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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr BRUCE (Flinders) (Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs) (8:20 AM) . - I move -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This is a very short Bill, and is introduced for one purpose, namely, to enable the Commonwealth Government to guarantee overdrafts given by the Commonwealth Bank in respect of advances to Wheat Pools. That is all that there is in the Bill. This is the first time a Bill of this character has been introduced, although on many occasions we have guaranteed advances to wheatgrowers in Australia. The reason why this is being done by means of a Bill on this occasion is that by reason of a decision of the High Court it is very doubtful whether the Executive has the power to guarantee the Commonwealth Bank against any loss in respect of advances made to a Wheat Pool. Notwithstanding .an announcement in this House that it was . the intention to so guarantee the Commonwealth Bank, and although there may have been, as there has been in this case, a fairly protracted debate on the question of advances to wheat-growers, and a discussion as ,to whether the advance should be 3s. or 4s. per bushel at sidings, because of the legal decision to which I have referred, there are grave doubts whether the Commonwealth csm actually indemnify the Commonwealth Bank in respect of the advances it makes for this purpose. This is purely a Bill intended to overcome any difficulty which may arise from the position which the decision of the Court has created. It is intended to make it perfectly certain that the Government can guarantee these advances by the Commonwealth Bank. The question of how much is to be advanced to the Pools does not arise under this Bill. We have already - on the 3rd July - dealt with the subject of Wheat Pools and the amount of the advance. I believe that a vote was taken in this House as to whether the advance should be 3s. or 4s. per bushel at railway sidings. The result of that vote was to show that a majority of honorable members were of opinion that the advance should be 3s. per bushel at sidings plus 8d. for charges. I think that this is all the explanation of the Bill that is necessary.

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