9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories yet had time to peruse the plans of the Canberra city leaseholds that he received yesterday? If so, what decision has been arrived at regarding them?
– I remained here until a late hour last night listening to the dulcet tones of the honorable senator’s voice. I then found it necessary to get some sleep, and having breakfasted this morning; I came here. Therefore, I have not had time to peruse the plans.
Supply of Change at Post Offices.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: - _ 1. Under the Post and Telegraph Regulations, it is not incumbent on the Department to supply change on demand, but officers are instructed that, when practicable, change is to be given.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I am taking action to obtain the information desired by the honorable senator, and will make it available to him as early as possible.
Case of P. J. FARRELL
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Will he have placed on the Estimates a sum sufficient to establish a Bacteriological Laboratory in Hobart as well as the one to be established in Launceston?
– The matter will receive consideration’ in connexion with the preparation of the Estimates for the’ current year.
Result of Reclassification : Returned Soldiers
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are: -
Compensation for Direct Losses
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are: -
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That, during the absence of the President from Melbourne, as a delegate of the Australian Branch of the. Empire Parliamentary Association to South Africa, the Chairman of Committees shall take the Chair of the Senate as Deputy President, and may perform the duties and exercise the powers of the President during his absence.
The following paper was presented: -
In committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
This Act shall commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation.
.- I move-
That all the words after the word “ on “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the first day of January, 1927.”
Some honorable senators may say that this indicates groundless opposition to the bill, but I want it to be clearly understood that one of my chief reasons for moving the amendment is that the Commonwealth Bank is a very important institution, and I do not think that it should be made the shuttlecock of party politics. A grave alteration is proposed within twelve or eighteen months of a general election. The bill raises questions that divide parties at present. There is a division of opinion as to whether the bank should continue the policy advocated by the Labour party, by competing with private banking institutions, in the acceptance of deposits, and the extension of its trading branches to every centre in which money can be obtained, utilizing that money for the advancement of land development, private enterprise, and different trading concerns. The Ministry’s proposal is that the Commonwealth Bank shall cease to be a trading bank as we understand the term, but that instead it shall be an institution to buttress the private banks, those banks to do the trade and make what profits they can while the Commonwealth carries the whole of the responsibility. That clearly is the issue at stake. Would it not be as well to wait until after the next election to see whether the party then returned to power will favour a complete change from the course that the bank has been pursuing so successfully for twelve years, to the policy that is now favoured by a majority which is dependent for its existence on a decision by the Prime Minister? The present Government may go out of office if that decision of the Prime Minister is opposed to the desires of a certain section of the Government. Is it wise to rush the bill through Parliament, and, by making itlaw immediately, effect this radical change in the constitution and operations of the Commonwealth Bank, when probably next week, or the week after, there will be an election and another bill will be required to restore the bank to its former position? We on this side will propose certain amendments, but their number will be in the ratio of 1 to 3, proposed by honorable senators opposite. We will not uselessly oppose the measure. I ask honorable senators to seriously consider the matter:
– Naturally, we cannot accept’ the amendment. I am surprised at the reasons that have been advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) in its favour. He said that the bank should not be made the shuttlecock of party politics. Who is making it such? Not honorable senators on this side. There has been no party discipline of honorable senators supporting the Government. That is obvious from the discussion that has alreadytaken place. Party discipline has been in evidence only among the members of the honorable senator’s own party. It is patent that the whip has been sent round, and that a party decision has been arrived at, because honorable senators opposite have not differed from each other, either in their speeches or in their actions. Is not that extraordinary? Have they all been cast in the one mould ? There is nothing in the bill which will alter in the slightest way the intention of the Labour party, when it introduced the principal act. The very gentleman who claimed that he was the author of the Commonwealth Bank himself advocated that that bank should be controlled by a board and not by a governor. As a matter of fact, the bill introduced by the Fisher Government did not follow the lines advocated by Mr. KingO’Malley. This bill is framed more on those lines, because it provides for control by a board instead of by a governor. There is nothing in the bill which will interfere with the general policy of the bank. The purpose of the bill is to extend the powers of the bank. Therefore, if honorable senators opposite persist in making it a party measure the blame must be on them. On this side the bill has been treated strictly as a non-party measure. Government supporters have exercised freely their right of criticism, and. have suggested amendments.
.- The Minister (Senator Pearce) has made an extraordinary statement. He says that the proposal will not affect the policy of the bank. The bill itself may not provide for any departure in policy, but it will give to a board of directors the right to shatter the whole business of the bank as a trading concern. This being so, what is the use of. the Minister saying that there is to be no alteration in policy ? Senator
Greene pointed out during the secondreading debate that the board could, if it wished, discontinue the private trading business of the bank altogether. I stand for the principle I advocated twelve years ago, when the first Commonwealth Bank Bill was introduced, namely, that the bank should operate in competition with the private trading banks in order to give stability to our banking business, and confidence to the people that their deposits would be safeguarded- by the credit of the Commonwealth. I repeat that the bill gives power to the board to alter this policy, and that is what the Labour party is opposed to. The Government party whip was cracked after what was thought to be a bombshell had been fired by one of the Ministerial supporters, but we now find that, after all, it was only butter that he was firing. I realize, of course, that the Ministry has the numbers, but I protest against any misleading statement to the effect that, under the bill now before us, there can be no alteration in the policy of the bank. Changes will be possible under the bill. I object to any board having such power.
. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) should realize that, up to the present, there is no suggestion, on this side, at all events, of making this bill a party measure.
– I say there is.
– I refer the Minister to something that happened in this chamber a day or. two ago in connexion with this bill. We on this side expressed our willingness to vote for an amendment moved by a Government supporter for the purpose of making this a more workable measure. We now appeal to honorable senators opposite to help us to make this bill what they must desire it to be, namely, one of the best measures enacted by the Bruce-Page combination. The Minister has told us that this is the most important bill that has been introduced by the present Government.
– And honorable senators’ opposite want to go slow.
– I am endeavouring to show that we should proceed slowly. That is the purpose of the amendment. If we g-> slowly the business of the bank will not be interfered with in any way, and the people will have an opportunity of doing something to make this bank function in the way desired by its founders. In a memorandum circulated recently, we were told by the Treasurer that the bank was not a serious competitor of the private trading banks.
-(Senator Newland). - The honorable senator’s observations have nothing to do with the clause under discussion. I ask him to confine his remarks to the amendment, which is that certain words shall be struck out of the clause.
– I am entitled to give the reasons why we propose that certain words shall be struck out of the clause. We desire to insert other words, the effect of which will be to postpone the coming into operation of the bill, which provides for the appointment of a board of directors, who will have the power to alter entirely the policy of the bank. The Treasurer, after indicating that the bank had not been a serious competitor of the other banks, emphasized the remark by saying that it was fortunate the policy had been such as had been described because, by reason of that policy, the conversion of the Commonwealth Bank into a central bank would be rendered easier. That is a very important statement. We want the bill postponed because we do not desire the directors of the bank to have the power to make the bank a central bank in the way indicated. We believe that the appointment of a board of directors is unnecessary, and, if there is to be a board, we urge that it should not be of the number desired by the Government. There is no reason why the bill should not be postponed until the 1st January, 1927. Time passes rapidly. On the first clay of the year, every one looks at life in a different way. What a happy augury it would be if the Labour party, coming back from the people, their masters, in January, 1927, knew that they had the numbers in both Houses to enable them so to frame the policy of the bank as to ensure its future progress along the lines desired by its founders. Honorable senators supporting the Government have nothing to lose by voting for the amendment.
– What have they to gain?
– They gained their point yesterday. They have got all that they desired.
– Not yet.
– Did we not hear Senator Greene say he was satisfied, and that he withdrew his opposition to the bill ? So, too, did Senator Foil and Senator Duncan.
– The honorable senator did not hear me say that. I ‘have a big list of amendments which I intend to submit. I have not got all that I want.
– Those amendments deal only with minor matters.
– The staff of the Commonwealth Bank will be interested to know that the honorable senator thinks them of minor importance.
– The postponement of the bill will do no harm to the bank, and it will not affect those who are supporting the bill. As we intended to help them yesterday in a division, we now ask them in return to help us.
– I am convinced, after listening to the three honorable senators who have spoken this morning in support of the amendment, that, if possible, they intend to kill the bill.
– I have refrained, so far, from speaking to the measure, because I was anxious to see it get into committee where we could deal with its principles in detail. Honorable senators opposite cannot justify the attitude they have taken up. The bill in no way seeks to amend section 7 of the principal act, which governs the operations of the bank. That section reads’ -
The Bank shall, in addition, to any other powers conferred by this Act, have power -
To carry on the general business of banking.
To acquire and hold land on any tenure.
To receive money on deposit, either for a fixed term or on current account.
To make advances by way of loan, overdraft, or otherwise.
To discount bills and drafts. (/) To issue bills and drafts, and grant letters of credit.
To deal in exchanges, specie, bullion, gold-dust, assayed gold, and precious metals.
To borrow money, and
To do anything incidental to any- of its powers.
There is no provision in the bill to curtail the operations of the bank as laid down in section 7. If- there was, honorable senators would be justified in opposing it. The object of the bill is to make the Commonwealth Bank more of a national bank than it has been, and to enable it to render such assistance to the associated banks that they will be able more effectively to carry on their business in the interests of the whole community. I cannot see anything in the amending measure which is likely to curtail the general trading activities of the. bank. If, after say one year’s experience of the measure, it is found that any effort has been made in that direction, Parliament will have an opportunity to act. It is unreasonable to assume that the proposed directors will lay themselves out to: abandon the trading activities of the bank in order to meet the wishes of private banking institutions. I have had personal experience in connexion with the trading activities of the Commonwealth Bank. I found that the management was very keen to give accommodation on ordinary trading lines, when the associated banks, through lack of funds, were unable to do so.
– It will not even make advances on gilt-edged securities.
– The honorable senator has not given any indication of such an instance. I had occasion to visit one of the leading associated banks, in an endeavour to obtain certain accommodation, which was not forthcoming, although a good security was available. I had, however, no difficulty in arranging terms with the Commonwealth Bank, and the obligations on either side were honorably carried out, which clearly showed, to me at least, that the bank was very alert and businesslike in the manner of its trading operations. I ‘rose more particularly to utter my protest against the action of honorable senators opposite,’ ‘whose sole object is to defeat the bill. It is their duty to prove that an attempt is being made to interfere with the basis upon which the bank Was originally established, and to show that it is intended to abandon trad-‘ ing operations.
– I do not intend to accept - the statements of the Minister (Senator Pearce), who is probably irritated because of references to the measure being made a party issue. If the Minister does not know the intention of the Treasurer (Dr.
Earle Page) who introduced the bill in another place, I am sorry. When I spoke of the change in the management and the constitution of the bank, I was merely stating what the Treasurer proposed. Unfortunately, neither the Minister in charge of the bill, nor Senator Payne, appears to be acquainted with the intentions of the Treasurer, who has made it quite clear that the bank is no longer going to be a competitor of the private banks.
– He has not said anything of the kind.
– I do not know whether I am capable of understanding English, but for the information of honorable senators, I submit the following from the Treasurer’s speech: -
I -have now placed before honorable members the proposals of the Government for the complete transformation of the Commonwealth Bank and the Notes Board into a central bank - a bank of banks - a bank of issue, deposit, discount, exchange, and reserve. I trust that I have shown the wisdom and the necessity for the changes, in order to keep pace with the -most modern systems of banking in other countries, and to enable our present difficulties of currency and of exchange to be overcome. I feel sure that this change is calculated to facilitate the national production and trade as far as that may be done by banking, and, though the proposed new act will not work miracles, it will permit the ordinary laws of finance and economics to work as smoothly as possible, and without harshness, towards meeting the growing needs of this great Commonwealth. The changes have not been proposed because the Government has any feeling of dissatisfaction with, or any lack of confidence in, the present management. The Government believes that the .interests of the community have, within the circumscribed powers granted, been well served by the management, both of the General Bank and of the Note Issue Department. But the time has come to place the Commonwealth Bank in the commanding position which, in the interests of the whole community, a central bank should occupy, and I trust that honorable members will give the bill a quick and easy passage through the House.
It is definitely laid down there that the bank is to be transformed into a central bank.
– And also to carry 0: trading business.
– I do not wish to unnecessarily delay the passage of the bill by discussing at length every amendment, but I wish to make the position quite clear. If my interpretation of what has been said is wrong, I trust the Minister will put me right.
– Will not the Leader of the Opposition accept my assurance that the position is not as he states?
– The Minister’s opinion is not in accord with that of the Treasurer. The Treasurer definitely states -
On the whole, it will be recognized that the Commonwealth Bank has not been a serious competitor of the other banks. Indeed, it is understood that the policy of the management up to the present has been not to enter into active rivalry with the trading banks, and in pursuance of this policy the interest payable on Commonwealth Savings Bank deposits is, and has always been, lower than the interest paid by state institutions.’ It is fortunate the policy has been such as has been described, because by reason of that policy the conversion of the Commonwealth Bank into a central bank has been rendered easier.
If I am wrong in saying that the intention of the Government is in accordance with the views; expressed by the Treasurer, who introduced the bill, the Minister should explain how the misunderstanding arises. Senator Payne said that the powers which the Commonwealth Bank now possesses will not be interfered with in any way, but that is the very point upon which I raised this question. It has been said that no attempt has been made to alter the policy of the bank, but with that opinion I do not agree.
– If the board acts contrary to the wishes of the people the electors will have an opportunity to decide.
– The matter should be settled - not at the next elections - but at this moment. If the Minister will assure the Senate that, the bank is to be transformed from a trading bank-
– I shall not do anything of the kind. The Treasurer has not stated what the honorable senator is attributing to him.
– The Treasurer said -
It is fortunate that the policy has been such as lias been described, because by reason of that policy the conversion of the Commonwealth Bank into a. central bank has been rendered easier.
– The Commonwealth Bank has not antagonized the other banks.
– Is it the intention of the Government to make the Commonwealth Bank a bank of banks - and a bank of issue, deposit, discount, exchange and’ reserve, . or is it not ?
– It is.
– The Treasurer has stated that the bank is to be transformed into a central bank - a bank of issue, deposit, discount, exchange, and reserve. That is not my interpretation of what he said. It is the statement of the Treasurer himself, who said -
I have now placed before honorable members the proposals of the Government for the complete transformation of the Commonwealth Bank and the Notes Board into a central bank - a bank ‘ of issue, deposit, discount, exchange, and reserve.
I should like to know what, in the opinion of the Treasurer, a central bank really is f If words have any meaning at all, the Treasurer’s statements makes it clear that the present Commonwealth Bank is no longer to be an active competitor of other banking institutions. IF Senator Pearce does not agree with that opinion, it is clear that he has not arrived at an understanding with the Treasurer. I have already quoted’ the Treasurer’s statement, which discloses the intention of the Government that the Commonwealth Bank shall be a central bank, and one which will operate for the benefit of private institutions. The amendment has been submitted for the purpose of delaying action until such time as a general election is held, and if it is carried, nothing Will be lost. It should bo the policy of the bank to have a branch for the receipt of’ deposits in every town and hamlet, and the money so obtained could be legitimately used in assisting rural and other industries. The Government should hesitate before any transformation such as described by the Treasurer in another place, is made.
– I do not know whether I am losing the power of lucid, expression or whether the Leader of the Opposition is losing the power of understanding; but I have reiterated time after time -that the Commonwealth Bank is at present & general bank; that it acts as such under the powers conferred upon it by section 7’ of the principal act; that the Government does not intend to amend that section,’ and that it has no intention that the bank shall retire from the field of general banking, There is no inconsistency between, that statement and the statement made by the Treasurer in another place, to the” effect that the bank, although engaged in the field of general banking, has not been a serious competitor and rival with the private banks. It has not been the policy of the Commonwealth Bank to enter into active competition with the private banks, nor is it the intention of the Government that that policy shall be adopted. The policy that has been pursued in the past will be pursued in the future. The Commonwealth Bank has not entered the field of banking as a serious rival and competitor of the private banks with the intention to try to crush them out of existence, nor will it do so. That is the position so far as I am able to state it in plain English.
.- The statement that the Leader of the Senate has just made has, at all events, enlightened us. I have no desire to protract unduly the debate oil this clause. I am quite content to divide the committee upon the issue that is now before us, and I shall take every opportunity to do so when that issue is raised. The Labour party’s policy is that the Commonwealth Bank shall actively compete with the private banks for all the banking business that is offering, and that it shall, if possible, not by compulsion, but by the adoption of strictly legitimate banking methods, drive the private banks altogether from the field. That is the issue, and I shall ask the committee to divide on it.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator GARDINER’S amendment) - :put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … 10
i Question so resolved in the negative. .’ ( Amendment negatived.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Minor amendments of principal act).
.- Will the Minister inform honorable senators whether it is the intention of the Government to include in the schedule of amendments the one which he foreshadowed yesterday 1
– The foreshadowed amendment referred to by the honorable senator will be dealt with as a new clause, and I have already given notice of my intention to move it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4- -
Section four of the Principal Act is amended -
by inserting after the word “appears - “ the following definitions: - “ ‘ Local Board ‘ means a Local Board of Advice;”
– I intend later on to move that all the words in sub-clause a which define “Local Board,” be left out. The proposal of the Government in connexion with the appointment of local boards is ‘set out in sub-clause 12b of clause 7, “which reads as follows: - . “ ( 1. ) In each principal city of the Com.. wealth specified by the Governor-General, by notice published in the Gazette, there shall be a Local Board of Advice. ” (2.) A Local Board shall be appointed by the Governor-General, and .shall consist of three members, at least one of whom shall, if practicable, be a Director. - “ (3.) The members of a Local Board shall, subject to this Act, hold office for two years and be eligible for re-appointment. “ (4.) Each Local Board shall have power to examine the affairs of the Bank in the District specified in respect of it by the GovernorGeneral, by notice published in the Gazette. “ (5.) Each Local Board shall submit to the Board of Directors, at least once a month, a report in writing concerning the affairs of the Bank in the District in which it exercises its powers.”
The aim of the Government in proposing the appointment of local boards is no doubt to secure a measure of decentralization in the management of the bank, but I think that that could be secured in a far less dangerous way than by the method suggested. Already, no doubt, a deputy-governor, or some controlling officer, is in charge of the- bank’s affairs in the different capital cities, and is vested with power to determine matters which do not need reference to head-quarters. The managers of important branches of all the private banks, quite properly, have similar power, it is necessary that such an authority should be available in the capital cities to decide any matters of internal control that may from time to time require immediate, settlement. The present practice in the Commonwealth Bank could be advantageously retained. I disagree with the proposal to appoint local boards, for I think- that they might lead to serious trouble among the directors. It is suggested that these boards shall consist of three members, one of whom shall, if practicable, be a director of the bank. The other two members will not be associated with the bank in any way except as members of the local board. Notwithstanding this, the members of the board are to be given very wide powers to examine the bank’s affairs and generally to take an active interest in its business within the state in which they are operating. It is quite clear that the two members other than the director will not be officers of the bank, for it is hardly likely that the bank’s officers would be asked to .examine and report upon their own operations and to say whether their administration was working- smoothly and properly; in short, the Government’s proposal is that two gentlemen, and possibly three, who are not in any way associated with the bank, shall be appointed as a local board of advice in each state capital, and be given wide powers to direct the internal- policy and affairs of the institution, subject only to such control as may be exercised by the board of directors when the matters with which they deal are brought directly under ‘ the board’s notice. There is no provision for adequate salaries for the local board members, and there will be no control over them except when they go beyond their jurisdiction or when the business in which they deal is referred to the board of directors.
– The members of the local boards are to receive £200 per annum.
– Yes ; but they will be engaged in other occupations, and there is danger, at any rate, that they will take care that the interests of their friends receive special consideration. It is a dangerous principle to embody in the bill, since we could substitute for it the existing method whereby the deputy-governor, or some official in a similar capacity, directs the affairs of the local bank, under the control of the board of directors. What would be the position in any state if the local board gave advice in a certain direction and the officers of the bank refused to adopt it?
– They will advise, not the officers of the bank, but the general board.
– Not always. They are to have power to examine the affairs of the bank in their particular district, and give advice. If their advice is not accepted, one can easily imagine the nature of their monthly report to the general board.
– They will have no voice in the local management whatever. They will simply advise the general board .
– They have full power to advise in their particular district, and, if the officers of the bank do not accept their advice, there will be friction.
– I have an amendment to propose to this clause, and, since it is wholly a clauseof definitions, would it not be advisable to postpone Its consideration until the rest of the billhas been dealt with?
– I have no objection to that course, Senator Duncan will have an opportunity later on to submit his amendment.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted: - 4a. Section 7 of the principal act is amended -
by adding at the end thereof the following paragraph: - “and (j) to provide creditsf or the purpose of -
One of the objects for which the Commonwealth Bank was established, was to assist smallland-holders to obtain advances so that they might receive payment for their produce before its actual sale. Under the present banking system, these men have to wait until their goods are sold before payment can be obtained. The alteration suggested by the amendment has long been needed. Many small farmers and others have had to abandon their holdings because of their inability to get credit from the private banks. Bands of pioneers in various parts of the Commonwealth are attempting to make homes for themselves and their families, and they are unable to obtain the financial backing required. I refer to the men with war scars that they will probably carry to early graves. It is heart-rending to see the splendid work that they have accomplished with very little chance of obtaining a reward on earth.. There should be some Government institution established for the purpose of assisting such men in their present struggles, which are even harder than those they had on Gallipoli. I do not know why provision has not been made in the bill for a system of rural credits. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) stated in another place that the reform was long overdue, and he gave us to understand that it would be incorporated in the measure. He has now endeavoured to explain away the matter by saying that the reconstructed Commonwealth Bank must have liquid assets available at the shortest possible notice, and that a system of rural credits cannot, therefore, be inaugurated under this bill. To me the position is beyond comprehension. I do not pretend to understand the intricacies of the banking system, but as a representative of a great party I claim that the Treasurer’s explanation is inadequate. The bill will certainly fall short of providing the requirements of a national bank if it fails to protect the small man on the land. The intention of the Labour party in founding the bank was to assist those who most deserve help.
.-As has been already announced, the Government has in contemplation the provision of a system of rural credits for some of the purposes set out in the amendment. But it is obvious to any one who gives the subject the slightest consideration that separate legislation is required. The amendment would allow the board of directors to determine the steps to be taken, and thus deprive Parliament of a, function belonging to it alone. Parliament should decide how rural credits are to be established and to what extent. The position would not be met by inserting in the bill the bald words of the amendment. I assure the committee that the Government is considering the whole matter, and. I ask that the. amendment be rejected. The question is of sufficient importance to warrant a. separate bill, for it does not relate to gener al banking or the central banking system.
– Section 7 of the principal act, which this amendment seeks to ‘amend, is probably one of the most important sections in that act. But it is does not, in. my opinion, go far enough. Senator McDougall’s proposal is a short step in the right direction. It does not, however, provide for the creation and maintenance of a homes department; it does not provide that land taken over by the bank as mortgagee shall be disposed of within a limited time; it does not prevent the bank from becoming one of the greatest land monopolists in the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding the praise that has been bestowed upon the past management of the bank, it has continuously and persistently declined to extend the operations of the bank. It has not looked for custom in the country districts. It has completely ignored all except . a very limited number of places. It is true that brandies have been established in. the capital cities and a few other centres but that has not. been sufficient. The management has not’ shown a desire to enter into competition with the private banks throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. Its progress has been inconceivably slow. If a man in the employ of the Commonwealth Works and Railways Department worked at such a slow rate he would be discharged without the slightest remorse; but because the management of the bank has had security of tenure for a number of years, because it has been placed beyond the reach of Parliament, it has neglected its obvious duty. It was the intention of those who advocated its establishment that it should enter into active competition with the private banks. For what other reason could its establishment have, been desired? We can obtain from the Bank of New South Wales, the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney, the Bank of Australasia, or any other banking company, accommodation equal to that provided by the Commonwealth Bank. We now find that ‘the Government objects to making provision for the bank to cater for urgent requirements.
– Does the honorable senator desire that the bank should depart from the principles of banking ?
– I do not I do, however, desire that it’ should enter into competition with the private Banks. I know that the honorable senator does not favour that idea, and I believe that he fairly represents the views of honorable senators opposite. They have always crucified the bank, a fact of which he is well aware.
– The honorable senator evidently has not read my speech on this matter.
– I heard that speech delivered. If the management of the bank had done its duty faithfully, should it not have established a branch in large cities like Goulburn. and Bathurst, and hundreds of other large centres ?
– The management desires to make the bank pay. That would not. be possible if branches: were established in everylittle town.
– How does the Bank of New South Wales, the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney, or the Union Bank, carry on its business profitably in those places? Those banks have branches established wherever they can secure business. It appears to me that the Commonwealth Bank has been content to establish branches only in the main centres of the Commonwealth, in London, and in a few other places merely to transact large slices of business, instead of catering for the urgent requirements of the primary producers of Australia. I have not known honorable senators opposite to become tired of stressing the continuous hardship that is suffered by the man on the land.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the governor of the bank has not the power to advance money on land ?
– I suggest that the Commonwealth Bank should be empowered to advance money on the produce of the farmers.
– It can do that at present.
– It will not do it. Other, banks transact that business on certain terms. The Commonwealth Bank, if it is to survive,’ should do everything that is done by the private banks. It has determined sill along not to do this kind of business. It is not the intention of the Government that th© bank should enter into competition with the fifteen private banks of the Commonwealth. If it fails to do that, its continued existence is not justified. A review of the speeches delivered by the opponents of the bank when it was established discloses the fact that their views were not different from those of the present opponents of the institution, who are -taking advantage of the position they occupy to continue as far as possible the crucifixion of the bank. This clause should be amended to provide for the establishment of rural credits.. That would be an instruction to the directors to cater for that class of business. I desire the bank to place at the disposal of the primary producers a few of the millions of pounds it holds on deposit from the people of the Commonwealth. I am not ‘ going to be sidetracked by the remarks of Senator Pearce. This is the proper time to amend the clause, and thus indicate to the management what is the desire of Parliament. If that is not done, the policy that has been adopted by the bank during the last few years will be continued. I doubt if any honorable senator has sufficient mathematical ability to calculate the number of years it will take for the Commonwealth Bank, at its rate of progress during the last twelve months, to have a branch established in every important centre. It has been proceeding too slowly. The sooner we indicate to the management that a speeding-up is necessary, the better it will be for them, for th& officers of the bank, for the service that the bank renders, and for the welfare of the Commonwealth. When the amendment has been disposed of, I intend to move two further amendments, one providing for the creation of a home section, and .another to prevent the bank from remaining in possession of land as a mortgagee for an indefinite number of years.
.- I am not at all convinced by the Minister’s arguments. He said we: must leave this power in the hands of Parliament. That is exactly what I want to do. He said that Parliament must be supreme’, that it must not leave it to the directorate of the bank to determine to what extent it shall enter into this class of business. I am now more firmly convinced than ever that Parliament should insert this provision in the bill. Dr. Earle Page, as a private member, a few years ago, held views which differ radically from those of Dr. Earle Page, the Treasurer of to-day. On 27th October, 1922, in his policy speech, he said -
Without in any way reflecting upon the present management, we feel that this institution should now be placed under a board of directors upon lines similar to the Bank of England. These directors should be placed in a position to make available the vast resources of this institution for development of the primary and secondary industries in Australia. That purchasing power can best be obtained by making primary production profitable by the re-organization of the Commonwealth “ Bank with the establishment of a system of co-operative ind rural credits, and with a . Land Bank as an integral part of its savings bank department. The work ‘of this institution should then be -
To arrange advances upon broad acres ;
To assist co-operative finance in primary and secondary production ;
To assist in land settlement and de- “ velopment ;
To assist in financing a grain and fodder reserve against periods of drought;
To assist in financing a national scheme for the conservation of water and the establishment of a comprehensive scheme for cheap power from water and coal.
As Treasurer to-day, the honorable gentleman opposes the system that he advocated in 1922, because, he says, the reconstructed bank must have liquid assets available at the shortest possible notice. If Parliament allows such a’ reversal of form, it will be discredited. The Government has no mandate from the people to interfere with any institution that has been created by any other party. The only mandate it has is to stay where it is, and it is faithfully carrying that out. The Prime Minister is awaiting the decision of a secret caucus that meets in the dark in this building. The Labour party holds open meetings, which are attended by the press j it does not adopt any back-door method. The managers of these two great and glorious parties - the National party and the Country party - are to be seen creeping up the stairs-
-(Senator Newland). - I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the clause before the committee.
– I absolutely refuse to accept Senator^ Pearce’s suggestion to withdraw the amendment in order that Parliament may deal with the matter in another way. I invite those who be- ‘lieve in rural credits to assist my effort to have that provision inserted in the bill.
.- Every honorable senator, irrespective of party interests, will have a certain amount of sympathy with the amendment by Senator McDougall, but we cannot get away from the fact that the act lays it down that the Commonwealth Bank must keep a substantial proportion of its assets in liquid form. If the accumulated funds were invested in broad acres, it would not be possible for the money to be available in times of stress, and that, I understand, is one of the reasons for the introduction of the bill. There is another reason why, in my opinion, honorable .senators would be justified in not supporting the amendment. The establishment of a rural credits department will probably affect institutions already in existence. In Queensland we have ‘what is known as the Workers’ Dwellings Board, which makes liberal advances for the building of houses, provided the salary of the applicant is not above a certain figure. We have also the State Advances Corporation, previously known as the Agricultural Bank. This is a very important state department, solely concerned with the making of advances on ‘rural credits. It employs a large army of inspectors, who are constantly travelling about the country reporting and advising on applications made by men on the land for advances. Is it intended to set up a Commonwealth department in opposition to those departments?
– Not in opposition to them, but to help. them.
– In New South Wales a state department is operating in the same field of enterprise.
– And in Western Australia.
– I have no doubt that in all the states some department is doing this work. We know what has been done in Victoria under the Credit Foncier system, which is an important function of the state savings bank. Concerning the position in New South Wales, I was able to get some figures over the week end showing what is being done in that state. Up to the 30th June last there were 9,766 current Credit Foncier loans, and the total balances outstanding amounted to ?5,526,744. During the year the department made over 1,000 advances. In the overdrafts section there were 4,205 advances outstanding for a total of ?2,531,938, or a total with the Credit Foncier loans of 13,971 advances, for a total sum of ?8,058,682. Senator O’Loghlin interjected just now that it was not intended to set up an entirely new department to carry out this work.
– I said it would not work in opposition to the existing institutions, but in co-operation with them.
– It is difficult to understand just what the honorable senator meant when he said that it would work in co-operation wit.h the state institutions.
– I mean that it would work along the same lines’.
– I suggest that if we set up a new department on the same lines it will practically duplicate activities already in existence. If my memory serves me, the Commonwealth Government has already advanced many millions of pounds to the various state departments for soldier settlement. We could not very well create a new department, and make further advances to those settlers. There is nothing in the constitution of the bank to prevent it from making available to existing state departments funds for an extension of the work now being done by them. A Commonwealth department would to a very large extent duplicate the work already being done. Consequently, although the amendment outlined by Senator McDougall has much to commend it, upon examination of the situation, we realize that the machinery he desires to create is already in existence, and, therefore, a new Commonwealth department should not be necessary. I may add that the Commonwealth Bank has never been niggardly in its advances to the state departments. Large sums of money have been made available to Queensland for the carrying out of state and municipal public works. The new town hall in course of erection in Brisbane is being financed through the Commonwealth Bank. The machinery contemplated by the amendment is already in existence, and is available to settlers.
– In addition to the avenues which Senator Poll has mentioned, the Commonwealth Bank has authority to engage in the class of business which these state departments are looking for, and there is no reason why, under new management, the policy of the bank should not change, and the management make more liberal advances to people on the land. Referring to my own district, I am not quite sUre whether the bank has done any business in that direction, but I know that private banks have been of tremendous assistance to the men engaged in cottongrowing. I feel sure that the Commonwealth Bank, provided the security was reasonable, would assist in the same direction.
– As I indicated yesterday, I am strongly of the opinion that the policy of the bank should be so moulded as to permit that institution to render financial assistance to the agricultural and pastoral industries. This cannot be done better than by the establishment of a rural- credits department. The Minister (Senator Pearce) yesterday stated that it was the intention of the Government to introduce separate legislation to set up the necessary machinery for this purpose. I am satisfied with the Minister’s assurance. I believe that in every state there is a department dealing in some measure with the subject of rural credits. In Tasmania, the Agricultural Bank makes advances, but, unfortunately, its activities are limited owing to the fact that the funds available are not large. That work could go on. There would still be room for the Commonwealth Bank, with its huge funds, to establish its rural credits branch, and work, not in competition with the states, but in co-operation with them. I presume that the Commonwealth Bank, with its staff of officers in various parts of Australia, could engage in this class of business without creating a special staff; but, if that were thought to be undesirable, the bank could handle the business in much the same way as the war service homes finance is arranged. In Tasmania, the state department could do the work, but this, I suggest, would be a matter for the consideration of the authorities controlling the bank. For the present, we must be satisfied with the Minister’s assurance. This discussion will, no doubt, have a very good effect. It will indicate what, in the opinion of Parliament, should be done, and probably it will influence those responsible for the policy of the bank. I do not intend to support the amendment.
– The most extraordinary speech to which I have listened during the committee stage of the bill is that delivered by Senator Foil. He began by saying that he had much sympathy with the amendment. I remind him that “ sympathy without relief is like mustard without beef.” Having declared his sympathy with the amendment, he closed by announcing his opposition to it. He also said he was opposed to the amendment because the various State Governments were doing the work which Senator McDougall and other honorable senators on this side desire the Commonwealth Bank to do. Senator J. B. Hayes has just said that, in Tasmania, the Agricultural Bank does this class of work, but he thought that the Commonwealth Bank could help. He is more in sympathy with the amendment than ia Senator Foil. If these be the reasons why we should vote against the amendment, we may, I think, take it that Senator Foil is opposed to the Commonwealth Bank as an institution. If he will make that definite statement, we shall know where he stands. The Commonwealth Bank came into existence for the purpose of doing work which the private banks were not doing, and also doing some work which they were doing. It became a competitor of the associated banks.
– Was it intended that the Commonwealth Bank should compete with state savings banks?
– We believe that it should do work similar to that done by state savings banks, and we find fault with it because it is not. We want the bank to be really a people’s bank. Ministers say that they are in sympathy with our ideals in this respect. They go further,’ and say that they intend, later, to introduce legislation to give effect in a measure .to the proposals embodied in the amendment. The Minister has said that if the amendment were adopted it would place in the hands of the directors powers which should be in. the hands of Parliament. What does the bill propose? To give the directors power and authority such as those controlling the bank to-day do not possess. What is wrong in saying to the gentlemen who, are to be appointed to these responsible positions, “ You are empowered to work in a certain direction”? The Government say that they intend to provide such powers under a special act.
– The work may be done through the bank.
– We say it should be. If the amendment is embodied in the bill, and there are any difficulties in the way in respect to its existing provisions, regulations can be drafted.
– Government by regulations !
– Regulations which would not in any way contravene the provisions of the act.
– Should we adopt the system of going behind Parliament?
– How could the directors act contrary to the wishes of Parliament? The regulations would have to be in conformity with the act, . and Parliament would have an opportunity of allowing or disallowing the regulations. This is too’ important a matter to be treated lightly. If there is anything which concerns the primary producers of the’ Commonwealth, it is a measure of this nature, which, it is anticipated, will give some practical relief to those engaged in rural pursuits. To-day there is great financial stringency, and the man on the land is severely handicapped in many ways. It is the duty of Parliament to take this opportunity to give him the relief which has been denied him for a long time. The amendment, if adopted, would improve the bill, and, if the members of the Government and those supporting them are sincere in their statements, they should withdraw their opposition to the amendment. Evidence, however, as to their insincerity was given this morning by Senator McDougall, who quoted from a speech delivered by -the present Treasurer a year or two ago, before he was a Minister, and from one which the same gentleman recently made. The opinions are totally at variance, and I venture to say in all seriousness that, if it had not been for the action taken by a member of our party when the bill was under discus^ sion in another place, we should not have heard anything about the Government’s desire to assist the man on the land. The Government has been moved to at least consider this important aspect in connexion with the bill. Honorable senators opposite, who are treating the amendment so lightly, are showing great indifference to the man on the land. They are, apparently, blind to the difficulties which confront our primary producers. .Are they not concerned with land settlement and developmental work ? Nothing is more important than effective land settlement. The Government profess to be desirous of seeing the population of the Commonwealth considerably increased, and, in conjunction with the British Government and state authorities, are expending large sums of money with a view to attract new settlers to Australia. Last year, I believe, about £34,000 was spent in advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, particularly in regard to land settlement. Numbers of men are coming to Australia in the hope that suitable land will be made available, and in the firm belief that when they come here they will be better circumstanced than in the country in which they were born. Nothing would advertise Australia more than to embody in the bill a provision such as that submitted by Senator McDougall. It would mean saving thousands of pounds, and would probably result in a suitable type of settler being attracted to Australia. If prospective settlers could be told that we had a Commonwealth Bank Act in which provision was made for advances on broad acres, assistance to co-operative concerns and primary and secondary production, land settlement and development, the establishment of grain and fodder reserves for use during periods of drought, a national scheme for the conservation of water, and a comprehensive scheme for; cheap power from water and coal, they would probably say that they were going to a country in which the authorities were vitally concerned in their future welfare. . Honorable senators opposite may have their own opinions in regard to this amendment, but they cannot dodge their responsibilities. They have a duty to perform to the- people of Australia. Some honorable senators opposite are not particularly concerned about the welfare of the people or the progress oi Australia. Neither are they particularly interested in the Commonwealth Bank as .a people’s bank. The Commonwealth Bank is, or should be, a people’s bank, because the Australian people are the shareholders. Some members of the committee are primarily concerned with the effect such an amendment would have upon the associated banks. It is only fight, perhaps, that they should interest themselves in some degree with that phase of the question, but their first duty is not to the associated banks or other private financial institutions, but to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Their first desire should be to strengthen the bank,, and to see that it performs the work which the people of Australia desire. One of the best ways in which it could assist is in the direction outlined in the amendment. So far I have not heard any argument advanced by honorable senators opposite as to why the proposal should not be adopted. The Minister said that it would place too much power in .the hands of the directors.
– (Senator Newland) - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– The arguments submitted by those who have opposed the amendment appear to be contradictory. The Minister (Senator Pearce) said that it was undesirable to embody the amendment in the bill, because it would place too much power in the hands of the directors. That implies that these powers do not now exist. Senator Thompson, on the other hand, asserted that powers similar to those for which the amendment provides were already in the principal act, and had been put into operation in Queensland. Senator Foil stated that the same powers were already possessed .by other authorities in the various states. In South Australia, advances can be made <m property under the Advances for Homes Act, and special legislative provi sion has also been made for assisting ex- - soldier settlers. Honorable senators on> this side, however, contend that this great national institution is the proper authority to undertake such work. ?
– Could not the Commonwealth Bank at present make such advances if it so desired?
– Supposing it could, there is no harm in making the position quite clear by adopting the amendment. Senator Foll has expressed sympathy with the proposal, but intends to vote against it. The words in. .the amendment are those of the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), and embody a portion of the policy upon which the members of the Country party were elected in 1922.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 “p.m.
– The proposal to establish a system of rural - credits should be of interest to- ‘all. honorable senators. It has been “contended 1?hat our primary, producers are now able to obtain advances from various banks and financial institutions, but the Labour party submits ‘that the national bank .is the most fitting. “institution to render such help. We feel that it would be .wise to give tie management of the bank a definite mandate, to assist primary producers and co-operative concerns on the lines set out in the am’end:ment. The amendment is an exact copy of portion of the manifesto which Dr” Earle Page, as Leader, of the Country party, issued to the electors prior to the last election.
– Senator Foil has argued that because .the primary producers are now able to obtain accommodation from various banks and state financial agencies there is no need to give the Commonwealth Bank power to assist them. But that is no reason why the Commonwealth Bank should not engage in this business. Every one knows .that to-day the farmers are charged a very high rate of ‘interest for money tha is advanced to them, and yet have considerable- diifficulty in obtaining all they need. It has been said that if -the Commonwealth Bank made, advances’ to farmers in accordance with the desire off the Labour party, its assets would be tied up, or .at any rate would not. be as liquid as they now . aire. I .point .out, however., that the hank advances money to municipalities not for one or two years, but for long periods; and so, under existing conditions, its assets are not as liquid as they might be. The fact of the matter is that the management of the bank is not prepared to lend small amounts, because to do so entails too much clerical work. I understand that a loan of £500 or f COO involves as much work as a loan of £5,000 or £0,000, or even £50,000 or £60,000.
– The honorable senator will admit, I suppose, that it is fair more difficult to get a loan of £5,000 or £6,000 than it is to get one of £500 or £600.
– That depends upon the security that is offered. If an applicant for a loan of £5,000 or £6,000 offers ample security, he has no trouble to secure a loan.
– The banks will not advance anything just at present, nor will they do so until this bill is passed.
– I suppose that when power is given to the Commonwealth Bank to issue an unlimited number of notes, some people will get all the accommodation they desire. Although it is said that the bank has authority now to make advances to primary producers, it would be wise for Parliament to give the management a definite instruction to engage in this class of business, irrespective of whether so doing would interfere with the operations of numerous agencies or banks which in the past have given a reluctant assistance to the primary producers.
.- I do not think the amendment will provide the opportunity for the bank to do as Senator Grant desires. When a matter such as this is introduced to this chamber, it is well,. in my opinion, for honorable senators who support the Government to express their views upon it, particularly as the Opposition has thrown out what practically amounts to a challenge on it. If honorable senators who represent rural interests remain silent, they may find it very difficult to justify their position later oh when they are before the electors, for doubtless the Labour party will tell the people that the acceptance of this amendment was vital to the best interests of the rural producers.
– Is the honorable senator trembling in his shoes?
– I am not; but it is just as well to make my position quite clear, so that the people generally may understand the motives which actuated me in voting as I shall do in this matter.
– The Labour party has only one motive in moving the amendment, and that is to assist the man on the land.
– That may be so; but I think I can see another. I do not suggest that honorable senators opposite are insincere in their desire to help the man on the land, but I think they also have a desire to create an absolutely erroneous impression in the minds of the people generally concerning honorable senators who may vote against the amendment.
– Does the honorable senator propose to vote against it?
– The Leader of the Opposition will know where I stand if he waits patiently for me to express my views. One of the chief reasons why the rank and file of electors have supported the National party in the past is that it considers it imperative to study the interests of the primary producers.
– I suppose that is why the men on the land have established an altogether separate party to watch their interests.
– What is the real object of the amendment?
– It is fully and “ exactly explained in the manifesto which Dr. Earle Page, as leader of the Country party, issued to the electors prior to the last election.
– I submit to the committee that we cannot, by means of this amendment, create all the machinery necessary to give effect to a satisfactory system of rural credits. Power is conferred on the bank by section 7 of the principal act to assist the men on the land by granting loans on the security of land. But the provision of an extensive and comprehensive scheme to give effect to that provision requires the introduction of a separate bill. Seeing that the Government has assured us that it has ^ in contemplation, the introduction of such a measure at the earliest possible moment, I am prepared to wait for it.
– When will that moment be?
– I do not know, for I do not know the programme of legislation that the Government has in view. I am convinced, however, that a special bill is necessary to provide for a proper scheme of rural credits. Nothing in the principal act prevents the Commonwealth Bank from advancing money on the security of land.
– The fact remains that it has never done so.
– Senator G.rant seems to have plenty of assurance on that point.
– I have examined the bank’s balance-sheets.
– The honorable senator’s statement appears to support my contention that special legislation is necessary before the bank can enter upon an extensive scheme to advance money to the primary producers. If such a bill is passed, the management of the bank will have a distinct instruction to give effect to sub-section d of section 7 of the principal act. I am in favour of doing everything possible to help the man on the land, and I recognize that at present our primary producers are experiencing great difficulty in securing the money they need to enable them to finance their operations. Not only is it difficult to obtain new mortgage money, but it is also difficult to renew an existing mortgage. We must make it easy for the settlers to get the money they need if we desire rural settlement to extend.
– Why repeat all this?
– Senator Pearce made a statement some little time ago in regard to rural credits, and I think every honorable senator has a right- to refer to it if he desires to do so.’ I have tried to avoid “ stone-walling “ the bill. I know that the Leader of the Government ia anxious to get it through, and in deference to his wishes I shall content myself with saying that, for the reasons I have given, I cannot support the amendment.
– I realize that an amendment like this embarrasses the members of the Country party, but I assure them that that is not the motive that actuated the Labour party in submitting it, I will be candid, however, and say, speaking for myself, that I desire, in view of the approaching elections, to get into as close touch as I can with the Country party. I find that prior to the last election Dr. Earle Page, the Leader of the Country party, issued a manifesto which contained the following statement in regard to the Commonwealth Bank: -
Without in any way reflecting upon the present management, we feel that this institution should now he placed under a board of directors upon lines similar to the Bank of England. These directors should be placed in a position to make available the vast resource! of this institution for development of the - primary and secondary industries in Australia. That purchasing power can best be obtained by making primary production profitable by the reorganization of the Commonwealth Bank, with the establishment of a system of co-operative and rural credits, and with a land bank as an integral part of Hb savings bank department. The work of this institution should then be- -
To arrange advances on broad acres.
To assist co-operative finance in primary and secondary production.
To assist in land settlement and development. (<I) To assist in financing a grain and fodder reserve against periods of drought.
The Country party went farther than that, and said the ‘ bank should have power -
To assist in financing a national scheme for the conservation of water, and the establishment of a comprehensive scheme for cheap power from water and coal.
I recognize that Senator Wilson, the representative of the Country party in this Chamber, cannot move to insert the principles of its platform in the bill, but Senator McDougall has stepped in and initiated a discussion on the principles of this clause. The question is whether the Senate is in favour of the bank advancing money to farmers. I was surprised beyond imagination at Senator Foil, when, having said he was in sympathy with the amendment, he immediately afterwards spun round and said that he would vote against it. In ‘ my boyhood days I read with great delight J” ohn Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and it always appeared to me that his character, Mr. Facing-Both-Ways, was a faithful representation of some people. Even the pen of a John Bunyan, however, could not have moved rapidly enough to depict all the ways that Senator Foil faces. He faces all ways at once. If he does not face any particular way just now he will certainly do so soon. It is quite impossible for me to follow the honorable senator in his many turnings. Not only has he said that he is in favour of the proposal that the bank should advance money to assist primary industries, but not long agohe supported a proposal in this Parliament to advance money to one of Queensland’s primary industries. I was one of those who opposed that proposal as not being the work of this Parliament. . Parliament now has an opportunity to provide in this bill for making such advances on safe security to other primaryproducers . The board that will manage the bank should be allowed to make advances on whatever security it deems satisfactory. Senator Foll, who voted for the advance to the beef industry, when he now has an opportunity extend the same principle to primary production, declares that the bank must have liquidassets; and yet he supports a Ministerwho said yesterday that the Government was going to empower the board to issue notes, not on a gold basis, not on the credit of the people of Australia, but upon the security of assets held in London. On that proposal SenatorFoll spun round again. Are the assets in London liquid?
– By “liquid assets” the honorable senator probably meant Queensland rum.
– Even that kind of asset is not so “ rum “ as the attitude of the honorable senator.
– I have given the honorable senator something to talk about, and for that, at least, he ought to be thankful.
– It was less trouble to me to read my proof sheets this morning than it was to the honorable senator to read his, and I hope to be in the same happy position tomorrow. I have publicly made the statement that I do not wish to delay the ‘passage of the bill, but I believe that a full dress debate on this vital question would clear the decks for more rapid action. The powers of the bank are being extended, and that furnishes us with an opportunity to make clear to the managers of it not only that they have the power, butalso that Parliament desires them to exercise the power, to arrange advances on broad acres, to assist co-operative finance in primary and secondary production, and to assist in land settlement and development. I do not know whether it is the same in every state, but I know that in my state a man went to the private banks with £5,000 worth of country securities, and £3,000 worth of city securities, and he was able to raise more money on the £3,000 worth of city properties than on the £5,000 worth of country properties. That sort of thing ought not to be. If the private banks are making all their advances oil city properties, it is imperative that the Commonwealth Bank should take up the work of developing the country. Members on the other side may say that we on this side are doing this for party purposes, but that is no answer to the man who wants the Commonwealth Bank to have the power. Honorable senators opposite maysa y that we are doing it to embarrass the Government, but that will not help the man who wants an advance from the bank.
– Why does the honorable senator say that the bank has not the power?
– I realize that it has the power. During the last ten years it could have gone a long way in the direction I desire it to go, but it did not do so. It is probable that during the last eight years the Government has intimated to it that it must not proceed in that direction.
– If the bank has not acted under its present powers, how can it be expected to act under any extension of them?
– I cannot debate that question in the quarter of an hour at my disposal. The Senate limits my time, and then invites me to enter into discussions that would be interminable.
– What was not done under one-man control may be done under the control of the proposed board.
– One-man control was not responsible. The one man who was charged with making a success of this bank did it. He moved, perhaps too safely, in this direction, but we have now reached the stage when the experiment that so-called financiers said would be a failure has become a success. No capital, except the credit of the Australian people, was given to the bank. The bank, having been proved a success, a staff for future development having been organized, and the machinery for making advances being ready, we should now inform the new board what kind of advances we wish it to make, and what use it should make of its banking machinery. I know that Sir Denison Miller stated his mind on this question. His early concern was, not to embark on any wild-cat banking scheme, but to build up an institution on lines that would be absolutely safe. Training his staff was not an inconsiderable part of his business. He has built up the business with safety. I, who am as patient as any man, waited year after year for all the initial difficulties to be overcome, and for the realization of the vision we had -when we established the bank. I say “ we “ as a humble member of the party that for 30 years has had the nationalization of banks on its programme. In the early stages of the bank’s development the man selected to do the work was moving, in my judgment, too cautiously, but, in his judgment, with absolute safety; but now, when we have the profits in hand and the opportunity to use them to assist primary production, Parliament appears to be unwilling. I have some regard for the conservative mind that clings to the idea that to go forward in banking, and to use public money to develop the country, will jeopardize our future safety. The private banks are not advancing money in country districts on the same value of securities that they will accept in the cities, and for that reason the amendment should be carried. However many directors may be put on this board, it will be impossible to stop the Labour party, when it gets into power, from doing -what it likes. We could introduce a bill to double the number of directors, and to add one more, and then with a majority of directors on the board the Government could direct the board absolutely. The Labour party wants the bank to compete with other banks. I cannot understand how any one who believes that the bank should assist in developing our primary and secondary industries can vote against the amendment. Honorable senators who do vote against it had better prepare the explanation that their constituents will no doubt demand.
– It seems to me that this is the most unnecessary amendment that has ever been placed on the notice-paper or moved in this chamber. Those honorable senators whom I have heard speak seem to forget that agriculture is essentially a state matter, and that most- at all events of the states have already made what honorable senators must admit is very necessary and adequate provision for the assistance of primary industries. In my state of Western Australia we have an agricultural bank that meets all the necessitous cases that arise in as adequate a manner as possible, and, I believe, in a more adequate manner than any bank, even the Commonwealth Bank, could do.
– It will not assist to develop the mining industry, though.
– Perhaps so, but if that is necessary, undoubtedly the state will provide for it. For the assistance of mining or any form of industry there is always a sum of money on the annual estimates of the Western Australian Government. That money is granted on loan, often on quite inadequate security - security that even the Commonwealth Bank, under political pressure, would not look at. A general bank, in fact, would not be justified in looking at it. For that reason, and for others, I am not prepared to support the amendment. . Already, in my opinion, the proposed board is cumbersome in the extreme, and if we add this additional burden, the difficulty of management will be increased, and even more people will be required than the. altogether excessive number proposed in the bill. I hope that another invasion on the province of the states will not be made in this bill. One has already been made in the unjustifiable and ungenerous taking over of state savings banks. That business, however, is profitable to the Commonwealth. The one that is now proposed is likely to be unprofitable, and, while I am not prepared to forgive the Commonwealth Bank authorities for even the profitable part of their transactions, I wish . to protect them from attacking a branch of business that is likely to be unprofitable. What may. be termed the better-off branches of our primary’ industries are already catered for by the Commonwealth Bank as it is constituted at present, and as it will be constituted when the bill is passed. The bank in the future will be prepared to do general banking business to the same extent as it has done it in the past. As long as those engaged in primary industries can put up a good case, they can obtain from the Commonwealth Bank, or from any private banking institution, as much money as they are entitled to receive. For that reason I consider that the amendment is perfectly unnecessary, and I am not prepared to support it.
.- It is difficult to follow Senator Kingsmill’s line of argument. He claims to stand for state rights. I imagined that we were sent to the Senate to legislate for the Commonwealth, and not to restrict our vision or to disregard matters that are of the utmost importance to all our citizens, but particularly those who are engaged in land occupations. Senator Kingsmill said that there are to-day institutions in the various states which are doing the work that the directors of the Commonwealth Bank would be called upon to perform if the amendment were carried. Let us analyse that statement and compare it with one that was made by Dr. Earle Page some time ago. The present Treasurer, on that occasion, advanced the strongest possible reasons for empowering the Commonwealth Bank to do that which Senator McDougall, by his amendment, is endeavouring to instruct it to do. Notwithstanding that statement of the Treasurer, Senator Kingsmill supports the Government, of which he is a member, in its opposition to this amendment. The states are not doing all that Senator Kingsmill claims they are doing. That has been demonstrated many times since this Parliament has been in session. Did the financial institutions in Queensland render financial assistance to those who are engaged in the cattle industry? It cannot be denied that the cattle men appealed, not to the financial institutions in Queensland, not to the Commonwealth Bank, but to the Commonwealth Parliament. Senator Kingsmill did not oppose their request; on the contrary, he voted in favour of giving them a bounty, which on the first occasion amounted to £120,000 and later to £150,000.
– The bounty was made available to the cattle-raisers in all the states.
– Only two states were affected, and the amount advanced to the pastoralists in Western Australia was so small that it need not be seriously considered. If the man on the land requires financial assistance, should he appeal to this Parliament or to the financial institutions ?
– When they want a bonus they come to this Parliament, but when they require banking accommodation they go to a bank.
– The argument of honorable senators opposite is that the men who are engaged in hop-growing should seek financial assistance, not from the financial institutions in Tasmania, but from the Commonwealth Parliament; that, if the orchardists are not faring too well, if they are “up against it” - and they are “ up against it “ to-day - they also should approach the Commonwealth Parliament. I contend that they should appeal to the Commonwealth Bank for such assistance.
– If they have a business proposition, they go to a bank; if they have not, they come to this Parliament.
– That is a remarkable admission to make. I have not yet supported an unbusiness-like proposition. Honorable senators are aware of the financial stringency that exists today. Because of that stringency, we on this side desire that the people’s bank shall be empowered to give relief where it is needed. The men on the land will be greatly disappointed if honorable senators vote against proposals that they wholeheartedly favour; The platform of the Country party has much in common with the platform of the Labour party. We have endeavoured to convince the primary producers that their real friends are the members of the Labour party. We want to bring the producer and the consumer more closely together, to bridge the gulf that divides them at present, and to eliminate the sharks and parasites that come between them. Honorable senators opposite show no concern for government enterprises, and, apparently, have no practical sympathy for the men on the land. Senator Payne said that he was in full sympathy with this proposal, that he believed the men on the land should be assisted, and that he would go out of his way to give them the help they need. He will not, however, go out of his way to vote for the amendment. He claimed that the time was not ripe for this proposal, and that the machinery for putting it into operation was not at hand. Turning lip the principal act, he then endeavoured to convince himself that it contained the machinery for doing what the amendment seeks to ‘have done. Honorable senators opposite are consistent only in their inconsistency. I believe there are some honorable senators opposite who are prepared to listen to reason, and that before this debate concludes they will realize the importance of the matter, and will not consciously do a wrong act. The Leader of the Senate exhibited impatience when Senator Payne was speaking. Does he propose to attempt to gag honorable senators on this side and crack the whip over .his own supporters? He will not by those means secure the speedy passage of the measure.
- tIb the honorable senator trying to force us to adopt that course ?
– The Leader of the Senate can take what steps he likes. We know our business, and we will do it in our own way. Recently, the Government realized the wisdom of taking certain action. There is not, therefore, any reason why they should refuse to yield to our representations. Senator Pearce said that the proposal would place too great a power in the hands of the directors, and that special legislation should be passed to deal with the matter. I contend that special legislation is not necessary. I hope that the committee will agree to the amendment.
– I cannot understand the anxiety of my honorable friends in regard to this matter. I do not know why they want to remind the Leader of the Country party of his past political sins. I have always understood that honorable senators opposite claimed that the charter given to the Commonwealth Bank was as wide and as comprehensive as it was possible for the human brain to formulate. The party to which honorable senators opposite belong left the Commonwealth Bank free to roam over the whole field of finance, and to employ in any direction the funds which it had at its disposal. The governor of the bank had an absolutely unfettered discretion. When a business proposition put up to him recommended itself to his judgment, he was at perfect liberty to advance money in the shape of rural credits, or of assistance to co-operative societies of producers, in any way that he thought was right and proper. This bill will not in any way fetter the discretion of the new management of the bank. The charter of liberty remains the same. It has not been altered in the slightest degree. If my honorable friends opposite think this amendment ‘ is necessary now why did they not include these powers in the bill when they had a majority in both Houses t
– Does the honorable senator forget that there was a war on?
– I was under the impression that- the war started about three years after the charter of the bank was drawn up. If the powers which honorable senators opposite suggest should be included in the bill are there now - and I have no doubt on the point - why put them in again ? I think the reason is that they are desirous of having a placard to enable them to politically embarrass a gentleman who, I believe, is the Leader of the Country party. But let me turn for a moment and look at the proposition itself. Suppose it was necessary to insert these powers in the bill. Surely my honorable friends opposite realize that in its general banking business, it would not be possible for the Commonwealth Bank to make advances on materially better terms than are offered by other banks. The reason, of course, is obvious. The Commonwealth Bank has to go to the same market for money as the other banks. It cannot offer a lower rate of interest for money, because if it did, it would not get the money.
– It could get it in the state savings bank business.
– When I come to deal with the state savings bank business, I hope to be able to show that it may be possible to do something more than it has done up to the present to assist our rural producers. I can assure the honorable senator - that I and others on this side are just as anxious to do that as he and his colleagues are.
– The honorable senator may be. anxious to assist, but apparently the time will never be ripe for him to start. .
– I do not know. I have never posed as a prophet or the son of a prophet. My reading of the political horizon may not be quite the same as that of my honorable friend. The poet tells us that “ hope springs eternal in the human breast.” I have no doubt that this sentiment to some extent colours the view of distant hills to my honorable friends.
– That quotation is not poetry.
– It all depends upon what one calls poetry. I have always considered that the poem from which the quotation is taken is one of the most beautiful in the English language. However, my honorable friend is entitled to his own opinion. What I wish to emphasize is that as the Commonwealth Bank has to go to the same market for money as the other banks, necessarily in its advances, it is confined to the same rates of interest as the other institutions.
– But it does not have to provide profits for shareholders That makes a lot of difference.
– I do not know. 1 am just as anxious as honorable senators opposite are to provide facilities to enable rural producers to get money as cheaply as possible. The conditions under which many of them have to raise money to-day - for short-dated loans on mortgage, the rate plus legal charges works out at about 8 per cent. and even 9 per cent. - militate against the success of the rural industry in Australia. I believe that if we really wish to assist our rural producers, we can best do so by operating some adaptation of the Credit Foncier system through the savings bank. It will be impossible for producers to get money at a lower rate of interest from the general branch of the Commonwealth Bank. I want once more to stress an opinion which I hold strongly, that if the Commonwealth Bank is to become a central bank, a banker’s bank, a bank of reserve, it cannot tie up in long-dated mortgages the money required for its general banking business. If it does that, the bank cannot perform the functions of a central bank. The two things are incompatible.
– It could make advances against crops.
– It is true that in its general banking business the bank could make advances by way of discount of ordinary agricultural bills to meet seasonal requirements, but it would be impossible to tie up the assets of the bank in long-dated mortgages on broad acres. A sine qua non of the central banking system is that the bank reserves shall be in as liquid a condition as possible, so that in the event of a crisis it may apply remedial measures at once without disturbing the basic finances of the country. . This is a fundamental principle understood by every one who has studied the elements of banking, and the theory and practice of banking, as some of us have done in the past when we thought it possible to fit ourselves for some higher sphere of labour than the comparatively insignificant one we then occupied. As one who has given a considerable amount of study to this problem, and without for a moment setting myself up as an authority in regard to these matters, for I realize . that there are depths which I have not attempted to plumb, just as there are heights to which I have not attempted to rise - I point out that the fundamental principles, which one learns in the ABC of finance, remain. It is not the slightest use trying to blink the facts. They are there. I just want to make my position perfectly clear. I believe that all the powers which honorable senators opposite are asking for are in the bill. If they really want to do something more than to embarrass politically a certain individual, let them concentrate on the legislation which the Minister has indicated will be brought down by the Government at a later stage, and which will give the savings bank branch power to do all those things which will be of material assistance to the rural industries of Australia.
– The statement made by the M inister (Senator Pearce)-
– Why deliver three speeches on this clause?
– I intend to speak on it as often as I like. The Minister must not imagine that he can control me as he controls his own supporters.
He cannot use the big stick on me as the Prime Minister did on Senator Greene in regard to this bill. So long as I am here I intend to exercise to the fullest extent my right to speak, and at length, if necessary, upon this or any other measure. Senator Pearce gave us to understand a few minutes ago that there was nothing in the proposal now before the committee to prevent the Commonwealth Bank under the new management from continuing in its general banking business. I remind him that the other day Senator Greene, speaking as one with some experience in banking, assured us that . this could not possibly be done. I am not prepared to say which of these two experts is right, but I am inclined to think that, on this occasion, Senator Greene’s argument is the stronger. But I am not very much concerned about that. We are told by Senator Payne, whose statement has been repeated by Senator Greene and other honorable senators, that additional machinery will be required to set up a rural Credits’ department of the Commonwealth Bank. ‘ That statement I believe has been made, with a fair degree of sincerity. At the same time,. I do not think it has any foundation in fact. There is no machinery in the bill to perform all the functions of the bank, as set out in section 7 of the act, but there is no necessity whatever to mislead honorable senators by suggesting that machinery will be required, before we can give a definite instruction to the directorate of the bank to engage in this particular work. In the past the bank has not done so, and, in. my opinion, it will not do so unless the management is so directed. We have been told by. Senator Greene that it is imperative for the bank to have its assets in liquid form ; that they must be easily getatable, so that any sudden demands made upon them, may be promptly met in cash. If that is so, then, according to Senator Greene, the bank will be debarred from making advances to any municipal or other public body unless it has the right to call in its securities at short notice. If that is the position to which the Commonwealth Bank is drifting, or into which it may be driven by the national Government, it will not meet with my approval. I should much prefer to see the Common wealth Bank proceed on its present lines, and also undertake other activities. As soon as this amendment is disposed of, it is my intention to move others of a similar nature. I am occupying the time of the committee not with the intention of embarrassing any honorable senator opposite, but in an honest attempt to improve the bill. We wish to- see the Commonwealth Bank undertake business which will be of benefit, particularly to those engaged in rural production. At present, farmers and others are paying 8 per cent, and 9 per cent, for the financial accommodation they secure from various. financial institutions, and although many of them find it very difficult to make ends meet, the assistance which should be forthcoming from the Commonwealth Bank is not available. The claims of small farmers for financial assistance are not considered, although the savings banks hold oyer £40,000,000 belonging- to small depositors. Any one who has perused the savings bank balance-sheet, will see that practically the whole of the money held on deposit is advanced in large sums to a limited number of organizations. That was never contemplated by those who supported the establishment of a Commonwealth Bank. I hope honorable senators opposite, who say they believe in rural credits, will have the courage of their convictions and support the amendment. They need not be afraid that the Government will drop the bill. Those honestly of the opinion that the amendment, if adopted, will give the bank the right to assist rural producers, should have no hesitation in supporting it.
– I do not wish to delay the committee at this stage, but the matter is of sufficient importance to justify one speaking at considerable length. It is gratifying to see the support which those engaged in rural industries are receiving to-day from honorable senators opposite, but one is compelled to recall the actions of the Labour party in clays gone by. Here is a definite move on the part of the Opposition to help the man on the land, and if that had always been its policy T would have no objection to offer .to this proposal. I can readily recall the actions of the Labour party in the past, and cannot help comparing them with, their .present attitude. I question very much the sincerity behind the proposition. In the western state the Labour party actually refused to support a contract to the Western Australian Farmers Association to handle wheat. The same party, in New South Wales and in Queensuand, fixed the price of butter at such a low rat© that it was unprofitable to produce it. I can also recall the way in which the men engaged in the pastoral areas in Queensland were treated by the Labour Government when it fixed the price of the commodity from which they obtained their livelihood at so much in excess of that at which it could be economically worked that business was brought to a stand-still. There are numerous other instances in which the action of the Labour- party has been the means of making the lot of the man on the land much harder than it otherwise would have been.
– Yes, they disregarded contracts, and imposed higher rents, which were also made retrospective.
– 4Yes. fair play is bonny play. It would be a manly act on the part of the members of the Opposition, as a preliminary to this belated compassion and affected sympathy for the man on the land, to admit that in the past they had been wrong, and are now trying to compensate him. Senator Needham knows what was done in Western Australia by the Labour party in regard to the handling of wheat. Senator Gardiner knows that in New South Wales the price of butter was fixed at such a rate that dairymen were compelled to allow their cows to go dry, and that they had to send them to the market. Senator Foll is also aware that the Labour party, which is always shedding crocodile tears for the man on the land, fixed the price of dairy produce at such a rate that the farmers had to dry off their cows.
– That is quite true. . Senator LYNCH.- Of course it is. The representatives of the Labour party now come forward and say that they wish to assist the man on the land; but let us square precept with example. Let honorable senators opposite get away from this hypocritical role adopted by them for the sake of the ballot-box. I am not alluding to the ballot-box with a sliding panel. I know where the shoe pinches. Not many honorable senators opposite are on the land. They are too cunning to put their money into such enterprises. They prefer gilt-edged securities, which can be carried in their pocket without outsiders knowing anything about them. On the other hand, even the dogs on ‘ the road know the way in which I am conducting my farm and the wages I am paying, but very few of this crowd here have been frank enough to admit that their actions have not always been in the interests of rural production. I am opposed to the amendment, because I believe that the purpose will be served in a measure which is to be introduced , later, in which provision will be made for the savings bank branch of the Commonwealth Bank to render assistance in the direction indicated in the amendment.
– I should not have spoken again on the amendment had it not been for the attack which has just been made upon me by Senator Lynch. I cannot permit the charges he has made to be allowed to pass without comment, because some one might believe that there was something in what the honorable senator said. I am blamed by him because the cows of the dairy farmers were allowed to go dry. When a Labour Government was in power in New South Wales, the dairy farmers were prosperous, and butter was available at a reasonable rate. But what are the facts in connexion with the prices of butter and other dairy products 1 In the spring months of the year, when the milk is rich and creamy, butter is sold at a low rate to speculators, who place it in cold storage until there is a shortage, and then dispose of it to retailers at 2s. and 2s. 2d. per lb. The dairy farmer never obtains the advantage of higher prices. Wheatgrowers throughout Australia are in a similar position, but in those states where Labour is in power, the prospects of wheat-growers were never better. What is the position now ] Five months after the crop has been reaped and sold at 4s. 4d. per bushel, the wheat, which is now in the hands of speculators, is increasing rapidly in price.
– Has not the failure of the Canadian crop had anything to do with the price ?
– I am not surprised at Senator Guthrie excusing the actions of those who manipulate the market. The wheat-growers who sold their wheat at 4s. 4d. a bushel, are now seeing it disposed of by speculators at 5s. < r more per bushel. Up goes the price of flour, bread, and everything else made from that commodity.
– Unfortunately, I am a wheat-grower, and not a wheat manipulator.
– But the honorable senator’s interests are vast. He is capable of holding shares in a company, and not even being aware of the fact ! The position is quite clear. The amendment is to enable the bank to render assistance to those engaged in primary production by utilizing the deposits of prosperous people. It is the desire of the Government to get on with the bill, and I shall remain silent so long as I can, but I do not intend to allow Senator Lynch to make an unjust attack upon me.
– I was merely referring to the reputation of the honorable senator’s party.
– It was the reputation of our party that gave the honorable senator a reputation. It is useless for the honorable senator to endeavour to twist figures and to make out that the dairy farmer derives benefit from high-priced butter. I think I have said sufficient to indicate the manner in which the speculator operates to the detriment of the producer. Prior to a state election in New South Wales in 1920, a Labour Government provided that foodstuffs could not be purchased for profiteering purposes. Notwithstanding that, a wholesale dealer in butter said at that time to a young grocer with whom he was doing business, “ Do you think that the Labour party will be returned with a majority on the 24th ?” The young man replied, “ I think they will.” The wholesale dealer said, “ If I thought they would not secure a majority I would make the biggest speculation that I have ever made.” Butter was then Is. a lb. The dealer decided to speculate, and bought £3,000 worth of butter between that time and the date of the elec tion. He told the young man that he was sure the price would increase. The Labour party did not return with a majority, and that dealer more than doubled his money within three months, for the price went. up to 2s. 2d. per lb. The primary producers got no advantage from the better price; it all went to the dealer. The object of the Labour party is to prevent that sort of thing. We desire to put the Commonwealth Bank in a position to be able to help the producers, so that they will not be compelled to market their products in circumstances that they know are not to their advantage. We do not suggest that the bank shall hand out money promiscuously to every one that comes along, irrespective of the security that is offered. If people want money handed out in that way they go to the Government. If the fruit pool wants money, it comes begging to the Government; if the hop-growers,- or the beef barons, or any other section of the community want something for nothing, they simply come begging to the Government, and they get all they want. The Labour party desires that the Commonwealth Bank shall be able to assist the producers to obtain the full market value of their products. I assure Senator Lynch that he need not be anxious about the reputations of honorable senators on this side of the chamber, but I hope that for his own sake he will vote with us on this occasion. I know that his reputation is already very “ thin,” but “ the vilest sinner may return,” so there is still hope for him. He would be wise, in our opinion, to give more consideration to his own future than to ours.
– What about taking a vote ?
– If I thought that the committee was ready to divide, I would sit down at once.
– - I see that we cannot get a vote to-day, so I am willing to report progress.
.- I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Before you submit the motion, Mr. President, I desire, on behalf of the supporters of the Government, to assure you, Senator Guthrie and Senator Ogden, of our cordial wishes for the success and pleasure of your visit to South Africa under the auspices’ of the Empire Parliamentary Association. We wish you a safe voyage to our sister Dominion, and a good time when yon get there. We trust that you will enjoy your association with our compatriots in South Africa, that you will have an agreeable and interesting tour, and that the result of your visit will be beneficial to all the dominions which participate in the arrangements. We feel that you are entering upon a mission of considerable importance to Australia and, indeed, to the Empire. The people of South Africa are, like ourselves, a British community; they are one of our nearest neighbours, and it is desirable that we should know more about each other. You and your colleagues will have the opportunity during your travels in South Africa to assure .the people of that dominion of our goodwill and good wishes for their future success in developing their great country, and you will have the opportunity of bringing under their notice the aims and ideals of this Commonwealth. We feel sure that on your return you will be able to tell us much that will be profitable and interesting to us, and that you will come back better and bigger Australians for having seen another part of the world. On behalf of the Government and its supporters, I wish you all a pleasant voyage and a safe return.
– I join with Senator Pearce in his good wishes to our colleagues who are about to visit South Africa. I should like to have been one of their number, but the Labour party, in its wisdom, decided that the first duty of honorable members of this Parliament was to be here during the session. I do not cavil at that decision, though I repeat that I should have enjoyed visiting South Africa. I hope, sir, that if you find the waves turbulent during your sea voyage you will rule them as successfully as you do us when we become turbulent, and so will have a pleasant and comfortable journey. In South Africa you will meet the members of the parliament’ of that dominion, and
I feel sure that you and your colleagues will have opportunities of education and enjoyment that come, possibly, only once in a lifetime. The exchange of opinions and experiences, and the gaining of new experiences in meeting and conversing with honorable members of other legislatures in regard to the manner in which they conduct their busi.ness, and the affairs of their country generally, cannot but be of mutual benefit, and also of advantage to the whole community. I trust that the delegation will have a good journey, an enjoyable visit, and a safe return to Australia.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) [3.55].- On behalf of my fellow delegates and myself, I desire to express to honorable senators generally our grateful thanks and appreciation of the good wishes that have been voiced on their behalf by the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition. I speak personally, and I am sure on behalf of my co-delegates, when I say that we are impressed with the great importance of the visit from the point of view of the Empire Parliamentary Association, Australia generally, this Parliament, and ourselves personally. We leave next week, and I trust that we shall worthily do our duty as delegates, and uphold the dignity and honour of Australia during our visit. We shall do our utmost to cement the good feeling and fraternal relationship that exist between the various parts of the Empire, and particularly between the people of this country and those of the sister dominion of South Africa. It will be our aim to do everything possible to enlarge and solidify that Empire feeling, which is so necessary for our future well-being. We shall be responsible to this parliament and the people of Australia for our conduct during our visit, and I repeat that we shall do all that we can to increase the good feeling which exists between Australia and South Africa. I trust that we shall return to the Commonwealth with enlarged minds and broadened views on Empire subjects generally, and with a much increased knowledge of the resources of the Em*pire. I am certain that we shall bring back with us a great deal of useful information, and that during our visit we shall do nothing to detract from the greatness, honour, and dignity of this great Commonwealth. Personally, 1 am hopeful that the trip may improve my health, and that I shall return to Australia, invigorated and strengthened, to resume the cordial relations which have always existed between honorable members generally and myself. Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 July 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240725_senate_9_107/>.