12th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W.Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
.- by leave - During the debate on the adjournment last night I regret that I came into conflict with the President. When one becomes heated during a debate one is often led to say things for which one is afterwards sorry. I regret my offence.
In the course of his remarks in concluding the debate on the adjournment, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes) said that when the Queensland Labour Government went out of office it left an unexpended balance of loan moneys amounting to £5,000,000. I have since ascertained that the honorable senator was correct. The lower amount which I mentioned covered the actual expenditure. In order to ascertain the full facts I communicated with the Premier of Queensland last night, and I have received from Mr. King, the Acting Premier, the following telegram: -
Your telegram yesterday balance loan fund thirtieth June nineteen twenty-nine four million eight hundred twenty-five thousand two hundred eighty-four pounds. For financial year twenty-nine thirty Queensland’s loan expenditure limited by Loan Council to three million two hundred eighty thousand actual expenditure was two million eight hundred and eleven thousand nine hundred and sixtyseven. Expenditure this year limited to one million niue hundred and eighty-eight thousand. Effect of having nearly five millions in loan fund that this State did not participate with other States in loans raised since. Other States loan expenditure only reduced in practically same proportion as this State’s.
Although loan money amounting to approximately £5,000,000 was left by the Labour Government in Queensland, its subsequent expenditure has been based on the State quota of loan expenditure fixed by the Loan Council. I understand that any surplus loan money which is above the allowance to one State is loaned to other States on interest on short terms, and that under that arrangement some of the Queensland fund has been made available to the Commonwealth and some of the other States.
Mr. CRAWFORD VAUGHAN.
– On the 17th April, Senator Hoare asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply: -
America in 1918, was asked by’ the then Prime Minister to undertake certain investigations in connexion with shipbuilding contracts entered into by the Commonwealth. The papers also show that authority was given to Mr. Crawford Vaughan to incur certain expenditure on behalf of the Commonwealth in connexion with the entertainment of the French War Mission whilst passing through America on its way to Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the quantity and value of petroleum products imported into the Commonwealth from the Soviet republics for the years 1929 and 1930, and the first quarter of 1931 ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s question are as follow : -
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Whether in view of the grave dangers besetting the Commonwealth at the present time the Government will throw open its doors, and take counsel with all parties in this Parliament, with a view to forming a government that will lead this country clear of those dangers and back to normal conditions?
– The Government has given, and is giving, the fullest consideration to the problems which confront Australia at the present time, and its legislative programme has been so framed as to provide remedial measures to meet the situation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the total number of illicit stills discovered in Australia during the past twelve months, showing each State separately?
– The information is being obtained.
” The following papers were presented : -
Petroleum Products - Statement of Imports from Soviet Republics for years 1929, 1930 and first quarter of 1931.
Papua Act - Ordinance No. 9 of 1930 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 1) 1929- 1930.
Debate resumed from the 22nd April (vide page 1135), on motion by Senator Barnes-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator McLachlan had moved, by way of amendment -
That the word “ now “ be left out with a view to add the words “ this day six months “.
– Although it is some time since this measure v.’as introduced in. this chamber, and, for reasons explained by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes), its consideration has been postponed on many occasions; honorable senators opposite are now suggesting a further postponement. We are well aware of the effect of the amendment moved by Senator McLachlan which, under our standing orders, is tantamount to. the rejection of the bill. Notwithstanding this, other honorable senators are urging, as an excuse for supporting Senator McLachlan’s amendment, that still further consideration should he given to the proposal. Of course, there is nothing new in such tactics. During the time I was associated with the State Parliament, and during the brief period in which I have been in the federal political sphere, I have found that the same old argument is used in connexion with every reform brought forward by a progressive political party. Whenever an attempt is made to introduce legislation which differs somewhat from that to which honorable senators are generally accustomed we are informed by them that the time is inopportune, or that we should not act with undue haste. By no stretch of imagination can it be said that this measure has been hastily considered. The full responsibility for the delay that has occurred, and the consequences that may accrue ^ the financial fabric of this country as a result, must ‘be borne by the Opposition and not by the Government. In response to the protest of the Minister the other day an effort was made to show that the Government was responsible. It is true that on one occasion the Government postponed the consideration of this bill for a very brief period in order to give consideration to an even more important measure. Since the second reading of this bill was moved in this chamber on the 27th June last, the Government has consistently endeavoured to pass it so that it could be placed upon the statutebook. If honorable senators opposite were willing to co-operate it could be passed to-day.
– What is the hurry?
– In view of the experience of other countries, particularly those which, as a result of increasing complexity in financial matters and the greater dependence of nations upon each other, there is every reason why we should expedite the establishment of a central reserve bank. Isolated as we are from the principal markets of the world, from which Ave either buy or in which we sell our goods or commodities, it is incumbent upon this Parliament to establish in Australia a banking unit capable of maintaining exchange and financial operations with other countries on something like an even keel.
The select committee to which the Senate some nine months ago referred this measure for consideration and report admitted that a good deal could be said in favour of the establishment of a central reserve bank in Australia. But we have been told that the Government should accept the proposals of the Opposition and establish a central reserve bank on the ‘lines it suggests. Charges of inconsistency have been hurled against the Prime Minister and the supporters of the Government, but I venture to say that the action of the Opposition in connexion with this measure furnishes the most striking illustration of inconsistency that has occurred in this Parliament for many years. In the first place we were told that the measure should be referred to a select committee, and were assured that if that committee’s report was favorable there would be no difficulty in passing the bill. The committee’s report was favorable to the principle of central reserve banking, and we were told that the Opposition would assist in making the measure workable. We asked for the co-operation of honorable senators opposite, who, instead of giving it, desire to reject the bill, and to force the Government to introduce another measure drafted in the way they wish.
I do not desire to traverse at length the principle sought to be established by the Government in this measure. The necessity for the establishment of a central reserve bank is emphasized by what has occurred during the last year or two. A few years ago our position was not altogether unfavorable, so far as our financial relations with other countries were concerned. Our exports exceeded our imports, we were able to borrow money when required, and, generally speaking, our relationship with other nations was satisfactory. But all that has changed. I repudiate the charge made by Senator Lynch last night, that the responsibility rests upon this Government.
Let us take, first, the charge that the outside world has lost confidence in Australia, because of the actions of this Government. The previous Government, in 1928, went on the London money market for a loan; but so great was the distrust of it, and the lack of confidence in Australia as a result of its actions, that 84 per cent. of that loan was left in the hands of the underwriters. Confidence was destroyed before this Government assumed office ; and one has not to search far to find the reason. It was because Australia had failed to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the favorable conditions existing in 1921, 1922, 1923 and 1924, to conserve abroad credits that would tide her over a period of depression. One of the principal reasons for our failure to avail ourselves of those opportunities was the absence of a central reserve bank in Australia. The banking institutions at that time controlled the exchanges as individual units.No attempt was made to place the control in the hands of one institution, for the benefit of all, and for the welfare of the nation. Each bank conducted its exchange operations according to its own ideas, with the result that, instead of securing credits abroad by the wise investment of accumulated funds, those funds were transferred to Australia, in some cases in the form of injudicious importations of luxury commodities, which had to be sold in this country on time payment. The effect of that policy was to induce the customers of the banks to apply for overdrafts. One of the principal functions of a central reserve bank is to build up reserves in times of prosperity, to tide a country over periods of adversity.
Let us now consider whether the present time is opportune for the establishment of such an institution. The select committee of the Senate, which inquired into this matter, quotes in its report some remarks of Sir OttoNiemeyer, whom it asked for an opinion. At page 10 it says -
In regard to the second question- “Is the present time opportune for the establishment of such an institution?” -
Your committee would direct special attention to the closing paragraph of the memorandum submitted by Sir Otto Niemeyer -
Whatever may be thought of the merits of the technical arguments of one side or the other, I venture to suggest that the present moment, when Australiahas to deal with serious financial problems, is particularly unsuitable for making a change in the structure of a financial organ which, under great difficulties, is dealing with an urgent position.
It is remarkable that Sir Otto Niemeyer should recommend that Australia ought not to interfere with the present financial structure, in view of the fact that he assisted in the establishment of a central reserve bank in Austria at a time when the conditions in that country were in;finitely worse than those that exist in Australia to-day, or than they are likely *o become.
– That institution was established under the wing of the League of Nations, which .financed it.
– If it were practicable to establish a central reserve bank in Austria at that time, and under the wing of the League of Nations as the honorable senator suggests, surely such an institution must possess some virtue in the direction of being able to rescue a nation from its difficulties and to tide it over a crisis. Just as the establishment of a central reserve bank was essential in Austria, and had beneficial effects in tiding that country over the crisis through which it was then passing, so I say that the establishment of a similar institution in this country would help to tide Australia oyer the present crisis without any outside assistance or intervention by the League of Nations.
– Would the honorable senator agree to the establishment of a central reserve bank on the Austrian plan?
– When I have dealt with the report of the select committee I shall probably be able to reply to the suggestion of Senator Colebatch that the central reserve bank proposed by this Government differs from that established in Austria as a result of consultations with Sir Otto Niemeyer and other financiers a few years ago. If the committee had in its possession all the facts, and was able to form the opinion that the Austrian or any other plan was better than that suggested by the Government, it obviously was its duty to advise in its report the adoption of that plan. After discussing certain alleged defects in the bill, it said at page 16 of its report -
Many other amendments of a minor or consequential character will be recommended by your committee.
The last paragraph of the report reads -
Consistent with the opinions outlined in this report, your committee is arranging for the preparation of detailed amendments to the bill, and these will be presented to the Senate as soon as they are available.
All honorable senators opposite who were members of that committee suggested that they had ready amendments which would make this measure more nearly perfect from their view point. When the report of the committee was presented to the Senate on the 3rd December last, they intimated that those amendments would be ready at an early date. I now ask: “Where are those amendments? Why are they not here this afternoon? Why this desire to defeat the measure on the second reading, and force the Government to introduce another?” We must look for the reason; and I venture to assert that we shall not have to seek very far. If the Government were prepared to convert the Commonwealth Bank into a central reserve bank, there would be little opposition to this measure. I have read the evidence presented to the select committee; and some of the questions that were put to witnesses by honorable senators opposite who were members of it must create in the minds of an unbiased reader the suspicion that they were seeking evidence that would support a recommendation that the present Commonwealth Bank he converted into a central reserve bank. Such a conversion would mean the cessation of its trading activities; it would cease to be a competitor with the private banking institutions of this country. That is the real reason for the opposition which is being displayed towards the bill to-day by honorable senators opposite. If the Com- - monwealth Bank, which is operating many of the functions of a central reserve bank, were to be relieved of those functions by the creation of a central reserve bank, as provided for in this bill, and if it were allowed to become again a legitimate trading institution, it would be a competitor of the private banks. It would begin to expand again from the point at which its growth was arrested by the amending legislation of 1924, and before very long it would be an effective factor in. the financial life of this nation. That is what honorable senators opposite desire to prevent. They would be prepared to allow the bill to pass if the Government would dis-establish the Commonwealth Bank as a trading concern, thus leaving the private institutions to continue to exploit the community at their own sweet will. The Government will not do that. It will insist on a central reserve bank being established ou sound lines, and on the Commonwealth Bank being free to compete with private banks, acting as a policeman to see that justice is done to the people of this country.
According to the report of the select committee, one of the major objections of honorable senators opposite to the bill is to the system of control proposed in it. They maintain that the control suggested by the Government is political. That is a specious argument. A bank cannot be created without some form of control. Some persons must be elected to the directorate. Will those directors be free from politics? Are the directors of other banks free from political influences? If honorable senators will take a glance at the directorates of the banks in Australia, they will realize to what extent they are subject to political influences. Indeed, some of them have been preaching politics during recent months. What do honorable senators mean when they urge that the bank should be free from political control, except that it shall be privately controlled, instead of publicly controlled? They mean that a majority of the members of the board shall be elected by shareholders; that the community, which needs such a bank, and has its all at stake, shall not have a controlling voice in its government. They want to ensure that the policy of the bank will not be the policy of the community, a policy aimed at securing the welfare and the well-being of the community, but one dictated by private shareholders or their representatives in their own interests.
– Instead of its being a people’s ‘bank, they want it to be a bankers’ bank.
– That is so. Honorable senators opposite profess to fear the results that would accrue from a bank controlled by the Government of this country. They show a pitiful lack of confidence in themselves as the elected representatives of the people, as well as a lack of confidence in parliamentary control. It is evident they have no confidence in the people who sent them here to legislate for the peace, order and good government of this country. They have not the vision of the founders of the Commonwealth Parliament - the statesmen of a generation or two ago, who were responsible for the Commonwealth Constitution and the establishment of an Australian Parliament. For these men the political control of banking had no horrors. On the contrary, they specifically included in the Constitution a clause which gives this Parliament the right to legislate for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth in relation to banking, exchange, currency, and similar matters. That power has been exercised in the past; it was exercised in 1911. Since that time there has been a change. Some honorable senators who then sat on this side of the chamber, and were enthusiastic supporters of the exercise of this power, now sit in opposition. But despite the doleful prognostications of its opponents, the Commonwealth Bank ‘ has shown what Parliament ca,n do in the creation of a people’s bank in this country. Just as the Commonwealth Bank has justified the foresight qf the founders of the Constitution, and the faith of those responsible for its establishment, so a central reserve bank, on the lines proposed by the Government, would justify itself. The people who gain or lose most as a result of the financial control of the country should have a voice in controlling the institutions which deal with the country’s finances. Surely honorable senators opposite do not suggest that the representatives of the people in this Parliament are inferior in intellect to those in other Parliaments; or that the people of this country have less right than have the people of other countries to say what legislation their representatives shall pass?
In looking through Appendix B of the report of the select committee, I find that eight of the central reserve banks, already established in other countries, are completely controlled by the parliaments of those countries. The National Bank of Bulgaria is controlled by a governor, deputy governors, and directors, nominated by royal decree. It can be dismissed only by a decision of the Sobranie. on the recommendation of the
Minister of Finance. The Sobranie is the National Assembly of Bulgaria - the Lower House of Parliament. The Central Bant of Chile has ten directors, three of whom are appointed by the Government, two by trading banks, one by foreign banks, one by other shareholders, one by agriculturists and manufacturers jointly, one by nitrate producers and the Chamber of Commerce, and one by Labour unions. The board elects its president and the general manager of the bank. The control of the Central Bank of Chile, is exactly that which the Government proposes in this bill, namely, a number of members appointed by the Government, and others by those whose interests are vitally affected by the measure.
– What happened’ in Chile only the other day?
– The Bank of Japan has a governor appointed by the Government, and also a vicegovernor. Pour directors are appointed by the Finance Minister. The bank is controlled by the Government. The Bank of Latvia, which is controlled by the Government, has a president, a deputy president, and eleven members. The executive consists of the director-general, his deputy, and three directors chosen by the Ministry. The Norges Bank of Norway is controlled by a supervisory council comprising fifteen members appointed by the Storting - the Lower House of Parliament - and a president, a vice-president, and a board of directors, who are nominated by the King. Three directors are elected by the Storting. The State Bank of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic is controlled by the Government. The chairman of the board of directors is appointed by the Council of People’s Commissionaries, while general supervision is exercised by a People’s Cornmissionary of Finances.
– That is om all-fours with the Government’s proposal in this bill.
– The Riksbank of Sweden comprises seven directors, one of whom is appointed by the King to be president, and six are appointed by the Riksdag. The directors are responsible to the Riksdag. Members of the Ministerial Council and directors of the National Debt Office are ineligible for appointment. In all these banks which I have quoted, and in respect of many others which I could mention, the principle of government ^control is either firmly established or partially established. The Senate select committee recommended the establishment of a bank on the lines of the American principle which means majority control by shareholders. I venture to say that no banking system in the world has furnished a more lamentable example of failure in recent months than has the American system.
– Does the honorable senator say that the committee recommended what he describes as the American system?
– I said that the committee recommended something on the lines of the American system.
– Our recommendation was based on the principle adopted by nine-tenths of the central reserve banks of the world.
– At all events the select committee recommended the establishment of a bank which should be subject to majority control of shareholders. Since then, it has run away from its recommendations. We were given to understand that certain amendments, in conformity with the committee’s conclusions, would be tabled for the consideration of this Parliament, but up to the present those amendments have not been presented. It would appeal-, therefore, that in directing attention to the recommendations of the committee, I may be wasting time. Speaking from memory, in about twelve months there have been approximately 600 bank failures in the United States of America, notwithstanding the alleged efficiency of the central banking system In that country to protect the interests of the people. This state of affairs, I suggest, will always obtain where control of governmental institutions is vested in shareholders who are not responsible to the community. To ensure safety and efficiency, control should be vested in Parliament, which is responsible to the people.
Last night, Senator Lynch, in criticism of the Government’s proposals, and as an alleged argument against the establishment of the bank on the lines laid down in the bill, declared that this measure was really the starting point for wholesale currency inflation. The honorable senator went on to quote a number of tables showing how the cost of living in Australia had increased from 1919 to 1922. I do not wish, at this stage, to contest the statements made by the honorable senator, except to say that other factors, besides currency inflation, were responsible for the increase in the cost of living during those years. What is more, the honorable senator was aware of those factors, and had it been his desire to be fair to the Government and the people, he would have mentioned them.
Since he failed to do that, I must attempt the task, and at the outset I refer honorable senators to an .authority who, I suggest, is recognized as one of whose opinions we should take particular notice. I refer to Professor Gordon Wood, of the University of Melbourne. His publication, Borrowing and Business in Australia, is properly regarded as the finest compilation of its kind yet produced in this country. It involved years of research in order to secure the data upon which his conclusions are based. Professor Wood, dealing with the position created in Australia, following the war, states -
But that is not to admit that the sole cause of price movements during the period was currency inflation. Other factors of relatively small importance, but far from negligible in their total effect, must be taken into account. The interruption or abrupt stoppage in the supply of almost every commodity from overseas in the early phases, and the heavy borrowings as the war proceeded, to mention only two other causes, were extremely important in their effect on prices.
All through his book, he shows clearly the intimate relationship between borrowing and price movements. He points out that periods of heavy borrowing abroad were consonant with or followed by what appeared to be a condition of prosperity and then came a period of economic depression.
– If the honorable senator accepts Professor Wood’s conclusions, he should come over to this side of the Senate.
– I am prepared to accept his conclusion that the borrowing policy which had been prosecuted by the party to which the honorable senator belongs was responsible for most of the trouble that confronts this country to-day. Yesterday afternoon, the honorable senator emphasized that the one thing needful was to restore confidence in this country so that we could borrow more money abroad, and so get out of our difficulties.
– I never for a moment suggested that we should borrow money from abroad. What I said was that if confidence were restored, money which had been sent out of Australia would flow back to this country for investment in industry. I never said that we should borrow money.
– The honorable senator declared that we should borrow money in order to get out of our difficulties.
– Mr. President, I rise as a matter of personal privilege. I have always been opposed to borrowing abroad, and I have never, in this chamber, urged that the Government should adopt that policy. What I said yesterday was that if confidence were restored in this country, capital which, owing to the lack of confidence, has taken flight, would be induced to flow hack to Australia for investment in industry.
– I ‘ shall accept the honorable senator’s explanation and leave it at that. I doubt, however, that there is very much difference between this flow of capital from Australia which the honorable senator has said has taken place as the result of certain alleged action by this Government, and its flow back to this country which, he declared, would take place if we adopted the policy enunciated by the gentleman who recently has been mentioned as the next Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
But let me return to the further consideration of Professor Wood’s publication. On page 168 dealing with the effect of borrowing on price levels, he says -
Between 1914 and 1920, the Australian overseas debt increased from £208,000,000 to £375,000,000, i.e. at the rate of £24,000,000 a year . The meaning of this change has scarcely been appreciated in discussions concerning Australia’s present economic position. Under circumstances which could probably never be repeated, the borrowing cycle had begun afresh, and all the “boom” phenomena associated with the early phases of heavy borrowing - the cheap and easy money, extended credit, ambitious public works and rapid industrial expansion due to governmental spending - became more prominent at a time when every circumstance called urgently for the conservation of capital.
Finally, on. page 173, there appears this comment -
The purchasing power of the community, vastly increased by payments on government and private contracts, was further swollen by distributions of deferred pay to repatriated soldiers and dependants. Although Copland indicates the expansion of credit as the chief cause of this artificial prosperity, it seems apparent that the /ons et origo is to be found as much in borrowing as in banking.
That is the reply of one of the foremost economists in. this country to the charge levelled by Senator Lynch at this Government, that by issuing fiduciary notes in order to provide assistance for needy farmers and unemployed, it would be doing something detrimental to the interests of this country. As a matter of fact 300,000 workers of Australia have been deprived of the right to earn their living by the policy for which the honorable senator stands, and a continuance of that policy is likely to drive thousands of honest farmers off their holdings. I support the bill, because I want to see a change in the existing system; I want to see something in the form, of a national savings bank set up in which the nation’s savings, the surplus credits or unexpended balances resulting from the sale of our produce abroad and overseas borrowings may be conserved in times of prosperity in order that the nation may be carried through times of adversity. Honorable senators will be doing a service to the country if they allow the bill to get into committee and, in keeping with the promise contained in the report of the select committee and repeated in this chamber, if they will draft amendments to assist the Government in implementing a central reserve bank which will be satisfactory to all.
– I have no objection to the establishment of a central reserve bank in Australia so long as it is set up on sound lines after thorough investigation and is safeguarded from political control. For that reason I intend to support the safeguarding amendment which has been foreshadowed.
I congratulate the select committee to which this bill was referred on the valuable report it has submitted after a great deal of investigation and sifting of evidence. I have carefully read both the report and the evidence, and I entirely agree with the following paragraphs which I take from the former: -
Your committee sees no reason to depart from the tentative opinion expressed in its progress report regarding the first of these questions, and finds that a central reserve bank would be likely to prove a valuable adjunct to the financial system of ,tho Commonwealth, providing that it performed the recognized functions of central reserve banking, and that it was assured, by its constitution, of freedom from political or sectional control.
In regard to the second question your committee would direct special attention to the closing paragraph of the memorandum submitted by Sir Otto Niemeyer: -
Whatever may be thought of the merits of the technical arguments of one side or the other, I venture to suggest that the present moment, when Australia has to deal with serious financial problems, is particularly unsuitable for milking a change in the structure of a financial organ which, under great difficulties, is dealing with an urgent position. To el loose such a moment to transfer these difficult questions to a new and entirely untried organization which, while open to technical criticism, would have no acquired status or practical experience to guide it, would seem exceeding dangerous.
We all admit that Sir Otto Niemeyer is one of the greatest authorities on finance in the world, and it is most regrettable that after he had come to Australia at great personal inconvenience and had given valuable advice to the Commonwealth Government, at the invitation of the Government itself, many ministerial supporters and some members of the Ministry itself should have treated him in a very scurvy manner. Indeed some Laborites even went to the extent of making insulting references to his name. Had his name been 0’Lynch or Antonio Lazzarineo possibly more notice would have been taken of. the splendid advice Sir Otto Niemeyer gave to Australia.
Whilst I have no objection to the ultimate establishment of a central reserve bank, I doubt if such an institution is necessary at the present juncture. Already the Commonwealth Bank is very successfully carrying out many of the functions of a central reserve bank. I agree with Sir Otto Niemeyer that when Australia is struggling amid enormous difficulties the time is inopportune for wasting money on the creation of a new organization. Senator Colebatch and others have pointed out that the economic difficulties with which we are beset are world-wide. Finance is world-wide. Money, credit and trade must circulate throughout the world just as blood circulates throughout the human body. Anything that interferes with that circulation is harmful. Economists have referred to the stalemate or, at any rate, the difficulties brought about by the hoarding of gold in various countries, particularly America and France. This sterilization of gold, as it is termed, is having the effect on the circulation of trade that a clot of blood in an artery has on the circulation of blood in the human body. Gold is the stabilizing -medium for the world’s purchasing power.
In the last five years the gold reserve of Germany has increased from £59,000,000 to £112,000,000, and that of France from £164,000,000 to £362,000,000. As the result of America’s greed for gold, and its determination to be paid in gold for war borrowings, and everything else, there is lying idle in the vaults of the United States of America gold valued at over £900,000,000, whereas the gold held by Great Britain does not exceed £146,000,000. I repeat that the time for setting up a central reserve bank in Australia is most inopportune. A central reserve bank, if established at this moment on the lines proposed by the Government, would further weaken the already weakened stability of Australia by destroying confidence. It could do nothing to assist the farmers or unemployed. Instead of posing as experts in international finance, we should take further time to study all the evidence available. The League of Nations has been making an exhaustive study of the whole question, and has available for that work the greatest financial experts of all countries. Surely we do not propose to set ourselves up as greater experts than those who are available to the League of Nations. Surely no harm can be done by waiting for this further evidence, and delaying the establishment of a central reserve bank in Australia until we can get all the information possible.
Honorable senators opposite have freely admitted that this bill is to be forced on Parliament and the people, in order to bring about the socialization of banking. Their desire is to have one big bank under political control. Nothing could be more dangerous to .the financial stability of Australia, or more damaging to the interests of the wage-earners, and the savings of the people than to have such an institution under political control. What would become of the twelve trading banks of Australia which the supporters of the Government are so prone to abuse, hut whose assistance has been so much availed of by the various governments of Australia? There is too much abuse of our trading banks by the Labour party. These institutions of late years have been managed very wisely. It is fortunate for Australia that they have. Sound judgment has been shown by those responsible for their control in building up substantial reserves, and this has enabled them to stand up to their job well at a most critical time in our history. Their funds have been drained by the expenditure of governments, particularly the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales. These two administrations have borrowed enormous sums from the Commonwealth Bank, and from Commonwealth and State savings banks. They have almost milked one of these banks dry, and now, so to speak, they propose to turn it out to starve without even the opportunity to have yet another calf !
I prefer to be guided by experts, and not by confidence-trick men or conjurers, political or otherwise, in matters of such vast importance to the nation. I am totally opposed to any semblance of political control over a central reserve bank. To-day political control means caucus rule, or Sydney Trades Hall rule, because caucus takes its instructions from outside organizations, and passes them on to the Government.
In matters of this kind I prefer to be guided by the opinions of experts; Senator O’Halloran -was rather unfortunate in drawing upon Bulgaria and Chile for illustrations to support his argument in favour of the establishment of a central reserve bank under political control. Bulgaria is always in an unsettled state, indeed it is a festering sore on the world’s surface, and apparently has been successful only in causing strife between other nations and among its own people. It is not long ago since the bank in Chile, to which the honorable- senator also referred, proved such a failure under government control, that, I understand, it had to compromise. I repeat that, in arriving at a decision in a matter of this kind, I prefer to be guided by the opinions of banking experts of world repute, and not by the experience of such countries as Bulgaria, Chile or Soviet Russia. Instead of drawing upon such sources I quote an eminent British authority on banking, Sir Ernest Harvey, a Director of the Bank of England, who in October, 1927, visited Australia at the invitation of the Commonwealth Government. He states that -
A central bank in its management and policy should be free from government control and the influence of politics.
A central bank should be the banker of the trading banks and should act as a settling agent for clearing differences between such banks.
Lend money to governments, but in all cases all loans should be of purely temporary nature with date of repayment clearly specified.
Then again Kisch and Elgin in Central Banks, 1930 edition, page 20, state -
But dearly if the bank is under State control continuity of policy cannot be guaranteed with changing governments nor can freedom from political bias in its administration be assured.
Those are views of recognized banking authorities, and surely are more valuable than those of the 0’Lynchs and o’Lazzarineos. Even in Soviet Russia where a central reserve bank is operating, under government control, the notes issued must have a gold backing of at least 50 per cent. This measure, if passed in its present form, would provide machinery for the dissipation instead of the protection of the reserves; it would provide also for political control of the bank and would enable untold sums to be loaned to the government of the day at untold rates of interest and without security. On the question of political control let me now quote the opinion of Mr. Ramsay McDonald, the Labour Prime Minister of Great Britain, and Mr. Phillip Snowden, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Honorable senators opposite cannot accuse those two gentlemen of being Conservatives. On page 14 of the select committee’s report, it is set out that-
It is worthy of note that the Labour report on currency, banking and credit recently tabled in the British Parliament accepted the principle of co-operation between central banks, whilst the Prime Minister (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Phillip Snowden) emphasized the conviction that the control of credit and currency must be kept free from political influence.
This bill contemplates the printing and issue of notes. Certainly, under the Bank Notes Act, which has been in operation for some years, there must be a gold backing of not less than 25 per cent., but how long that provision would remain operative if this Labour Government had its way it is not difficult to guess. Under the Fiduciary Notes Bill, which was rejected by this chamber last week, it was proposed to issue an additional £18,000,000 worth of notes without any gold backing. That measure, I understand, is to be re-introduced. Should it become law the Government would proceed at once to print fiduciary notes to the value I have mentioned, but in colours different from those in which the Australian notes are printed. This Government changes its political coat and, with it, its political skin, so often that I am not surprised that it is now anxious to change the colour of the notes. It proposes that the notes shall not bear the promise to pay gold on demand at the head office of the Commonwealth Bank that appears on those now in circulation. The Government has become wilder than ever in so far as its views on banking and the note issue are concerned, and does not now stand for a gold backing of not less than 25 per cent. Some of its followers are even supporting a gentleman in New South Wales who preached, and is now practising, repudiation with such disastrous results to his
State. His action, and the attitude of this Common-wealth Government which advocates inflation, have accentuated the financial difficulties of the country. They have murdered confidence in Australia, and when confidence is destroyed, credit is also destroyed. ‘ The Government and its supporters now wish to rush to the printing press. One of their Russian friends in a town not far from where I live printed a perfect looking £5 note, but he was- sentenced to ten years in gaol for his pains. I do not know why he should have been so treated when the Government and their supporters, who believe in printing and issuing notes without any gold hacking, go scot-free, and are, in fact, applauded for the stand they take by gatherings in the Sydney Domain and on the Yarra bank, Melbourne.
There does not appeal- to be any need for an alteration of the present banking system in Australia, particularly at a time when trade and commerce are disorganized, and when a change of banking policy is calculated further to destroy confidence. The present note issue amounts to £45,000,000. Due to the falling off in trade and the lack of confidence necessary to increase employment, the issue is more than sufficient to meet requirements, and much of it is not in circulation. In these circumstances the issue of additional notes or an alteration in the banking system would be dangerous to the country, and damaging to the people. It is tie responsibility of this Parliament to protect the people and their money from jazzing governments and political confidence tricksters.
We hear a good deal from the Labour party concerning the necessity for the political control of banking. The wail of the Government is, “ The people versus the banks.” They have no battle cry because they have no experience of battle. Our watchword, and that of the people, must be, “ Hands off the people’s money “. Many of the pioneers of this continent, and those who have followed them, have, by hard work and the exercise of thrift, made savings, and have deposited them in the banking institutions of this country. At present there are some 4,000,000 depositors in the savings banks of Australia, and it is the responsibility of this Parliament to see that their money is kept intact. If effect were given to the policy of inflation favoured by this Government, the value of our currency would depreciate, higher prices would be charged, and there would, consequently, be a reduction in the purchasing power of wages and pensions, and in the value of life insurance policies.
Notwithstanding the dismal failures which have followed the socialization of certain industries in Australia, this Government still supports the principle and favours the nationalization of banking. Some years ago a Labour government in Queensland expended enormous sums of the people’s money in purchasing cattle stations, concerning the working of which they knew nothing. Station properties were purchased at fabulous prices by ignorant persons, who, if they had known anything about the business, would not have paid one-half the amount they gave for these properties. These socialistic enterprises on the part of the State proved disastrous. The reckless extravagance .thus indulged in led to additional taxation being imposed on the people, and station properties purchased at very high prices were sold, after years of muddling, for a mere bagatelle. In every instance in which Labour governments in Queensland have invested the people’s money in cattle stations, mines, fisheries, or butchers’ shops, they have made a dismal failure of the business, and have thrown an unnecessary additional financial responsibility upon the taxpayers. Perhaps it is better not to say too much about mines at present, because it may not be considered polite to do so. Everything that Labour has attempted in the direction of nationalization has been calamitous to the country. Many thousands of pounds of the people’s money have been squandered in finding fat jobs for incompetent men at unnecessarily high salaries or wages. Surely the people of this country are sufficiently burdened at present without the Government incurring further expense in establishing a central reserve bank under political control.
– Imagine the muddling that would go on under governmental control.
– This Government muddles everything that it touches. During the first six months that it was in office, taxation, irrespective of the sales tax and primage duties, was increased by £12,500,000, which is too much for the people to bear. The Government has also made all sorts of extravagant promises which it has been unable to fulfill. At page 10 the report says -
Your committee is convinced that the relatively deplorable position of Australian stocks in London, America, and Australia is chiefly due to fear - not of the deficiency of Australian resources, but of unwise financial manipulation calculated to imperil the interests of investors. Your committee is further convinced that the establishment of a central reserve bank under political control, and designed in a large measure to meet the supposed requirements of governmental expenditure, would confirm existing distrust, and prevent that return of confidence which is essential to the well-being of Australia.
In this connexion your committee would appeal to the long view of national requirements. This young and sparsely populated country cannot be developed without the investment of capital from abroad in both public and private enterprises. A restoration of confidence is essential before such capital can be attracted. To ignore this essential is not merely to delay a return to prosperous conditions; it is to imperil the very existence of Australia as a British, and a self-governing, white community.
What has brought Australia to her present deplorable position? It has been government interference, and a lack of confidence. Honorable senators opposite have argued that the present financial embarrassment is due to the collapse in the prices of commodities -such as wool and wheat. That has been a contributory, but not the principal, cause, as is clearly demonstrated by -the fact that Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand have all been affected in equal ratio with Australia by the terrific fall in the world prices of their commodities. Canada exists mainly upon wheat, the collapse in the price of which has been the greatest experienced in the history of the world. New Zealand’s principal product is crossbred wool, which has depreciated hi value to an even greater extent than has our Australian wool, which is mainly of the merino type. South Africa’s staple product to-day is wool, and she has suffered greatly from the fall in world prices of that commodity. Those dominions are not comparable with Australia in regard to wealth, productivity, and climate. Canada produces “an enormous quantity of wheat and lumber, but she has not the variety of highly-valued products that Australia possesses. Her production of wool,/mutton and fruit is not sufficient for her own requirements. New Zealand is a wonderful country, but its area is small, and it has a greater per capita national debt than has Australia. South Africa is a barren country compared with Australia. Yet these dominions at the present time can borrow in the money markets of the world at 4£ per cent., and their bonds are either above par or only very slightly below par, whereas there has been a total collapse in the value of the securities of this vast and rich country of Australia! Why? Because confidence has been murdered by bad government. Instead of “ flying kites “ and playing at high finance, the Government should take sound advice, and do something for the restoration of confidence, which must be restored before the farmers can be assisted in any way and before our people can be given employment.
The first action necessary to restore confidence is to make some attempt to honour the agreement signed in Melbourne last August by the Prime Minister, together with the Premiers of the States - Labour and otherwise - to take whatever steps were necessary to balance budgets. I do not say that the Commonwealth budget can be balanced this year, nor perhaps next year. I do not agree with the contention of some honorable senators that it will not be necessary for Australia to borrow. This is a young country, and reproductive work can still be carried on, provided that the money for it is not borrowed at too high an interest rate, and also that it is wisely spent. Once confidence had been restored, an abundance of cheap money would be available. The other day South Africa launched a loan at 4f per . cent., and it was largely over-subscribed by the public. What would happen if the Australian Government were to go on the market for a loan at 4f per cent.? I guarantee that it could not borrow to-day at even 10 per cent. That is proved by the fact that to-day Australian bonds can be bought that will show a return of 11 per cent. It would be a frightful catastrophe if another government-controlled bank were established.
– They do not sing the “ Bed Flag “ in South Africa.
– Of course they do not.
I want to show the damage that has been done to the credit of this country by the bad management of the Government and the talk of repudiation and inflation. When the Government took office, Commonwealth 5 per cent, bonds were at £93 17s. 6d.; to-day they are at £71. At the same time, British 5 per cent, bonds were at £102 7s. 6d. ; to-day they are at £103 ls. 3d. Commonwealth 6 per cent, bonds were at £100 17s. 6d. ; to-day, they are at £80. New Zealand G per cent, bonds were at £103 7s. 6d. ; and now are at £106 5s.
– Some people are selling Australian bonds and buying New Zealand bonds.
– Because confidence in Australia has been wrecked. The wild action of the Government and its supporters have killed our security.
– Those figures ought to cause the Government to resign.
– It cannot be scraped off the treasury bench with a shovel. The New Zealand Government and its supporters have not preached or practised repudiation or inflation. I ask this Government, in all sincerity, why will it not face economic facts ? You can no more disregard economic facts than you can with a piece of string prevent the tide from flowing into Port Phillip. Economic facts are available to every man, woman and child in the community. They show that during this year our national income has dropped by £130,000,000. Thus, there is that amount less to be divided among the 6,500,000 people in Australia. If the selfish portion of the community are not to have their salaries reduced, does it not stand to reason that the remainder will be hard put to it to carry on? That is exactly what has happened. It is an old economic truism that you cannot take out of a bag or a bottle more than you put into it. Some of my friends have told me that the simile, So far as it refers to the bottle, is not a good one; that you can take out of a bottle, not only what you put in it, but also a headache. That is what is wrong with Australia; she has a pretty bad headache, because the people have tried to take out more than they have put in of work, productivity or anything else.
This bill provides for the issue of Australian notes. Its definition of “bank note “ is “ a bill or note for payment of money issued by a bank, other than the Commonwealth Bank or the Reserve Bank; and payable to bearer on demand and intended for circulation.” Murray, in Our Currency, points out that “ The one pound note is a debt due by the Federal Government, payable to bearer on demand, in gold.” This bill does not propose anything of the kind. It provides that the Government shall have the power to issue notes. Murray goes on to say- and that legally the holder of the one pound note is entitled to demand, in Australia, goods or services to the value of a sovereign. . . . It is surely plain enough that, if the amount of work and produce sold is the same as previously but the number of units used for exchanging them is increased, more units must be paid for each hour of work and each pound of goods, though no more work is done and no more goods are produced. The worst sufferers are creditors and wageearners.
A government cannot create wealth by printing notes. The only power that it possesses to create revenue of any kind is the power to tax the people; and, as I have already explained, we are overtaxed at the present time. That is largely accountable for the humiliating position in which we find ourselves in regard to unemployment. When this “Governmenttook office, the ratio of unemployment waa 12 per cent., now it is over 25 per cent. That is a dangerous position in which to be placed; and it is due to the fact that confidence has been destroyed. This measure, which proposes to create another bank under political control, will, if carried, strike a further shattering blow at confidence in this country. The Government has blundered with everything that it has touched; consequently, the people are facing a winter of distress and misery that everyone must deplore. Whatever a man’s political views may be, if he loves his country and his fellow men, he must view the immediate future with a heart that bleeds for the men and women who want work, but who cannot obtain it because confidence has been shattered so seriously that trade has been destroyed. We do not know who would be appointed to the board of this proposed bank. Doubtless, as it would be under strict political control, it would sanction inflation. Throughout history, wherever inflation has been resorted to it has resulted in higher prices for what the people have had to buy but not for what they have had to sell. It means increased costs of production. Australia lives on her primary industries; 96 per cent, of our exportable wealth comes from our primary products, which have to compete in the markets of the world. Of our total wealth, primary products represent 75 per cent. Inflation would increase the cost of everything required by the farmers, and would mean higher production costs. But it would not mean higher prices for the commodities we 3ell abroad. Inflation means and always has resulted in a reduction of wages, salaries and pensions. It is a mean way of bringing about that result, but is as effective in that direction as a straightout cut.
I do not suppose that a central reserve bank, even under the political control of the An st) ni os,. the Lazzarineos, or the Beasleos, would repudiate; but is direct robbery any worse than indirect robbery? Personally, I prefer the man who says straight-out that he intends to rob to the man who chloroforms or dopes people in their sleep, or mesmerizes them with promises and high-sounding terms such as “high finance” and “fiduciary issues”, and then robs them. What is the difference between a toreador and a Theodore? A toreador waves a red flag and engages and tortures a bull. If he is skilful he kills the bull; if he is not skilful, the bull kills him. A Theodore waves a red flag and tortures the people with false promises. But he is not skilful enough to bluff the people for long. They will soon rise, and although they will not take his physical life, they will kill him politically by banishing him from the political life of the country.
Reference has been made to the central reserve banks which have been established in other countries under political control. Some very unfortunate examples were quoted by honorable senators opposite. I find that sixteen countries have established central reserve banks which are controlled by shareholders, and that nine countries have banks controlled partly by shareholders and partly by the State. Only five of the central reserve banks in the world have been established under political control. Those banks are to be found in poor and disrupted countries like Bulgaria, Finland, Latvia, Sweden, and Russia. Even in Russia the gold reserve must represent 50 per cent, of the notes issued. That awful country of repudiation and slavery produces wheat by conscript labour and sells it to a Labour Government in Britain, thereby destroying Australia’s market for wheat. But is the action of Russia any worse than overwhelming the over-worked and tired farmers of Australia with a barrage of hot air and deluding them with promises to pay 6s. 6d., 7s. 6d., 4s., or 3s. a bushel for wheat, to release credits, and to create fiduciary note issues? It is a waste of time to introduce legislation, for the socialization of banking and to withdraw legislation designed to assist the farmers in order to do so. The Government is not only fooling the farmers; it is casting the ship of State on barren rocks; and leaving the people to starve. The first requisite is the restoration of confidence. We must scrape the barnacles off the ship and give it a chance. It is useless for the Government to say that a central reserve bank would not do this or that thing; that the people’s money would be protected. Even Mr. Lang became so afraid that he was forced to announce publicly that the people’s savings entrusted to the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales would be protected. Not long ago he stated publicly that the management of the State Savings Bank of New South Wales and the absolute control of its funds were vested by law in the Commissioners, who held their positions free form any political control or interference. He went on to say -
The desire of my Government is to maintain and strengthen this bank. The bank’s deposits, being guaranteed by the State of Now South Wales, have behind them nil the resources of the community.
What is the good of statements of that nature if confidence is destroyed? The Lang gang has destroyed confidence in Government institutions in New South Wales. Similarly, the Commonwealth Government has destroyed confidence in Australia to such an extent that 25 per cent, of our workers are unemployed.
Even if this legislation for the establishing of a central reserve bank is agreed to, where is the necessary capital to come from? Australian 5 per cent, bonds are to-day worth only £71, while similar bonds of other countries stand at par. Clause 10 sets out that the capital of the central reserve bank is to be supplied by the existing banks. Those institutions, in which the people have confidence, and on which Governments lean, are to be bled to supply the capital of this new institution.
– Will the honorable senator tell us how much of the reserves of the private banks are held by the Commonwealth Bank?
– Clause 9 shows how the money which would be taken compulsorily from the other banks may not be used. But it also gives a clear indication of how it may be used. Paragraph g of that clause provides that the people’s deposits, taken compulsorily from the other banks, may not be used to make unsecured loans or advances, except to the Government of the Commonwealth or a State. Can honorable senators imagine that any institution would make unsecured and unlimited advances to ,1,, Government of New South Wales?
There are persons in the community who think that the existence of a central reserve bank, authorized to print notes, means that all will be well. I think that honorable senators, generally, will agree with the world’s leading economists who lay down the golden rule that -
It is the undisputed right of every wageearner that the legal tender of fi note in which he is paid shall have the consistent value of a sovereign with the same purchasing power in goods and services..
The workers are the nation’s greatest creditors. Any unsound financial system hits them first. The workers sell their services, for which they are paid after the work has been done. In that respect, their position is different from that of persons engaged in the wool trade who insist on cash before delivery. If a. worker is paid for services already given in a currency that is not sound, he is robbed of his rights. Yet this bill empowers the Government to issue currency like that which was issued by Russia, France, and Germany. Honorable senators are aware that inflation went to such extremes in Germany that 50,000,000 marks would not buy a packet of cigarettes.
In pressing for this bill, and a fiduciary note issue, the Government is only throwing dust in the eyes of the people. It talks a great deal about the Australian standard of living. What is that standard, after all? Costs have gone up enormously, so that what are apparently high wages are in reality not so. Effective wages have not increased in anything like the ratio that prices of commodities have increased. What is the standard of living for men on the bread line? What is the standard of living of the 25 per cent, of our workers who are unemployed 1 There is no standard of living in this country to-day. Lack of confidence has destroyed it. One of the world’s best known economists has written -
The announcement of this Government policy will weaken confidence instead of strengthen it. It embodies the dangerous expedients against which economic knowledge both here and overseas, has given repeated warnings. It is the kind of policy that drives away the investment needed to restore our workers to their jobs; that fills the people with fears of enterprise; that reduces wages; that makes it impossible for Australia to borrow money at home or abroad for any public purpose. This programme is precisely similar to that which Mr. Scullin himself condemned as dangerous and destructive.
At one moment, the Prime Minister, in the strongest terms, condemns the demands or instructions of the Labour caucus; but when the boss of the circus cracks the whip he turns somersault after somersault, with the result that Australia’s credit sinks, lower and lower. This bill will still further weaken confidence; it will upset creditors and bankers, and injure the whole financial structure. Nothing can be done to bring relief to necessitous farmers, or to provide work for the starving unemployed, until confidence has been restored. A restoration of confidence is impossible so long as the present pirate crew heads the good ship of Australia towards the rocks. It is well known that barnacles cling to rocks ; and some people have likened the members of the present Government to barnacles. Evidently, the crew in charge of the ship believes that the vessel is firmly wedged on the rocks; otherwise, like rodents, they would leave it before it sinks. But Australia will never sink, nor will its people repudiate their obligations. However bad the Government in office, Australia will not go down. But the so-called Government, .which I prefer to call a circus, will sink. And it will not sink in clean water, but in the mire of its own creation. I shall support the amendment, and the further amendment foreshadowed by Senator Colebatch in order to safeguard the workers of this country from the dangers associated with the socialization of banking, and any further weakening of our credit.
– It is singular that while honorable senators opposite express themselves as being in favour of the establishment of a central reserve bank, they are withholding their support from the bill.
– “We approve of the principle, but not the provisions, in tho bill.
– The measure came before this chamber many months ago, and, in order to delay its passage, the Opposition majority promptly referred it to a select committee. That body, in due time, presented its report, and made certain recommendations. It also promised to submit a number of amendments which, up to the present, have not been presented. “We are all agreed, I think, that a central reserve bank is necessary to give stability to our financial and economic system, but I gather, from the tone of the speeches made by honorable senators opposite, that they consider the time is not opportune, and, moreover, they are afraid that this proposal will mean the nationalization of banking. Senator Guthrie alleges that this Government has muddled everything which it has touched. Does he suggest that the Commonwealth Bank has been a failure?
– This Government had nothing to do with the establishment of that institution.
– If we had waited until the honorable gentleman and his colleagues approved of a proposal to establish a Commonwealth bank, we should not have one to-day. No one can deny that that institution has been the bulwark of Australian finance since its establishment. If the act authorizing the creation of the bank had not been passed by a Labour government, Senator Guthrie and his friends would still be at the mercy of private bankers, and, with his wide knowledge of commerce, he should be under no misapprehension as to the manner in which private banks fleeced and cheated his friends whenever they had a chance to do so. “With the Commonwealth Bank in existence we shall never again be faced with such a crisis as that which occurred in the ‘nineties, because that would be the end of private banking in this country. Senator Guthrie made some references to the evils of inflation, but omitted to mention the evils resulting from the actions of unscrupulous men in big business - importers and others engaged in commercial operations - at a time when the Government of which he was a supporter made no attempt to control prices or stabilize conditions. I also remind him that tl OK who suffered most during the period of inflation to which he alluded were returned soldiers. The honorable senator knows quite well that thousands of tons of galvanized iron, which early in the war was selling at £18 per ton, were sold to returned soldiers during and after the war at from £82 to £120 a ton. So much for inflation. Every banking system is founded upon confidence credit, and book entries. None can endure unless it is supported by the confidence of the people. By its reckless policy of borrowing, the Bruce-Page Government absolutely destroyed the confidence of investors.
– There was a big volume of employment during that period.
– Nevertheless, there came a time when the Government had lost the confidence of the people and was unable to obtain further financial accommodation. No previous government ha3 ever faced such adverse circumstances as those which confront this Government, for in addition to the difficulties arising out of the destruction of confidence by the” preceding administration it came into office at a period when drought conditions were prevailing throughout Australia,, and, because of the world-wide depression, a period of low prices for all our surplus primary products.
Senator Guthrie has charged this Government with not honoring the Melbourne agreement to balance its budget. I remind him that no government in Australia has been able to do that. Having regard to the diminished purchasing power of the people, and the decline in the national income, how can any person reasonably expect this Government to bring its expenditure within its income in one year?
– Has the Government attempted to do that?
– Of course it has. The honorable senator must know also that every attempt made by other governments to balance their budgets has proved a miserable failure. The people of Australia are now waiting for a lead. We have tried out the orthodox methods of finance. Since they have failed, we are justified now in turning to methods which may be regarded by some as unorthodox. If the Government obtains authority to increase the note issue, we may be quite sure that if additional notes are not required they will not be printed. During the war period, Mr. Lloyd George, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, referring to the British fiduciary issue, in the course of an address on one occasion, exhibited a British note for £1, which he described as a scrap of paper. “ But “ he added, “What does it represent? It represents the credit of the British Empire.” That, I suggest, may be said of every note issued by the Commonwealth Bank. Behind it stands the credit of the Commonwealth. Can any one wish for a better backing?
Much has been said about the fear of nationalization of the proposed central bank and the private trading banks in Australia. But need there be any fear concerning political control? Is not every nationalized institution directly or indirectly under some measure of political control? Can it be argued that the Bruce-Page Government was not actuated by political considerations when it appointed the present directorate of the
Commonwealth Bank? It is significant,’ at all events, that not one person subscribing to Labour ideals received appointment. Consequently the personnel of the board reflects faithfully the political views of the Bruce-Page Government. There must always he some measure of political control because, whenever vacancies occur, the Government of the day will appoint persons whose views are known to be in accord with its policy.
– As in the case of Mr. Duffy, who was recently appointed to the board?
– Yes. Mr. Duffy is a Labour supporter. What would be the use of appointing to the board a person holding views diametrically opposed to the Government’s policy?
– Then the honorable senator believes in political action?
– Whether I believe in it or not, that is the position. Is it likely that the Government would appoint a person who was opposed to its financial policy? In this matter we are endeavouring to give effect to Labour’s policy with a conservative bank board, which is an impossibility.
With regard to the nationalization of banking, let me quote, for the information of Senator Guthrie, the opinions published in the report of an American commission some years ago -
A national bank supreme over, and ultimately absorbing, all private institutions, represents the most powerful bulwark for our credit, the security of our people, and the resources of our country. - Mr. R. Comtesse Swiss Minister for Finance.
Without a national bank authorized to emit currency, to control the gold resources and collect foreign bills, national finance and the economic system cannot be consistently developed. - Marquis Katsura, Japanese Minister for Finance.
It is difficult to understand how an undertaking of such universal interest should be left to private enterprise. - Maurice Patron, in his report on the Bank of France.
In a document compiled by the American commission there also appeared the following comment: -
A national bank, if it is to be a national institution, must control credit, or fail in its duties.
Mr. Gilmor Brown, one of the witnesses before the Victorian royal commission on banking .in 1894, said that after his experience as a bank manager for over twenty years, he was convinced that the capitalist banking system was a disgrace to civilized communities; that it placed in the hands of a small committee a power greater than that of governments. The Bankers Association of Australia, he added, was a close corporation, bound together by cohesive power of plunder, and levied direct taxes on the enterprise, industry, and production of the community, greater by far than those imposed by the Government. The banks controlled reserves, rates of interest, and credit, and possessed more absolute jurisdiction than the Government over the livelihood of the people, their savings and monetary future. In reply to a question by one of the commissioners, Mr. Brown said that, in his view, the banking system in Australia represented a currency monopoly - a corner in credit. In the crisis that occurred in 1891 thousands of business people were utterly crushed owing to the complete breakdown of the banking system. I take the following extract from Money Power, a well known publication by Mr. Anstey, an honorable member of another place: -
The Commercial was the most notorious of the defaulting banks in 1893. It decided a 12 per cent, dividend, and then closed its doors upon 30,000 depositors and millions of deposits. It then appropriated one-third of the deposits as “ preference “ capital, and gave receipts on the indefinite future for the twothirds balance. Other banks followed the Commercial example, and thousands of depositors were left penniless, compelled to sell their deposit receipts and their compulsory shares for a fraction of their face value. The directors of these fiduciary institutions had cross loaned to each other enormous sums of other people’s money. Many of them owed £100,000, others £200,000, some £300,000, .yet while they were pushing other people to the wall, they conspired with each other, met in secret, and wiped off their mutual obligations for a few pence or one farthing in the pound. The)’ kept their assets, gave each other clean receipts, and got through the legislature of the State an act of Parliament making it an offence for any person or newspaper to give publicity to their scandalous secret “ compositions.”
They not only wiped off each others’ debts to the institutions they controlled, whose depositors’ money they had borrowed, upon whose remaining assets they had foreclosed, but from the foreclosed funds they again “ borrowed “ to purchase the scrip and deposit receipts of the thousands they had ruined. Thus these “ financiers “, trusted custodians of other men’s money, emerged from the struggle more wealthy than ever.
That is something which tells against private banking institutions. In 1157 the Venetian Republic set up a bank, which carried on with a paper currency for 600 years, and had no failure. Venice was the banking centre of the world for hundreds of years. It shows that a nation can carry on a banking business without a gold backing. We are told to get back to the gold standard. What does it amount to? A gold reserve has never saved a nation from financial distress. Credit based on a gold backing has failed in every commercial crisis, and always the government of the country in which the crisis has occurred has been obliged to come to the assistance of private banking institutions by the issue of treasury notes. The banks of England were saved by that means during the recent war. As a matter of fact at that time there was no currency in circulation in Great Britain, except millions of treasury notes. The banking institutions of England actually used the people’s money when they made millions available to the British Government to carry on the war. The money they lent was the Government’s own money, upon which they charged interest, and compound interest to such an extent that it is no wonder they were said to have made a profit of £200,000,000 out of war loans.
Labour makes no secret that its object is to nationalize the banking institutionsof Australia.
– It has a big task in front of it.
– The task is not so big as the honorable senator imagines. Our objective will be attained gradually. We know what strides have been made by the Commonwealth Bank since it was established in 1910. That institution had a small beginning, but against what seemed to be almost overwhelming odds, and in spite of the lack of support of Nationalist Governments, it has made wonderful progress. Had proper support been given to it by past administrations, the nationalization of banking in Australia would have been much farther advanced than it is to-day.
It is my opinion that a majority of the members of the board of directors of the Commonwealth Bank are out of sympathy with the bank itself. I have been told that in many instances a stranglehold has been placed upon the bank when it has been looking out for further business. Men who have been anxious to transfer from private banks to the Commonwealth Bank have been prevented from doing so, probably by the direction of the board, whose concern is more for the interests of private institutions than for those of the bank under its control. I should think that the controllers of the Commonwealth Bank should be broadminded enough to accept unsolicited business, even if it is taken at the expense of other institutions. The fault, however, rests not with the members of the board, but with those who appointed them.
Private financial institutions are like an octopus, their tentacles reaching out all over the world. They control commerce everywhere. “We know that when Roosevelt made an attempt to “scotch” the big steel trust of America, the banking institutions of that country were up in arms immediately, and we heard nothing more of any prosecutions. Every day it is forced upon us more and more that government is finance, and finance is government. We recognize that unless the people of Australia control the financial system of the country that system will control them. I fail to see where there is any danger in the people controlling the country’s system of finance. The Commonwealth Bank has done great good to Australia. It brought to our industries millions of pounds during the war, and it has earned a profit of £20,000,000. If we had had only one financial institution in Australia during the twenty years the Commonwealth Bank has been in existence, and if the whole of the profits derived by our financial institutions during that period have been earned by one national institution, what an immense sum of money would have come back into revenue for expenditure in the form of reproductive works. There would not have been the unemployment we have to-day. What backing is there behind the note issue of Australia? No one can say that a sovereign can be obtained for every note that has been issued. What is really behind our notes is the credit of the nation. It is better than all the gold backing. What I mean by credit is the productivity of the nation, and that of Australia is great indeed. We shall always have an immense credit behind our note issue, and I fail to see any danger in our attempt to get away from the orthodox methods of finance. At any rate, we shall make every endeavour to do so, and we will allow the people of Australia to say whether the system we advocate is likely to be a failure or a success. It could not land the country into a greater mess than it is in to-day. We must get the people back to work, and with that end in view this Government has introduced certain measures. They have been defeated either by this Senate or by the attitude of the Commonwealth Bank Board; but we shall keep on trying, and when we go before the people, choosing our own time to do so, the issue to be decided will be “ the banks versus the people “.
– As a member of the select committee set up by this chamber to examine the Central Reserve Bank Bill, I want to make one or two brief observations upon the measure, and upon the work of the committee. The first question which came into the minds of the committee was whether there was anything in the Government’s proposal which would be of value to the people of Australia at the present time. This is one of the most, revolutionary and dangerous measures ever introduced into this Parliament. If the Senate passed the bill in its present form we should be setting up a banking institution which would be under absolute political control. The whole proposal from beginning to end reeks of politics; I hope the day will never come when we shall have in this country a caucuscontrolled bank. The directors of the Commonwealth Bank, in their halfyearly report, refer to the work it is doing as a central bank in this way -
The general position has all tended to the development of closer relations between the Commonwealth Bank and the trading banks of Australia. To-day the Commonwealth Bank is in reality functioning as a central bank, and the reserves of the trading banks deposited with the Commonwealth Bank are fully ?n accord with the requirements of central banking. This co-operation between the trading banks and the Commonwealth Bank has been of great assistance in arranging the many difficult financial problems which arose during the half-year.
It is fortunate that in the Commonwealth Bank Board we have men familiar with banking in all its ramifications, and who are sufficiently strong to resist political pressure. In a time of crisis it is more than ever necessary that the banks should be controlled by persons capable of checking the activities of currency faddists and socialistic dreamers. The members of the select committee studied this subject from every angle, and I trust that honorable senators have carefully read the committee’s second report. A central reserve bank must necessarily handle the Government’s business. A study of the Bank of England - its history and its experience - gives us some valuable information with respect to central banking. The Bank of England is a real central bank; but it became so more by chance than by design. It follows that, when the State grants to a bank certain privileges which other banks do not enjoy, it will expect something in return. It means that the State enters into a relationship with that bank under which the State becomes the master and the bank the servant, and that is where the danger arises. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, when the Bank of England suspended cash payments, trouble arose because the influence of the Government was too strong. One has only to read the correspondence between Pitt the younger and the Governor of the Bank of England, in the years immediately preceding the suspension of cash payments in 1797, to decide that political influence, or political pressure, upon any bank is fatal. At that time the Governor of the Bank of England pleaded, remonstrated, and threatened, and Pitt promised and promised, but Pitt was in the grip of absolute necessity. He could not keep his promises, and in consequence the Bank of England had to suspend cash payments. No governmental or central bank has at any time in the world’s history ever been able to successfully resist a government which stands over it.
If the Senate were foolish enough to pass this bill in its present form, it would be setting up a.n institution which, in the present circumstances, would be absolutely under caucus control. That would be absolutely fatal to the successful func- tioning of the bank ; and that is why I am absolutely and utterly opposed to the bill in its present form. It is practically impossible to satisfactorily amend the measure. If a central reserve bank is to be established on the lines recommended by the select committee, it will be necessary to redraft the bill. The Government’s proposal is absolutely unsound, and reeks with political influence and political control. God help any bank established on the lines suggested when the Government is in trouble and the bank is in its hands. It could not resist ; it would have to give way and that would be the end. I quote the following extract from a publication entitled The Theory and Principles of Central Banking, by “Wm. A. Shaw, Litt.D., Editor of the Calendar of Treasury Records at His Majesty’s Public Records office, in which he examines the British and United States of America systems of banking with respect to the central bank as a government banker. Mr. Shaw says -
Every State Bank or central bank that has perished in history has perished because the State has taken its assets and given in return only a worthless I.O.U. As a mere lesson in history it would seem that the very idea of a government bank is a pernicious one, 13 being at once dangerous and unconstitutional. And, if this is true, the lesson is more necessary to be taken to heart to-day than ever before. If a dictator seizes the reins of power, as has happened recently even in Europe, not to mention Central and South America, he may drain every drop of blood from the State bank or national bank, if there be one, and may strew the ground with the ruins of the institution. Such a dictator would meet with universal execration. But the section of communist politics which believes in nationalization of banking to-day would practically do the same thing in the very same way and from the very same motive, though it would lay its hand on its heart all the time and call its action by a different name.
On page 242 of the same publication the writer states -
All and every form of official connexion between a banking system and a national treasury or exchequer system is per se improper. The State only enters into such an unholy alliance in order to use the bank as a milch cow; and in entering any such unholy alliance any and every central bank or banking system is warped and twisted from its. proper function. The true purpose of a banking system and of a true central bank as the centre of such a system is to keep the whole industrial organizm alive by pumping healthy blood to every part of it. Its purpose is not to advance money to a needy government or to prop up anything which is debilitated and rotten whether dictator, or State, or industry concerned, or individual.
That is not its job. The evidence given before the committee clearly discloses that the Commonwealth Bank, as it is constituted to-day, is doing all that is possible, and, as a large portion of the reserves of the associated banks have voluntarily been placed under its control it is, to all intents and purposes, functioning as a central bank. I submit that particularly during a crisis we should not lay ourselves open to suspicion. We should not attempt, at great expense - heavy expenditure would be involved - to establish a central reserve bank, and by so doing cause a great deal of uneasiness. An alteration in the present banking system would result in distrust and suspicion, and the people would think that, financially, things were not as satisfactory as they ought to be. The following quotation from paragraph 12 on page 10 of the committee’s report sums up the position : -
Your committee is further convinced that the establishment of a central reserve bank under political control, and designed in a large measure to meet the supposed requirements of governmental expenditure would confirm existing distrust and prevent that return of confidence which is essential to the well-being of Australia.
I leave it at that.
This is a dangerous and an insidious proposal. If the Senate were to pass the bill as it stands, I have not the slightest doubt that it would accelerate the progress of Australia along the road to ruin. It would not serve any useful purpose. Instead of restoring confidence, it would increase the mistrust that is felt towards this country. The opportunity to use political influence in a scheme of this nature is bound to be abused, and under those circumstances the bank would be a rotten reed on which to lean. To-day the Commonwealth Bank, in co-operation with the associated banks, is straining its resources, to the utmost to deal with the crisis through which we are passing. If the Government desires to persist with this project, I suggest that it legislate to set up a central reserve bank on the lines recommended in the report. of the select committee of the Senate.
.- I support the proposal that the bill be read a second time at a later date, so that it may be recast by the Government in accordance with the terms laid down in the report of the select committee.
One thing which must be apparent to every person in Australia is that the conservative policy that has been adopted by the banking institutions of this country is amply justified by the position with which we are confronted. The Australian people should be grateful to those institutions for having conducted their business so conservatively within recent years. As previous speakers have pointed out, they were taught a severe lesson in 1S93. Having adopted a far less conservative policy than they are now following, they then found themselves faced with difficulties which caused every institution with one or two exceptions to close its doors, thus imposing severe losses on the people. In the United States of America, banking is not under government supervision as it is to a greater or less extent in Australia, and is not conducted on anything like so conservative a basis. Persons with little or no experience or capital can establish a bank, and accept deposits from private individuals. During the last twelve months bank after bank in that country has closed its doors, with the result that the people who had deposited their money with those institutions lost everything which they possessed. More recently also in France, one of the principal banks closed its doors. Having advanced to the limit of its resources when high prices ruled for primary products, real estate, and other forms of banking investment, its difficulties became so great when values dropped that it had to default to its depositors. Fortunately, on account of the safe policy that has been followed by the banking institutions of this country, similar occurrences have not been experienced, although in the view of many economists the present crisis is more severe than that through which Australia passed in 1893.
I endorse the remarks of Senator Guthrie in relation to the state of Australia’s credit. It is a regrettable fact that our stocks are quoted on the overseas money market at a very much lower rate than are those of our sister dominions.
I am perfectly satisfied that, if a sound financial policy were announced on behalf of the Government, very little difficulty would be experienced in raising a sufficient amount to get us out of our present troubles; and that, when existing loans had to be repaid or renewed, the transaction would be effected at a lower rate than we are paying with respect to the bulk of our loans to-day. It was my privilege to be in London for quite a considerable period last year, during which five gilt-edged securities were placed on that market. A South African 5 per cent, loan amounting to £10,966,400, repayable between 1950 and 1970, was floated on the 7th July, 1930, and was so heavily over-subscribed that only 15 per cent, of the amount applied for was granted to each individual. That furnishes proof that there is no lack of money overseas provided that the Government in power in the country which is seeking accommodation is prepared to administer its affairs on sound economic lines. Who will say that the people of Australia are not as British as the people of our sister dominion of South Africa ? Yet the fact remains that our Government institutions have been ignoring every economic law; and until we show that at any rate we are making some attempt to live within our income, our difficulties will not disappear.
– Was the honorable senator in England when the last Bruce-Page Government loan crashed ?
– No. I am of the opinion that the reason why the bulk of that loan was left with the underwriters was that they wished ultimately to sell it at a premium. That has been done times out of number with Australian loans in London.
– That is a terrible indictment of the present banking system.
– It is not. The trouble has been that the raising of practically the whole of Australia’s finance in London has been left in one set of hands. What I want to point out, however, is that the overseas investor is just as anxious to lend his money to Australia as to any other country; and, as Senator Guthrie pointed out, the matter is determined wholly by the way in which the affairs of the country concerned are conducted. I saw an Indian loan of £12,000,000, re payable in 1935-37, floated on the 15th October last. It carried an interest rate of 6 per cent., and was issued at par. Those who invest money in Australia and other dominion loans, are not extraordinarily rich people, as is generally imagined, but are the thrifty people who wish to invest their savings. I admit that they follow largely the advice of their brokers. The prospectus for the Indian, loan, to which I have referred, appeared in the Times of the 15th October last. The lists were opened at 9.30 a.m. and by 10 a.m. a notice was posted outside the Bank of England stating that they were closed. That loan was over-subscribed many times. In every case when a loan is being issued in London a small advertisement is inserted in the Times, the Daily Telegraph and other leading London newspapers ; there is no campaign similar to those that are indulged in when loans are being issued in Australia.
My reason for supporting the amendment is that I believe that all the functions of a central reserve bank are being carried out by the Commonwealth Bank. Senator McLachlan, in the course of his able speech, pointed out that events are moving so rapidly in the financial world that what appears to be the right thing at the moment may be entirely wrong in the course of the next two or three months. It is well for us to have a short breathing space, and if necessary to make further investigations, before we commit ourselves to the type of system to be adopted. I hold no brief for the private banking institutions; but we have to be grateful to those institutions for having proceeded along sound lines, and adopted safe margins in regard to advances. One of the reasons why they are so safe to-day is that they have not gone in for the risky type of financing to which some government banking institutions have lent themselves, such as the credit foncier system. Only a few months ago this Senate passed - mistakenly, I now think - a bill empowering advances to be made up to 90 per cent, for house building. No private institution in this country would be prepared to make such an advance. The result is that to-day a tremendous amount of the money loaned on mortgage is hanging in the air uncovered, on account of the depreciation of real estate values.
The financial stability of Australia at the present time is very largely due to the conservative and safe attitude observed by the private banking institutions of this country. The confidence of the people is reflected in the share quotations of those institutions. I intend to vote for the amendment. If, at a later stage, a bill is brought before the Senate for the establishment of a central reserve bank, I hope that it will be along the lines of the recommendations of the select committee.
– I shall not speak at length, because I propose to honour the arrangement arrived at by the Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) that we should proceed to a division before the dinner adjournment. A good deal of the debate on this question has been an evasion of the issue raised by Senator McLachlan. The question before the Senate is whether the bill should be allowed to enter the committee stage or be defeated on the second reading. It is useless for honorable senators to raise catch cries such as “ political control,” or to refer to what has taken place in Ireland, Switzerland, South Africa, or elsewhere. Senator O’Halloran put his finger on the real issue when he said that a select committee, appointed by the party now in opposition, having inquired into the question of the establishment of a central reserve bank, and having presented a report, has now run away from its own report. If that were not the case, those members of the select committee who believe in a central reserve bank would at least allow the measure to get into committee. The Opposition, with its big majority, could so amend the measure there as to fetter the so-called political control that it so much fears.
– Could not the Government accept the recommendation of the select committee?
– It will have no opportunity to do so if the second reading is defeated. Had Senator Lynch not been so engrossed in his commendable study of Irish history as entirely to forget the procedure adopted in the Senate, he would not have committed himself to the extent he. did.
The honorable senator knows that, whether the Government is prepared to accept the recommendations of the select committee or not, the Opposition majority could mould the bill to its own liking in committee. The. people are entitled to know why the Opposition, which professes to believe in a system of central reserve banking, and which has in this chamber a majority which gives it absolute power to re-cast the bill in whatever form it desires, chooses to adopt the contemptuous attitude of rejecting the bill on the second reading. I invite Senator Colebatch, who fears political control of banking, to study the Constitution, which gives to this Parliament absolute power to deal with banking and currency. The passing of the second reading would enable the measure to get into committee, where it could be moulded to provide for political or other control of banking, as the Opposition majority decided. It matters not how honorable senators opposite may cloud the issue. The point we have to decide now is whether this bill shall be allowed to reach the committee stage. Members of the Opposition, while professing to have a great respect for a central banking system, propose to treat in a contemptuous manner the first attempt in Australia, to establish a central reserve bank.
– We propose that the second reading shall take place six months hence.
– The honorable senator knows that the carrying of’ an amendment that a bill be read in six months’ time finally disposes of it. If the Opposition insists on carrying the amendment, its action can be interpreted only as a refusal to’ allow Parliament to create a central reserve bank. It is inconsistent and ridiculous for honorable senators who profess to believe in a system to vote against it. I suggest that they should at least be consistent, and show their acceptance of the principle embodied in the bill by agreeing to the second reading.
– I suggest that the Government have the bill re-drafted along the lines recommended by the select committee, and then reintroduced.
– There is no necessity for that. The bill can be remoulded in committee in such manner as honorable senators opposite may decide.
– Almost every clause of the bill would have to be altered to make it conform to the committee’s recommendations.
– Even so, the passing of the second reading would let the country know that we are prepared to vote in support of principles in which we profess to believe.
– If the Government will give a guarantee to remould the bill along the lines of the committee’s report, I shall vote for the second reading.
– If the bill gets into committee, and is not remoulded there in accordance with the recommendations of the select committee, the honorable senator can vote against the third reading. If honorable senators believe in the principle of a central reserve bank, they should support the second reading, and, later, attempt to mould the bill along lines with which they are in agreement. Should they fail in their efforts they could vote against the third reading, which, I remind them, is just as effective a way of disposing of the measure as voting against the second reading.
– Would it not be a waste of time to attempt to alter the bill in committee in view of the Treasurer’s declaration in relation to the nationalization of banking?
– I do not think so. It is true that the ultimate objective of the Labour party is the socialization of industry. The difference between the Labour party and other parties is that while anti-Labour parties wish to accomplish their purpose immediately, the Labour party is prepared to reach its objectiveby stages. Before effect can be given to its full programme, a good deal of educational work must be undertaken. I again suggest to honorable senators opposite that they will be more consistent if they allow the bill to pass the second reading. They can reject it on the third reading if in committee it is not remodelled to their satisfaction.
-We prefer to do it at this stage.
– I realize that the big majority which the Opposition has in this chamber enables it to dispose of unwanted legislation in a quick and lively manner; but I remind honorable senators that they have frequently urged that the Senate is not a party chamber, and that measures which come before it should be dealt with on their merits rather than from a party point of view. If our parliamentary procedure is to follow the lines of party-
– The honorable senator would be more correct if he said parliamentary conduct instead of parliamentary procedure.
– The two terms are almost synonymous. I protest against the intention of the Opposition to prevent the bill from reaching the committee stage. It has attempted to cloud the issue. I, therefore, repeat that the real issue before the Senate is whether those who believe in central banking are prepared to allow the Senate, in committee, to discuss the question of the constitution of a central reserve bank.
Question - That the word “now” proposed to be left out (Senator McLachlan’s amendment) be left out - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question proposed -
That the words “ this day six months “ be added.
Amendment (by Senator Sir Hal colebatch) proposed -
That to the words proposed to be added, the following be added: - “ and that, in the opinion of the Senate, the Government should take an early opportunity, after further investigation and full consideration of the evidence collected by, and the report of, the Senate Select Committee, of introducing a CentralReserve Bank Bill embodying the principle of freedom from political controland the maintenance of a currency system that will facilitate co-operation with the central reserve banks of other countries.”
Question put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. W.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Barnes) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday, the 29th April, at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 6.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 April 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1931/19310423_senate_12_128/>.