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Wednesday, 27 June 1906

Mr DEAKIN (BALLAARAT, VICTORIA) (Minister for External Affairs) - Last session, the honorable member for Herbert gave notice of a motion, which was not reached, but because of it the Government placed' themselves in communication with the representatives of the foreign insurance companies doing business here, and obtained certain information from them as to their position. There was not so much known then of the disturbance in America, and the operations of the companies there. As was mentioned in thespeech df the Governor-General, a Bill has been drafted.

Mr Hughes - That Bill must have been drafted before the result of the American inquiry had been made known.

Mr DEAKIN - A new and moreextensive measure now awaits the sanction of the Cabinet, which I hope will be given next week. The companies with which I have been able to come into direct communication recently informed me thatno change has been made in the control of the local assets of which they gave us particulars last year, and I have been assured by one or two of the most representative companies that no measure providing adequate protection for. the policy-holders of Australia will meet with their opposition. Ihope this is the case.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is it possible for the Government to give the policyholders adequate protection?

Mr DEAKIN - I think so. There is no doubt that we can give it with the cooperation of the companies concerned. I trust that we can give a measure of it even without their co-operation. But I am encouraged to hope that we shall receive their assistance in making it abundantly plain that the policy-holders of Australia are adequately protected.

Mr Crouch - Is the Prime Minister satisfied with the statements of their assets which were made last year?

Mr DEAKIN - I am by no means satisfied that their Australian assets cover all their possible local liabilities, but from the statements it did not appear that their assets had been diminished since these inquiries were first instituted.

Mr Hughes - Is the Prime Minister aware that the companies in question have entirely relinquished new business here, so that practically they have no incentive to remain ?

Mr DEAKIN - I am aware they have no incentive to remain in Australia except that which is offered by the premiums payable upon the existing policies, by the properties which they possess, and by the deposits which they have made under State law.

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