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Thursday, 2 September 1920

Mr RYAN (West Sydney) .- I thank the right honorable gentleman for the information he has given the House, and am very glad that, when such information is asked for at this stage of a Bill, it is now being supplied. We are thus enabled to form a conclusion as to whether steps should be taken, either to broaden or narrow the order of leave, or to define specifically the purpose that we wish to achieve.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - The honorable member might narrow, but he could not broaden, the order of leave very much.

Mr RYAN - Having regard to theinformation which the honorable gentleman has given us, I think it could be broadened. He has shown that the purpose of the measure is somewhat narrow - that it is not exactly proposed to hand over to the Commonwealth Bank the power to issue notes. That power is to he vested in some other body.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - But the title of the Bill is " A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act."

Mr RYAN - The Bill provides for something different from the mere hand ing over of the right to issue notes to the Commonwealth Bank. It provides that that work shall be carried on by a body of Commissioners.

Mr Austin Chapman - Are those Commissioners to control the Bank ? The honorable member might put that question to the Treasurer, since a member sitting in the Ministerial corner can get no information.

Mr RYAN - The Treasurer, perhaps, will tell the honorable member whether the Commissioners are to control the Bank.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - I shall circulate the Bill as soon as this motion is carried.

Mr RYAN - This is a very important measure, vitally affecting large sections of the community, and, at this stage, we should provide for a broader amendment of the principal Act. The Commonwealth Bank is a great institution, and every credit is due to the Government which established it; but we should provide for such an amendment of the Act as would make the institution still more useful and better fitted than it is at present to serve the interests of the great body of the public.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - I am inclined to agree with the honorable member, but that is too big a subject to be dealt with in this Bill.

Mr RYAN - Then, perhaps, the honorable member will accept an amendment to give effect to my suggestion.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - We have as much business on the notice-paper as we can possibly deal with.

Mr RYAN - But the matter to which I refer would occupy the attention of the House for a very little time. It concerns the interests and welfare of so large a section of the public that I am satisfied no honorable member would oppose my suggestion. Let us get to it as soon as possible.

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