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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3101


Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE(9.33) —The Commonwealth Banks Amendment Bill 1984 provides for substantial changes to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The Bill has the support of the Opposition. I was going to say in my remarks that I wish it a speedy passage. I notice that, when Mr Howard was dealing with the Bill in the other place on 10 May, he said:

I am very happy to offer a speedy passage to the Bill through this House and undoubtedly my colleagues in the Senate will also give it a speedy passage.

An honourable member there called Mr Wells said: 'They would not know how'. I think we ought to take this opportunity to show that the Senate does know how to give a Bill a speedy passage. I simply make the comment that the provisions of the Bill will change the name of the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia to the Commonwealth Bank, establish the Commonwealth Savings Bank as a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank and provide for the reserves of the Savings Bank as at 30 June, less $20m, to become the share capital of the Savings Bank and for the share capital to be vested in the Commonwealth Bank.

It provides further for the injection of $15m by the Commonwealth Government to the capital of the Commonwealth Bank and provides for the transfer of $27m from the reserves of the Commonwealth Development Bank to the capital of the Commonwealth Bank. It also contains provisions with regard to promotions of debt profit and removes the present exemption from company income tax of the Savings Bank, the Development Bank and the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. It will allow for a more flexible management and board structure by removing the statutory general manager positions for the Trading Bank, the Savings Bank and the Development Bank and the statutory executive committees of those banks. They are all important provisions in the financial structure of Australia at a time when there is considerable interest in this area.

There is an interest in the change to the Commonwealth Bank and in further deregulation of the whole financial system. Of course, there is considerable interest in the entry of foreign banks as that would take into account some of the recommendations of the Campbell Committee of Inquiry into the Australian Financial System. We believe that it would have the effect of creating a much more effective, efficient and competitive banking and financial system within this country. The Opposition supports the changes in the Commonwealth Banks Amendment Bill. We wish the Bill a speedy passage.