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Thursday, 2 September 1920

Mr LAVELLE (Calare) .- Being very anxious that the Commonwealth Bank should be a bank in the truest sense of the word - one that will assist every section of the community, and particularly those engaged in rural industries, as well as those desirous of building homes for themselves, I propose to move -

That after the figures "1914 " the following words be inserted, " with a view to establishing the Commonwealth Bank as a bank of issue, deposit, exchange, and reserve, with non-political management, and so as to provide for a comprehensive system of home loans and rural credits.

Mr Austin Chapman - That is surely intended by the Treasurer.

Mr LAVELLE - If so, we shall have no difficulty in inducing him to accept my amendment. My proposal is in accordance with the platform of the Labour party, which maintains that the Commonwealth Bank should have been established originally on these lines. I feel sure that the amendment will receive the support of honorable members generally. If the Commonwealth Bank had been established on these lines - if provision had been made for a system of rural credits - the agricultural industry would have been in a better position than it is today. The hardships and privations which the men on the land have suffered during the last two or three years is common knowledge. I ask the representatives of country constituencies, who are familiar with the conditions prevailing there, whether the farmers would not have been in a much better position than they are to-day if they had been able, during the past three or four years, to secure these facilities through the Commonwealth Bank, instead of being compelled, as many of them have been, to sell their wheat scrip at greatly reduced rates. Honorable members who have any knowledge of rural industries, or represent farming constituencies, are well aware that the farmers of Australia have been robbed of hundreds of thousands of pounds of the value of their produce.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - Does the honorable member think that this is a fair thing ?

Mr LAVELLE - I wish the right honorable gentlemanwould not try to make a speech sitting down.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - I wish the honorable member would not waste the time of the House in this way.

Mr LAVELLE - If the right honorable gentleman would agree to accept my amendment-

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - I will do nothing of the kind.

Mr LAVELLE - If the right honorable gentleman would agree to accept the amendment it would be unnecessary for me or any other honorable member to continually belabour the Government in order to force them into doing the right thing for the man on the land.

Mr Austin Chapman - Surely what the honorable member proposes will be found provided for in the Bill.

Mr LAVELLE - I hope that it will, but I desire to make doubly sure that the Commonwealth Bank shall be placed in a position to carry out the functions it was intended to perform when it was established. I was saying, when the Treasurer interrupted me, that honorable members who represent farming constituencies know that since the initiation of the Wheat Pool the farmers have been compelled by force of economic circumstances to sell their wheat at a great sacrifice. As a consequence, we find many men going off the land, and land is going out of cultivation for wheat. This is solely and simply due to the fact that men cannot profitably carry on rural industries.

Mr Hughes - I hope that the honorable member will curtail his remarks.

Mr LAVELLE - If farmers were able to avail themselves of the facilities which might be afforded by the Commonwealth Bank should my amendment be agreed to, we should find men returning to the land and engaging in rural production. The same story of lessened production is heard from every rural district, and it is solely and simply because the farmers are not able to finance their operations as they should be.

Mr Hughes - I think that will do. I move -

That the question be now put.

Mr West - I rise to apoint of order. I wish to raise the question whether it is competent for an honorable member to move that the question be now put whilst another honorable member is speaking. I understand that it is competent whilst an honorable member is speaking to move that he be no further heard ; but I do not think that the motion that the question be now put can be moved while an honorable member is addressing the House.

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