22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIIin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether it is a fact that recently he met representatives of the States regarding a national roadsplan. Is it also a fact that the only bar to agreement was the lack of finance? If the answers to the foregoing questions are in the affirmative, will the Minister say whether he explored the possibility of the States granting to’ the Commonwealth the necessary powers to assume full responsibility for a national roads plan? Alternatively, since a national roads plan is so imperative, from a defence as well as an economic point of view, will the Government take the necessary steps to make available the requisite finance through the Commonwealth Bank before the bank is mutilated, if it ever is?
– Apparently the honorable senator has some misunderstanding of the position as it actually exists. A meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council was held in Perth recently, as one of the council’s regular meetings. The council comprises myself, as Commonwealth Minister for Shipping and Transport, other Commonwealth Ministers having an interest in transport, and Transport Ministers from each of the State governments. At that meeting, certain proposals submitted by road organizations were presented for the consideration of council in relation to what was described as a national roads plan. There was no disagreement in the council. On the contrary, there was unanimity that the road organizations which had made the representations should be informed that the Australian Transport Advisory Council was satisfied that the State road authorities had the necessary plans and could carry out the road construction and maintenance necessary to put into effect a national roads plan - in other words, that the plan was already there and that it was not necessary for one to be presented. In recent years, there has been rather a tendency to present plans in respect of road transport; but the State authorities themselves say quite emphatically that they have the requisite plans, and that view is shared by the Commonwealth.
As to the financial proposals, it was said quite bluntly, as it has been said over the years by the Transport Advisory Council, that a shortage of finance prevented the implementation of a national roads plan.
– That is the only shortage. There is no other shortage.
– I said “ a shortage of finance “. I want to make it clear to the honorable senator that the Transport Advisory Council, which consists of members of all political parties, did not take the view, which apparently he takes, that it is the sole and exclusive responsibility of the Commonwealth to provide all the finance. Indeed, the representatives of the States indicated what they had done in the past and the plans they had for the future for raising money for road construction and maintenance. The only outcome of the meeting was that the road authorities which had made the representations were informed that their proposals for the setting up of a national roads board, or the implementation of what they described as a national roads plan, were considered to be unnecessary because the State authorities had all the plans they wanted and were busy trying to find avenues for raising finance. The authorities who made the representations were asked whether they were prepared to submit any ideas as to how the finance might be raised.
– What about the last part of the question - making the finance available through the Commonwealth Bank?
– If you give us a development bank, we might do that-
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, by saying that the timber industry in Tasmania is experiencing its worst trading conditions since pre-war days. The industry has made repeated submissions to the Commonwealth Government over a period of three years for restrictions to be placed on imports of Malayan and Borneo timbers lest the Tasmanian industry be forced to close down except for meeting State requirements. The Minister for Trade granted a hearing of the case by the Tariff Board. The Tariff Board’s inquiry commenced in May, 1957, and concluded in July, 1957. Figures issued by the Commonwealth Forestry and Timber Bureau show that imports from Malaya and Borneo for 1956-57 were the highest ever recorded. This is my question: Will the Government consider taking action to protect the timber industry on lines similar to those taken to protect the Australian printed cotton textile industry a short while ago, pending the taking of action on the Tariff Board’s report?
– All I can do is to undertake to place the honorable senator’s question before the Minister for Trade, and I do that.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to an appeal to the Government by the president of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation for the immediate introduction of a supplementary budget to grant tax relief? Will the Government consider reducing the taxation of the basic wage earner, the small businessman, and other lower income earners who contribute the major portion of the huge surplus of revenue that is being lent to the States at interest rates of up to 5 per cent.?
– I have not seen the report. I am quite sure that Senator Ashley, who has had long parliamentary experience, knows that nearly all the points mentioned in his question concerned matters of policy, and that it is not customary for Ministers to be asked to explain government policy on the floor of the House. I am sure the honorable senator appreciates that.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as the representative in this chamber of the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that the Minister for External Affairs has said that the attitude of the Menzies Government in respect of the present trouble in Indonesia is one of non-interference? Is it also a fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in its 7.45 a.m. news session on Saturday last, announced that its representative in Djakarta had cabled that the Indonesian Government had protested to the Australian Government against alleged broadcasts in Indonesian by Radio Australia in support of the Sumatran rebels? Will the Minister take an early opportunity to clarify the position, and. will he also lay on the table of the Library copies of recent Radio Australia broadcasts to Indonesia, together with translations in English of such broadcasts?
– I did not see the report on which the honorable senator’s question is based. I shall take up the points raised by him with my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. By way of brief preface, T say that I admire any encouragement given to Australian children to be thrifty and to bank their monetary savings. I was pleased, therefore, to read in Tuesday’s issue of the “ Canberra Times “ that the Commonwealth Savings Bank had set up a branch in the Canberra High School and was doing brisk business. Does the setting up of this school savings section involve the school staff and pupils in much extra work and responsibility? Do the children and teachers administer the individual accounts and bank the money in a single account in the Commonwealth Savings Bank, or does the bank open an account for each child and then carry out all the administrative work involved?
– The honorable senator refers to a long-standing school savings scheme which is part of the operations of the Commonwealth Savings Bank. The administration of the scheme lies entirely within the Commonwealth Bank itself. The newspaper report referred to what is called the student-operated school bank scheme which does not involve a great deal of work on the part of the school staff and the pupils. The opening of the accounts and the administrative work is handled by the Commonwealth Savings Bank staff, the pupils’ activities being confined to recording the deposits made by their fellow pupils at each school.
– My question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport relates to the allotment of priorities for work involved in the construction of the standard rail gauge throughout Australia, and has been provoked by an announcement by the municipal council of Kalgoorlie to the effect that it does not care very much for the suggestion of the South Australian Government that the Melbourne-Adelaide section of the work should be given second priority. On the other hand, the people on the gold-fields appear to favour the recommendations of the Wentworth Committee that first priority should be allotted to the Wodonga-Melbourne section, and second priority to the Broken Hill-Port Pirie section. Has the South Australian Government made any request for priority as indicated by the municipal council of Kalgoorlie? If so, will the Government, before it makes a decision, give every consideration to the priorities recommended by the Wentworth Committee?
– I am aware that in recent months the Premier of South Australia has made reference, in one or two public utterances, to the possibility of standardizing the line between Adelaide and Serviceton, although official notification has not yet reached me.
– He suggested that negotiations should be instituted between the Victorian Government and the Commonwealth to see whether the standard rail gauge on that section should be given some priority.
– As I stated, I have no official knowledge of what he said although I have seen a reference to it.
– When did he say it?
– The Government will give consideration to the recommendations contained in the Wentworth report when undertaking any standardization work in future.
– Has the attention of the Minister for National Development been directed to an article in yesterday’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ headed “ Deadlock over Plan to Build £10,000,000
Town “? The article pointed out that a private group of business interests, using overseas capital, was prepared to embark on a £10,000,000 housing scheme at St. Mary’s, in New South Wales, comprising more than 3,000 homes, as well as shops and community services. However, the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board, which is a New South Wales Government instrumentality, has refused to provide water and sewerage facilities for the project, lt has refused, also, the offer of a Joan of £600,000 from the company, which has said to the board, in effect, “ If money is your problem in providing the normal home requirements of water and sewerage, we are prepared to lend you the money to do the job “. Will the Minister make urgent representations to Mr. Cahill, the Premier of New South Wales, in connexion with the matter and request him to investigate this fantastic behaviour of one of the New South Wales Government’s instrumentalities, which is likely to result in the people of the State being denied some 3,000 new homes? Does this position make a mockery of the housing conference that Was called by Mr. Cahill several weeks ago?
– I shall answer the last part of the question first. There is no need to cite this particular incident in order to make a mockery of the housing conference that was held in New South Wales, because it was a blatantly political offensive from beginning to end. It achieved no useful purpose other than to permit Mr. Cahill to raise his hands to heaven and again call on the Commonwealth Government to give him more money. I read the newspaper article to which the honorable senator has referred with a great deal of interest. It was the first I had heard of the proposed scheme to build a £10,000,000 town at St. Mary’s. I have asked my department to see whether it can obtain some additional information about the proposal for me. I am not in a position to say whether the proposal is as has been outlined in the press, and I should like to find out more about it before expressing an opinion.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral inform the Senate of the legal difference between a university prankster and a teenage delinquent or bodgie when both indulge in breaches of the peace or the destruction of property?
– The honorable senator should know from her long experience that a legal opinion on any matter should not be sought by way of a question asked in this chamber.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. As the residents of Albany in Western Australia are, 1 understand, rather concerned about the non-development of their . port, and having in mind the rapid development of the hinterland, will the Minister inform me what facilities the Government has provided to improve the port facilities there?
– The question of port development, as such, is a matter for the State Government. The Commonwealth Government does not embark on any port developmental schemes. I understand that some development has taken place at the port of Albany and that work in this connexion is still proceeding. It might be pertinent to point out to the honorable senator that only recently, as a result of quite “lengthy negotiations, the Commonwealth has been able to free Albany of the restrictions hat were recently imposed on that port by virtue of the operation of the load line convention. Albany is now a free port all the year round. It might also be to the point to remind the honorable senator that during the last twelve months both Esperance and Albany have enjoyed - for the first time in about twenty years - a scheduled two-monthly shipping service.
– Yesterday, I sought from the Minister for Shipping and Transport information concerning the future of men at present engaged in trans-shipping goods from the Commonwealth Railways to the Western Australian Government Railways at Kalgoorlie and Parkeston. The Minister said that he would have the matter investigated and give me a reply later. I have since received communications from the local district council and the Western Australian Government Railways Employees Union expressing their anxiety about the matter, ls the Minister yet in a position to answer my question? If not, will he do so as early as possible?
– I have asked the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner for immediate advice on this matter, but have not yet received it. As soon as I do, I shall be happy to communicate with the honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers: -
I. (a) A basic principle of post-war immigration planning has been that “ family migration “ is “ good migration “. Whilst in recent years it has been possible to concentrate on the introduction of families, this has not always been the case. For instance, in the early years of the postwar schemes, it was necessary to introduce a number of single male workers to meet the labour demands of Australia’s essential industries. Typical examples were the building industry and associated industries, as well as the work force required for new developmental projects and for communications and transport. With the greater degree of balance which has subsequently been achieved between the supply and demand for labour, and the gradual overtaking of war-caused backlogs in the essential industries, it has been possible to reduce the emphasis on the worker component of the migrant intake and to restore family migration to its proper place. An examination of the 1954 census figures shows that the unbalance of the sexes was greatest in the case of migrants from southern European countries.
Policy changes were introduced early in 1956 in respect of full-fare immigration to Australia from the southern European countries. One of the objectives was the correction of this unbalance between the sexes. There was naturally a timelag before the results of the new arrangements became apparent in arrival figures. In the second half of 1956, male full-fare arrivals continued to outnumber females, but in 19S7 females considerably outnumbered males. The figures for Italian and Greek full-fare arrivals since June, 19S6, are as follows: -
It is thus apparent that the deterioration of the sex ratio for southern European migrants has been arrested, and that worthwhile progress has been made in reducing the disparity which had built up during the period prior to June, 1956.
The policy governing admission of relatives and friends of migrants does not give rise to any problem of unbalance between the sexes so far as other countries of Europe are concerned. Under assisted passage schemes, increased emphasis has been placed on family migration, in preference to immigration of single males, and family reunions have been promoted by increasing the inflow of “ nominated dependants “ brought to Australia as assisted migrants. A scheme for bringing single women from Greece to Australia to work as domestics has been in operation for some time, and the possibilities of making similar arrangements in respect of other countries are being explored. Additionally, Australian migration offices overseas have been advised that they -should endeavour to increase their selection of single women in occupations for which there is a demand in Australia. Among the displaced persons who came to Australia in the immediate postwar years, there was an excess of males of about 30,000, and it has not been possible to make any substantial progress in rectifying this situation. Nevertheless, as the result of representations by the Australian authorities, there has been a small trickle of dependants from iron curtain countries in recent months, and this has enabled some displaced person families to be reunited. 1 (b). Under existing policy, southern European migrants are not allowed to nominate male relatives, other than dependants. This arrangement was found to be necessary to correct the sex ratio amongst such migrants. Apart from this restriction, entry permits are granted to parents and to other dependent members of migrants’ families, provided that they meet Australian requirements in regard to health and character. When a married man, who wishes to precede his family to Australia, applies for permission to emigrate, an examination is made of his dependants in order to ensure that they also will be eligible for entry at a later date. If he indicates that he proposes, in addition, to call for his parents at a later stage, they also are examined.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers - 1 and 2. No such assurances are permitted. When a prospective migrant is being called forward for examination by the Department’s officers overseas, he is required to bring with him his wife and dependent children; and he is allowed to bring forward dependent parents also, if he wishes to bring them to Australia later. The dependants are then examined with the migrant. If the breadwinner or his wife or any of his dependent children are found unable to pass the examination, the whole family unit is refused permission to come here; if a dependent parent is found ineligible, the breadwinner is warned that this does not prevent his own admission to Australia, but that if he does come here he will not be able to bring the ineligible parent here. The practice of examining dependants at the same time as their breadwinner, even when they are not accompanying the latter to Australia, is based solely on the desire to reduce the number of cases where people come to Australia only to find later that their families cannot join them here. The fact that the dependants may be able to pass the examination once does not, for example, exclude the possibility of deterioration in their health before the breadwinner decides to bring them to Australia - sometimes years after the initial examination. When a migrant already in Australia applies for the admission of his dependants, they are not refused permission to come to Australia solely because of inability to meet the normal high medical standards; special minimum standards are laid down for such cases, because of the compassionate circumstances. The need Cor such minimum standards is in itself a harrier to the giving of assurances (of the kind referred to in the question)long before the dependants are to migrate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to make four amendments to the Life Insurance Act.. The principal amendment results from recent legal advice that the business carried on by funeral funds comes within the definition of life insurance business contained in the act. The Life Insurance Act, as passed by Parliament in 1945, was not intended to cover funeral funds. It was then, and still is, considered that the control of these funds is a matter for the States, which already supervise similar organizations such as friendly societies, cooperative societies, &c. In addition, many of the provisions of the Life Insurance Act cannot be applied to funeral funds without some difficulty.
To clarify the position, the bill now before the Senate adds funeral benefit business to the classes of business specifically excluded from the definition of life insurance business in the act. There is a proviso to this exclusion in clause 4 (c) of the bill, which provides that any funeral benefit business carried on by a life insurance company registered under the act, is deemed to be life insurance business and, therefore, remains subject to the same supervision as the balance of the company’s business.
In response to representations by members, section 94 of the act, which permits a person to effect a life insurance policy on his own life for the benefit of his wife and children, is being extended to include adopted children, step-children or exnuptial children. This amendment follows similar amendments adopted during the last session of the Parliament in connexion with income tax, gift duty and estate duty. The opportunity is being taken to make two minor drafting amendments. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 25th March (vide page 357), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Yesterday evening I traced briefly the history of the Commonwealth Bank and I made the point that although legislation had played a considerable part in the development of the bank, nevertheless it had grown, sometimes in ways that were not expected, largely because of the work of the bankers - the people composing it. I think not sufficient attention has been given to that aspect during the debate in this chamber. It has been assumed that this Parliament has the right to treat the Commonwealth banking institutions - there is now more than one bank - more or less arbitrarily, to make it a football of party policy, and so forth. I want to say that although men like Mr. Fisher, Mr. King O’Malley, Sir Earle Page, Mr. Theodore and Mr. Chifley have left permanent marks on the banking structure-
– Do not forget Sir Arthur Fadden.
Senator McCALLUM__ No, I shall not do that, but I suggest that his great mark will bc made when these bills are passed. Although those men have left their mark on the banking structure, the actual development of the Commonwealth Bank is, as Sir Earle Page said in another place recently, a matter of growth. What we are proposing to do is to meet the latest phase of growth and put into legislative enactment what, to a large extent, already exists.
Much has been made by nearly all honorable senators opposite who have spoken during the debate, and a great deal has been made outside by irresponsible talkers, about the interest of the private banks. It has been assumed in most of that discussion that the private banks merely represent the shareholders. The private banks are the trustees for their depositors, and it is the interest of the depositors that we are representing here to-day, far more than that of the private banks. If honorable senators care to examine the position of all the banks, I think they will find something similar to this: that the amount of money represented by deposits and by loans is always infinitely greater than that put in by the shareholders. That is one of the peculiarities of banking. For instance, in the Bank of New South Wales the capital, according to the last annual report that I read, was £17,560,000. The deposits were £473,863,289, and the loans, including advances of course, were £251,666.000. Therefore, these great institutions represent the interests of all who have placed money with them for safe keeping and of all who have received advances. That means that the whole of our business society and our private life is interwoven with the banks.
The Liberal party, from the moment of its foundation in 1945, accepted the position that this country needed both private and public banking. There can be no reproach of the Liberal party on that score. Honorable senators may say what they like about any of the other parties that have existed in this Parliament, but from its very inception the Liberal party accepted that position, and the Liberal principles have been written into this legislation. It may not mean anything to some honorable senators opposite that they intend to deny to people liberty of choice. I find nothing more satisfactory to me than liberty of choice. It happens that the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney is situated in the same building as are the Federal Members’ Rooms. In order to deal with the Commonwealth Bank, I merely have to go downstairs. So long as I receive the courtesy and consideration that I have always received from the officers of the Commonwealth Bank I shall not go further; but I find it very comforting, Sir, to know that I have only to step across two streets to find the Bank of New South Wales and the Commercial Bank of Australia Limited. Just across the street, on the other side. I think, is the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Limited. If I do not like any of those banks, I can find the Comptoir National D’Escompte de Paris just around the corner. That liberty of choice is of enormous importance. Only on one occasion have I experienced the slightest discourtesy from the Commonwealth Bank and that was from a very junior officer, lt occurred at the height of the legislation over banking, when some rather young and brash people thought that there was going to be only one bank. I do not want that kind of thing to occur again.
To refute this foolish story that we are mutilating the bank, emasculating it, or trying to kill it, let us look at the Commonwealth Banks Bill. Clause 28 provides that -
What becomes of the argument we have heard that the Commonwealth Trading Bank has been asked not to take custom from other people? As if the provisions I have already read were not enough, clause 28 also contains a special provision which removes even the excuse that the object of the legislation is to prevent the Commonwealth Trading Bank from interfering with other banks. It is -
That provision strikes a death blow at virtually the whole of the case that is being put by the Opposition. I say in addition - and this was raised on the Opposition side - that we have improved the position of every one of the component parts of the Banking Corporation by increasing its capital. If that is killing the bank, then it is killing it by kindness.
It has been said that this new structure is unnecessary. I will admit that the bank is operating, and I will also admit that, in their present form, these small parts of the bank which are attached to the central bank are doing their work very well; but I submit, Sir, that the time has come to change that position. The time has come for a more consolidated and creative statute. That is what is being done in concentrating all the trading parts under a banking corporation with, I admit, a quite elaborate organization - an organization which some people say is not immediately necessary. But after all, with a growing lad it is better to have a suit slightly too big and slightly in advance of what he wants than to have one that is too small. I am sure that our banking system has arrived at the stage where these further measures are necessary. They are not so much acts of the Liberal party as acts of all the interests concerned, because these bills have been considered for months and, as we know, that is one of the reasons for the delay. One of the greatest problems of all - that of staff - has been solved very carefully and very well by allowing a common staff to all parts of the Commonwealth Bank except the Reserve Bank, which will need a very small staff for what I might call its operative part. That will be a highly specialized staff which, as another speaker has pointed out, ultimately ought to be drawn not only from the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, but also, if the necessary talent exists there, from the private banking system of the community.
Sir, we do not disguise the fact that the main purpose of this bill is to set up the Reserve Bank. It is because the setting up of that bank might involve some unsatisfactory arrangements that we have gone farther and have overhauled the whole banking system. Why do we need a separate reserve bank? We need it for one reason - to inspire and to maintain confidence, because confidence is the very basis of banking. Without confidence, the whole banking system evaporates. Why were there tragic losses in the ‘nineties? There is no person in Australia who can look back to the ‘nineties with more regret than I do, because I was a member of a family whose business was almost destroyed, as a result of the bank failures of that time. Why did the banks fail? They failed because of lack of confidence. There waa one great bank in New South Wales which did not fail, but it is the bank which, for some reason or other, happens to be the target for frequent attack from honorable senators opposite. That bank never closed its doors. The societies which caused, or which at any rate were the immediate precursors of the tragedy of the ‘nineties, were not the banks but the new land and building societies - an unco-ordinated mushroom growth. But once we have an impartial central bank set right above the others, such a growth will be impossible, because the central bank will indicate the policy that is necessary to prevent that growth.
Two matters of importance are to be conceded to the private banks. One is the separation of the central bank from the Commonwealth Trading Bank. Surely no one can deny the justice of that. In what sphere of society is a man allowed to be both judge and advocate? In the early days of the colonies we had a curious official who was known as a judge-advocate. I do not know exactly how he carried out his functions, but I understand that it was his duty to act as does the AttorneyGeneral, and to attend to the drawing up of indictments, and then to sit down’ solemnly in judgment on the persons indicted. But that system has gone for ever.
It is a truism that to-day a judge must be a judge and a judge only, and that ought to be true of this great banking body.
Somebody has dragged in the name of the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, and has assumed that, because he read a paper in a purely philosophic atmosphere - and, thank heaven, in this country people can discuss principles in such an atmosphere without committing themselves to this group or that group - he is a partisan and can be quoted by one side or the other. The other day, I was discussing the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank with one of his colleagues. That person said, “Do not forget that the Governor of the bank is now a banker. Whatever opinions he may have expressed eight years ago, he has been, during this Government’s occupancy of office, a banker and a banker only.” And I believe that. He would be a very peculiar man indeed if he did not take pride in and feel a strong sense of duty in the new task that .is to be put before him, because he will have an opportunity that no on else has had in history.
The second concession, if we care so to describe it, that is to be made to the private banks is to take away the old method by which reserves can be captured and to substitute the statutory reserve deposit. That, I think, is a more sensible and reasonable way of dealing with the matter. Moreover, it does not weaken the .power of the bank. A great deal of fuss has been made about the provision for 45 days’ notice. That notice is required only if a bank goes beyond the 25 per cent, limit, and I think it will be satisfactory for most purposes. The purpose of it is not to call in the courts but to allow informed public opinion to know what the situation is. Let it be remembered that, if anything like a dictatorial attitude were to be adopted by the central bank, we would need, not only the bank board and the Governor of the bank, but also the government of the country to act in that way. Surely in this country, where democracy means something, they would not move forward to such a policy unless public opinion was solidly behind them.
– What about a Labour government?
– Of course, if we had in the federal sphere the kind of government that we had in New South Wales in 1930, 1931 and 1932, anything could happen. To refer again to Martinplace and the various buildings in that area, the most tragic thing from the viewpoint of State government is that magnificent building half-way up the hill which was erected by a New South Wales government but which was lost because confidence was lost. Whatever faults may be attributed to other politicians, the main reason why confidence was lost was that New South Wales had a Premier who showed that he did not respect the ordinary rights of people who invest money.
The Commonwealth Banking Corporation will be a mighty agent for the development of this country. I referred earlier to the Commonwealth Trading Bank, but now I refer also to the Commonwealth Savings Bank, which is all the greater because of the events I have just mentioned. New South Wales lost its savings bank. There are States which have not, and in many ways they are more fortunate than is New South Wales. But the great Commonwealth Savings Bank is one of the greatest institutions in this country.
It is proposed that there shall be a development bank. The claim has been made that we could establish a development bank by itself. I suppose we could; but if half a dozen different matters call for attention, and if these institutions have outgrown their present legislative basis, how foolish it would be to introduce one or two tinkering measures! It is essential to have a separate reserve bank and to have a development bank, so what the Government seeks to do is to take the existing institutions which have been attached as a kind of sideline to the central bank, set them up as a corporation, and give them a charter. That charter is that they shall assist primary and secondary production, and in particular small industries. This is to be the institution, Sir, that is- to renew - I shall not say “ create “, because, thank heaven, we have plenty of them already - our race of little capitalists. We who believe in private industry believe that it is necessary to have every kind of private industry. We need growing businesses, established businesses, and businesses that have been consolidated.
– With monopolies wiping them out all over the country!
– Nothing could be more false than the interjection that has just been made - that monopoly always prevails.
– I did not say monopoly always prevails.
– The opportunities that private industry offers are such that it is inevitable that some people who are over-venturesome will fail. It is inevitable that the race will be to the swift and the battle to the strong, and sometimes monopoly does prevail. All those people who have studied and understood the subject of monopoly realize that monopoly carries with it the seeds of its own destruction. Of course, I am not one who would say that we should not intervene. I believe that the Government can, and on certain occasions must, intervene; but very often monopoly does carry the seeds of its own destruction. In addition to monopolies that are flourishing like green bay trees, we have monopolies that are destroying themselves, and new businesses are constantly arising. That is the system that we stand for, but which honorable senators opposite would destroy. Some honorable senators opposite seem not merely to be indferent to freedom, but to have a positive hatred for it.
The subject of housing is, as every one admits, one of the most important matters before us at the present time. All three of the separate components of the Banking Corporation will have instructions to attend particularly to that matter. The Commonwealth Trading Bank will deal with it on ordinary banking terms. But the instructions to the other two bodies, the Savings Bank and the Trading Bank, go even further. They are directed to make loans at the lowest practicable rates of interest, that is to say, at ordinary bank interest and not at the exorbitant rates which some senators opposite have been quoting constantly. I very much regret that any one is ever driven to accept those exorbitant rates of interest. This legislation, if it becomes law, will reinforce the banking institutions of this country and will make it infinitely easier for people to obtain money for housing than has been the case in the past.
I shall refer to the legislation as a whole. We intend not so much to re-shape the bank as to re-shape the clothing it is to wear. The institutions have altered during the eight years we have been in office, and if there has been some change of opinion on the part of senior Ministers or other members of the Government, what does that matter? It is a bad thing for a country to be governed by men with fixed ideas who will never learn from experience. This has been an exceptional period in the history of our country with the increase in population; the opening of new industries; and the transformation almost overnight of our cities and, what is much more important to my mind, some of our country towns. We have seen Canberra grow from a series of little suburbs into something like a city and, within a measurable time, we shall see it become in fact a city.
During all that period this bank has expanded. That is another answer to the false charges of the Opposition. The bank has done very well because the Government has encouraged it to do well. If we wished to destroy it, we have been singularly bad workmen because it has flourished, during our period of office, as never before. I re-assert my earlier remarks, that the bank has flourished because the Liberal party has insisted that public banking is an integral part of our banking system and should be protected no less than the private banking institutions. The Australian Country party was partly responsible for the Commonwealth Bank as it now stands, and I give that party full credit for its point of view which has led to the development of the proposed new institution within the bank, the Development Bank. But let no one believe that the idea of the Development Bank was forced on members of the Liberal party. No honorable senator on this side of the chamber welcomes it more than I do, and I think I speak for the majority of my colleagues in this matter.
It is most important that any business be left in the hands of the people who know how to handle it. That concept is often obscured in partisan conflicts. In the Middle Ages a craft was called a mystery. I respect no person more than the skilled craftsman. Now that we have machinery and assembly lines the craftsman, nevertheless, is still the basis of material production. Where would all the factories be without the fitters and turners, skilled competent tradesmen? Where would all the machinery be without the engineers? In any form of activity the craft of a man is something learned by years of experience. I followed one calling for many years, I believe with some little degree of success, but I laugh now when I think of the futilities and failures of my early years. Any craft is a mystery. Banking is a mystery, and the Commonwealth Bank has succeeded because the men guiding it have insisted that they are not routine public servants but bankers, and in the practice of banking they act as any other craftsman would.
I give not only my vote but also my heart and mind to this legislation. I have voted on no measure of which I feel more proud. To honorable senators opposite I say, “ You may defeat this legislation tomorrow or next week; you may bury it “, and there comes into my mind words uttered by Mr. Gladstone when he introduced the Reform Bill in 1868 -
You may bury the bill but this will be its epitaph: “ Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor “ - “ From our bones will arise an avenger “.
If honorable senators opposite bury this legislation to-morrow, an avenger will arise from its bones and banking will take the form we have laid down for it, A clause here or there may be altered, but that is all that will happen. The legislation establishes the form that banking in this country will take, and whether it be to-morrow or next December, these banking bills will become law.
Despite what honorable senators opposite may say, it is not we on this side of the chamber who are the reactionaries on this occasion; it is they who have interrupted the steady growth of the Commonwealth Bank by their obstinate attempt to nationalize the banks. Nobody in this country, except perhaps a few fanatics, ever wanted complete nationalization. Most members of the Labour party wanted only the Commonwealth Bank to progress on the lines proposed in this legislation, the right to choose the bank, government or private, with which they, will conduct their business.
In full confidence, therefore, I support this legislation. Whether it becomes law now or in a few months does not matter. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), who,
I regret to say, intends to resign his office - but, I hope, not as a public figure in the life of this country - has left behind him a monumental piece of work, and whether or not he remains as Treasurer until the legislation is put on the statute-book, it will be a monument to him and to all members of the Government parties who have brought it before the Parliament.
.- These bills should be considered in the light of the circumstances responsible for bringing the Commonwealth Bank into existence. Those circumstances have been referred to briefly by Senator McCallum. I remember the ‘nineties very well indeed. I remember going to a bank on a Saturday morning to cash the weekly wages cheque for my boss, and on the Monday the banks closed. In those days there was no appeal to the Parliament or to the depositors. The banks were a law unto themselves; they closed and thousands of people were ruined; they lost their homes or their equity in their homes, and were evicted on to the streets. The next stage was the exodus to the west, and the establishment of soup kitchens everywhere.
At that time approximately 23 banks were in existence. Since then the number has been reduced to six or seven. The banks that remained open were guaranteed by the government. I remember seeing a notice in red letters on the front of one of the banks - “ Depositors’ funds guaranteed by the Government “. Had the banks then been controlled by the government, that state of affairs could not have come about. What was the reaction of the people? Over the years, there developed a want of confidence in the banks and the people demanded that a government bank be established. Indeed, that course was advocated by the Labour party of those days. When Andrew Fisher advocated the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank, the proposal was treated with sneers and jeers, and the opponents of Labour said, “ What does a miner know about banking ?” Senator Courtice reminds me that the socalled Fisher flimsies were said not to be worth the paper they were printed on! But despite these sneers and jeers and hostile propaganda, eventually .the Commonwealth Bank was established.
The super-intellects, the representatives of the private banks, said that it was impossible for the Commonwealth Bank to carry on. They did all that was physically and politically possible to prevent the bank from continuing. Nevertheless, it did continue and, much to the astonishment of the pessimists of the time, people of prestige occupying responsible positions, the employers’ federation and the like, it prospered.
During both world wars the Commonwealth Bank did a magnificent job compared with what the private banks could have done because it had the backing of the Government. There was cohesion, which was entirely lacking in the private banks. During the second world war, drastic action had to be taken to prevent the private banks from doing what was being done almost everywhere - capitalizing on the war in their own interests. Even the Menzies Government had to bring down national security legislation to prevent the owners of land and capital from robbing the people during war-time. When honorable senators opposite speak disparagingly about the nationalization of banking, they should remember that nationalization was actually introduced during the war years by their own Government because the owners of land and capital - particularly capital - stores and that sort of thing could not be trusted. They were made amenable to the provisions of the National Security Act. When I was Minister for Aircraft Production, my department had the power to examine the books of private companies. In one instance it was proved that certain companies had overcharged the department something like £1,250,000 by faking the books, and the companies were compelled to refund that amount. I do not engage in character assassination, and I would not give names, but it is obvious to me that many firms worked on the principle that they had inherited of robbing thy neighbour.
The Commonwealth Bank has grown in stature, and I ask myself what is the reason for the introduction of the measures now before us. The reason is that the private banks are now being placed in a position that is regarded as desperate. In an effort to stabilize themselves they are attempting, by indirect means, to obtain control of the Commonwealth Bank. There is increasing unemployment in the community, and soup kitchens again have made their appearance in Sydney and Melbourne. I remember the soup kitchens of the ‘nineties, in 1907, 1920 and in 1930. Now, in 1958, despite the Government’s claim that it has made wonderful progress, hundreds of men and women have been reduced to the level of paupers. They have to obtain a ration of soup and a few sandwiches from the soup kitchens every day in order to keep alive. That has been the overall effect of the banking system and the system of private ownership - the private monopoly ownership of land and capital.
Senator McCallum said that the monopolies contained the elements of negation. That is perfectly true. The monopoly banks do contain the elements of negation. That is the reason why there is so much opposition to these measures. The people realize, from their long and costly experiences, that a bank is merely a trader in credit. Years ago, any one who said that the banks obtained millions of pounds for practically nothing by creating credit, would not have been believed. Now the truth of the statement is admitted by the bankers themselves. I have in mind the case of Mr. V. C. Vickers, the Governor of the Bank of England from 1910 to 1919, who resigned because of the fraudulent attitude of the board of directors in going on the gold standard again. I noticed an article in this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ under the heading, “ Bank Rate Highest Since Depression Era “. It reads -
The number of people declared bankrupt last financial year rose 40 per cent, to 1,200 - the highest number since 1931-32 in the depression period.
That is a sign of the times, and it indicates what is really happening. Unemployment is increasing, the number of bankruptcies is increasing and poverty is increasing. What do we propose to do? At page nine of the nineteenth annual report of the National Bank of Australia Limited issued in November last, Mr. Giddy had this to say -
The severe variations in our export income and in the volume of imports we can afford present a very special - and a very difficult - complication for Australia in pursuing stability. Fluctuations in export income cannot be avoided.
That was a criticism of the Menzies Government. He went on -
These problems make it vital that our oversea exchange reserves should be carefully conserved, for it would be a calamity if they were to run down so far that room for manoeuvre was lost.
This is significant -
Then, at some stage, adjustments might have to be so drastic that maintaining business and industry without significant unemployment could be impracticable.
This gentleman is chairman of the company which publishes the Melbourne “ Herald “. We do not hear very much about these people associated with the “ Herald “ because the banks are, more and more, gaining control of the monopolies. They have become the largest shareholders, with the object of starving out the small competitor. Honorable senators may be interested to hear this comment by the Chairman of the National Bank of Australasia Ltd. made on 27th November, 1957 -
I shall make only brief reference to our accounts. For the first time in the bank’s history, our assets exceed £300,000,000. At f 35 1,226,088, the total is £34,696,449 higher than last year.
And what one can say of the banks can be said of other large enterprises also. As, at one end of the social scale, they become bigger and richer, at the other end poverty and unemployment increase. Mr. F. F. Knight, a member of the board of management, in seconding the adoption of the bank’s annual report had this to say -
We are heartened to hear the Chairman say that he commends the proposals of the Government in the bills now before the House to establish a proper Central Bank.
They are heartened because they can see the whole economy becoming more and more unstable. Their purpose is the control of banking in the way envisaged in these bills.
On 30th October, 1957, I directed the attention of the Senate to the menace of growing inflation. Honorable senators will recall that this Government was voted to office on its promise to put value back into the £1, but the £1 has lost value ever since. On 1st April, 1957, the Chancellor of the Exchequer produced in the British Parliament figures showing that the purchasing power of the £1 sterling had depreciated since 1914 by 78 per cent. In money terms, it has depreciated by 15s. 8d. Thus, sterling is to-day worth in England only 4s. 4d., as compared with £1 in 1914. If one allows for the exchange rate between Australia and the United Kingdom, and reduces that figure by 25 per cent., one sees that the Australian £1 is worth, at most, 3s. 4d. as compared with 1914. That state of affairs cannot continue indefinitely. No one realizes that more than does Mr. Giddy himself - as is seen by his specific reference to inflation. He realizes that whether you foster inflation, or deflate, you will now have trouble - and the banks are trying to run for cover. Of course, many of these gentlemen do not fully understand the effect upon the economy of banking practices. The late Montagu Norman was Governor of the Bank of England from 1919, when Mr. V. C. Vickers resigned, until his death in 1944. During the 30’s he attended a bankers’ dinner at which a situation, very much like that confronting us now, was under discussion. He said -
The difficulties are so vast, the forces so unlimited, so novel, and precedents so lacking, that I approach the whole subject not only in ignorance, but in humility. It is too great for me. I am willing to do my best.
That is the mental attitude of the average banker. He may excel in banking, but have not the slightest idea of the economic structure of society or the factors that cause depressions. The present growing unemployment, accompanied by worsening inflation, is not by any means peculiar to Australia. I should like to read to honorable senators a comment about the state of affairs in America from - not a newspaper with Labour sympathies - the Boston “Globe” of 26th July, 1957. It reads-
The Federal Government is giving away more food than at any time in American history - to Americans. About 17,000,000 Americans are receiving free food, and this is 4,000,000 more than in 1939. A lot of the free food from Uncle Sam goes into school luncheons, to charitable institutions and public welfare agencies, but there are 3,900,000 families who receive the donation also. “ Fortune “ magazine had this to say on 4th November, 1957 -
Today, some 17,000,000 Americans live in dwellings that are beyond rehabilitation - decayed, dirty, rat-infested, without direct heat, or light or plumbing. Prosperity itself is the major reason.
Bankers here, like their colleagues in other countries, can see the chaos of world-wide depression approaching, and are asking themselves, “ What shall we do in the circumstances? “ They are in the same category as a number of people I know. They can see effects, but they do not understand causes, or, if they do understand causes, they have not the moral courage to direct attention to them. Dealing with the subject in the light of cause and effect, I ask: What brought the Commonwealth Bank into existence? The very state of affairs that is developing to-day, although it was not so serious then, brought about its establishment. There was indifference to hardship in the community then, and this Government is indifferent to unemployment now. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) says, “ There is only 2 per cent, of unemployment; there are only 80,000 people unemployed. What does it matter? “ The unemployed people are men and women - human beings - just as he is. They are living in a state of semi-starvation and poverty, but his attitude is, “ Only 2 per cent, of the population are unemployed. What does it matter? “ The same attitude is being adopted in America, which has a population of between 150,000,000 and 160,000,000. It is world-wide.
If these bills become law, the whole of the banking system will be handed over to the privately owned banks, which are operated for profit and for nothing else. They certainly are not operated for the benefit of the people, as honorable senators opposite would have us believe. If control is handed over to the private banks, they will be more than likely to adopt the attitude that they have adopted periodically for decades. They will deliberately, maliciously and more ingeniously create widespread depression.
Liberal party supporters in this and other parliaments speak about our adverse trade balance and falling prices. By implication they say, “ We are not to blame “. 1 say that they are to blame, because they have deliberately ignored what is happening. Honorable senators opposite do not care how many people are living in poverty, depending on soup kitchens. It does not matter to them provided that the people living in those conditions take things quietly and do not cause any fuss. I have always tried to persuade them to make a fuss about their conditions. 1 have in mind an occasion in 1926 when the unemployed virtually took possession of Parliament House in
Melbourne, their numbers flowing out into Collins-street. When the government of the time saw that the unemployed were prepared to take drastic action, down came the late General Blarney’s political squad and used their batons on the heads of the unemployed. A similar thing happened a few days ago.
In my view, the proposals of the Government are intended only to perpetuate the state of affairs to which I have directed attention - a state of affairs that the Government will live to regret. At one time I thought that poverty and unemployment would be abolished during my short period on this earth. I thought that they would be abolished certainly by 1958, but I find that to-day the old system is operating, only more scientifically, more subtly and with more profit to those operating it. Poverty, with its destruction of human lives, is greater now than it has ever been in the past.
I conclude on the note sounded by the Leader of the Opposition. I challenge the Government to bring about a double dissolution and fight an election on the banking issue. The Government fought an election in 1951 ostensibly on the issue of the suppression or control of a handful of Communists, but actually the election was forced to enable the Government to test the feelings of the people and see whether it could go any further. When the Government attempted to write the infamous provisions of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill into the Constitution, its proposal was repudiated in practically every State. I have no fear of a double dissolution. I challenge the Government to try a double dissolution, but I know that it has not the moral courage to accept the challenge.
– I welcome the opportunity to support this legislation, not necessarily because my party supports it, but because I believe it to be the most far-sighted, imaginative and constructive legislation that has been placed before the Senate in the last decade. Never before in the history of Australia has any Parliament, Federal or State, in the presentation of legislation offered so much to the home-builder, the young man who wants to start a business of his own, the man who wants to start on the land or the man who has a property and wishes to develop it. Despite all the potential advantages of this legislation, honorable senators opposite oppose it. Why? Let me say in passing that any person with no knowledge of conditions in this country who listened to Senator Cameron to-night would have been disturbed by his tale of misery and woe. If the honorable senator believes what he said - 1 have great respect for him - he should support this legislation with all his might, because it presents an opportunity to cure the ills about which he has said he is so concerned.
I have listened with attention to those honorable senators opposite who have tried to make out a case against these bills, but so bereft of evidence are they that they have been compelled to hang the whole of their case on one peg.
– Surely it is not as simple ,as all that?
– Their case is just as simple as that and just as ineffective, as I shall proceed to prove. The arguments of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and other Opposition speakers can be summed up in a few words. They say that this legislation has been promoted by the Government to destroy or weaken the Commonwealth Bank. That is the sum and substance of the charges that have been made.
– That is what it amounts to.
– I am glad that honorable senators opposite admit that. Their charge is that the Government is attempting to undermine or destroy the Commonwealth Bank. We are all in complete agreement that that is the charge they are making. The Leader of the Opposition, as a legal man, knows that when he presents a case at the bar, unless he produces evidence to substantiate his claims, he has not the slightest chance of winning his case.
On this occasion he has also failed to produce any evidence. As honorable senators opposite have gone so far as to agree with my assertion that their charge is that this Government seeks to destroy the Commonwealh Bank, let us examine the figures for the last seven years.
– You have agreed wilh us on that.
– I propose to prove to the honorable senator that he does not know the history of the Commonwealth Bank over the last seven years, and my purpose in producing the figures is to prove to honorable senators opposite the fallacy of their thinking on this matter.
– Will there be a Commonwealth Bank of Australia after this legislation becomes law?
– I should like the honorable senator to listen to the figures I shall quote. If he is really interested in the matter, he will listen. In June 1950, the Commonwealth Trading Bank had 430 offices and branches. In June 1957, it had 604 offices and branches, an increase of 174 offices and branches in seven years. Does that indicate a policy of destruction on the part of the Government?
Now let us examine the position with relation to the Commonwealth Savings Bank. In 1950, the Commonwealth Savings Bank had 4,632 offices and branches. Seven years later, in June 1957, it had 6,207 offices and branches, an increase of 1,575. Yet honorable senators opposite suggest that this Government has set out to destroy the Commonwealth Bank and its associates! The figures I have quoted prove conclusively that this Government has maintained the confidence of not only The Commonwealth Bank but also of the people themselves. Why, the support given by the people to the bank is more than adequate answer to the charges made by the. Opposition that this Government seeks to destroy that institution.
– The Government is out to destroy it.
– I can well understand why honorable senators opposite do not like these figures, but I propose to give them a few more. The Commonwealth Trading Bank, at lune 1950, had deposits, bills payable and other liabilities to the value of £113,000,000. By June 1957, that figure had increased to £243,000,000.
– What is wrong with that?
– Does that indicate that the Government is pursuing a policy of destruction? We are extremely proud to present these figures because they represent an account of the Government’s stewardship and its relationship with the Commonwealth Bank.
Now listen to these figures: In lune 1950, the loans and advances made by the Commonwealth Trading Bank amounted to £57,000,000. By June 1957, they had risen to £106,000,000, an increase of nearly 100 per cent.
– What were they in 1956?
– I have not the figure for 1956, but I shall be very happy to get it for the honorable senator. Does this increase in loans and advances made by the bank over the last seven years indicate that this Government seeks to destroy this institution?
I shall now direct the attention of Opposition senators to the Commonwealth Savings Bank, and I promise that, when I have completed the reading of the statistics I have here, I shall deal with a subject that might be a little more palatable to them. In June, 1950, depositors’ balances totalled £480,000,000. In June, 1957, they totalled £721,000,000, an increase of £241,000,000 in seven years. Yet honorable senators opposite have the temerity to say that this Government is seeking to weaken and destroy the Commonwealth Bank! Why, the support the people have given the bank is proof positive that they approve of this Government’s banking policy. I point out that the whole crux of the soundness of our policy lies in the fact that over the last seven years the number of depositors has increased by almost 1,000,000.
– Then why destroy the bank?
– I shall have something to say on that very issue. History is repeating itself to-day. In 1953, when the last banking legislation was before the Parliament, honorable senators who sit opposite to-day uttered the same cry - “ Hands off the Commonwealth Bank “. In 1953, they said, “ Take your hands off the Commonwealth Bank; it is the acme of perfection “. In spite of their protests then, the Government went ahead, amended the legislation and strengthened and developed the Commonwealth Bank. Now the honorable senators who condemned any alteration to the banking legislation in 1953 are lauding and applauding the amendments made at that time.
– Tell us what you did to the primary producers.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Pearson). - Order!
– Tell us what happened to a number of the primary producers.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! Senator Hendrickson will obey my call to order and cease interjecting.
– I am no prophet, but I suggest to honorable senators opposite that if they are privileged - I emphasize the word “ privileged “ - to be here at the end of another decade during which the proposed legislation will be effective - it might be defeated to-morrow, but it will become law eventually - they will also applaud what is proposed now. I would not object if their opposition in 1953 and to-day were based on ideological grounds, but I am bound to say that honorable senators opposite object to this legislation purely for political reasons.
Let us examine briefly the position of the central bank. It is not my intention to endeavour to offer an academic dissertation on the ramifications of banking, because I am not capable of doing so, but there are some elementary facts that are worth remembering. The central bank was instituted in 1926 and has remained unchanged ever since irrespective of what government was in office.
– And it has done an excellent job.
– I agree. Senator Cooke will also agree that not one word of the original constitution has been altered during that time. I point out also that this legislation does not propose to make any alterations to the constitution. Another important factor is that the central bank controls note issues and assets worth £1,000,000,000, in addition to controlling the special accounts. Surely such an organization is well equipped to play its part in the development of a nation, yet honorable senators opposite oppose this legislation. Why do they oppose it?
The Commonwealth Trading Bank is to have the same functions and responsibilities as it has to-day.
– Then why change it?
– Here is the answer. We are not changing it. The only change is in the increase of capital by £2,000,000. That, to Senator Hendrickson, may be an insignificant sum, but in my language it is a sum capable of playing a very worthwhile part in the development of this country. Although the capital is to be increased by £2,000,000, the Opposition opposes the move. Why?
What is the position of the Commonwealth Savings Bank? I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I should hate to be as biased as some honorable senators opposite appear to be. I say quite frankly that the original legislation was introduced in 1911 by the Labour party. The bank was established as a separate entity, and it has remained virtually independent ever since.
– We have seen to that!
– That is a very interesting comment, because the whole purpose of this legislation, so far as the Commonwealth Savings Bank is concerned, is to make that bank legally independent. Apparently, the Opposition does not want that either. It might tell us what it does want.
New and specific powers are being given to the Commonwealth Savings Bank. Under this legislation, the bank will be able to lend directly to home-builders, farmers and those who are seeking to start small businesses, at a reduction of 2 per cent, in the interest rate. Yet, we find honorable senators on the opposite side of the chamber saying, “ No, Toss it out! “ They rise in their places and demand, with great fervour, that this Government make more money available for home-building. I do not think that anybody disagrees with that. Who wants to see people homeless in this country of plenty? But when we present to them a method of making money available, and at a rate cheaper by 2 per cent, than the current rate, they say, “ No, we will not have a bar of it. Toss it out! “
I turn to the Development Bank. This proposal aims at giving the real triers of Australia a chance. Yet, honorable senators opposite are determined to sabotage it, too. Surely every ambitious man and woman in this country will rise up and denounce any political party which places politics before the interests of the nation! I believe that this Development Bank can play a tremendous part in the development of Australia. I have said, on the few previous occasions on which I have risen to speak in this chamber, that I believe that nothing less than the fullest co-operation between Federal and State governments in the building of strategic roads, the construction of railways, and the integration of fodder conservation schemes and water resources, can result in the ultimate development and security of this country. The provisions contained in clauses 72 and 73 of the Commonwealth Banks Bill strike a new note in development. Clause 72 reads as follows: -
The functions of the Development Bank are -
to provide finance for persons -
for the purposes of primary production; or
for the establishment or development of industrial undertakings, particularly small undertakings, in cases where, in the opinion of the Development Bank, the provision of the finance is desirable and the finance would not otherwise be available on reasonable and suitable terms and conditions; and
to provide advice and assistance with a view to promoting the efficient organization and conduct of primary production or industrial undertakings.
Clause 73 contains a provision that will make history in this country. It states - (1.) In determining whether or not finance shall be provided for a person, the Development Bank shall have regard primarily to the prospects of the operations of that person becoming, or continuing to be, successful and shall not necessarily have regard -
– The sting is in the tail!
– Of course, the honorable senator does not like what I am saying. This provision is of great importance to those of us who have the interests of the country people at heart. The final words of paragraph (1.) of clause 73, to which I have referred, are -
I suggest, therefore, that that is a mostfarreaching and thoughtful provision.
It is reasonable to pose the question: Just how will this Development Bank affect our rural industries? Honorable senators opposite may be interested to know that farm incomes, during the last twelve months, have fallen at an alarming rate. Do they appreciate that in the last twelve months the total of such incomes has fallen to £370,000.000, the lowest figure for many years? ls that not a matter of national moment? I say quite bluntly that I believe that the Federal Government has a responsibility to maintain and promote production in the interests both of our internal and our external economies, with the ultimate objective of eliminating import restrictions. I suggest that that is our target. The wool industry, yesterday, to-day and to-morrow was. is and will be our major industry.
– What about Japan?
– I shall have something to say about Japan in a moment, and I shall speak with some authority. It is estimated that, by the end of the current wool season, the wool clip will be down by 370,000 bales. In New South Wales, where the drought has been most severe, there will be a reduction of 210,000 bales. In the little time that I have left, I propose to discuss the way in which I believe this legislation can help our wool industry.
In my opinion, there are markets for Australian wool that have not yet been explored. Quite recently, I had the great privilege of being chosen to be one of a parliamentary delegation of goodwill to Japan. As honorable senators know, Japan is one of our main wool buyers. Naturally, the thoughts of the members of the delegation turned to the question, “ What is happening to our wool ?” In our approach to the Japanese wool problem, we must ask ourselves, “ If we expand our economy, What effect will it have on our trade with Japan ?” Let me say at this stage that 80 per cent, of all the wool that Japan imports is consumed in Japan. We were told, on the best authority, by responsible people, that in the Japanese home market to-day there is a great potential looming up for Australian wool.
For decades, perhaps for centuries, the Japanese peasant has been the underprivileged person of that country. Rice has been his main product. Every square foot of arable land seems to have been sown down to rice. Over the years the Japanese peasant suffered adversity as a result of his crops being attacked by pests, and his income was precarious. But the progress of science has almost assured him of a satisfactory rice crop. Dust and sprays have eliminated diseases which formerly took their toll, with the result that to-day the Japanese peasant is casting aside his old cotton garment and is demanding better garments with a wool content. Those facts have been placed before us by responsible people who declare that there is a potential market in Japan for any increase of our production of wool.
– What has that to do with the bill?
– I shall tell the honorable senator right now. I thought that perhaps, on this issue, he was not seeing as far as I was seeing, so I shall come right down to his level. If we want to obtain a greater market for our wool, we must search in Australia for increased means of production. This banking legislation - I refer particularly to the principles contained in clauses 72 and 73 of the Commonwealth Banks Bill - would encourage thousands of young men to go into areas that have a good rainfall but which are covered with forests and big timber. It would encourage young men who would have the will, the know-how and the heart to do the job if they could get financial backing to tide them over a lean period. I remind any cynic who may be listening, and any one in Victoria who is interested, that recently in western Victoria 28 blocks of land were thrown open for closer settlement. The number of applicants was 440.
– Shame on the Government!
– Shame on the Opposition, which is seeking to throw out this legislation, which would give at least 412 more men some hope in the future!
Now let us consider the position of the mixed farmer, who plays such an important part in our community. For many years, the wheat-grower has been our second largest earner of export income overseas. But drought is his nightmare, with the result that he is seeking a diversified form of farming so that it will not be necessary for him to put all his eggs in one basket. If he can overcome the nightmare of drought by tapping underground supplies of water, there is a future for him in mixed farming. [ should like to quote to the Senate an extract from the Warracknabeal “ Herald “, which is a journal of some standing. The issue of 1 1th March stated that on 14th March there would be a demonstration at a place called Batchica. The report reads -
The demonstration has been arranged to enable farmers interested in underground water supply to see equipment in action.
The bore on Mr. Rogers’ farm is 174 feet deep and has a six inch casing.
There is nothing new or novel about that. The report further states -
One of the main discussions at the demonstration will be the financing of boring in the Mallee and Wimmera-
A very costly process - an there are so many farmers who have pui bores down or who are waiting for them to be pui down.
The report states that Mr. Rogers has 40 acres of lucerne and is feeding a flock of sheep. I asked Mr. Rogers, “ How many sheep are you feeding ?” He said, “ I am feeding 900 “. He is feeding that number of sheep on 40 acres of lucerne, and on roughage on the rest of the property. I also asked him, “ Under the same conditions, how many sheep could you keep on your property if you did not have lucerne ?” He told me that he could run only 250. That is elementary, but I submit to the Senate that those figures are an indication of the tremendous potential that exists in this country. I say again that the defence and development qf this country go hand in hand.
My time has almost gone, and unfortunately T shall not be able to refer to the position of the young man who wants to start a business of his own. I had wanted, too, to furnish the Senate with data relating to the plight of young men who wish to build their own homes. Let me say, in conclusion, that I believe this legislation to be of such importance to the future of Australia that 1 want to cast my vote for progress, for development, and for the defence of Australia by voting in favour of the measures.
– Before proceeding to deal with the provisions of the bill, I wish to refer to the speech that was delivered last night by
Senator Wright. In fact, throughout my speech I shall be referring to his remarks. Senator Wright, obviously with a prepared brief - let me be fair immediately and say that it was a brief prepared by himself - in appealing to the cross-benchers-
– We on this side of the chamber think before we speak.
– Well, you have improved since the last session; you have learned to think. Senator Wright appealed to the cross-benchers to agree to the second reading of this measure and, to use his own words, to debate it for one or two months in committee. I think the honorable senator will agree with me that the purpose of a second-reading debate is to enable members of the Parliament to deal with the general principles and ramifications of a measure and then in committee, if they agree with the general principle, to make minor amendments if necessary. What Senator Wright fails to understand is that the three parties which comprise the Opposition are completely opposed to the principles of the bill and not merely to minor clauses in it. So there is no point in allowing the bill to go to the committee stage.
Last night. 1 broke a long-standing habit of mine and interjected when Senator McCallum said that, if amendments were presented to the Parliament, the Government would consider them. I was rude enough to ask, “ Would the Government present them to the private banks before its representatives came back into the chamber? “ I did not say that in order to be facetious. When I tried to ascertain why the banking measures were before the Parliament, I examined all the documentary evidence that I could find and conducted all the research that my limited ability would allow, but I could come to only one conclusion as to why they had been introduced. In coming to that conclusion, I can refer to no better authority than the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and the comments that he made during his secondreading speech. I am sorry that the right honorable gentleman has been forced to introduce this legislation as the last major piece of legislation that he will introduce as Leader of the Australian Country party. I shall quote one or two examples from his speech and then ask honorable senators whether they disagree with the conclusions at which I have arrived. I refer not to any honorable senator hostile to this legislation, but to the very men who are presenting it on behalf of the composite Liberal and Australian Country party Government of Australia. He stated -
There is one main reason why the Government has decided to separate the central bank from the rest of the Commonwealth Bank group - and it is entirely a practical reason. Experience has shown that there cannot be full harmony within the Australian banking system, nor that close co-operation which ought to subsist between the central bank and the trading banks, unless and until this separation is effected.
Where does the disharmony exist? It exists because the trading banks have refused to obey the law of the land as it stands to-day and to co-operate with the central bank and the Commonwealth Bank group. In a latter passage the Treasurer said -
There must be mutual understanding between the central bank and the private banks, mutual confidence and a will to co-operate.
That emphasizes his first point. The next paragraph reads -
The private banks have consistently maintained that they cannot enter into fully confidential relationships with the central banks so long as it has, under its control and operating as an adjunct to itself, a major trading bank which is a competitor of theirs.
A little later the Treasurer said he thought he should put before the Parliament the reasons why the banks want the existing system altered. These are prompted by memories of 1931 when the Commonwealth Bank Board stood over the Government. Honorable senators will note the same ideas inherent in the sentence I shall now read, this time coming from the private banks -
They recognize the need for a strong central bank and they say that, if it functions-
Stand and deliver, in other words! as a true central bank, they are prepared to accept its leadership.
That means that even if this legislation is not suitable to the private banks, they reserve to themselves the right to say whether or not they will carry out their part of this bilateral agreement on banking.
Again quoting from the Treasurer’s second-reading speech -
These may be substantial advantages of the association-
He had just dealt with the advantages then flowing from this link between the two banks, and, incidentally, he is admitting it in that sentence - and yet, even from the stand-point of the central bank, they may be greatly outweighed if the association debars it from attaining close, effective cordial relations with the private banks and the full confidence df their many customers.
I have quoted that passage rather at length, first, because I want to lay it as a base for my remarks, and, secondly, because I have not heard it controverted in argument to-day. This legislation is before the Parliament solely because of the demands of the private trading banks. That is admitted over and over again by no less a personality than the Treasurer himself. Where are these demands going to stop? In 1947, after the bank nationalization issue, the trading banks were prepared to co-operate fully with the central bank provided the bank nationalization legislation was not proceeded with. In 1951 their demands became a little stronger, and in 1957 they increased the pressure again until their plan to divide the Commonwealth Bank and set up a Commonwealth Bank Board was finally successful. The requisite action was taken at the behest of the private banks. We now have before us their next demand. I wonder whether, at the end of these negotiations, they will repeat to the Prime Minister that famous phrase, “We have no more territorial demands “. We know just how much reliance can be placed on such a statement.
I wonder what requests came from the Commonwealth Bank to alter the association between the two organizations because - mark my words - if those who guide the destinies of the Commonwealth Bank had uttered one word in support of this legislation it would have been incorporated in every speech from Liberal and Australian Country party senators from the beginning of this debate, but we have heard not one word in that regard.
– We do not divulge a confidence.
– It would not even be a confidence because I shall repeat a statement made by Dr. Coombs, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, that has already been made public. This statement is not confidential; it was included in a public document a copy of which anybody may peruse in any library throughout Australia. Dr, Coombs’s voice is the only voice that has been heard from the Commonwealth Bank. He said - [t is important to realize that, by the direct influence which the Commonwealth Bank exercises over the family of banks of which it is the head, it is able, within limits imposed by their commercial (and, in the case of the Commonwealth Trading Bank, competitive) character, to influence their policy so that they contribute directly to the achievement of the objectives of central bank policy - (a) the stability of the currency; and (b) the maintenance of full employment. There can be little doubt that this direct link gives to the Commonwealth Bank a source of strength which can be of particular value in times when the economy is threatened with declining activity and employment.
It seems passing strange that when unemployment is the greatest worry, not only in Australia but also in other countries of the world - and has been so during the postwar period - we should have legislation of this kind before us.
During the debate last night Senator Wright, when explaining the changed attitude of his leaders, said that time brings many changes, but it must be remembered that the Prime Minister in 1953, when dealing with the general trading bank activities cf the Commonwealth Bank, said -
They act as a source of information to the central bank. They enable the central bank to have an instrument by which it may give leadership in banking policy. It has a great number of advantages that I need not discuss at this stage.
The Prime Minister certainly is consistent because he did not discuss them at this stage either, five years later.
Senator Spooner is a member of the Government who makes very definite pronouncements. In volume 221 of “ Hansard “ he is reported to have said -
The Government subscribes to the view that was expressed by the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems that the use of trading bank activities as an adjunct to central banking policy is in keeping with the Commonwealth Bank’s central bank function, and is to be approved.
If, as Senator Wright said, time changes many things, it certainly moves slowly because - and I should like any honorable senator to correct me by interjection if I am wrong - the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems was held in 1936, and this pronouncement was made in 1953, nearly twenty years later. I wonder why there has been a change over the last five years? The reason is not difficult to find when one examines the pronouncements of Mr. Menzies and Senator Spooner in 1953, Dr. Coombs’s reactions and the attitude of the Government to-day. There is indisputable evidence that there is one reason, and one reason only, why this legislation is now before the Senate. It is as plain as a pikestaff also that the arguments against the central bank, if examined apart from the pronouncements made by the leaders of the Government, are against a central bank altogether.
– There is not a shred of evidence to support that statement.
– I should hate to be charged with murder and have the honorable senator defend me because plenty of evidence exists to support my statement. The honorable senator should examine the whole of the legislation. On the question of whether the legislation is acceptable to the banks, in the “ Bank of New South Wales Review” of May, 1957 this statement appears -
It is welcome news to the trading banks and ail those who have striven to safeguard the free enterprise system.
This legislation seems to be very popular at least with the banks, even if one believes what leaders of the Government said to the effect that the private banks did not know the legislation was to be introduced and that, they did not put any evidence before the Government to support it. There may be some honest senators left who will say “ Yes “, we are introducing this legislation for the private banks. What about it ?” At least honesty would be on their side.
I return to my bible, the Treasurer’s second-reading speech. In dealing with the present set-up he said -
The private banks have made is plain that they do not criticize the way in which the central bank has used the powers and functions it has under present legislation. On the contrary, they have been at pains to commend the competence, integrity and impartiality of the central bank.
In other words, there is no complaint at all by the private trading banks about the treatment they are receiving from the central bank. I go on and finish the quotation. We all know it. The banks fear that a hostile government in the future may do something that will affect them adversely. I put this to you, Mr. President, and to the
Government, as a principle of legislation: Is not the Government violating a principle when it says, “ There is nothing wrong in the community to-day. Everything is fine and dandy, but we are going to tie the hands of a future government irrespective of the mandate that it receives from the people “?
– Senator Gorton says that that does not violate a principle. The position is that when bank nationalization was threatened in 1947 the trading banks, quite justifiably, were frightened and they did all in their power to prevent it, as any other group of business people would try to protect their interests. They fought back, and they won. The High Court of Australia, the highest court in the land, said that so long as the Australian Constitution stays the way it is - and we all know how hard it is to alter the Constitution - bank nationalization can never take place in this country. That decision was upheld by the Privy Council. I was amazed to hear Senator Wright, whom I regard as mentally genuflecting whenever he hears the names of those courts - I do not hold that against him, because the rule of law is a great thing in any country - say that there could be nationalization by stealth. He knows, as a prominent lawyer, that those two courts would not allow anything of the kind to happen under their umbrella. Let us look at the protection given to the banks under this bill. There is no protection at all unless, as Senator McManus pointed out, the Government is trying to scramble the eggs with the intention of then saying, “ You can now do your damndest to unscramble them “. Just as this bill repeals the 1945 and 1953 legislation, so the time will come when every word and every line of this bill and the related measures will be repealed by a Labour government. There is no more protection in this measure for the private trading banks than the protection which has been laid down by the High Court of Australia and upheld by the Privy Council, except the working of democracy itself. If any government exceeds its mandate from the people, who are its masters, the people can deal with it. That is the way in which I understand democracy works, but this Government and the trading banks do not want to see it work in their particular spheres.
Senator Wright, after making out his case in relation to the committees, dealt with the matter of great public interest. He said that in 1947 so much public interest was aroused that finally it caused the defeat of the Labour government. That may be so. I think there was a fair amount of public interest aroused in 1947, but it was helped along by a pretty efficient propaganda machine: But the 1945 act - the principal legislation - did not cause the defeat of the Labour Government in 1946. If this bill became law to-morrow, I do not think it would cause a rift in the community; and if we came’ back as a government and repealed the act, a rift would not be caused. I seem to remember another example of the point I am making. With apologies to the author for one or two alterations, this is how it reads -
Do they, fasting, trembling, bleeding,
Wait the news from this our city?’
Groaning “ that’s the second reading “!
Hissing “ there is still committee “!
If the voice of Spooner falters,
If McKenna does indict,
Do they tremble for their altars?
Do they, Wright?
Over the years, there has been quite a lot of comment about the great public interest. There was a storm of disapproval from the other side when Senator McKenna traced the weakening of the Commonwealth Bank by this Government and suggested that, in good time, the Commonwealth Bank could be sold out. Nobody would have dreamed that the Government would sell out its shareholdings in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Proprietary Limited. Who would have thought that when the one competitor in whaling in Western Australia demanded the sale of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission, the assets would be sold? I think that Senator McKenna’s line of thought was completely logical. Do not let us kid ourselves that the private trading banks would not do anything they could to get their competitor down; they would do anything at all.
– Who would be crazy enough to compete against the Development Bank?
– You have not got it yet. Let us deal with the suggestion that bank nationalization could be introduced by stealth. The Government says that it is putting the Commonwealth Bank on an equal footing with the trading banks. That is the best example of pseudo fair reasoning that 1 have heard. The Government will license the Commonwealth Trading Bank and a private bank in exactly the same way and ask, “ Is not that fair? “ The Government will then turn round and say to the Commonwealth Trading Bank, “We are going to take from you half the profits you make, but the private bank can do with its profits as it will “. I was intrigued about this until I noticed in the “ Australian Quarterly “ an article by a bank officer. I presume he was a senior officer. He said -
Why does not the Commonwealth Bank go out into the common market place and raise its capital the same as private banks and other businesses do.
We see the line; it becomes a little clearer. If the Commonwealth Bank is continually robbed of capital, the day may come when it will have to do as this man suggests. I wonder, Mr. President, who would be the people that would subscribe to it. I wonder who the people would be that would buy shares in the bank. I am sure none of the private trading banks would buy the shares. By this means the Commonwealth Bank would be slowly eaten away, until there would be nothing left to do but sell it.
– The Government could completely by-pass the Parliament.
– Yes. It is interesting to follow the lines of argument, quite apart from the ostensible purposes of this bill. It has been argued, particularly by Labour people with memories of the 1890’s and the 1930’s, that there must be a government bank which will run against the trade cycle, not in the interests of certain people, but in the national interest, because the trading banks have to run with the cycle, and have to answer to their shareholders. This talk of harmony is completely incompatible, because modern economists say that the government bank must run against the trade cycle in times of inflation as well as in times of deflation. The private trading banks can never do that because they must be ever mindful of their shareholders.
There is one point that intrigues me in relation to the Reserve Bank. The Government says that the link is very undesirable, although it did not say that in 1953. Dr. Coombs has made out a complete case that it is desirable. Senator Wright has said that there must be a completely independent bank. The first thing that the Government does is hang onto the Reserve Bank the Rural Credits Department - something which immediately, even if it does not offend in the practical sense, surely offends the instincts of the purist who seeks a completely independent banking institution.
The next myth built up by the Government is that in no way must information trickle down to the Commonwealth Trading Bank from the central bank. An examination of the relevant bills shows that we still have the old board, against which we fought for so long, but now will have to contend with another board as well. We have one in connexion with the Reserve Bank and one in connexion with the trading side. They are supposed to be separate and distinct but lo, when one examines the legislation, one finds that the Secretary to the Treasury is on both. Whatever he may do in connexion with the Reserve Bank one day he is supposed to forget when he is dealing with the Commonwealth Trading Bank the next day. He is supposed to say to his colleagues there, “ Look, chaps, I advise you not to do that, but I cannot tell you why. It is something I learned at the Reserve Bank meeting.” How can you have complete separation when there is a double pipe-line running between the two boards? After all, these boards will give effect to Government policy, and will control the day-to-day activities of the banks.
The most amazing and barefaced thing of all is the Government’s approach, in this legislation, to the hire-purchase question. I shall not go into that deeply because lt was dealt with very fully by Senator McManus last night. Any one with half an eye could see during the last eighteen months to two and a half years, when bank credit has been restricted, that the private trading banks have been avoiding the issue by investing in hire-purchase companies. While the Government has been trying to hold interest rates down, and peg a certain amount of finance, the money has been leaking out the back door at very high interest rates. Senator McManus pointed out half a dozen ways in which that could have been prevented. Surely we could have expected something in this bill that would clothe the central bank with the necessary powers. Government supporters say, “ We have not the necessary constitutional power”. Nothing is certain constitutionally until it is proved certain’ by the High Court. What is there to prevent the Government bringing down a fairly effective bill and then leaving it to the private trading banks to issue a challenge in the courts? If necessary, recourse could then be had to a referendum. That would be positive action of which any senator might well be proud.
We have heard so much about the Development Bank that I might perhaps say a word or two on that subject also. This is one of the neatest moves that the Government has ever made. We have been told that the Development Bank will make all sorts of advances - so that water bores can be put down in the Wimmera and oil bores elsewhere. When one looks at the bill one finds that the credit is to be extended for the acquisition of goods for use in the course of the business only. Apparently such goods can be bought on credit extended at low rates of interest, but any one who wants to buy high-priced consumer goods, on which high rates of interest can be charged, must go; not to another section of the Development Bank, but along the street to the private trading banks. That is why those institutions so badly want a Development Bank - so that a legitimate area of trading can be established. The Government has not moved, through the Commonwealth Bank, to compete with the private trading banks, but the threat that it might do so has always been there. If we were so silly as to pass this legislation the private banks would have a legal guarantee freeing them from competition in the field of hire purchase, because the threat present in the 1945 and 1953 legislation would be removed-
Obviously, banking will always be a controversial subject - fanned by the bitter winds of political differences - but that does not excuse the Government for bowing the knee whenever the private banks decide to take another step ahead of their competitors. This legislation is before us for one reason, and one reason only - because the private trading banks have demanded it. If it did anything about hire purchase, we could well support it, but it does not. It should never have seen the light of day. It is no credit to the Government and does nothing to strengthen Australia’s economic system. It certainly does nothing to enhance the prestige and record of this Government.
.- One of the most interesting facets of this debate has been the evident difficulty of speakers on the other side of the chamber - who can ordinarily make intelligent and critical addresses - to level at the legislation any criticism that will stand the light of examination. That has been evident since the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) spoke yesterday, and is surely so because the reasons which Opposition senators have for opposing this legislation are not such as they care to express openly. In consequence, they are driven back upon what are, in fact, phony reasons. The speech that we have just heard from Senator Willesee - one of those who can make a good speech when they wish - is a perfect example of that. He offered no detailed criticism, but, instead, resorted to a good deal of general criticism. He said that the Government was tying the hands of a future government and, in the next breath, that a future government could repeal the legislation - do what it liked about it.
– I said that the Government was attempting to tie the hands of future governments.
– Senator Willesee made a great speech about how wrong it was for the Government to tie the hands of any future government. Oddly enough, we were also told that the Development Bank was to have no power to conduct hire-purchase business, and was therefore obviously being set up so as to give the private trading banks an open field. In actual fact, the Development Bank is taking over the Industrial Finance Department of the Commonwealth Bank, is being immensely strengthened as to capital, and, as I shall show in more detail later, is to be provided with virtually unlimited funds which it may apply in its own way. It could, in fact, fix the hire-purchase rate, throughout the country, for the purchase of such things as machinery and tractors. That is surely the direct opposite to what Sena- tor Willesee had to say. I shall not go into the other so-called arguments which he put forward. He is not entirely to blame. Labour’s real objection is not that the legislation does anything to weaken the central bank, but that the legislation makes it more difficult for future governments - so disposed - to destroy the private trading banks other than openly. Why that is not stated freely and frankly in speeches - as it is in interjections both here and in another place - is more than I can understand.
– The honorable senator is not at his best when he is arm in arm with Dr. Evatt.
– That, like the trouble in Indonesia, is a domestic matter.
I move on now to a consideration of the sort of banking set-up that we ought to have in a country such as Australia, or, indeed, in any free country. I think both sides of the Senate will agree, in general, on what the banking set-up should be. At the top of it, obviously, there ought to be a central bank - a reserve bank - in complete control of wholesale credit throughout the country, so that it can act as the economic situation of the country demands. It should be able to increase the supply of credit and, therefore, ensure full employment and do other things that we all want. On the other hand, if the economic situation demands, it should be able to reduce the supply of credit and keep the economy on an even keel. I do not think anybody would deny that a bank of that kind, with sufficient power, is what should be at the head of the banking structure.
That is the sort of bank that we have at the head of the banking structure now. under our present legislation. That is the sort of bank, only strengthened, that is proposed under the legislation we are considering. Under this proposed legislation, the central bank will have the same Governor, it will have the same board to direct its affairs, it will be completely subject (to political direction by the Treasurer, through Parliament, for the economic good of the nation, and it will have increased power to call up from the banks, or release to the banks, funds which can be used for keeping the credit of the country on an even keel. There can be no argument about that. Until this proposal was put before the Parliament, the central bank could only call up 75 per cent, of the increase in trading bank deposits after the base year, 1952. Under this legislation as proposed, it could, as the Leader of the Opposition said last night, call up, if it were stupid enough, 100 per cent, of deposits - not merely the increase in deposits. So we have the same bank, subject to the same political direction of Parliament, subject to the same Governor, subject to the same board, but with increased power over the credit .of the country. What is the objection to the proposal if that is what we want, as those on both sides of the chamber say we do? The objection, I suggest, is that the bank will not have, as it now has, power to discriminate between private banks or between a private bank or the Commonwealth Trading Bank.
– Has it done that?
– Never mind whether it has done it. It has the power to do so under the existing legislation. Is the argument of the Opposition that a government ought to have the legal power to imprison people without trial, just because it has not done so up to the present? If a government of the same political persuasion as the honorable senator did come into power, people could well be imprisoned without trial, as members of the Australia-First movement were under a previous Labour government. I believe that it is wrong in principle for a government to have the power to discriminate. If that is wrong in principle, the power ought to be removed. It can be removed without in the slightest degree lessening the power of the Commonwealth Bank to achieve the objectives for which it is set up. One of those objectives is the issuing of banking directives for the control of the credit of this country, not political directives intended to drive a bank or banks out of business by discrimination. That, then, is the only difference proposed for the central bank.
What is the difference for the Trading Bank? It has been pointed out before - I do not need to labour it again - that the Trading Bank, under this legislation, will be in possession of all the powers which it now has, subject, again, to direction by Parliament, through the Treasurer, for the good of the country. The aims of providing for full employment and the best economic interests of Australia will be written into its charter, just as they have been written into the Commonwealth central bank’s charter ever since it has been in operation.
– That has been dropped in this legislation.
– The honorable senator will find it in the legislation if he reads it. There is no diminution of the Trading Bank’s powers - none whatever.
Nobody has claimed, and nobody can claim, that an attack has been made upon the powers of the Savings Bank in this proposed legislation. The only way the proposed legislation will alter the existing legislation, as far as I can see, is that it will write in a provision which was not there before, in relation to the Savings Bank making money available for housing purposes. I cannot imagine that the Opposition can object to that. It cannot say that anything in this legislation reduces the power of the Savings Bank.
That, in a nutshell, is what this legislation does. It strengthens the Commonwealth central bank, but does not allow it the power of discrimination. It leaves the Trading Bank with its present powers. It leaves the Savings Bank with its present powers, but adds a direction in relation to the making of money available for housing. There is also the provision for special accounts deposits, which, as I pointed out previously, strengthens the central bank and prevents discrimination. Those, in a nutshell, are the things proposed by this legislation. They have not been attacked as such, as I said at the beginning. They have not been attacked because nobody can really object to those things, except insofar as they offer protection to the private sector of banking.
Although those things have not been attacked, honorable senators opposite say they are prepared to turn down the proposed Development Bank, which, as the legislation is now framed, could become the biggest bank in Australia. It could become the most powerful instrument for the development of Australia and, as I have shown before, it could become the factor by which the interest rate of hire purchase - about which we have heard so much - could be set in this country. If honorable senators look at the legislation, they will see a clause which provides that this bank. besides starting off with a capital of £21,000,000 and besides having certain borrowing powers written into its charter, can get unlimited funds at the discretion of the Parliament, through the Treasurer. How could that system work in an industrial finance department? It is clear that if a government thought that too high an interest rate was being charged on hirepurchase transactions involving tractors or other machinery for developmental purposes - whether primary purposes or for the setting up of small secondary industries - it could direct the Development Bank to make loans for those purposes at a set rate of interest, and provide sufficient money to make that rate of interest the ruling rate for all lending institutions of that kind in Australia. I would have thought, in view of what we have heard about the evils of hire purchase and high interest rates - remarks with which I agree - that the Opposition would be in agreement with this proposal.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I was endeavouring to point out precisely what is proposed by the legislation now before the Senate, and I shall briefly recapitulate. It proposes a central bank which has the same Governor as at present, the same board as at present, but with greater powers than it has at present. The legislation also proposes a trading bank with precisely the same powers as the present trading bank has. It also proposes a savings bank with precisely the same powers as the present trading bank has. The central bank, the trading bank and the savings bank all are, under the proposed legislation, as they are now, subject to the direction of Parliament, to use their resources in the best economic interests of Australia and for the development of Australia. This legislation differs not at all in those respects from the legislation which is at present on the statute-book and which the Opposition has agreed during this debate has resulted in the Commonwealth Bank’s advancing from strength to strength as regards funds, depositors and its influence on the community generally.
I have pointed out, too, that a new departure is proposed, in that the bills under consideration seek to establish a development bank which will be able to take over the Mortgage Bank Department, the industrial finance, or hire-purchase department of the present Commonwealth Bank, and which will be freed from the restraints at present imposed on the Industrial Finance Department of the Commonwealth Bank, as the new bank will be able to make loans for a longer time than is at present possible and to a greater extent than is at present possible. I have pointed out that under the proposed legislation the funds which will be available to the new Development Bank are, subject to the discretion of Parliament, virtually unlimited and that consequently this bank, provided Parliament agrees that it is in the economic interest so to do, could make available sufficient funds to tie and limit the interest rates which could be charged for hire-purchase transaction on all forms of farm machinery, or machinery used in small manufacturing businesses. All these facts which I have stated cannot be denied.
What, therefore, is the objection to the proposed legislation? I think the objection stems from only two heads. One is that the present central bank, although it will have more power over general credit policy, will not have power under the new legislation to discriminate between bank and bank, lt will not have power to discriminate between one private bank and another, or between the Commonwealth Trading Bank and another bank That is one head of objection; but, be it noted, that does not in any way affect the powers of the central bank to carry out its proper banking business.
The other head of objection is that the central bank will no longer be engaged one removed in direct trading activities. Tn short, we will no longer have a bank which seeks, through its governor, to be both a player in the game and the umpire in the game. If that is not in accord with all the tenets of fair play, then it is difficult for me to know what fair play is. I repeat that the only two objections are (hat the central bank will no longer be both player and umpire in the trading bank business and that it will no longer have the power to discriminate between bank and bank. We are asked to believe that because of those two things people are prepared to turn down a new development bank which they have spoken of in highly glowing terms and to refuse to give the necessary strengthened powers to the central bank which they have also suggested are a good thing for the economy of the country.
Those cannot be the true reasons why this proposed legislation is opposed, but the things which flow from them could be the real reasons. The things which flow from them are that in future it will be very much harder for a government, which may feel so disposed, to drive the trading banks out of operation and out of business, not by legislation -
– By competition.
– Not by competition but by discrimination against one bank or the other, because all the rights of competition which are now existent will continue to exist under the legislation; indeed, with the new Development Bank, there will be more opportunities for the central banking corporation to compete than exist under the present act. So it is not a question of competition, nor is it a question of legislation. It is a question of underhand economic direction and regulation, not by the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank on his own initiative, but by the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank under direction from a government which could replace the present Government and which would have the power to instruct him to discriminate against one or all of the private banks to drive them out of the field and prevent competition.
I am violently opposed to a situation which would permit of the private trading banks being driven out of the field of banking in this country. I am not opposed to it because of any love of the banks as such. I have no cause to love the banks as such; indeed, quite the opposite. I am not opposed te it because of the banks’ shareholders. I am not opposed to it even because of the banks’ depositors. But I am opposed to it because I believe it is the right of every individual to have a choice of sources when seeking to negotiate a loan, and to negotiate that loan for his business without political direction as to what he shall be able to borrow. More importantly, I believe it is the right of every individual to be able to negotiate a loan without the risk of political intimidation which would be present if there were only one source of funds in this country and if that source were dominated by whichever party happened to be in power.
What was the reason why the people of Australia rose up before against the proposal that there should be only one source of retail lending in this country? I emphasize that I am referring now to retail lending, not credit control. The people opposed it because they had the sense to see that if there was only one bank and if that bank was under the direction of the government, they could be vitally affected in two ways. First, it would be completely competent for a government to say to that bank, “ You may make advances for growing wool, but not for dairy farming “. It would be competent for such a government to say, in relation to a particular district of this country, “ You may make advances for the purpose of growing wheat, but not for the purpose of irrigation farming, because our experts in Canberra think that this district is economically suited only for one or the other, and consequently we are going to prevent you, as an individual, from borrowing to do anything that we think is uneconomic “.
– Does not that position exist to-day?
– lt does not exist today, because the purpose for which a person borrows money depends on the judgment not of the Government, or of one trading bank, but of five or six competing institutions, any one of which is liable to take a different view from the others. Individuals may go from one bank’ to another and have their propositions decided on the judgment of the manager concerned, not on that of some far-off official or department acting through a bank to put a particular economic policy into operation. That is one reason, Sir, why the people rose so violently against the Labour proposition. (Opposition senators interjecting) -
– Yes, violently, as honorable senators opposite have good reason to know; a violence expressed through the ballot box; a violence which flung the then government from this side of the chamber to the other, and which, if I may say so, will keep it there.
This is not, however, the worst thing that could flow from having only one bank, sub ject to political direction. That, after all, bad as it might be in the case of the individual, stems from a real economic attempt to use funds for the best purpose, as seen by somebody who thinks he is entitled to direct the whole country. Far more serious things than that could happen. With one bank manager and one bank, would it not be possible - has it not happened in other countries - that a man could be approached and told, “ Unless you cease your activities against the present government, unless you stop getting up and saying that what it is doing is wrong, I am afraid I will have to ask you to reduce your overdraft “. That would need to happen only once or twice, and the effect throughout the business world would be to consolidate the position of the government in power. I hear objections from the other side of the chamber to the effect that that could not happen. It is precisely what is happening in Hobart now, in another sphere, in relation to waterside workers who. because they objected to paying what those in charge said they must pay, have had their livelihood taken away and are being kept from work, although I thought the Opposition said the United Nations had held that every one should have the right to work.
Those are the reasons why I support this legislation. I do not want that sort of thing to happen. The Opposition objects to this legislation because it wants things of this sort to happen. The members of the Opposition have said so publicly by way of interjection and in other ways. That can be the only reason why they oppose this suggestion that the central bank should be strengthened, the Trading Bank and the Savings Bank left as they are, and a great new Development Bank brought into being, a bank which could overcome the evil we heard Senator McManus speaking about so violently last night, but a bank which he is not prepared to support. He prefers to leave the situation so that the economic life of every individual can be at the mercy of a government. The government that might at some future date succeed this Government, if the Australian Labour party is still under its present leader, would, in my opinion, take every advantage possible in order to exert pressure against those who opposed it. I support this legislation. If it is not passed now, I venture to prophesy that it will become law within a year-
.- We have just listened to a remarkable speech. First, it was contrary to fact. Nothing was said about the board that will control the Commonwealth Trading Bank. Nothing was said about the executive committees that will control both the Savings Bank and the Development Bank. In order to press his case, my colleague from Victoria went back to 1949. I thought 1 was listening to one of the speeches that I heard made so often in that year. Let us remember that at least 49.5 per cent, of the people supported us in 1949. We of the Labour party are not at all ashamed of that percentage. However, I do not want to take up the time at my disposal in answering a speech in which Senator Gorton put up Aunt Sallies only to knock them down again - a very old game in political life. Not only did he do that, but he also misstated the facts. Finally, in order to eke out his time, he was obliged to refer to what had happened in 1949.
Let us trace the history of this legislation. No one will deny, I think, that the legislation is the result of promises given to the banking institutions in 1949. Those promises were given because the banks supported the anti-Labour forces with money and man-power, both in the metropolitan area and in the country districts, particularly of my own State, of which I have intimate knowledge. It is known that this is the pay-off for the bank clerks who were ordered to walk from door to door during the 1949 general election campaign. It is the pay-off for the managers in the country areas of Victoria who wrote letters to their clients whom they thought might support the Chifley Administration of the day, warning them of the dangers and also stating that their overdrafts might be curtailed. It is the pay-off for the money the banks put in against Labour, and no one can deny that that is so. They put in money not only from this nation; they also brought it from London, per Mr. Casey. If honorable senators opposite want to know how much was spent by the Government parties in 1949, I can give them a figure that will not be far off the mark, because I know how much Labour spent then. I can judge the expenditure, counting from the John Austral source and going right through.
– From where did you get your pay-off?
– We did not get it from the banks, whatever may be said about us. I do not mind if the honorable senator is ordered hot to interject, because that will enable me to get through in the time I have, but if he does interject he will get as good as he gives.
Who would know better than the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who is in charge of this bill, what the banks contributed to the 1949 election campaign? He became president of the Liberal party in 1944. It was then that the anti-Labour forces of this nation changed their name for the sixth time. He remained as president of the Liberal party until a little over half way through 1949, when he received the endorsement of the Liberal party as its No. 1 Senate candidate. I can appreciate how keen he is to pass the legislation. No doubt in his position, he, as others would be if they were similarly placed, feels duty bound to honour his obligations. I can understand his great anxiety about the banks receiving their pay-off in the form of this legislation.
Ever since 1949, the private banks have been demanding the systematic weakening of the Commonwealth Bank. In 1951, the Government set up a new bank board, and in 1953 it weakened Commonwealth control over the private banks by watering down the special account provisions. But the banks were not satisfied. Seemingly, the promises that the Government made in 1949 were as wide as one’s arm is long. Therefore, the banks now say, “ In view of certain things that could happen later in the year, if we do not get in now we may not get in at all “. So they demand their pound of flesh.
It is common knowledge that the bankers came to Canberra and interviewed the leaders of the Liberal party. If the press can be believed - I admit that at times it is rather difficult to do that - there were three excursions to the National Capital by the bankers so that they might impress upon the Government one thing - the need to honour the promises that were made in 1949 for services rendered in the form of cash and man-power. So they demand the dismemberment of the Commonwealth Bank and that the Commonwealth Trading Bank be placed under the control of a board, eight of the eleven members of which no doubt will be private businessmen. I excuse Senator Gorton for forgetting about the board altogether! They demand, too, a limiting of Commonwealth control over the private banks. And the bankers will get these things - they will get what they paid for in 1949 - if this legislation is passed.
This question has been asked: What will the people get out of this legislation? Let us look at the attitude of the Government over the past few years towards similar legislation. In 1956, the Liberal member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) gave notice in another place of a private member’s bill which sought to separate the Commonwealth Trading Bank from the central bank. It is on record that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) did not want that bill to be introduced. I have before me a press article headed “ Prime Minister’s Scathing Attack on M.P.”, but all that the Prime Minister could say of Mr. Jeff Bate, who may have felt under some obligation to honour the promises that were made in return for help received in 1949, was that his conduct was traitorous. And the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) did not want that legislation. I do not know why he has changed his opinion since then. I should hate to think that a man who has served this country as Treasurer for such a long time could be swayed otherwise than by an honest belief that the legislation now before us would help the country. It has been said that, if this legislation was passed before 29th March, he would be appointed to a certain highly remunerative position.
– I shall attend to you later, my friend. I discard that suggestion, but I cannot find any reason why the Treasurer should make such a volte face. What was the common talk around this building when the matter was being discussed in the Government’s caucus?
– That innuendo is despicable, but it is typical of you.
– I do not want to be interrupted by the Liberace of the Senate. I shall talk to the honorable senator later. In 1956, the “Mirror” stated that the Cabinet was undivided in its opposition to the Government’s proceeding with these so-called reforms. Let us consider the attitude of the Australian Country party to this matter. Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, we heard the speech of Senator Wade, who is a member of the Country party. Every one knows that members of the Country party have been barnacles on the body politic ever since the party was formed in 1917. As recently as February, 1957, the Country party secretariat sent out a circular opposing the present legislation. The Country party has been nothing more or less than a political scavanger in both State and Federal spheres. Members of that party have sold out the party, they have sold out the Commonwealth Bank, they have sold out the people, and they have sold out the farmers. What a proud record!
Irrespective of what the Treasurer said, irrespective of what the Prime Minister said in 1953, and irrespective of what the secretariat of the Country party said, when the banks cracked the whip and said, “We want the pay-off”, this Government bent the knee. When a Labour government, whether in the Federal or the State sphere, introduces class legislation, supporters of the Government are up in arms about it. But when it is a question of class legislation which adds profit to the monopolies, to the banks, to the insurance companies, and to the press through the granting of television licences, to say nothing of admitting my friend Krupp into Australia, the Government bows to the will of its own parties.
– Tell us why you do not like the banking legislation.
– We shall get on to that in my own time and way. I have until thirteen minutes past nine in which to speak. Why is the press so vitally interested in the reporting of these debates? Why is the press so vitally interested in slanting its reports of these speeches? Would this be one of the reasons? The directors of the newspapers controlling press policy are also directors of the private banks? Mr. Vincent C. Fairfax, director of John Fairfax and Sons Proprietary Limited, which publishes the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. is also a director of the Bank of New South Wales. In my own State, Mr. H. D. Giddy, chairman of the company which controls the Melbourne “ Herald “, the Melbourne “ Sun “, the Adelaide “ Advertiser “, and the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “, is also chairman of the National Bank of Australasia Limited, ls that the answer? How can members of my party, or any one opposed to the private banks, expect to read a fair report of the speeches on this legislation when the people who are at the top of the newspaper world are also financially interested in the outcome of the legislation? We say, therefore, that it is impossible to get a fair go from the press in the reporting of these debates.
What are the main changes to be effected by each of the three principal bills? The Reserve Bank Bill will separate the central bank from the Trading Bank and Savings Bank. The Commonwealth Banks Bill will set up a corporation, eight of the eleven members of which will be private businessmen, to control the Trading Bank, the Savings Bank and the Development Bank. The Banking Bill, dealing with Commonwealth control over private banks, will abolish the present system of control through special accounts and put in its place a new system which cannot be applied quickly in the event of a national crisis. The legislation will separate the central bank from the Trading Bank, the Savings Bank and the Development Bank, and will make a major change in the present organization. One would think, at least, that arguments would be advanced as to why such proposed changes are to take place.
When the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who is in charge of the legislation in this chamber, read, with the exception of the first two paragraphs, the speech of the Treasurer in another place, he did not give us the reason why the change is to be made. All he said was -
Experience has shown that there cannot be full harmony . . within the Australian banking system, nor that close co-operation which ought to subsist between the central bank and the trading banks, unless and until this separation is effected.
Those are airy words that do not mean much. This proposed separation cannot be proved to be in the interests of the people. Later in his speech the Treasurer said -
This lack of confidence in the present structure on the part of the private banks and their customers is undoubtedly the crucial fact in the whole issue.
Yet we find the Minister in charge of the legislation in this chamber saying -
The private banks have made it plain that they do not criticize the way in which the central bank has used the powers and functions it has under present legislation. On the contrary, they have been at pains to commend the competence, integrity and impartiality of the central bank.
– From what is the honorable senator reading?
– I am reading from the speech of the Treasurer. If the honorable senator cared to read the speeches of the Treasurer on this legislation, instead of acting, he would know that I have read the printed speech correctly. Obviously no reason has been given for the proposed change. The embarrassment exhibited by the Treasurer in another place, and by the Minister in charge of the legislation here, reveals that the Treasurer is ashamed of the proposals.
In 1951, Sir Arthur Fadden said -
Part of the strength of the Commonwealth Bank, as a central bank, is, however, derived from the direct contact with the financial and industrial system which it maintains through its trading sections.
That view was repeated in the circular distributed by the secretariat of the Australian Country party in 1957 to which I have already referred. In 1953 the Prime Minister said - .
We believe that the Commonwealth Bank’s general trading activities have great merit because they act as a source of information to the central bank. They enable the central bank to have an instrument by which it may give leadership in banking policy. It has a great number of advantages that I need not discuss at this stage.
Has any specific reason been advanced for the change of mind, or may I say the change of heart, of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer of this nation? No! They are doing what they are told to do. The private banks ordered this change and, therefore, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, important as they are in the political life of this country, fell into line just as the youngest back-bencher does.
A further fault in the Reserve Bank Bill is that it will continue the existing bank board, partly comprised of private businessmen, which was set up in 1951. The Opposition has always believed that the nation’s bank ought to be controlled by one man who should not be subservient to businessmen who have outside interests. Surely in recent weeks we have read sufficient about the directors of the Bank of England who have outside interests. We have the case of Lord Kindersley, director of the Bank of England, chairman of Lazard and Company Limited, an underwriting firm, governor of the Royal Exchange Assurance Company and chairman of the British Match Corporation. On 2nd and 12th September, 1957, he discussed Great Britain’s serious financial condition and proposed remedies, including a possible increase in interest rates, with the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. On 16th September confirmation was given that interest rates would rise as from 19th September. Between 13th and 16th September, the three firms I have mentioned between them disposed of gilt-edged securities worth £2,000,000! Is it any wonder that we are sceptical and afraid that this nation’s interests will be jeopardized when the Government appoints private people to be controlling directors of the people’s bank - people who have outside interests, as is evidenced by the report which is available in the Library. As I have said, the people I mentioned disposed of gilt-edged securities worth £2,000,000 and their rake-off, if I make use the term, was a cool £50,000. That was not a bad week’s work, even for the lord to whom I refer.
If we turn to page 21 of the committee’s report, we find another example in the person of Mr. W. J. Keswick, another director of the Bank of England. He is also a director of Matheson and Company Limited, which carries on business with agencies in Hong Kong and the Far East. On 4th September he was informed by the deputy director of the Bank of England regarding possible remedies to England’s financial situation, including the raising of the bank rate. On 6th September, he was asked by his Hong Kong office for advice as to whether it should sell its securities. All I can say is that the people who run these firms must be mind readers. He was told about it on the 4th, and on the 6th - only two days later - he was asked by his Hong Kong office whether it should sell its securities. God forbid that I would ever hint that by some telepathic medium the Hong Kong people got to know what was in the mind of the deputy director of the bank.
– It was in the newspapers.
– Oh, it was, was it, and the newspapers stated on the 4th that the bank was going to raise the rate? No, they did not! You had better have another guess, because you are pretty wide of the mark. Now, listen further. On the morning of 16th September, Mr. Keswick drafted a telegram advising his office in Hong Kong to sell its securities as money would be tighter. In the afternoon he attended a bank meeting at which the increase of the bank rate was finalized. On the 17th he sent the telegram to Hong Kong. It was perfectly all right; the whole thing was perfectly white washed by the commission, but how remarkable the incidents dovetailed! On the 18th, authority to sell was received from Hong Kong and that day, after the normal closing of the exchange, more than one million pounds worth of securities were sold. On the next day the bank rate increase was announced publicly. Were there any grounds for suspicion? One of the partners of the purchasing jobbers is a Mr. Spooner. Is not that remarkable, too? He said that he felt uneasy about the circumstances in which the sales to his firm had taken place, and therefore he said - and the report admitted - that a sinister construction could be put on Mr. Keswick’s actions. One can only marvel at the story. Despite the facts that I have mentioned, Mr. Keswick was cleared of any charge of improper conduct. What I am concerned about is that it is remarkable that two days after he advised his officers in Hong Kong that something might happen, they asked him whether they should sell their securities. No, it does not work in ordinary life. It may work in the higher financial circles; I do not know about that.
I come now to the measure which hands over the running of the Trading Bank, the Savings Bank, and the Development Bank to a majority of private people who will be the directors. On a board of eleven members, only three will be Commonwealth representatives. Of course, Senator Gorton did not mention anything about the executive committee consisting of five members in charge of each bank. The Commonwealth is permitted to have only one representative on the committee in charge of the Trading Bank and the Development Bank, and two on the Savings Bank Board. It is true that the Government has not yet sold the Trading Bank and the Savings Bank, but it has done the next best thing. The Government will put its friends in control. Having some knowledge of what control means, one can imagine what will happen, if experience of the present bank board is any indication. No doubt, there will be representatives of like calibre on the boards. Let us have a look at some of the Commonwealth’s appointees to the Commonwealth Bank Board. One, G. H. Grim wade-
– Who is he?
– He is a director of Commonwealth Industrial Gases Limited, Courtaulds (Australia) Limited, Cumming Smith and Company, chemical manufacturers, and Drug Houses of Australia Limited. To ensure that he has not any spare time, he is also a director of Perpetual General Insurance Guarantee Limited. Another Government appointee was W. A. Gunn, who is a director of Rothman’s of Pall Mall. Another Government appointee is A. E. Symons, of Waters Holdings Limited. Yet another - and may I say with respect that this possibly was for services rendered - is none other than Professor Hytten, that notable professor who said that a pool of unemployed was needed.
– He said nothing of the kind.
– Of course he did. It has been found that businessmen connected with monetary enterprises, whose directors sit on controlling boards of the private banks will, of course, look after their own interests. Of course they will! I shall quote an example of how they do so. I have personal knowledge of the following case. In Portland, a young farmer wanted to buy 246 acres of land at £1 1 an acre. The total price was £2,706. He was £400 short. The man went to the “National Bank, the Commercial Bank, and the Australia and New Zealand Bank Limited. All they did was to advise him to contact their hire-purchase sections or to go elsewhere. On the other hand I read in the press only a few days ago that the same National Bank had lent £3,000,000 for Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to build their new ore ship. Why? No doubt because Mr. L. Darling is a direc tor not only of Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, but also of the National Bank of Australasia Limited.
Let us look now at the proposal to establish the Development Bank, of which Senator Wade - the Australian Country party member - spoke earlier. First, I will compare it with the existing legislation. Clause 72 of the Commonwealth Bank Bill provides -
The functions of the Development Bank are -
to provide finance for persons -
for the purposes of primary production;
If we look at Part XI. of the present act we find that the function of the Industrial Finance Department is the provision of finance for the establishment and development of industrial undertakings, particularly small undertakings. If the two are compared, it becomes apparent that if five words are added to the existing provision the aims of the Government would be given effect. My colleagues and I would support such a move. It would give the Government everything that it says it desires in the way of a development bank. With respect, we have heard a lot of nonsense about this bank. We challenge you to amend the existing legislation by adding five words “ for the purposes of primary production “.
– Is the honorable senator addressing the Chair?
– I would rather talk to the butcher than to the block. The third bill deals with Commonwealth control over the private banks. It replaces the special accounts system by a system of statutory reserve deposits, and specifies that amounts of more than 25 per cent, can be called up only after 45 days’ notice- The reasons given in support of all this are pitiful and unconvincing. The private banks have said that there should be a change because, under the present system of special accounts, a Labour government could nationalize them by stealth. Government supporters know as well as I do that the banks cannot be nationalized unless the Constitution is altered. The High Court has said it; the Privy Council has said it. I ask Government supporters to help us alter the Constitution. If that help is given we shall be very grateful. We are told that the central bank could act unfairly, calling up special deposits from the private trading banks but not from the Commonwealth Trading Bank. The Treasurer has admitted that that has never happened. The financial editor of the Melbourne “ Herald “ said on 26th November, 1957, that the case of the Government on this point is absurd. The outcry against such a subterfuge would abolish any government irrespective of colour. The delay occasioned by the giving of 45 days’ notice could be too great if Australia were faced with an ‘economic crisis. We believe that the present system, under which the central bank controls both private banks and the Commonwealth Trading Bank, ought to remain.
The legislation contains no proposals whatever relating to hire purchase. We are told that the Government has no power in this field, but it has not tested this opinion. The only way to find out is to take a test case to the High Court or the Privy Council. I do not know whether the Government has the power it needs or not, but if it were earnest about its professed attempts to stop the racketeering that is taking place in the hire-purchase field it could at least do the decent thing and put up a test case. 1 propose to inform Government supporters why they will never do that. All the private banks have entered the hire-purchase field. The National Bank has Custom Credit Corporation Limited; the Bank of Adelaide has Finance Corporation of Australia Limited; the English, Scottish and Australian Bank has Esanda Limited; the Commercial Bank has General Credit Limited, and the Bank of New South Wales has the Australian Guarantee Corporation. That is why there will not be a test case. Government supporters need not shed crocodile tears over people being slugged 15 per cent, or 20 per cent, interest on the £300,000,000 that has been loaned to finance hire purchase. In this, I join with Senator McManus. I am not opposed to hire purchase as such, but I am opposed to its misuse. The Government could, if it wished to do the right thing for the people, test the position and at least attempt to save them from being bled white. Under the Constitution, it has control of bank interest. There is .a doubt whether it has also control of interest upon hire-purchase borrowings, but I assure Government supporters that the Australian Labour party will support any bill for a referendum on that score. There need be no fear that we will waste any time in doing so.
The Government is very eager to protect the private trading banks, but would it not be at least decent if those banks paid the same wages as does the Commonwealth Bank. The private banks served their latest log on the Bank Officials’ Association on 16th September, 1957. Again they were bad judges- They received a promise that this legislation would be brought down after 1949, but they had to wait until 1958. No doubt they were promised early in 1957 that the legislation would be brought down, so on 16th September of that year they served a log on the Bank Officials’ Association, trying to peg the lower rates of pay for their officers for a period of three years.
For the information of honorable senators, let me read to them a comparison of salaries paid to officers of private banks and those paid to officers of the Commonwealth Bank. A man with more than ten years’ service in the Commonwealth Bank receives £1,010 per annum, whereas a man with similar service in a private bank in Victoria receives only £992 per annum. My adviser states -
The very important fact to be noted is that the minimum scale salaries in the Commonwealth Bank reach to the 27th year of service (males £1,400 per annum) and the 16th year of service (females £830 per annum) compared wilh private trading banks - males 18th year of service (highest rate New South Wales £1,253 per annum) and females, 9th year of service (highest rate New South Wales £734 per annum).
I ask honorable senators opposite to tell their friends and backers at the next election not to sweat their employees.
I sum up by saying that, firstly, Labour objects to this legislation because the separation of the central bank and the Trading Bank weakens the power of the Commonwealth in times of crisis. Secondly, the Reserve Bank Board which is required to make decisions vital to the economy of this nation has an equal number of businessmen and directors. Thirdly, the Trading Bank, the Savings Bank and the Development Bank have been handed over to a board of businessmen. The Commonwealth Bank was conceived in 1910 by members of the Labour party to do the right thing by this nation, but now, for the sake of gaining votes, honorable senators opposite are prepared to sell it out-
– Oh, rubbish!
– What does the bill say?
– Read it and find out.
– 1 have read it more than once. Before I conclude, 1 desire to say a few words about the speech delivered by Senator Wright.
– You have had twenty minutes over your time already.
– 1 have not had twenty minutes over my time.
– It has been a diatribe of tripe.
– It might sound like that to you because it does not fit in with your kow-towing to your masters at election time. Let me deal with this brave senator who is the greatest showman I have seen in my nearly twenty years of political life - the honorable senator from Tasmania. He got up last night and started to talk about the Evatt Labour party and about a caucus. All honorable senators have seen Senator Wright rise in indignation and speak on certain bills, sometimes moving amendments, but when the division bells ring he walks out of the door of the chamber. He has done that. I have been sitting in this chamber when it has happened. He should not try to ape the showman whose name I mentioned earlier in my speech.
In the few minutes left to me, I desire to say something about pairs. In the first two paragraphs of the sixteen or eighteenpage speech delivered in another place which the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) read to us, he said that on the last occasion the Labour party would not give the Senate an opportunity to discuss the banking bills. It is well known that if the Government had granted pairs for our sick people, we would have discussed the legislation for weeks, if necessary, because we not only have the numbers at the present time, but we have the logic with us, too. Last night Senator Wright said that he dissociated himself from the callous treatment of our colleague. Senator Arnold. But did Senator Wright have the courage to go to Senator Arnold and say, “ Jim, you can stay in Kennelly ‘s room; don’t get into a chair to be wheeled in “. Of course he did not. He may have desired to do it, but he was not allowed to do it. In all the annals of political life I have never read of anything so callous as the Government’s treatment of Senator Arnold.
– Senator Arnold was ordered to come to Canberra by Dr. Evatt.
– He was not ordered to come by our leader. He was entitled to vote.
– He was ordered by Dr. Evatt.
– I knew this would get under your skin. What is the story? The story is that we were told that Senator Arnold would not get a pair. In fact, I myself, over this table, spoke to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, whom I personally absolve. With the permission of my leader, I said to the Leader of the Government, “ Can I send Jim Arnold away? “ He had been kept in my room with two doctors and a nurse in attendance. Only a week before that he had been on an operating table for six hours. I do not want to point the bone at any one, but some time some one over there will be sick.
– Why do you not tell the truth?
– I am telling the truth. I have the correspondence here, and if the honorable senator wishes, I will read it. The correspondence shows that we could have obtained a pair for this present debate on the condition that we assured the Government that, irrespective of what it did, Senator Arnold would come here. That meant, in effect, that if Senator Arnold or any other honorable senator on this side were immobilized, but we could not give an assurance that we could get him here, a pair would not be granted. I have the letters here.
– Read them to us.
– Time will not permit me to read the letters, but if any honorable senator wishes to read them, they are available. I know that the Minister for National Development has had a bad leg. I know that he has a bad arm, because I. have seen it bandaged. The last thing I would want to do, even to the Minister, would be to point the bone, but let me say that one day this party will pay honorable senators opposite back for a callous act of a kind previously unknown in the political annals of this nation.
– After having listened to Senator Kennelly, I am more than ever opposed to the Senate being on the air. If the debate last night had been broadcast, the public would have heard thoughtful and informative speeches on these measures, but the rubbish that has just been uttered does a great disservice to the Senate. Last night and yesterday afternoon, from the Opposition, from this side of the Senate and from the corners of the chamber we heard some very interesting, thoughtful and informative debate on this matter. When I first became interested in politics a very wise man made a sound statement to me. He said, “ When you go into politics, never overlook the fact that no self-respecting man will be able to go as low as a Labour politician “. After hearing Senator Kennelly to-night. 1 quite agree with that statement.
I do not propose to deal with all the rubbish uttered by Senator Kennelly, for most of it had nothing whatever to do with the bill. Perhaps only five or seven minutes of the hour for which he was speaking were devoted to dealing with matters connected with the bill. He did say one or two things which I thought were very interesting. Of course, I do not think even his leader agreed with his diatribe on hire purchase. We Tasmanians know a little about what is going on, and I am confident that Senator Kennelly would be completely out of step with his leader on this occasion. That, of course, is nothing new because so many Opposition senators are out of step and out of line to-day.
We all heard Senator Kennelly’s miserable, low attack on the Government about pairs. He knows the truth only too well; he knows the whole story. He knows full well that after the last election, the numbers in the Senate were 30 on the Government side and 30 on the Opposition. He knows that the Government decided, immediately it came into office, that no pairs would be granted. We made that decision because we appreciate that if we want legislation to pass through the Senate we have a duty to marshal our numbers. It should bc remembered, too, that the Opposition has an equal duty to marshal its numbers.
In those circumstances, there can be nodispute as to where the responsibility liesfor bringing Senator Arnold here on that memorable occasion. The Opposition was. responsible for bringing him here. Why, Dr. Evatt flew to Newcastle to see Senator Arnold, and two days before Senator Arnold was brought to the Senate on that occasion, Dr. Evatt published this statement in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ -
I was pleased to see him looking so well. I am confident he will be able to take his place in the Senate when the banking bill comes up for actual decision.
I repeat, that statement was made by Dr. Evatt two days before Senator Arnold was brought here. Who brought him here? Dr. Evatt and the Labour party brought him here, and they must take full responsibility for it. Surely we have the right to assume that they consulted Senator Arnold’s medical advisers? If they did not have an assurance from his medical advisers that Senator Arnold could travel, then they stand condemned for all time for their action in bringing him here. Now we have this miserable, low-down attack, which is not based on truth. But that is the sort of thing one gets from the Labour party.
– If I have misquoted the honorable senator, I am sorry, but that is the interpretation I put upon the report of his speech.
– I did not quite say that.
– That is the interpretation I put on the honorable senator’s remarks. The actual position is that the proposed legislation will have exactly the opposite effect. If this legislation becomes law, it can be altered, but only by further legislation brought into this Parliament by some government of another colour, should that government wish to alter it. It can be altered by a Labour government.
– We can unscramble the egg.
– I am glad Senator Toohey mentioned that. Both Senator McManus and Senator Byrne referred to the unscrambling of the eggs. The true position is that by passing through this Parliament a piece of simple legislation designed to abolish the boards of the corporation and bring the whole corporation under the contool of the board of the central bank, the position could be restored to what it is to-day. That is all any future government will need to do, but it will have to come to this Parliament to do so; it will have to introduce legislation. It will not be able to do so by adopting back-door methods, -something which the Opposition would seek to do. We all know that should it be returned to office, the Opposition intends to nationalize banking by adopting back-door methods. The Labour party has no desire to nationalize banking by bringing the matter before Parliament and making clear to the people of Australia what it intends to do. That is why the Opposition objects to this legislation. It opposes these measures because if they become law, any future alterations to the banking system would have to be made legislatively. By -introducing these measures, we are ensuring that the people will be made fully aware at all times of what the Labour party intends to do.
Senator McManus made an interesting point. He took the press to task a little for objecting to what the Senate is doing. He said the Senate has every right to do what it is doing and the press has no right to say that it should not be doing what it -is. I feel that he either misread or misinterpreted the press statement. What the press said was that the Senate is being prostituted by members of a party who make public announcements, before even hearing a word of debate on the matter; that the party executive has directed them as to how they shall vote. Before any debate took place on the legislation, Senator McManus stated in the press that the Democratic Labour party would oppose these bills. That is the objection voiced by the press. It objects to the prostitution of this Senate by people who are prepared to submit to dictation and to come here with their minds made up before hearing one word of debate.
Because I do not think they are without interest, I move on now to the two charges which, parrot>like, all members of the Opposition have made throughout this debate. They say that we are out to destroy the people’s bank.
– Hear, hear! That is quite right.
– That is what I might expect from Senator Cameron, who is living back in the days of about 1850. I imagined he would say that.
– Then you are not disappointed.
– Not in the slightest. The Opposition says that we are out to destroy the people’s bank and that in doing so we are the tools of the private banks. I shall deal with both charges, because the Opposition has not adduced one scintilla of evidence to support them. Honorable senators opposite have referred to the legislation we passed in 1950, 1951 and 1953, and a perusal of “ Hansard “ will disclose that they said about those pieces of legislation exactly what they are saying about the bills under discussion. They were wrong then, they are equally wrong now, and I shall show just how wrong they were.
I have ascertained the figures and the facts since 1953, when the last of our banking legislation came into effect.
– In respect of the private banks?
– Yes, since 1953. The figures indicate the progress of the people’s bank that it is said we are going to destroy. I know that honorable senators opposite do not like to have the facts. In 1953, when the last piece of our legislation was enacted, and which, it was said, would destroy the Commonwealth Bank, the bank had 445 branches. That number increased by sixteen in the next year to make a total of 461; in the following year it increased by twelve, to 473; in the next year it increased by 29, to 502; and in the year after that it increased by 23, to 525. Eighty new branches in five years! This is the way we are destroying the people’s bank!
– The progress has had nothing to do with you.
– Of course not! Since our legislation became effective the number of branches has increased by 80 - but of course, that has nothing to do with the legislation! Indeed, says the Opposition, it is destroying the bank! That is typical of the logic with which honorable senators opposite have approached this subject all the way through.
Let us have a look at the way in which the profits of the Commonwealth Bank have been destroyed since 1953. It is a desperate position. In 1953, the Commonwealth Bank made a profit of £9,000,000 - for the sake of brevity, I shall not mention the hundreds of thousands. In 1954, it made a profit of £10,000,000, and in 1955, £11,000,000. That is some destruction! In . 1956, it made a profit of £15,000,000, and in 1957, it made a profit of £19,000,000. As our legislation has taken effect, so has the bank progressed. Its progress has been sound, as the increase of profit from £9,000,000 to £19,000,000 in five years indicates. Mother’s ruin is right. There is no doubt about the way in which we are ruining it!
During the debate, I thought to myself that at least the Labour party must be a little responsible and able to produce some facts, instead of mere parrot-cry propaganda, with which to back its arguments. I said to myself, “ Nobody can say that the Commonwealth Trading Bank has been affected. Can it be that we are ruining the Commonwealth Savings Bank? “ So, I turned to the statistics relating to the Savings Bank. I found that, in 1953, it had £609,000,000 in deposits; in 1954, it had £653,000,000; in 1955, £695,000,000; in 1956, £712,000,000; and in 1957, it had £721,000,000, or an increase of £1.12,000,000 in the five years since this ruinous legislation, which the Government introduced, came into operation. That is the case of Opposition senators that we are out to ruin the people’s bank.
– They are not serious.
– Of course they are not serious. 1 want now to deal briefly with the second point - that we are acting at the direction of the private banks.
– Hear, hear!
– Another “Hear, hear” from 1850. Shades of lavender and old lace! Let us consider what this legislation, which is said to have been introduced at the direction of the private banks, sets out to do. I think the position is very interesting. If anyone in this chamber suggests that any of these measures has been inspired by the private banks I think he ought to examine closely his methods of reasoning. The legislation proposes to provide an additional £2,000,000 capital for the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank and to provide an additional £2,000,000 capital for the Commonwealth Trading Bank - more cash, more customers, more business. Does anyone think that that is inspired by the private trading banks? The provision of this additional capital wilt enable the Trading Bank and the Savings Bank to make housing loans to individuals on Credit Foncier terms, and also to building societies. The present act enables only the Trading Bank to do this. The proposal is that it should be done by the Savings Bank, with its reserves of £700,000,000. More money, more customers, more competition. Does anyone think that that was inspired by the private banks? What nonsense! Honorable senators opposite oppose legislation which aims at providing more housing.
It is proposed also to provide an additional £5,000,000 for the Commonwealth Development Bank. This bank will have a capital of £14,300,000 from the Mortgage Bank Department and the Industrial Finance Department, and an additional £5,000,000 of capital. It will pay no income tax and its entire profits will go back into its own reserve funds to increase the scope of its activities. Do honorable senators opposite think that that was inspired by the private banks? If this is the inspiration that the private banks have given us, then they are building up a great wealth of competition for themselves. But, of course, honorable senators opposite do not believe that for a minute. Their assertion is just a catch cry, a parrot cry, without one fact to back it up.
I listened with great interest to the statement to-night from Senator Kennelly that we were doing away with the present system of calling up deposits and were instituting a new system which would provide that special deposits might be called up at 45 days’ notice, in case of emergency. The honorable senator said that in 45 days, anything could happen. Or course, that is nol the fact. Provision is made for 25 per cent. of the deposits to be called up. The honorable senator overlooked the little matter of the 25 per cent. I remind him that 25 per cent, of the deposits is greater than the special accounts have been with the Commonwealth Bank, since 1953. But, in respect of the proportion above 25 per cent., we suggest that 45 days’ notice is a proper and sensible proposition, because the banks will have their funds liquid when they learn that there is to be a call up of amounts above 25 per cent. They will have to go to their customers and say, “ We want you, within the next 45 days, to reduce your overdrafts by £X “. They will sell some of their Commonwealth securities and make their funds liquid, so that they may stand the call up. Could that be done in less than 45 days? Of course, it could not, unless we wanted to break the banks, which, of course, is the intention of honorable senators opposite.
The suggestion that these measures have been introduced at the direction of the private banks is completely wide of the mark. It is shallow propaganda, and nobody knows that better than those honorable senators opposite who spoke in this chamber last night.
– The Minister is protesting too much.
– I do not protest about this matter. I have a simple philosophy on banking.
– A what?
– A simple philosophy, another thing that the honorable senator would not understand, because it is a little later than 1850. When I first started in business on my own account, I had trouble with my bank. The bank manager wrote me a note saying that I had to cut my overdraft by half in a week. I saw him and said, “ I cannot do this. There is not a chance of my doing it. You had better come down and have a look at the business.” He came down and I met him outside. I had shut the doors. He said. “ What is the matter? Why did you shut the doors? “ I answered, “ I do not know whether you realize it, or whether you know anything about it, but you are in the grocery business, because I cannot reduce my overdraft by half in a week”.
The point that I want to make is that I had the opportunity to go to an opposition bank. As long as I live I want to see that privilege extended to other citizens of this country, so that they may have the right that I had of going to another bank and saying, “ This is my position. Will you lend me so many thousands of pounds on overdraft? “ I may say that the bank manager to whom 1 went said, “ Yes ‘*, and I was able to say to the other bank manager, “ Very well. I will not reduce my overdraft by half. It will be paid off altogether. I have obtained accommodation elsewhere.” A similar opportunity should be made available to every young man in this country who wants to start in business on his own. If he strikes difficulty, he should be able to go to a banker and convince him that his case is good. If Labour had its way, we would be able to go to only one bank - the nationalized bank. If the manager did not like the colour of our politics or of our hair, or the way in which we spoke to him, he would say “ No “ and we would be out of business the following day.
– lt is not nonsense at all. Labour tried to nationalize the banks. Senator McKenna said that this legislation had never been put to the people. When Mr. Chifley walked into another chamber and said that he intended to nationalize the banks, had he given any notice to the people? He said, in effect, to the banks, “ In three weeks’ time you will be finished “. Of course Labour wants to nationalize the banks, but we on this side of the chamber will fight with every drop of blood and to the last breath to retain fair and just competition between the public and private banking sectors of this country.
– You know it cannot be done.
– Of course it can be done. It is a pity the honorable senator did not lose the silly socialist outlook that he has. Anybody who tells me that Australia has not progressed in the last few years under a good, sound system of public and private trading banks is talking sheer nonsense, lt is the right of every citizen to be able to choose his banker.
– I said that the banks could not be nationalized without a referendum of the people.
– That is the interpretation that you put on the decision of the High Court.
– That is right.
– My friend, you are not a qualified lawyer. You are only a bush lawyer and, believe me, it is a pretty poor bit of bush that you are in. Nothing is further from the truth than what you have said. But Labour does not intend to achieve its objective that way. One has only to look at your platform-
– We are not ashamed of it.
– Of course you are not, but you will not go out at election time and quote it. You do not go out then and talk about all your other schemes for nationalization, either. Labour’s platform provides for the socialization of industry by the extension of the scope and powers of the Commonwealth Bank until complete control of banking is in the hands of the people.
– Hear, hear!
– There he is, back from 1850 again! Bless his heart! The honorable senator is a little bit ante-dated, but the rest of the Opposition has not got past 1936, when there was a royal commission into banking. In the last twenty years, we have made such tremendous advances in our approach to banking and banking legislation that still to live in the days of the royal commission of 1936 is just pitiable. But I am sorry to say that that is what the Opposition is doing. I am sorry, too, that the Australian Democratic Labour party and the Queensland Labour party once more are buddies in the field under the leadership of Dr. Evatt.
– It would scare VOl. if they were.
– I do not think it would scare us too much. I have always been of the opinion that, when two hatchet men who have been so closely together in Victoria had had .a little difference, it would not be long before the hatchet would be blunted a little and they would come back together.
– 1 do not think you are a good judge.
– Time will tell. Time is a great healer. You demonstrated your attitude pretty conclusively by your action in refusing to allow even the first reading of these measures on another occasion. I can see that Senator Cole is about to interject. I know what he is about to say. He has been making statements in the Tasmanian press to the effect that the Democratic Labour party has a policy on banking and has amendments to submit, but the people of Australia will recall that, when the representatives of that party in this chamber had the chance to state its policy, they did not do so, but joined with the Evatt Labour party to see that the bills were not even read a first time. That is the democracy in the Democratic Labour party!
– Why are they being debated now?
– I believe that this time we owe the opportunity to debate these measures to Senator Byrne, who said that he would let us debate them. Why did he say that? He said it because he knows that one of the greatest mistakes that was ever made by the splinter groups of the Labour party was to deny the right of debate and not let the people hear the pros and cons of this legislation.
– The Government denied a pair to a sick man.
– Senator Brown says that the Government denied a pair to a sick man. Let me remind the honorable senator that he or his immediate predecessor became President of the Senate-
– Chairman of Committees.
– He became Chairmanof Committees because Labour denied a pair to a soldier who was fighting overseas. That was the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament that a party broke its word on the granting of pairs.
– We never did.
– Do not be silly. You know what the truth is. That is the absolute truth, and you know it is. You denied a pair to a soldier who was fighting overseas, after giving your word.
– That is a deliberate lie, and you know it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order!
– It is recorded in “ Hansard “ for all to see.
– Read out the whole passage.
– In explanation, honorable senators opposite have said, “ Every time we had a division while Senator Keith Wilson was fighting overseas, one of us walked out to make a pair “. That was so, except when we had even numbers and we had to appoint a president and a chairman of committees! Then no one walked out. You all stayed there and broke your word. Let honorable senators opposite deny that. It is recorded in “ Hansard “.
– It was a secret ballot.
– A secret ballot! You do not even know what the term means. You could walk out on a secret ballot the same as you could on anything else.
– Senator MacDonald was taken to hospital in the same morning.
– Yes. He could not be wheeled in, but you did not give him a pair. These hypocrites come here and talk about the granting of pairs just as though we have forgotten that incident. You all broke your word in regard to pairs for the first time in the parliamentary history of this country. If you think we would trust you again after that experience - well, brothers, we are not quite the suckers that you take us for.
– You ought to apply the appropriate term to yourselves.
– The trouble with Senator Aylett is that he talks too much. If he did not talk so much and if what he said was not recorded in “ Hansard “, he might have been able to get away with it. But he cannot get away from what is recorded in “ Hansard “. What I have said is the truth. But let me continue with my speech, because I think I have a few more minutes left. I do not want to take more than half an hour. I believe that quite legally the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is entitled to speak for an hour.
Government Supporters. - No!
– I believe that it is quite legal for him to do so, but we have an undertaking in this chamber-
– It is a gentleman’s agreement.
– Yes, a gentleman’s agreement - we are so silly as to enter into a gentleman’s agreement - that the Leader of the House shall be allowed to speak for an hour.
– And the Deputy Leader.
– The Leader and Deputy Leader of the Government are each allowed to speak for one hour. When on the air we all observe the half-hour limit.
We have heard in this chamber that the Australian Democratic Labour party and the Queensland Labour party are a little averse to unity tickets. They share to-night, and will again to-morrow, a unity ticket with the Evatt Labour party. All buddies together!
– That is a bit silly.
– It may seem silly, but that is what those two parties will do - share a unity ticket with the Australian Labour party to defeat this legislation.
It is rather interesting to note that the policy of the Australian Labour party is to nationalize banking. One of the planks of the platform of the Communist party is to take control of banking. Yet, ranged alongside the defenders of this platform, which is common to the Australian Labour party and the Communist party, we find the Australian Democratic Labour party and the Queensland Labour party defending the same principle.
The parties on this unity ticket stand charged with the fact that they will deny to the people of Australia the benefit of this banking legislation; they will deny to those people who urgently need finance the possibility of access to the £2,000,000 additional capital to be allotted to the Commonwealth Trading Bank; they will deny to the people access to the additional funds to be allotted to the Commonwealth Savings Bank for housing; they will deny to those who are out of work the opportunity to get jobs building those houses; they will deny to the small farmer, the small businessman and the small factory owner the opportunity to expand by use of the £5,000,000 additional capital proposed to be allotted to the Development Bank, and they will deny to honest young Australians with the energy, initiative and the ideas, the right to start on their own and build their own industries with capital supplied by the Development Bank. Those great sections of the Australian people will not forget to judge and condemn the actions of these three Labour parties when the opportunity presents itself at the coming election, which may be sooner than the Opposition thinks.
– I should like to commence my contribution to this debate by stating the official attitude of my party towards this proposed legislation. We believe that the Commonwealth Bank should be used for the greatest benefit of the people of Australia and should not be limited by the policies of private enterprise alone. We believe also that the Commonwealth Bank should develop, having in mind more than the profits arising from the business of banking. The policy of the Australian Democratic Labour party is not directed towards the elimination of private enterprise in the banking field. The legislation now before Parliament does not conform to our policy bec;–se it will make the Commonwealth Trading Bank subject to the reserve deposit plan and restrict the resources of the bank so that it will not be able to carry out its developmental role.
Senator Henty mentioned one matter that got under my skin.
– Is not the Commonwealth Trading Bank in practice subject to the reserve deposit plan?
– The honorable senator who has just interjected has had the opportunity of speaking previously. He should now allow me to state the case of my party. Senator Henty said that my party was directed by its executive on how to vote on this legislation. His remark was reported correctly in every newspaper except one which said that we were directed by our executive to vote on this legislation according to the wishes of the executive. We are not directed by our executive. We have seen what can happen in other spheres “by a party being directed by outside bodies, and one thing for which we do not stand in our party is direction. I was present at the executive meeting when the terms of the motion were given over the telphone to the newspapers. That motion, which did not require very much consideration by the executive, was that the Australian Democratic Labour party senators be requested - not directed - to oppose the banking legislation.
Senator Henty also mentioned the reason why my party did not allow the first reading of the banking legislation in December last. It should bc clear to all honorable senators that we were in a unique position. The Evatt Labour party took upon itself the responsibility of bringing a sick man here. That had nothing to do with my party. The Government parties refused a pair for a second senator. That also had nothing to do with my parly. We were in the unique position of having to make an important decision, and it was not a very easy one to make. Senator McManus said last night we did not want to run away from the debate on the legislation, but we had to consider what would be the humane thing to do.
– Does the honorable senator think the Australian Labour party would have acted differently?
– I do not care what the Australian Labour party would have done or what Government senators would have done. The point is what we had to do. We considered the facts. We felt the Government parties and the Opposition were wrong in the action they took. In order to save any of the sick senators from being harmed by a continued stay in Canberra - and their stay could have been protracted for three weeks had the debate been allowed to go to the second-reading stage - we decided to vote against the first reading. That is the story as it concerns my party. We think we adopted the right attitude on that very important occasion. We do not want people to go round the country and say that the Australian Democratic Labour party senators refused to debate the bill.
– Would the honorable senator have refused to debate the social services legislation if all Australian Labour party senators had been present?
– The honorable senator is one of those who goes round the countryside saying that we were afraid to discuss the legislation. Are we afraid now? Last night Senator McManus tore strips off the Government parties. I have just stated the reason why we did not allow the bills to go to the second-reading stage. Government senators agreed with our action.
– The first reading.
– We voted it out on the motion for the first reading.
– The honorable senator knows it was not even read a first time.
– Have you finished?
– 1 should like to correct you.
– Last night, we heard speeches from Senator McManus and Senator Byrne. It is a great pity that we were not on the air last night. Those honorable senators gave a logical reasons for their opposition to this bill. I am sorry that the newspapers did not report the very very fine arguments that they advanced. As I say, we all listened with interest when Senator McManus stated his argument logically and clearly. I presume that had we then been on the air the arguments that supporters of the Government brought forward would have very little, or no value. This applies also to Senator Byrne’s remarks. I repeat that 1 am very sorry that the newspapers did not see fit to print the logical arguments that they advanced. Senator McManus posed an important question to the Government when he asked whether it wants this legislation. My belief is that the Government does not want it. Senator McManus asked, and I repeat, why the Government did not bring forward this legislation which its supporters now say is so important, between 1953 and 1956 when it had control of the Senate. Of course, honorable senators opposite know the reason as well as I do; maybe, I suppose, that they know them a little better than I do. The reason was that their leaders did not want any change in the banking system. It was working well. Why would they want a change? Very strong pressure to effect a change came from Government backbenchers. Indeed, as has been mentioned in this chamber to-night, an honorable member in the other place did think of bringing forward a special bill, which was the one that private banks wanted. It was due to pressure on the leaders of the Government, instituted, I believe, by people outside, that caused this legislation to be introduced. But when I look closely at the measures I rather think that the leaders of the Government outdid themselves. They put things into his legislation that were not acceptable to the private banks. Then the private banks and the Government compromised. Therefore, I believe that we now have a position in which neither the Government nor the private banks really want the whole of the legislation. The Government is giving away too much and is including certain very stringent provisions in respect of the Reserve Bank - something that could be taken up by a future government. Somebody left a little booklet on my desk a moment ago - the policy handbook of the Liberal party - in which it is stated that one of the reasons for the introduction of these measures goes back to the nationalization proposals that were introduced by the Chifley Government. Of course, supporters of the Government do not really believe that.
– Yes, we do.
– It was not a fear of nationalization that caused these measures to be introduced because nationalization, as such, can only be brought in by the wish of the people.
– It can be brought in much more directly by executive action abusing legislative powers.
– It would not make any difference because this legislation only replaces legislation that is very satisfactory now.
– With added safeguards.
– The added safeguard is that the Reserve Bank would be able to call up all deposits, compared with only 25 per cent. now. A future government would be able to take 100 per cent, on 45 days’ notice, and so close the private banks.
– That provision is to be applied uniformly to both the public and the private banks.
– That does not make any difference; it may be done by a government, which will have control through the Reserve Bank.
– If that did not cause revolution, nothing would.
– The Reserve Bank will have the power to call up 100 per cent, of deposits, compared with 25 per cent. now.
– In other words, you are clearing the way for nationalization of the banks. The Liberal party is making possible the nationalization of banking on 45 days’ notice.
– Why does the Government want to interfere with the Trading Bank? In my opinion, the Trading Bank is necessary to implement the policy of the central bank. The Trading Bank and the Savings Bank are the banks through which the central bank can directly implement its policy. It can only be suggested to the private banks what their policy should be. At present, the central bank can say to the private banks, “ We think you can give a few million pounds towards housing “, but the private banks do not have to agree to the proposal. At present, the central bank can use the Trading Bank for this purpose. The Commonwealth Bank was established in the interests of developing this country. That is the reason why my party wants to see it under the control of the central bank. The reason why the Government does not want it to be under the control of the central bank is that it merely wants to establish another trading bank - a government institution. Government supporters should be honest with themselves; they know what they want to do. Time after time they have stated in this chamber that private enterprise should supersede government enterprise. That is their theory and their practice.
– What do you believe in - socialization?
– No. I believe in both, but you do not. The Government does not believe in Commonwealth agencies at all and it has, in fact, sold its shareholdings in several companies. We want no interference with the present Trading Bank because, as I have said, it implements - or it should implement - the policy of the central bank. Whether or not the central bank is controlled by a board, it would be much better off under the Government because, after all, the real control of its activities is in the hands of the Treasurer, acting on behalf of the government of the day. If my party were in government and wanted to foster housing and developmental works in order to lessen unemployment wc would want to use as our implement the Commonwealth Trading Bank. That is why we do not want to see it torn away from the central bank.
– In other words, you want it to be given an unfair advantage.
– There is nothing unfair about it. The money that is released by the central bank through the Commonwealth Trading Bank creates credit which, in turn, increases the holdings of the private banks. It does not all come back to the Commonwealth Trading Bank. We should also ask ourselves whether the trading banks are fulfilling their function.
– In my opinion, the answer is “ No “, because they have entered the hire-purchase field, which is not part of legitimate banking territory. That is one of the great reasons why I fear very much that money released to the private banks will not find its way into the housing and developmental fields. What is much more likely is that it will further the hire-purchase activities of the private banks. The Government claims that it can do nothing to counter present hire-purchase practices. I say that it can. First, it could submit a referendum to the people - and obtain plenty of support.
– It would win.
– It would have the support of every honorable senator. The Government could also threaten to withdraw the charter of private banks unless they got out of the hire-purchase field. Of course, that would be a very hard thing for the Government to do. It could also approach the matter from the other direction and say to the hire-purchase companies, “ You will be placed under a banking charter, because you are controlling 28 per cent, of the credit in the community “.
– At present they atc completely uncontrolled.
– I would put them under a banking charter. They would then come under the control of the central bank so far as interest and the like were concerned. I wonder how much money would pour into the hire-purchase companies then! For these reasons, the Government ought not to say that it can do nothing about hire purchase - a deadly killer of our economy at present.
Let us look now at the proposed Development Bank - one of the bright spots in this banking legislation. Last night Senator McManus and Senator Byrne asked1 whether it could be accepted if the other three parts of the main legislation were rejected, but they could not obtain an answer. In the circumstances, we can only vote against the whole legislation at the second-reading stage. 1 will not listen to any suggestion that the Government could not accept the Development Bank proposal on its own. If it really believes that this is. a wonderful scheme - as I do also - the. Government can bring it into being by proposing, later, a simple amendment of the existing legislation. There is already a mortgage bank, but, in matters of credit extension, it follows normal banking practice. The Development Bank proposal, envisages the granting of great discretion in making advances. If the Government brings down a bill establishing such a bank, or submits an amendment to the existing act with that in view, it can depend upon our support. I ask the Government to do that..
– If we supported the Government, would it create a unity ticket?
– It would be a matter of unity with the “ Libs “.
Senator Wright last night gave us one of the best examples of special pleading that we have heard for a long time. He addressed most of his remarks to Senator McManus, Senator Byrne and myself, and asked us to permit the bill to go into the committee stage. He said, “ There we can make a bill out of it “, but he knows as well as I that, so far as amendments are concerned, we would have our heads chopped off very quickly. His was a very good pleading, and I am rather sorry that we cannot agree, at this stage at any rate, to allow the legislation to pass into the committee stage. I do not think that this legislation will ever be brought in because, as I said earlier, I do not think the Government is very keen about it. I do not even think that the banks are very keen about it. One would have thought that, in the last three months, at least one of their representatives would have come along to lobby us about this legislation.
We are the people who will have the responsibility of deciding whether the bill should be passed or not, but we have seen not a single lobbyist in all that time. I do not know why. That proves to me very conclusively that the banks are not overkeen on the legislation in its present form. If, after an election, the Government were returned with a majority in the Senate, the private banks probably would bring more pressure to bear on it. The Government then would have no excuse. It would have the numbers in this place to enable it to pass the legislation requested by the private banks. If, when the Governmenthad the numbers, this legislation were reintroduced, I feel certain that it would not be in the same form as it is now.
The excellent speech made last night by Senator Byrne should appeal very much to Senator Wright. Senator Byrne argued’ that the Government had to prove its case. He said it had to prove that the present; banking system was a failure and of very little, if any, value to the economy of Australia, because otherwise there was no necessity to change it.
– In other words, he wants to wait until Bukowski arrives here.
– Bukowski and Senator Byrne are not on speaking terms. SenatorByrne proved his case up to. the hilt. He showed that there was no need for this: legislation to be brought into the Parliament.
– I thought the slogan of your party was, “ It could happen here “.
– It could happen here,, but not in relation to banking.
– Not under the economic dictatorship of Evatt?
– If we had a Communist dictatorship, the form of our banking system would not make any difference.
– purely you would put up a struggle?
– I would certainly put. up, a struggle against the Communists, but: I will not struggle for the private banks-. The Government has told us that this is. very good legislation which is wanted by the people of Australia, legislation which would improve, the banking practices of. Australia. The Government is very certain. that this legislation is needed. If it is wiped out at the second-reading stage, what will the Government do about it?
– Wipe out the obstruction.
– That is the point. There is only one way in which it can wipe out the obstruction; that is by a double dissolution.
– Or a single one.
– I do not care whether it is a double or a single dissolution. If the Government has the guts it pretends to have, if the Government really means what it has said, it will go for a double dissolution. If it does not mean what it says, I suppose it will sit back and take it. If the Government is really honest in its contention that this is major legislation, it will fight for it to the utmost. It will go right to the end. When the measures are rejected, as I believe they will be, the only thing for the Government to do, if it is really honest, will be to seek a double dissolution.
I have put forward the views of the Australian Democratic Labour party on the political side. I am sorry that the speeches made last night by Senators McManus and Byrne were not broadcast. Those speeches should convince the Senate that this legislation is not necessary and it would be, as I believe, to the detriment of Australia. The credit resources of Australia must be used for the development of our country, through our banking system. That is one of the main reasons why my party believes that the separation of the Trading Bank from the central bank would be a bad thing. We are determined to oppose the legislation in its present form.
– I rise to support the proposal before the Senate for the reconstruction of the existing banking structure, and to compliment the Government on its action in reintroducing the banking bills. We have just listened to a very remarkable speech from the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour party (Senator Cole). He commenced with the explanation - I took it down as he said it - that the legislation does not conform to the platform of his party. That statement by Senator Cole followed a statement made by
Senator McManus yesterday who said, “Personally, I do not support the nationalization of banking.” Until very recently both Senator Cole and Senator McManus belonged to a party that had as its sole objective the socialization of the means of distribution, production and exchange. Therefore, they are hardly competent to say that the Government has delayed taking action or, indeed, that the Government senators are insincere in their attitude towards this legislation. Another point was raised by Senator Cole, and I suggest that it has coloured the whole of the thinking and the actions of the Democratic Labour party. Senator Cole invited the Government to seek a double dissolution, but he very well knows that in the event of a double dissolution a Democratic Labour party candidate would need to obtain only about one-ninth of the total vote to obtain a position in the Senate. Therefore, the Australian Democratic Labour party, or any splinter party, has everything to gain and nothing to lose by attempting to force the Government to seek a double dissolution. Senator Wright has just reminded me that the Australian Democratic Labour party would need to poll only a half of the votes that would be necessary to obtain a place in an ordinary election. Senator Cole introduced this subject and I am now giving him the facts. The only thing I can deduce from his argument is that the whole of his party’s attitude towards the banking bills is coloured by self-interest.
I should now like to talk about the legislation itself. As I feel that the Government’s case has been adequately put by other honorable senators on this side, I propose to confine my remarks to what I consider are the fundamental issues. The first is whether the central bank, or the Reserve Bank, as it is to be known, will be weakened by a separation of the functions of the central bank from the Commonwealth Trading Bank. The second fundamental issue relates to the future operation of the statutory reserve accounts system.
Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) weakened his case by applying the age-old technique of attempting to divert attention from the real issue by discussing details instead of directing his remarks to matters of substance. He. and other honorable senators opposite who spoke after him, endeavoured, I submit without success, to establish that the legislation, if adopted, would, in Senator McKenna’s own words, “ damage the structure and prestige of the central bank and reduce the power of the Governor “.. Senator Paltridge and Senator Wright pointed out clearly that nothing could be further from the truth. It is my belief that if these bills are passed, their effect will be to strengthen greatly the hands of the Governor as well as to strengthen the Reserve Bank. Their passage will also enable the Governor to keep closer cooperation with the private trading banks; so that, far from weakening the structure or position of the Reserve Bank, these bills will strengthen them. Further - and I believe this to be extremely important - the Commonwealth Trading Bank will be left free to pursue and develop its competitive trading with other banks.
This afternoon, my colleague, Senator Wade, quoted some very interesting figures which show the tremendous development in the Commonwealth Trading Bank over recent years. In the light of that evidence, it is ridiculous for the Opposition to claim that the proposals under consideration would act as a brake on the expansion of that bank. It is clear to everybody that, in the opinion of the community, the Commonwealth Trading Bank enjoys a position in the Australian financial system that no one would dare to suggest should be reduced or in any way hampered, but I submit there is every reason to contend that it is fundamental to an efficient banking system that the central banking functions should be separated from the multiplicity of trading bank activities. Yesterday, while Senator McKenna was speaking, an interjection was made by, I think, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), in connexion with overseas experience. Senator McKenna, I believe, misled the Senate in his reply. Recent press reports indicate that the Bank of England, which at that time was helping in the formation of central banks in various parts of the world, notably Ghana, Malaya and Nigeria, advised those States to keep the central bank quite separate from the trading banks. It advised those States “ to keep central banking quite separate from trading banking rather than adopt the Australian system of combining both trading and central banking”. Surely that advice from the Bank of England is a clear indication that a central bank functions much better when untrammelled by direct participation in commercial banking.
The proposals now before the Senate are precisely similar to those which have been adopted overseas without any fear and without any recriminations, and I sincerely hope that we in Australia will prove to be sufficiently mature in financial techniques to adopt those practices. But, quite apart from what is happening overseas, I believe it is only reasonable to assume - and this point was very fully put by Senator Wright - that in the absence of complete confidence between all sections of the banking community, the banking system cannot operate smoothly.
This afternoon, Senator Willesee tried to build his case against the legislation on the argument that it must be dismissed because it is something for which the private banks have been pressing. He even went so far as to say that the only reason these measures were before the Parliament to-day was that the private banks had demanded that this action be taken. We on this side know that that is quite incorrect- Senator Willesee went on to give reasons for any concern that the private banks might have about the present situation and, strangely enough, he said that, after the threat of nationalization, the private banks became frightened and fought back. Of course the banks were afraid; so were the people of Australia. It was because of that fear that the people of Australia put the Chifley Government out of office and returned the Menzies-Fadden Administration. That fear still persists in the minds of many people, and it has contributed much to increasing the prestige of that administration.
Just before the suspension of the sitting, Senator Gorton placed his finger on the real objection the Opposition has to this legislation. He said that the Opposition objects not because the proposals do anything to weaken the central bank but because they seek to make it more difficult for some government which may be disposed to destroy the private banks without acting openly. That objection is easy to understand.
On the other hand, with their recollection of the attempts made in 1947 and 1948 to nationalize banking, and with the continued overt threats to their very existence, the trading banks understandably feel that they cannot reasonably fee expected to confide their innermost business secrets to the head of a trading competitor. Nor can it be claimed with truth that they have enjoyed the benefit of mutual confidences while they sincerely believed that the Commonwealth Trading Bank would be in a position to enjoy an unfair advantage because of its relationship with the central bank. It is because of those factors, and because of the continued threats to free-enterprise banking that I believe the complete separation of the functions of the central bank from the trading bank would clear the way to better cooperation with the trading banks. It is for those reasons that I feel also that far from being weakened, the central or Reserve Bank will achieve greater influence, authority and prestige than it has enjoyed hitherto.
The second point I wish to discuss relates to the change embodied in the bill relating to statutory reserve deposit accounts. Instead of seeing in this proposal something sinister, as has been suggested by Opposition senators, I agree with the statement of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) yesterday, that in the proposed statutory deposit procedure one sees the development of a central banking function to a point which has not previously been approached in Australia.
Like many other honorable senators on this side of the chamber, I have no reason to love the private banks, but I bitterly resent the imputation of Senator Kennelly that this legislation is the pay-off from the private banks. There are people in this Parliament who are not bought off by anybody.
– On this side, particularly.
– Definitely. But, Sir, at least I try to be fair. Therefore, I would like for a moment to address myself to the way in which the special reserve deposits system has operated. During the 1939-45 war, the private banks voluntarily lodged with the central bank a substantial part of their assets as an anti-inflationary and patriotic gesture. In 1945, this voluntary arrangement was converted to a statutory one, but the form of its conversion proved unsatisfactory and so, in 1953, a fresh formula was arranged. The new formula required the banks to deposit with the central bank a basic portion of their deposits, plus a further amount up to 75 per cent, of any increase in their deposits. That has placed a very heavy liability on the banks, particularly as the central bank was not required to give prior notice of its intention to exercise its “powers to the fullest extent. In this legislation it is proposed to ensure that the banks will bte given protection against Unfair discrimination and, more importantly still, that the danger of nationalization by stealth-and I repeat the word “ stealth “ shall be minimized.
Senator Kennelly claimed that the banks had ordered this legislation. That was a parrot cry that he took up from some of his colleagues, I would have dealt with this matter myself had not the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) dealt very effectively with it and pointed out that, under the legislation, the central bank will be empowered to call up 25 per cent, of deposits in normal times, and that if it wishes to exceed that limit it will have to give 45 days’ notice of intention. There is, therefore, no limit provided in the bill. The call-up could be 100 per cent., and as the Minister for Customs and Excise stated, surely no member of the Opposition or any sensible person believes that the banks would insist on legislation which gave a central authority the power to call up 100 per cent, of these deposits.
One thing that has not been admitted by the Opposition is that the whole of this legislation gives greater power to the central bank. Surely, even to persons of limited intelligence, inside the Parliament or outside it, it must be apparent that the proposed legislation will give to the Reserve Bank the widest possible scope for effective control. I think that that is the important part of the whole legislation. It also will have the effect of affording some protection to the trading banks, insofar as it requires uniformity of treatment regarding statutory reserve deposit accounts and as between the various trading banks, including the Commonwealth Trading Bank. I am indebted to Senator Wright who, by means of an interjection when Senator Cole was speaking, raised this matter of uniformity. because it is one of the underlying principles of the legislation.
In conclusion, Sir, I believe that the Opposition has failed dismally in its attempts to talk away the obvious benefits that this legislation will bestow. Senator Kennelly, and many other honorable senators from the opposite side of the chamber, wandered far from the subject of banking, either central or private. Indeed, during the whole of this debate the good old red herring has been worked overtime. No solid arguments have been submitted to support the contention that the bills should be defeated. We on this side of the chamber have the utmost confidence in the Government. We are confident that our proposals will lead to a smoother and more efficient working system, which will be free from earlier sources of distrust and divisions of counsel. That being so, we believe that the legislation is in the very best interests of the people and of the Australian nation. I support the bill.
– During the course of this debate in the Senate most of us have listened attentively to what has been said by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. Naturally enough, in a debate of this importance some very hard things have been said. During the course of the remarks that I propose to make, no doubt I in turn will make my contribution in that direction, but at least I shall try to be fair in whatever comments I make. I do not intend to begin by restating the terms of the measure before the Senate, because that has been done on so many occasions that if I were to do so it would be senseless repetition. I suppose that we all indulge in a certain amount of repetition in this chamber, but it will be my aim this evening to eliminate repetition from my speech as much as possible.
I feel that I must make some remarks about the statement of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), that he was stunned by what Senator Kennelly had to say regarding the refusal by the Government to grant a pair to a member of the Australian Labour party on the previous occasion that this measure came before the Parliament.
– “ Stunned “ is rather a funny interpretation!
– That is the interpretation that I prefer to put on the Minister’s reaction. I regret that the word I have used does not suit Senator Hannaford^ rather meticulous approach to the English language. The Minister for Customs and Excise said, in reply to Senator Kennelly’s charge, that on an occasion in 1941 the Labour party had refused a pair to a member of the Liberal party. I have looked very carefully through “ Hansard “ for the relevant period in 1941 and I can find no reference to the granting of pairs being disputed. In the election for the office of President of the Senate in July, 1941, 1 find that Senator Hayes and Senator Cunningham tied with seventeen votes each, after a ballot had been conducted. It was then determined, by lot, that Senator Cunningham was the successful candidate. I understand that two senators were absent from that meeting of the Senate, but no reference whatever was made to pairs. What is extremely significant is that Senator McLeay, of South Australia, who will be remembered as being a redoubtable fighter and one who, if he had any complaint against members of the party to which I belong, would be very vocal indeed, had this to say -
I congratulate you, Mr. President, upon your luck, and I wish you every success in your high office. I very much regret that Senator Wilson was unable to attend the meeting of the Senate to-day by virtue of the fact that he is fighting with the Australian Imperial Force abroad, and that Senator Allan MacDonald was unable to attend . . .
But there was no hostility and no charge against the Australian Labour party that pairs had been refused. Other honorable senators who were of the same political colour as this Government spoke in similar congratulatory terms without in any way making a complaint. So, I suggest that Senator Henty was not telling the truth when he made his desperate attempt to rebut the charge that had been laid by Senator Kennelly in respect of the behaviour of the Government on the last occasion these measures were before the Senate.
– He was telling the truth.
– I challenge Senator Henty-
– What the honorable senator cannot understand is that we play the game and that we congratulate people on their appointment to these offices irrespective of how they get there.
– Government supporters are a little bit concerned about this, and they are running for cover. I challenge Senator Henty to prove to the Senate at any time that is convenient to him the circumstances to which he has referred. I suggest that he was not telling the truth to-night when he said that, in this chamber, in 1941, the Labour party refused a pair to a member of the Liberal party. It is more than passing strange that, at the time when this alleged injustice by the Labour party against the Liberal party was supposed to have occurred, the members of the Liberal party were not vocal about the matter and made no complaint.
– They were too decent.
– What nonsense!
– Cannot the honorable senator read a rasping criticism into that statement by Senator McLeay?
– Senator Wright suggests that Liberal party senators were too decent. I say that this accusation is purely a matter of politics and that, if such a situation had arisen, members of the Liberal party would have been very vocal indeed. I could not imagine Senator Wright, if he had been a member of that Parliament, remaining silent in such a situation as was wrongly described by Senator Henty to-night. If Senator Wright was honest with himself, he would admit that he would be the first to challenge such action. In fact, he would probably break a leg in getting to his feet to do something about it.
– Cannot Senator Toohey read a note of reproach into George McLeay’s reference to the absence overseas of Senator Wilson?
– While we are on the subject, of Senator Wright-
– Senator Cooper gave you all the facts of the situation.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Hendrickson). - Order! Senator Toohey has the floor.
– I assume, Sir, that I am not unduly interrupting Senator Mattner. While we are referring to Senator Wright, perhaps we could spend a few moments in making some reference to his speech on these measures. He made a very remarkable contribution to this debate. If he had made that contribution at the St. James theatre in London, he would have brought the house down. But he did not impress the Senate to any marked degree, because we are getting used to him. He played a dual role. On the one hand, he was the plump Jove hurling his misdirected thunderbolts at the Australian Labour party, and then he became an equally plump and seductive Lothario trying to woo the members of the Australian Democratic Labour party and the Queensland Labour party. But he did not do a good job in either role.
I wish to challenge some of the statements of Senator Wright. He said that in 1949 the declared intention of the Australian Labour party to nationalize the Australian banking system aroused a tremendous wave of resistance on the part of the banks’ customers and that it was as a consequence of that intense feeling that the Labour party was defeated at the general election of 1949. I do not know how long Senator Wright has been deeply immersed in the rather tricky pool of politics, but I think that anybody who examined the political scene of 1949 and the role that was adopted by the private banking institutions would not have seen much customer resistance. In fact, I do not think the customers were very much concerned about the position at all. But we did see a considerable amount of activity on the part of the banks themselves. At every political meeting that was held by a member of the Australian Labour party during the election campaign of 1949, there were hired interjectors - mercenaries employed by the private banking institutions - who tried to harass the speakers and to break up the meeting. It was a kind of genteel gangsterism.
– Do those employees become mercenaries when they oppose you?
– They were mercenaries, and I will tell you why. I am rather pleased that the honorable senator has mentioned that. He wants me to prove it, and I am eager to do so. If he knows anything about what happened on that occasion, he knows, just as we on this side of the chamber know, that, for their participation in that campaign, those employees received something in addition to their ordinary remuneration as bank officers. Let honorable senators opposite not try to deny that. These employees received a very nice bonus indeed.
– From whom?
– They received it from their masters, the private banks.
– How do you know?
– I shall quote an instance to indicate how I know. Government supporters do not like this, but it is true. A certain bank officer who worked for one of the private banks in South Australia came to me and gave me £10 towards the Labour party’s campaign funds. He said, “ You would be very amused if you knew where this come from. It was given to me by the management of the bank for which I work so that I could go to interrupt your Labour party meeting “. Let honorable senators opposite not deny that that happened.
– I suppose he has gone over to Hobart since then?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order!
– While government supporters are collecting their wits, Sir, I shall have a drink of water.
– Is that how you constituted your funds? You accepted it?
– Of course I did, just as any poor villager would accept money that came from a robber baron. That is the role which the private banks of this country play. So when Senator Wright tries to imply that the customers of the private banks of Australia care two hoots about whether nationalization of the banks becomes effective, he might be fooling himself and some of his rather dull-witted colleagues on that side of the chamber, but he certainly is not fooling any one on this side and, in my opinion, is not fooling one member of the public either. The banks created an artificial war on that occasion. They published advertisements to state their case, and even gave their employees weeks off work to allow them to tramp the streets of the suburbs of Australia and whisper into the ears of the housewives that this vicious socialist party was trying to take their savings from them. It was a very well conducted campaign, but honorable senators opposite should not make the mistake of saying that the people of Australia had any interest in it whatever.
– Why did the Communist party assist the Opposition?
– When we come to deal with the question of communism, it will be remembered that on a previous occasion I suggested there was strong reason for believing that a Communist cell existed amongst the Government members in the Senate. I remember that on the night I made the allegation Senator Scott was wearing a red tie. As I mentioned before, I think he would be an ideal subject for conversion to communism because he is not very bright. The situation created in 1949 by the Liberal party, in cohesion with the private banks, was completely artificial. The people were stampeded by the falsity of the propaganda and the great amount of money poured into the campaign. I should like to know how much the campaign in 1949 cost the banking institutions of this country.
I am pleased to see that Senator Henty has made another belated return to the chamber, because a few moments ago I went so far as to suggest that in his speech he did not tell the truth. During the course of his rather peculiar address on this banking legislation he related the story of an occasion when he wanted a loan of £1,000 from a bank but could not be accommodated. He told us that he went to another bank and immediately received a loan of £1,000 to enable him to carry on his business. The obvious implication that the honorable senator was endeavouring to make was that there is fierce competition between the banking institutions in this country - that they were competing with each other to obtain Senator Henty’s custom and to lend him £1,000. If he was able to obtain a loan of £1,000 from one private bank after having been refused the loan by another he must be one of the luckiest persons in Australia.
Senator Henty tried to imply that fierce competition exists between the private banks. Is there any difference between the interest rates they charge? Has he ever heard of the Bank of New South Wales, for instance, suggesting that it should reduce its interest rate one-half per cent below that of the Bank of New Zealand or the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Limited? Has he ever heard of any of the private banking institutions actively engaging in competion with each other? What fantastic nonsense! The private banks form the tightest monopoly that this country has ever known. There is no sense in the banks operating against each other because they have a clear field, and in that particular field they intend to remain if they possibly can. As a consequence of their fierce desire to protect what they have, the private banks want the Government to destroy their only possible competitor, the Commonwealth Bank. Yet Senator Henty tries to give us the impression that if one bank refuses him a loan, he has only to go to another bank up the street and be accommodated.
I shall refer to the experience of a gentleman in South Australia who probably had greater assets than Senator Henty, who gave us the impression that he was sailing pretty close to the wind at the time he was seeking the loan.
– Senator Henty is not a member of the Australian Labour party.
– If Government senators are prepared to exchange their assets for those of the Opposition senators, I would be a willing party to that arrangement, and would be very happy indeed to discharge my present overdraft as a consequence of the exchange. I was about to quote a classic instance of the way in which private banking institutions deal with the ordinary client. The gentleman in question had considerable assets and wrote to one of the banks in South Australia - I shall name it if Government senators challenge me to do so - and said, “ I wish to make a tentative inquiry as to whether you would be interested in advancing me, say, £2,000 for a period of up to two years against a second registered mortgage on my lease of a grazing property comprising 15,000 acres and is valued conservatively at £30,000, on condition, of course, that the overdraft obtained at the Commercial Bank of Australia is limited to £7,250 at current interest rate, first mortgage “.
– His property was held under leasehold and no bank will lend money on a leasehold property.
– It appears to me that the banks will not lend money on very much at all. Honorable senators will remember the old saying that the banks will lend one an umbrella when it is not raining. I think that saying exemplifies the attitude of the private banking institutions. The man to whom I have referred had an asset valued at £30,000 but was refused a loan by a private bank. However, he would have been accommodated eagerly by the hire-purchase corporations on their terms.
– He will be accommodated by the Development Bank, if the legislation becomes law.
– If I have the opportunity I shall make some reference to the Development Bank, but at the moment I am dealing with what, to my mind, was quite a sound banking proposition.
– The honorable senator is not a banker.
– I admit that I am not a banker, but the hire-purchase companies, which might have a greater knowledge of finance than I, or even the honorable senator, considered the proposition to be sound and were prepared to accommodate the man on their terms. That brings me to the matter of hirepurchase transactions. We are indebted to Senator McManus for raising this question. It is a well-known fact that when the Government came into office the Commonwealth Bank had a hire-purchase section. Admittedly, it did not cover a very wide field and had only certain rather limited and specified operations, but it existed and the Government destroyed it. If the Government were genuine in its desire to take some action in the matter of hirepurchase activities, that section of the Commonwealth Bank could have been maintained and expanded, and could have competed effectively with the greedy hirepurchase corporations that are running riot in Australia to-day.
On the question as to why the hirepurchase section of the bank was destroyed, I suggest that the underlying motive which now impels this Government to act at the behest of the private banking institutions impelled it to destroy that section of the bank when it came into office. There is no doubt about that because the hire-purchase concerns, as well as the banks, said, “ We will not have any competition “. This Government, ever obliging to its financial friends, decided the hire-purchase section of the Commonwealth Bank had to go, and it went.
– That is not so. lt is still in operation.
– It is not being used; it is being frustrated and blanketed. Hirepurchase business in this country is becoming a national scandal. In other countries of the world, perhaps a little more enlightened than we are, legislation has already been introduced to deal with the hire-purchase concerns which are bleeding the community.
Newspaper Report - Iron Ore - Gold-mining. “
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I crave the indulgence of the Senate for a few minutes to make reference to a matter of some personal consequence to me. Certain attacks have been made upon me in the press of Western Australia, first of all by two gentlemen, Mr. Payne, the mayor of Bunbury, and Mr. Eadon-Clarke, the mayor of Geraldton, and secondly, by the “ West Australian “ newspaper itself in a leading article on Saturday, 22nd March, in relation to the attitude that I took on the matter of a permit to export iron ore.
I first want to make reference to the attacks by Mr. Payne and Mr. Eadon-Clarke. The latter gentleman wrote to the “ West Australian “, and the other published an article in the Bunbury “ Sun “, on Friday, 21st March. Both objected on the same grounds to my statements in relation to the issue of an export licence. Both gentlemen joined issue with me in regard to this all-important question of our iron ore reserves. They made statements as to what they estimated the reserves of iron ore to be, and their estimates are at great variance with the figure that I stated in a recent speech in this chamber.
I had said that we have iron ore reserves in Australia sufficient to meet our requirements for some 35 years. Mr. Payne and Mr. Eadon-Clarke have insisted in their press articles that we have iron ore reserves for some 2,000 years. Quite obviously, both estimates cannot be right. Mr. Payne and Mr. Eadon-Clarke stated that we have over six billion tons of iron ore reserves in Australia. Both made the fatal mistake of including our low-grade deposits of iron ore. Those low-grade deposits are, of course, well known, not only to myself, but to anybody who has any knowledge of mining.
The unfortunate mistake that both gentlemen made was to include these low-grade deposits in the estimates of our iron ore reserves. If we had to estimate the lowgrade iron ore reserves, that would give us, in fact, iron ore reserves for some 2,000 years, but if we take away the low-grade deposits we find, on the basis of the figures supplied by the Department of National Development, that we have iron ore reserves for only 35 years. In other words, about 90 per cent, of the deposits which Messrs. Payne and Eadon-Clarke included in their estimates are low-grade iron ore.
If either of those gentlemen knows how to extract iron from these low-grade deposits, I think he should inform the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, because neither that very experienced company nor any other mining authority knows how to do- it. .1 shall be most interested to hear from these gentlemen about how it can be done, so that their very obviously new mining methods may be published. As I say, I referred to reserves of high-grade iron ore sufficient to meet our requirements for 35 years. That was mentioned by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) in this chamber. It is the only type of iron ore in Australia from which we can produce our steel and which can be mined economically.
– How did you work out that estimate?
– I did not work it out. I accepted the figures of the industry and of the Department of National Development. 1 have not measured the reserves. As I say, I do not mind criticism by either of those gentlemen, but T should like any criticism that is hurled at by by my Western Australian friends to be based on fact.
I turn to much more serious critcism, which was contained in the “ West Australian “ of Saturday, 22nd March. The leading article in that issue contains this statement -
Senator Vincent ‘. . . asserted last week that the Slate Government had “ frozen “ iron ore deposits in this State. The facts are that the State Government is trying to put our ore into use by establishing a big industry here; and that the “ frozen “ deposits were traded to the B.H.P. for a song years ago by the McLarty-Watts Government, which, unlike the hard-headed Playford Government in South Australia, did not demand a reasonable quid-pro-quo.
The article continues -
Senator Vincent, though a Kalgoorlie man, had nothing to say about the vital goldmining industry, which, being far removed from Canberra, is neglected.
I strongly object to that criticism on two grounds. In the first place, it is not based on facts. I shall deal briefly with the matter of the frozen iron ore deposits. The “ West Australian “ claims, in effect, that I referred to the deposits at Yampi Sound that are on lease to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. If any member of the staff of the “ West Australian “ had read my speech to which the leading article refers, he could not have come to any other conclusion than that I excluded those deposits when I referred to frozen deposits. I referred in my speech to iron ore reserves. The B.H.P. was mining ore; I was talking about other ore in Western Australia. I again assert that the deposits that are known and those that are unknown are frozen by the Hawke Government. In effect, nobody can peg a deposit of iron ore in Western Australia and get a mining title to it. The only person who can do so is the Premier of Western Australia himself. He has taken to himself the exclusive right to exploit all iron ore deposits in Western Australia. To that T take very strong objection. Presumably the “ West Australian “ agrees with Mr. Hawke’s policy, obstensibly and very palpably, to set up a State-controlled iron ore industry in Western Australia.
I should like to mention, in passing, that it might not be a very hazardous enterprise to run the State railways, although we do lose £7,000,000 a year on them. It might not even be a very hazardous enterprise to run a State-controlled newspaper. But it is a most hazardous occupation to try to run an iron ore mine. That is my objection to Mr. Hawke’s scheme, which presumably is endorsed by the “ West Australian “.
If Mr. Hawke would throw open to the public every known deposit of iron ore in Western Australia, and encourage efforts to discover deposits, he could expect a sudden development of exploration. We would then undoubtedly be in a position, as every geologist will affirm, to discover appropriate iron ore reserves, from which we could export iron ore.
One of the two published reasons given for Von Krupp’s refusal even to consider the establishment of a second steel industry in Australia was that we happen to be short of iron ore. Yet we have a State Premier reserving to himself the right to mine any iron ore in Western Australia. This has the fatal consequence of preventing the development of our reserves. I repeat, in my speech I referred, not to Yampi Sound deposits - which are not frozen - but to the very large deposits known to have been found in Western Australia, which, to our great detriment, have been frozen by Mr. Hawke. Any one who read my speech should have understood it. I suggest that any school boy could have done so, but the “ West Australian “ has published a leading article attacking me, on the assumption that I was referring to Broken Hill Proprietory Company Limited. That was a most misleading statement. The second aspect of my alleged misdemeanours is put thus -
Vincent, although a Kalgoorlie man, had nothing to say about the vita] gold mining industry.
The speech to which the “ West Australian “ refers was made by me on 30th March, and was devoted to the base metals industry. Where my remarks did apply to gold, I specifically mentioned gold. It is completely incorrect to suggest that I had nothing to say on that subject. As a matter of fact I had a lot to say about it. As reported at page 177 of the “ Hansard “ report I said that a very strong case existed for the encouragement of prospecting in those mining industries where great hazards were being undertaken in difficult exploration projects, and there I referred to both iron and gold. For the further information of the “ West Australian “, I may say that, as reported at page 178, I again referred to gold, and directed attention to the importance of establishing a gold reserve. As reported at page 181, I spoke of the need for interest-free loans to long-established mines which needed re-equipping, and made particular reference to the Sons of Gwalia gold mine in Western Australia. Obviously, the gentleman who wrote the leading article had not read my speech. He made a most unfortunate mistake. It should be corrected because his criticism has been based on false premises. I invite criticism, but I like it to be based on correct information. I suggest that the “ West Australian “ should be a little more careful in future. I have submitted these statements to the Minister, especially as they relate to our iron ore reserves and the remarks of the mayors of Geraldton and Bunbury are so misleading. I think they should be corrected and I invite the Minister, if he cares to do so, to follow me to-night and himself refer to any of the matters that I have mentioned.
– Senator Vincent has mentioned this matter to me, and I have obtained some information concerning it. It is set against the background of an application by the Western Australian Government for a licence to export 1,000,000 tons of iron ore. That application is the subject of correspondence between the Prime Minister and the State Premier, but I do not think it would be appropriate to refer to that correspondence at this stage. The mayor of Bunbury, Mr. Payne, has claimed that though in Australia there are 6,203,000,000 tons of iron ore, we are using only 3,500,000 tons annually. He therefore concludes that we have very adequate reserves of iron ore.
The supply of iron ore goes, of course, right to the foundations of our steel industry and, therefore, of our secondary industries. We must have not only adequate deposits, but also deposits that can be used economically. One must take into consideration the grade, and the cost of mining and transportation. To a material extent, these factors are influenced by the size of the particular deposit. My information is that the reserves referred to by Mr. Payne include a deposit of 5,430,000,000 tons of taconite in the Middleback Range of South Aw tralia. This ore contains between 15 per cent, and 35 per cent, of iron, but the ore that we are using at present contains more than 60 per cent. Obviously, we must use three times as much taconite to obtain the same result. That is only the beginning of the story. Before the ore can be used, an economical way of treating it must be found. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has been conducting research in an attempt to find such a method, but up to the present has not been successful. Even if it were, treatment costs would be very much greater than they are at present.
– Is that a recent announcement?
– B.H.P. maintains a constant research programme into the possibility of using the taconite deposits, if only because of their size and importance. Overseas experience is that if this problem were solved successfully there would, naturally, be a big increase in iron ore reserves, but that such iron ore would be essentially more expensive to treat than the deposits at present being used - with all that follows in the way of higher manufacturing charges and so on.
Therefore, the deposit of 6,000,000,000 tons mentioned by Mr. Payne is largely unusable at present. Moreover, if research workers find a method of using it - I hope they will - it will prove very much more expensive than the iron ore which we are using now. If we put the taconite figures to one side we find that approximately 340,000,000 tons are to be found in three major iron ore deposits - Middleback, Yampi Sound and Koolyanobbing. Our information is that, taking into account the present rate of consumption, and its anticipated growth, we cannot expect that our reserves of iron ore - 800,000,000 tons - to last for more than 35 years. That is a relatively short period. The estimate is based on present requirements, without taking account of all the hopes and anticipations we have as to what will happen in the future.
Let us leave those three deposits on one side. The remaining deposits that make up the 800,000,000 tons, as distinct from this taconite, are all small and mainly of low grade, but without doubt the Australian iron and steel industry looks forward to the more economic use of these deposits, not in the distant future, but in the foreseeable future. The fact is that we are constantly receiving inquiries from concerns overseas which want to purchase the iron ore in these deposits, so it is very easy to assume that if it would be economic for people in Japan or elsewhere to use the deposits now, most assuredly it would be economic for us in Australia to use them in the future.
My view is that when Mr. Payne suggested that figure of 6,000,000,000 tons, he painted a completely misleading picture. We must not look at the 6,000,000,000 tons; we must look at what is left after we have taken away the taconite. He has made confusion worse confounded by claiming that comparatively recently two further deposits have been found, one of 43,500,000 tons in Western Australia, and another of 200,000,000 tons in Tasmania. He makes the claim that each of those deposits contains high-grade ore. The truth is that the Western Australian deposit that has been discovered has not been tested. Any figure mentioned at ‘the present time is an indication, not an estimate, of the resources. So far as the Tasmanian discovery is concerned, my recollection is - I should like Tasmanian senators to correct me if I am wrong - that it was not only recently that the deposit was located. It has been known to be there for a considerable time.
– It has been known for as long as I can remember.
– The Rio Tinto company is exploring it now.
– Preliminary investigations tend to suggest that the grade and the impurities present will make thedeposit relatively unattractive from the point of view of the steel industry.
– Is there too much silica?
– I am sorry, butI do not know. I have discussed this matter with my officers, but I cannot recollect the facts just now. If some honorable senator will tell me where the deposit is, I may remember.
– At Savage River.
– I think that all that is happening at the moment is that the people who are investigating the deposit are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping that it will turn out to be better than present indications show.
I turn now to the criticism of the goldmining industry. I think that Senator Kendall made an apt interjection when he said, “ Why, you talk more about goldmining than I do about fishing!” I think that was an appropriate remark. I want to put on record that we, as the Commonwealth Government, claim that we have treated the gold-mining industry generously, not only by maintaining it completely free of taxation, but also by assisting marginal mines under the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act. One interesting fact that the department has brought to my notice as a result of this survey is that at the present time 30 per cent, of the gold produced in Australia is produced from mines which receive assistance under the GoldMining Industry Assistance Act.
I am sorry to take so long, but I find that the information I have is of more than passing interest. I wish to complete the record by saying one further thing on behalf of my colleague, who is under attack. I hope I would come to the assistance of anybody on either side of the chamber if he were being unfairly attacked. Whatever his faults, nobody can accuse Senator Vincent of not being a very strong advocate in the Senate of the claims of the gold-mining industry. I have a recollection that on one occasion he moved an amendment against the Government in order to try to protect the gold-mining industry. I have a vivid recollection of the representations he has made on behalf of marginal mines, and of his representations to obtain an increase in the price of gold. In the circumstances, I am pleased to ally myself with him in refuting the criticisms that have been levelled at him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 March 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1958/19580326_senate_22_s12/>.