealth’s legal advisers, by whom the matter has been given very careful consideration, our power to legislate in this way is undoubted. Some constitutional authorities contend that we could have gone still further and have excluded insurance companies from any levies by way of taxation. Personally, I take leave to doubt that ; but, so far as we exercise our power with regard to insurance, I have no hesitation in advising the Senate that the measure will stand the test of any investigation that might be made
– In that case subclause 1 carries it no further.
– No. But it is wise, I think, to make it abundantly clear by sub-clause 1 that that is our intention. That sub-clause has been included to meet the point raised by the honorable senator.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
In this act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ Insurance business “ means the undertaking of liability to make any payment, or to make good any loss or damage, contingent upon the happening of a specified event and any business in relation thereto, but does not include -
– I regret that, owing to the expedition which has attended the consideration of this measure, only the proofs of the amendments that I intend to move are available for circulation at the moment. As I can see only one mistake in them, I have taken the liberty of circulating them. Honorable senators will notice that, according to the definition of “ Insurance business “, schemes adopted by religious organizations for the purpose of covering their own liability are excluded. It has been found that the clause, as drafted, was not wide enough to meet all existing cases. 1 therefore move -
That in the definition of “ Insurance business”, paragraph (b), be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph: - “(b) the business carried on by any religious organization, or by any person on its behalf, which business consists solely of the undertaking of liability for the insurance of property belonging to, or held under lease by, that organization, or in which that organization has any legal estate or interest; or “
– Do the words “or by any person on its behalf “ refer to a company?
– These organizations form companies or associations. The principle is the same as that observed by a man who establishes a reserve fund for the purpose of covering his own risk. These great religious institutions maintain a reserve for the purpose of making good any losses that may occur. The whole of these organizations have been consulted, and I believe that the amendment meets every case.
– I should like to know if any religious organizations were consulted in connexion with this clause. I can see what the Government intends to do, but I think it may be necessary to widen the provisions somewhat. In my State there is, in connexion with one of the religious organizations, a body known as an endowment society, which may control its own insurance. In the course of time certain properties may be transferred to this endowment society, which has been established for the benefit of a particular religious faith. Would this definition clause cover what, in law, may be regarded as a trusteeship as opposed to a legal interest in the properties?
SenatorMcLACHLAN (South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [3.33]. - Various religious organizations wore consulted in the drafting of this clause. Certain representations were made to me by Mr. Downey on behalf of another religious organization, and I saw that the clause, as originally drafted, did not quite meet the position. Accordingly, we provided that the definition should cover “ the business carried on by any religious organization or by any person in its behalf.” Some religious organizations, instead of carrying on this class of business themselves, depute certain bodies which are formed into associations or endowment societies to act on their behalf. The honorable senator, I take it, suggests that while an estate is so controlled, the particular religious organization concerned may not be considered to have a legal interest in it, but if it were subject to a mortgage it would be so regarded.
– Exactly. I may explain that, in South Australia, we have an organization known as the Catholic Church Endowment Society. Technically it may not be considered a religious organization, but it may effect insurances over churches and schools. It would not be carrying on insurance on its own behalf, but on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church. It is, in fact, a legal entity under a religious organization.
– The honorable senator’s point is, I think, covered in the latter part of the amendment. Apparently, it has escaped notice that these societies may have an equitable interest in an estate. Mr. Downey cited an exactly similar position in Victoria and New South Wales. The Parliamentary Draftsman gave particular attention to this matter, and Mr. Downey was, I understand, perfectly satisfied that it would cover all cases in Australia. But the point made by the honorable senator seems to have some substance, and it might be an improvement if we included in the definition a provision to cover any legal “ or equitable “ interest in an estate. If the properties do not pass to a particular religious organization, but remain vested in trustees for the organization for the time being, it might not fall within the ambit of this provision. If the honorable senator will allow my amendment to pass, I shall be prepared to accept an amendment from him, later, to more adequately cover the point which he has raised. As I understand that Senator Duncan-Hughes has a prior amendment, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment temporarily.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
– I direct attention to definition of “ approved securities,” which includes -
The difficulty whichI see with regard to freehold lands subject to first mortgages is that the value of land has fallen so appreciably in recent years that a company making a deposit with the Commonwealth may transfer securities, which would not be equal to the two-thirds of the improved value of the lands as required under this paragraph. May I submit a concrete case. Land worth £1,000 may be mortgaged for £650; but the value of the land may have fallen to such a point that the mortgage may be barely equal to or little more than the actual value of the land. If that were so there is a distinct possibility under this clause of the Commonwealth being unable to accept a great number of mortgages, possibility the majority, as legal securities, since under this clause they would not be equal to two-thirds of the improved value of the land, calculated at the present moment. I take it that there is no desire on the part of the Government to prevent such mortgages being accepted ; in fact, it is set out in the bill that first mortgages are to be regarded as approved securities. But that is of no use unless under this clause the Commonwealth is able to take over such mortgages. They are also securities which a State might be very anxious to hand over to the Commonwealth. I suggest to the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator McLachlan) that there are several ways in which this difficulty could be overcome. The first is that a State Government’s valuation in the case of a transfer from a State Government might perhaps be accepted for the purpose of such transfer as being, what it probably would be, a reasonable value, and taken over accordingly. Again, it might be wise to insert a proviso to the effect that a first mortgage may be taken over provided that the Commonwealth is satisfied that although not equivalent to three-quarters of the present value of the land it is, in fact, equal to the value of the land. I may have misread the clause, but it seems to me that in view of the recent fall in land values there is danger of it being practically impossible for a company to deposit securities or for a State to hand over securities in the form of first mortgages which would be acceptable to the Commonwealth because the value of the mortgage at present may not be two-thirds of the present value of the land. I have already mentioned the matter to the Minister, and I do not wish to move an amendment at this juncture. I thinkthat one of the methods I have suggested might be adopted. I am personally inclined towards the suggestion that the Commonwealth might take over the securities as long as it is satisfied that the mortgage, although not equivalent to twothirds of the present value of the land, gives, in fact, full security up to the value of the land.
– I realize the difficulties associated with the point raised by the honorable senator. This provision is in general use in several of the States. The difficulty no doubt arises from the fact that there hasbeen a tremendous depre- ciation in the value of freehold land in this country, and that a sum which some time ago represented two-thirds of its value to-day represents a great deal less. The difficulty could be overcome by inserting some words to provide that first mortgages - I think it is desirable that such securities should be taken to encourage companies to lend money for the development of country - to a value satisfactory to -the Treasurer should be accepted. That would be elastic, and enable first mortgages at present held by various States, although not up to the standard provided here, to be accepted by the Treasurer, who will have to administer this measure. If some such alteration will meet the wishes of the honorable senator, I shall have an amendment drafted, and the bill can then be recommitted for its insertion.
– That would meet the case, so long as it would not involve a tremendous amount of work in ascertaining the values of securities which is unnecessary, and, in any case, would be only temporary, seeing that the value of land constantly fluctuates. Apart from that it would overcome the difficulty of mortgages being taken over by the Treasurer if he thought fit. I am quite agreeable to the Minister’s suggestion.
– I understand that the bulk of the securities held by the States are either Commonwealth or State securities. It is only in Western Australia that first mortgages are taken to any extent as securities. If the honorable senator is agreeable to allow the provision to pass in its present form, I will, if necessary, re-commit the bill.
– I direct the attention of the Minister to the definition which reads - “ ‘ Foreign company ‘ means a company which is incorporated or the head office of which is outside the Commonwealth.” This definition always annoys me, and I should like to see it amended to read that a “ ‘ foreign company ‘ means a company which is incorporated or the head office of which is outside the British Empire.”
Our relations should fall under three heads - Australian, British and foreign. I’ always think that the word “ foreign “ as applied to British companies whose head offices are outside the Commonwealth is a misnomer. Will the Minister accept an amendment on the lines I have suggested ?
– I am quite in accord with the view expressed by Senator Thompson. There is no doubt that “ foreign “ is the proper legal term to connote such companies; but it is quite contrary to the general opinion of what the word “ foreign “ means. I think, with Senator Thompson, that it is undesirable, particularly at present, that we should use the word “ foreign “ when in fact what are generally regarded as foreign companies are not involved. If the committee will refer to clause 11 they will see a reference to “ a foreign company not carrying on insurance business in the Commonwealth.” That clause also refers to a foreign company incorporated or having its head office outside the British Empire. That implies that there can be a foreign company having its head office within the British Empire which is quite contrary to the opinion held by the man in the street. His general idea is exemplified in Great Britain where secretaryship of State is divided into Foreign, Colonial and Dominion affairs. I think it desirable to omit the word “ foreign “ and substitute such non-contentious words as “ nonAustralian “. That would cover the whole question, and would be less likely to be misunderstood by the general public. After all it should be our desire in legislating to make our laws clear to the man in the street. Our acts should be framed so that they can be readily understood. A foreign company should mean a company operating outside the British Empire.
– Why not use the term “ absentee”?
– The term “ absentee “ might import a certain amount of prejudice. It is- not always used by some honorable senators in a congratulatory sense. In fact it is often used in a depreciatory sense. There is nothing depreciatory in the term “nonAustralian” and at the same time its meaning is perfectly clear.
– We use the term “ absentee “ in our taxation laws.
– I am not suggesting that “foreign” is not a perfectly proper and legal term to use. In the Canberra Times yesterday I noticed that Mr. J. H. Thomas, speaking in the House of Commons in regard to a certain amendment, said that it treated members of the British Commonwealth of Nations as foreigners: That is not the point I am raising. I am merely suggesting that the word “ foreign “, which does not connote anything foreign in the minds of the general community, should be altered to some other word which answers the purpose just as well and is much more clearly understood.
, - The sister dominions might be consulted to ascertain the practice operating in each. Australia’s attitude in the past has been to be more generous to them than they have been to us. We have adopted the policy of sacrificing a good deal for the sake of our membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations, whilst they are not sacrificing so much as we have done and still propose to do. If it should be found that the practice in the other dominions is to display and carry to proper execution a fraternal spirit between the several dominions) there is no reason why Australia should lag behind. But if on the other hand it is intended that we should, so to speak, sacrifice a little more than they are supposed to do, I think we should wait until we ascertain what is their mind on this point of insurance legislation. In the case of dominions that have favorably disposed themselves towards us in the matter of insurance legislation we should act towards them as they are acting towards us. In other words we should be prepared to deal with them on the basis of. their attitude towards us. If they are prepared to give us the advantage of the liberality we propose to extend to them, well and good ; otherwise we should wait until they are more liberally disposed towards us.
Senator THOMPSON (Queensland) wrong tree. It is not a question of being generous to other parts of the dominions. It is simply a question of being just to people in Australia. This clause affects all the great English companies. The Royal, the Liverpool, London and Globe, the London and Lancashire and the North British Alliance are some that occur to me for the moment. The great bulk of them have their head offices in the United Kingdom, but they own freeholds in Australia and keep big staffs here. All their interests so far as their Australian business is concerned are in this country. Yet this’ legislation classes them as foreigners.
– It is the usual legal term to apply.
– It may be but I protest against it.
– The difficulty may be got over in a simple way. Senators Thompson and Duncan-Hughes, as a matter of sentiment, object to companies which are British coming under the definition of “ foreign companies,” and they think that these companies are not being treated in the spirit in which an Australian Parliament should treat them. The difficulty could be got over by defining a foreign company as “ any company which is “ not incorporated in the Commonwealth.” lt seems to me that the expression “ foreign “ may then be dropped from clause 11 as being redundant. Clause 11 requires a foreign company not carrying on business in the Commonwealth to do certain things with the proviso that in the case of a foreign company incorporated or having its head office outside the British Empire, the deposit is increased. If the definition of “ foreign company “ is altered as I suggest, clause 11 could then deal with any company not incorporated or whose head office is outside the Commonwealth. . In any case, the word “ foreign “ is merely used for the purpose of the act. In any law dealing with this subject we divide companies into two classes. They are either local or foreign, just as our laws are either foreign or Australian. No difficulty is suggested to any legal mind in the use of the word “ foreign “ and no reflection is intended on any other part of the Empire.
– I appreciate the sentiment which has actuated honorable senators in objecting to the use of the word “foreign”, but for the last decade or two every State company law in Australia has contained what are known as foreign company provisions. For instance, under the South Australian companies law a company registered and incorporated in New South “Wales is a foreign company. In fact, the word is so embedded in Australian law that nothing short of a step in the direction hinted at by Senator Lynch would serve to remove it. It would require an amendment of the various interpretation acts of the Commonwealth and the States to bring about the result hoped for by honorable senators. “Foreign” may be an unhappy term to use, but, as it has been accepted in association with our legal system, and the law governing companies, I ask honorable senators not to expect me to bring about an alteration in connexion with this particular bill. When we come to deal with what are known as foreign companies we shall find that distinction is drawn, as Senator Brennan has already pointed out, between foreign companies incorporated in some other part of the dominions or in Great Britain, and those which are not so incorporated, and are in the strictest sense of the term really and truly foreign. To these latter the term has its natural significance, but any amendment in the direction sought would need to be made in a comprehensive bill or in an acts interpretation bill, so that the law throughout Australia would be on a uniform basis.
– Why not bring down such a measure?
– If it were the wish of the Government I should be only too happy to do so, because I appreciate the sentiment which actuates honorable senators; but to introduce it in this measure and graft on the settled law of the country some new form of expression would be, not only burdensome but, I suggest, dangerous as well.
– The word “foreign” is used throughout all our laws, and it would certainly lead to trouble to alter it in this. bill.
– I propose to accept the suggestion made by Senator Daly to include the word “ or equitable “ and, if it be the wish of honorable senators, I shall now move my amendment -
That in the definition of “Insurance business “ paragraph ( b ) be left out with a view to insert the following paragraph: - “ (6) The business carried on by any religious organization or by any person on its behalf, which business consists solely of the undertaking of liability for the insurance of property belonging to, ov held under lease by, that organization, or in which that organization has any legal or equitable estate or interest ; or “
– In South Australia the State bank carries on an extensive business in financing the purchase and erection of homes, particularly for workers, and I understand that it carries its own insurance risk by means of its internal organization. Does the definition of “ State insurance “ that is incorporated in clause 5 exempt State instrumentalities from liability under the provisions of this measure ?
– A State bank is constituted by State statute and therefore is exempted under clause 5.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 -
This act shall extend to the territories of the Commonwealth.
– I move -
That after the word “ Commonwealth,” the words “ except the State of Now South Wales.” be added..
– I rise to a point of order. I suggest that the clause has no relation to any State and that, consequently, the amendment moved by Senator Dunn is irrelevant.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).I rule that the amendment is irrelevant.
– Does the provision extend to the mandated territories ?
– With all due respect to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, and in view of the fact that this measure is obviously aimed at the duly constituted Government of the sovereign State of New South Wales, I move -
That the ruling of the Chairman that tlie amendment” is irrelevant to the clause be dissented from.
In the Senate:
– I have to report, Mr. President, that in committee an amendment was moved by Senator Dunn to clause 4, that the words be added “ except the State of New South Wales.” I ruled that the amendment was irrelevant to the clause, and from that ruling notice of dissent in writing has been given by Senator Dunn.
– In my opinion the amendment is entirely out of order because it is irrelevant to the clause, which states, “ This act shall extend to the territories of the Commonwealth.” New South Wales cannot be exempted from a classification to which it does not belong. It is a State and not a territory of the Commonwealth.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (State insurance).
– This clause raises a very important question as it proposes to exempt from the operation of the bill all forms of State directed insurance.
– Within the limits of a State. They are exempt under the Constitution.
– What happens in the case of insurances that have been effected with a State office by persons domiciled outside the boundaries of the State, and who come within the jurisdiction of our Constitution?
– The Commonwealth would have the right to protect such policy-holders, but it could not interfere with State insurances effected within the limits of the State concerned.
– Then I see no reason why the Commonwealth should not exercise its authority in such cases. If we fail to protect people who effect insurances with a State institution, but who happen to be domiciled outside that State, it is difficult to see what will happen to their interests. We are living in times when we have to remodel our ideas completely as to what a government may do. For generations, we cherished the belief that when a government incurred an obligation to a citizen it would discharge it. It was a universally accepted axiom in British communities that governments would pay their debts. Now it is necessary for us to put out our hands and ask ourselves if we are awake. Those who have loaned money to governments find that they are no longer in a secure position, and that, in effect, they are robbed of the proceeds of their labours. Interest is merely hire on money that is loaned, and it is all that many people have to live on, yet we are living in an age when a government can repudiate its interest obligations with impunity. Apparently, we are to shed our old beliefs and come to a realization that we were living in a fool’s paradise. We must unlearn the lessons that our fathers taught us se jealously. It is time that we protected the class of policy-holder to which I refer. At present State creditors are not safe, as they may be robbed by a State of what they possess.
– The Commonwealth has no power to protect such people.
– I have obtained from the Minister an opinion that the Commonwealth has the power to protect the class of policy-holder who takes out an insurance with the State, but who happens to be domiciled outside that State. That power ought to be exercised, through the instrumentality of this bill. I see no difference between a public creditor and a policy-holder. The latter endeavours to safeguard himself and his family against certain contingencies. If a government becomes a party to a contract, accepts a premium, and then will not pay claims as they fall due, the unfortunate policy-holder is in the same position as is the public creditor to whom interest payments are refused when they fall due. The pity is, that it is so. Judging by what is happening in Australia to-day, it would seem that our Constitution is seriously deficient in that regard. If the example that is fresh in the minds of every citizen of Australia is a rarity, and is not likely to be repeated, there is no need to be alarmed; but when we see such a gross and glaring act of bad faith perpetrated against people who have lent their money to a government, why should we not, in a bill of this description, give some protection to the man who takes out a policy with a State Government insurance office, and runs a risk corresponding to that of the public creditor who cannot obtain the interest upon the money that he has lent. It is about time that we removed the constitutional limitation that is placed upon us, if there is to be a recurrence of this sickening spectacle.
– Is the honorable senator embracing unification?
– I would embrace anything for the purpose of ensuring that the people of this country regained that spirit of honour and honesty which they once possessed, but which a section of them is forsaking with such sad consequences at the present time. Although I hate unification and consider that it would never work, I would make any sacrifice if I could only induce the present generation, or a majority of them, to live as their forefathers lived, as the old village blacksmith lived - looking the whole world in the face because “He owed not any man.” Persons possessing those characteristics would be wounded to the heart if they had levelled at them the charge of bad faith, roguery, or dishonesty. Apparently we are living in an age when it does not matter how much one interferes or trifles with one’s neighbour’s rights. This is a very important matter, particularly to those who may find themselves left bemoaning in the cold after they have fondly imagined for years that they and their families were protected against poverty and want, by an exhibition of bad faith such as that which one of the Australian Governments is exhibiting at the present time.
My friend, Senator Herbert Hays, has drawn my attention to an extraordinary situation in relation to the citizens of the Federal Capital Territory, who may find themselves the victims of the contingency to which I have drawn attention.
– Oh, no! That position is safeguarded by clause 4.
– What about the citizens of the Federal Capital Territory who may have effectedinsurances in New South Wales ? Theinstitution with which they have insured may go bung to-morrow, but before doing so it may say “ These policy-holders have no claim upon the Government, any more than have our public creditors; we have their money, and that is all that we want.” I am merely drawing attention to the pitfalls that beset the path of every citizen of this country. Our forefathers neither dreamt nor imagined that there would be such a sad declension of character as is indicated by what is happening in one State of Australia to-day. What will happen to the poor wretches who have only this source of income ? They will have to beg, merely because an Australian government wishes to make a good fellow of itself with its followers and supporters. At the present time I am doing business with the Queensland Insurance Company. Supposing it said to me “You can fish for your money if anything happens to your property to-morrow”, would I be protected by this measure? Of course not. I want to see that I am protected. I would not dream of suggesting, of course, that a State which had produced a man like Senator Foll, would do such a thing. But we must judge thefuture by the past. I should like Senator Daly to give us the benefit of his legal knowledge. He is steeped in British and every other form of jurisprudence. Let him explain the extent to which his constituents will be protected by this legislation.
– I should like the Minister to state whether, if any State insurance office decided to extend its operations beyond the boundaries of that State, the provisions of this act would operate in the States to which they were extended?
– Honorable senators will see that the word “ person “ is used, and designedly so, throughout this measure. “ Person “ is defined in the Acts Interpretation Act to include “ a body politic or corporate as well as an individual.” That, I think, answers the point raised by the honorable senator.
Clause agreed to.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted - “ 5a. This act shall not apply to the State of New South Wales.”
One can appreciate the position of the Minister in charge of the bill.
– Under the Constitution, no State can be exempted.
– We will “have a go “, and see what point we reach.
– On a point of order, I desire a ruling as to whether, this amendment having been held to be irrelevant to a. certain clause, is relevant to the bill itself?
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The proposed new clause is relevant to the bill, and therefore is in order.
– The Minister who has charge of this measure has probably drafted most of its provisions. It is known throughout Australia that that honorable gentleman has a wider knowledge of insurance business in the Commonwealth and the British Empire, than perhaps any other member of this Parliament. I have no complaint to make regarding his combining insurance activities with his parliamentary duties. It must be realized, however, that the various States of Australia are acting within their jurisdiction in enacting insurance legislation. Differences having arisen between the present Federal Government and the sovereign State of New South Wales-
– Is it a sovereign State?
– It is more a sovereign State than Tasmania, which is a mendicant State.
– She is honest, at any rate.
– -The bill definitely takes away from the States their power to legislate in relation to insurance. I believe in unification - one flag, one country, one language, and one Parliament.
– That has nothing to do with the bill.
– It has everything to do with it. I apologize, sir, for contradicting you; but we have to face up to the issue as we see it to-day. Thisbill gives too much power to the Federal Government. This legislation is merely one phase of the fight between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales. It seeks to give altogether too much power to the Commonwealth, and, if passed, it will prove to be a Frankenstein monster which will torment the Commonwealth in the future. There are able lawyers sitting on both sides in this chamber. I should like to have their views concerning the extent of the authority to be vested in the Commonwealth under this bill, which has really been framed in the interests of insurance companies, represented in this chamber by the Minister in charge of the measure. I strongly protest against this attempt to destroy the sovereignty of the State of New South Wales.
– If there is one State, in respect of which more than another it is necessary to pass this legislation, that State is New South Wales. I have before me a list of the aggregate deposits, held either by way of security or cash, by the various States from insurance companies. It may interest honorable senators to know that not one penny is held by the State of New South Wales as security for policy-holders of companies operating in that State. The aggregate of deposits and securities lodged in the other States is approximately £5,000,000. New South Wales, which Senator Dunn seeks to exempt from the provisions of the bill, holds no securities. Only a few months ago a number of mushroom companies in that State collapsed, and no fewer than 16,000 people, interested in one concern alone, suffered very severely.
– The Government of New South Wales has taken action against those companies.
– Any action which it can take must necessarily be limited by the boundaries of that State. Is it desirable that companies should be allowed to establish themselves in any State where insufficient provision is made for the deposit of securities?
– Would the Minister have introduced this bill if Mr. Bavin had been the Premier of New South Wales?
– I should have done so in any circumstances. As a private member I introduced a similar measure last session dealing with life insurance societies. Had that legislation been in operation a little earlier it would have afforded substantial protection to a large number of policyholders whose interests were so seriously affected by recent happenings in New South Wales. I may add that I did not receive a great deal of assistance from the honorable senator on that occasion. It seems to me only proper that the Commonwealth should be the custodian of securities for policy-holders of insurance companies. Particularly is this desirable in the interests of the people of New South Wales.
– Is not the amendment contrary to section 99 of the Constitution ?
– I doubt if it could be accepted; it contravenes the provisions of that section.
Question - That the proposed new clause be inserted (Senator Dunn’s amendment) - put. The committee divided. ( Chairman - Senator Plain. )
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Clause 6 (Insurance business done on behalf of associations outside the Commonwealth).
Sub-clause 1 verbally amended and agreed to.
– I move -
That sub-clause 2 be left out, with a view to insert the following sub-clause: -
If several persons act in association in the Commonwealth in respect of the granting of cover, or in the doing of any of the acts specified in the last preceding sub-section exclusively through one person outside the
Commonwealth on account of one insurer or society of insurers, the business carried on in the Commonwealth by the persons so acting shall, for the purposes of this Act, if the Treasurer so directs, be regarded as business carried on by one person, and the amount of any deposit required to be made under this Act shall be calculated accordingly.
This will enable a group of brokers in Australia to conduct Lloyds business in the manner suggested by Senator Thompson, who, I understand, had an amendment to deal with this matter. I suggest that the honorable senator allow my amendmentto pass on the understanding that, if he is not quite satisfied, the clause will be re-committed for further consideration.
. - I do not like the wording of the amendment. The Minister would have been well advised if he had adopted the provision passed by the New South Wales Legislative Council in similar legislation. It ismuch more business-like and practical. But if the Minister will give me an assurance that, under this amendment, Lloyds will be regarded as a single entity instead of, say, 28 separate companies in the various States, in keeping with the groups, I shall be satisfied.
– This is a very difficult provision to frame. The best explanation given by some of the persons concerned who endeavoured to enlighten me was in the form of a genealogical tree. I understand that Lloyds have three different groups of London brokers who employ three, or perhaps more, . groups of Australian brokers. The London brokers are represented here directly by their own group, the members of which send their business to Lloyds. There are other groups, but if they all get together we do not ask for a deposit in excess of £50,000, which is the limit. The honorable senator will see that that is what has been done under the new provision. The Government does not intend to exempt brokers, who may insure with all sorts of companies and thus give them an advantage over Lloyds. Those persons in Australia who are insuring for Lloyds can come within the group and obtain the protection which this legislation affords. If after examining the amendment the honorable senator is dissatisfied he will have an opportunity to bring the matter forward to-morrow when the bill is recommitted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 7 - (1.) After the commencement of this act, no State act, whether passed before or after the commencement of this act, to the extent to which it requires a person carrying on or proposing to carry on insurance business to make any deposit or to make any payment by way of licence fee or to make, as a condition upon which that person may carry on insurance business, any other payment, shall have any force or effect. (2.) Where, at the commencement of this act, any amount or security is, in pursuance of any enactment which upon such commencement ceases to have effect, held by a State or by any authority of a State by way of deposit on account of any person carrying on insurance business, the State or authority shall, upon such commencement, return the amount or security to the person by whom the deposit was lodged . . .
– I move -
That after the word “shall”, sub-clause 1, the words “ subject to this act “ be inserted, and that the words “ upon such commencement”, second occurring, sub-clause 2, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ when so required by the Treasurer “.
These amendments will make the provision more elastic, and will meet the difficulties mentioned by certain State Treasurers.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: - “7a. . Where under any State act in force on the first day of February One thousand nine hundred and thirty-two, any amount of security is held by any State or authority of a State by way of deposit by any person carrying on insurance business -
the amount of security may, until the Treasurer requires the return thereof under the last preceding section, remain deposited with that State or authority subject to the conditions contained in the State act;
the depositor shall, to the extent of the amount or security deposited, be exempt from liability to make deposits under this act; and
the provisions of the State act relating to the liability of the State or authority in respect of the amount or security deposited, and the con ditions upon which the amount or security is held shall remain in force so long as the amount or security is held by the State or authority.”
That is an elastic provision inserted to meet any difficulties that might arise, such as those mentioned by SenatorReid in a question submitted to me to-day, or any other cases with respect to which representations have been made by the State Treasurers concerned.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 11 agreed to.
.- I move -
That the words “ Five thousand pounds “, sub-clause 2, be left out with a viewto insert in lieu thereof the words “ One thousand pounds in respect of every Five thousand pounds of its premium income”.
The clause in its present form prevents the establishment in the Commonwealth of new mutual life insurance companies. I feel sure that that is not the intention of the Government.
– In the matter of life insurance it is provided that deposits shall be based on the liabilities of companies concerned. If the honorable senator will withdraw his amendment I shall see if something can be done in the direction he desires. In the form in which it is submitted, it does not harmonize with the drafting of the bill. Deposits based on premium income have been adopted in connexion with fire insurance; but in the matter of life insurance, they are based on the company’s liabilities. The draftsmen will endeavour to give effect to the amendment, to which I have no great objection, as the provision in the bill in its present form does not provide an opportunity for the establishment of new mutual life insurance companies. The amendment proposes to determine the amount of deposit by the amount of premium income; but the Government prefers the deposit to be based on actuarial liability.
-Will the Minister refer the amendment to the Government Actuary?
– The actuary has reported on the whole bill, and I am anxious that any amendment inserted shall not conflict with what he has recommended.
.- On the assurance of the Minister that effect will be given to my request in order to protect any new mutual life insurance company that may wish to commence business, I am agreeable to withdraw the amendment. The Minister knows the benefit which such companies have been to Australia, and must realize that under the bill in its present form it will be impossible for any new mutual life insurance companies to become established in this country.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: - “13a. The Treasurer may exempt from the requirement to make any deposit under this act any body of persons which satisfies him that it carries on or proposes to carry on insurance business wholly for the purpose of insuring its members or the employees of its members or persons engaged in a particular trade or industry, against liability, loss or damage contingent upon the happening of any event.”
This is to meet cases such as those to which I have referred in connexion with religious organizations, and in which bodies of persons get together and provide funds for their protection.
– I should like to hear the Minister’s interpretation of this clause. Will not the States still have the right to legislate with respect to this particular class of individual? Is there not a pos sibility of creating chaos amongst a certain class of persons who need as much protection as the policy-holders?
– The honorable senator suggests that after affording protection in the form of exemptions, difficulties may arise in another direction. I shall give the point consideration, but I submit that if certain persons are exempt under this legislation, the States cannot interfere.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 14 - (2.) A company or individual person having made an initial deposit with the Treasurer under this act shall in each year within three months after notice given by the Treasurer make to the Treasurer a return under the hand of the individual, or in the case of a company of the principal officer of the company, or the chief representative of the company in the Commonwealth, showing for the last annual business or trading period of the company the net liability under life insurance business of the company or the premium income of the company in respect of other insurance business, as the case may be.
Amendment (by Senator McLachlan) agreed to -
That the word “ each “ before the word “ year “, sub-clause 2, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ any “.
Clause also verbally amended, and, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 15 -
Where any question arises under this act as to the net liability or premium income of any person carrying on insurance business, the question shall, for the purposes of this act, be decided by the Treasurer, whose decision thereon shall be final and conclusive.
– During the last Parliament, when income tax bills were under consideration, honorable senators who were then in Opposition pointed out how necessary it was jealously to preserve the right of companies or individuals to approach the High Court and settle any point of difference between them and the Taxation Commissioner. This clause purports to do away with that right. It provides that where any question arises as to the net liability or premium income of any person carrying on business, the question shall be decided by the
Treasurer, whose decision thereon shall be final and conclusive. Once that cerficate of the Treasurer is arbitrarily given, consistent with the general scheme of the act, certain penal consequences may follow without any right of appeal to any of these companies. The clause thus avoids a great general legal principle, for which all parties in this chamber and in another place have always stood. I am not prepared to accept it unless the individual against whom the certificate is given has the right of appeal, so that the matter may be decided in an atmosphere absolutely free from bias. We have always boasted that British laws are so framed that they will be not only understood but also not misunderstood. Here, however, a certificate which may be a precedent to penal consequences is to be issued by an interested party, the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, by the policeman, as it were instead of by the police magistrate, I have no objection to the Treasurer’s certificate being made prima facie evidence, but there should be some right of appeal against the decision of the Treasurer. We already give to the taxpayer the right to approach the judiciary and have his case decided in a judicial manner. I hope that the Minister will examine this clause to see if it is not an abrogation of the very principle which the party now on the Government benches advocated when it was in Opposition, and forced the previous Government to include in its taxation laws.
– The honorable senator’s point is well taken. The words to which he has drawn attention escaped my notice, because honorable senators will see that the right of appeal is given in clause 18, and similar provision was made in the Insurance Bill which I piloted through the Senate some time ago. I move -
That the words “ whose decision thereon shall be final and conclusive “ be left out, with a view to inserting the following new subclause: - “ (2.) A person may appeal to the court against any decision of the Treasurer under this section and the decision of the court upon such appeal shall be final and con- clusive.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 16 to 23 agreed to.
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this act, prescribing all matters which by this act are required or permitted to be prescribed, or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed, for carrying out or giving effect to this act.
.- I move -
That the following sub-clause be added - “ 2. Where in any session of the Parliament, either House of the Parliament disallows a regulation made in pursuance of this section, any regulation made in that session and the same in substance as the regulation so disallowed, shall be void and of no effect.”.
There is hardly any need for me to speak on this. We have lately had experience of the making and manipulation of regulations, and I am moving this amendment as a safeguard to the rights of this Parliament. This, I may remind the Minister, is a sub-clause which was inserted by the Senate in the Commonwealth Debt Conversion Bill.
– The matter raised by the honorable senator should properly be dealt with by a general bill. Such legislation is now under consideration and but for the haste with which the Government has had to meet Parliament would probably have been introduced in the Senate by now. Whether it will be framed to amend the Acts Interpretation Act or the Rules Publication Act, has not yet been decided by the advisers of the Attorney-General. However, the honorable senator need have no misgivings on the point. I ask him to withdraw his amendment because legislation is coming down to give effect to the very principle which he desires to insert in this clause.
– Would it interfere with this general legislation if this subclause were added?
– The difficulty is that if we do not generalize, we must insert the same provision in each bill. The object we have in mind is to pass one general piece of legislation, applicable not only to legislation now going through, but also to the great mass of statutes already passed. A great deal of the legislation already passed does not contain the provision which the honorable senator seeks to have inserted in this bill. On that account we propose to pass one general amendment to deal with the point and, in the circumstances, I ask the honorable senator to let his amendment stand over.
– Will the Minister inform the Senate when that bill will be introduced, also whether it would in any way jeopardize the operation of the proposed measure, if what I suggest were embodied in this bill?
– That is a somewhat complex question to answer, because the matter has not yet been fully investigated as to whether the inclusion of this amendment would jeopardize the operation of the contemplated bill. I give my assurance that that measure will be brought down at an early date. It is already in the hands of the draftsmen. It would only complicate matters if a provision such as that contained in Senator Elliott’s amendment were incorporated in different bills, when a measure that will cover the general principle that the honorable senator desires1 to express is already in hand.
– I should like an assurance from the Minister that, pending the introduction of the legislation to which the honorable senator has referred, the Government proposes to legislate to deal with, for instance, matters such as are covered by clause 22. There may be an appeal to the court, but no procedure is laid down as to how the litigant is to get to the court. That seems to me to be the most urgent regulation that is necessary in connexion with this bill. In framing that regulation I should like the Government to remember that no procedure is laid down in the bill, which is somewhat novel in character. One of the main purposes of clause 24 is to enable the Government, after the principle is adopted by Parliament, to draw up by regulation the necessary procedure by which parties may have their cause heard and determined. That requires to be dealt with immediately, and when the measure is introduced later to cover the general principle to which reference has been made, the Government will have to take into consideration how far regulations should be dealt with after the manner suggested by Senator Colebatch and Senator Elliott.
– On the assurance of the Minister that this matter is now receiving close attention, and that the Government realizes its urgency, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
– I have here a memorandum that was prepared by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department last session, which deals with the matter raised by Senator Daly. It is a valuable commentary on the legislation that my colleagues and I were sponsoring when in opposition. The complexities are set out here at tremendous length, not only from the point of view of the department, but also from the aspect to which Senator Daly has just given expression, the difficulty with regard to the procedure of the High Court. As honorable senators will realize, no mean effort has already been made by the department to try to obtain some uniformity out of what was regarded as chaos. I am impressed with the remarks that were made by Senator Daly, and will see what can be done by the Parliamentary Draftsman. Clause 22 reads -
In all matters relating to the value of securities deposited under this act, the decision of the Treasurer shall, subject to appeal to the court, be binding and conclusive.
I take it that Senator Daly has in mind that no procedure is laid down regulating that appeal.
– Nor is any procedure laid down in connexion with clauses 15 and 18.
– That is because an amendment was made to clause 15, as a result of the representations of the honorable senator. I believe that there are some general rules of the Supreme Court which provide the necessary power. I know that the High Court has exercised its own rule-making power to regulate cases of this nature in relation to land tax appeals. Should the necessity arise I shall widen the interpretation of clause 24when the bill is re-committed to-morrow, and perhaps re-consider the other clauses. I admit frankly that I am not in a position to solve these problems offhand.
– I am prepared to accept the Minister’s assurance.
– There is a matter dealingwith securities which the Minister has not cleared up very well.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).Order! Securities are not dealt with in clause 24.
– Clause 24 concerns regulations, which of course, apply to a host of matters, among which is the fixing of the value of securities which will be handed over to the Federal Government. The Premier of Western Australia (Sir Thomas Mitchell) recently recorded an emphatic opinion on that point. He said -
I have not yet seen the bill which has been introduced in the Federal Parliament to provide that insurance companies must deposit sums with the Federal Treasury, but it may easily be a very serious matter for us. Under our two Acts - the Insurance Act 1919, and the Life Assurance Companies Act - we have £567,899 deposited with the State Treasury, most of which is invested in Commonwealth bonds. It would be impossible to realize these securities at short notice. I am sure that, if the Commonwealth bill does pass, the Commonwealth will take over these investments at their face value, but, in any event, I protest against the passing by the Commonwealth of such legislation.
– Order! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the subject matter of the clause.
– As has been pointed out by Senator Elliott, the clause deals with regulations; therefore, it surely covers the fixing of the value of securities. State securities which have to be taken over by the Commonwealth Government may have depreciated in value, and the State concerned would be put to serious inconvenience if the Commonwealth insisted upon taking them over at market, instead of at face value.
– Order ! I again point out that this clause deals only with the making of regulations, to which the honorable senator must confine his remarks.
– I shall take the opportunity to deal with the matter en the motion for the third reading of the bill.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
That clause 10 bo re-considered.
A person carrying on insurance business (other than life insurance business) at the commencement of this Act shall, within six months after such commencement, deposit with the Treasurer money or approved securities to the value of live thousand pounds in respect of each ten thousand pounds or part thereof of his annual premium income, but so that the deposit required under this section shall not exceed in any case forty thousand pounds.
– I believe that these deposits are based on too high a scale, and suggest the following amendment -
That the words “ five thousand pounds in respect of each ten thousand pounds or part thereof” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ forty per cent “.
– If the honorable senator will move for the substitution of £4,000 for £5,000 in respect of every £10,000 or part thereof of the annual premium income, he will attain the same object, and I will accept the amendment.
– That would not meet the case presented by Senator Thompson.
Situation in China - Tariff Lists.
[5.38].- I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
My object is to give the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan) an opportunity of considering the various amendments that have been suggested to the Insurance Bill, so that we may proceed with that measure to-morrow. Honorable senators are aware that the hour of meeting to-morrow is 11 a.m. If the first business taken was the resumption of the debate on the Address-in-Reply, Senator McLachlan would be called upon to resume it, because he secured the adjournment of it; and he would thus have no opportunity of considering these amendments.
– I have on the notice-paper a motion that I, as the representative in thischamber of an important group, should be given an opportunity of moving, in view of the serious position that has developed in the East. When I sat opposite last year, the then Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce), protested on more than one occasion against what he termed the holding up of business by the Government of the Day. He now has an opportunity, as the Leader of the Government in this chamber, of “ getting on with the job.” I appeal to him, therefore, to allow this notice of motion to be debated to-night.
Another matter to which I wish to direct attention is of considerable importance, because it affects tens of thousands of the citizens of Australia, and involves the expenditure of millions of pounds. This afternoon I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator’ Greene) to explain why lists of tariff schedules had been handed to the press and published in the different capital cities of Australia before being tabled in this Parliament. I should like to know when the editors of the metropolitan daily newspapers had conferred upon them the rights of honorable senators. When I sought information on the point this afternoon, I was informed by the Minister (Senator Greene) that he had no knowledge of the matter. He should know why a very important list of customs items, affecting the expenditure ofmillions of pounds and the jobs of tens of thousands of the citizens of this country, has been broad- cast throughout the Commonwealth. When I entered this chamber nearly three years years ago, I was told that tariff schedules and customs duties could not be divulged until they had been tabled in another place. At all times, I have endeavoured to live up to the pledge thatI gave as a senator from New South Wales, to observe good conduct and to adhere strictly to the Standing Orders. What am I to think of action which enables important items of customs to be broadcast by the editors of. newspapers, who have not the right to come inside this chamber, while I, a responsible senator representing New South Wales, which contains two-fifths of the population of the Commonwealth, am denied that information? I make no assertion regarding the honesty of any Minister, but merely echo the protest that was frequently made from these benches by the present Leader ofthe Senate (Senator Pearce) regarding the treatment meted out to the Senate.
I again appeal to the honorable gentleman to give me an opportunity of moving the motion that I have placed on the notice-paper; because a crisis is developing in the East, and we want to know where we stand in relation to any participation in it.
– I remind the honorable senator that while under Standing Order No. 63, matters that are not relevant to the adjournment may be discussed, there is another standing order which lays it down that he must not anticipate debate.
– It is necessary, at times, to anticipate debate. I have no wish to labour the question. I appeal to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs to explain why the list of tariff items was given to the press and withheld from the Senate.
. - Senator Dunn appears to be still under a delusion. What he has referred to is a tariff list, including tariff items. All that I can tell him is that ho is entirely mistaken in that supposition. What the press published were the details of a proclamation that appeared in the Government Gazette today, relating to certain prohibitions of imports. They have nothing whatever to do with the items of a tariff schedule. The ordinary procedure in dealing with prohibitions has been followed. Senator Dunn endeavoured to lead the Senate to believe that a tariff schedule containing the details of customs duties to be levied on particular items bad been handed to the press. I knew when he asked me the question this afternoon that that was utterly impossible. In every case when a proclamation is issued it is published in the Gazette, from which the press obtain the particulars of it. I have before me the Gazette published this morning in Canberra, containing the list that the honorable senator has in mind.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 February 1932, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1932/19320225_senate_13_133/>.