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Tuesday, 13 October 1931

Mr MARR (Parkes) . -I do not support, in their entirety, the remarks made by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley), as to the assistance which, he claims, should be given by the Commonwealth Government to the State Savings Bank of New South Wales. But there is one aspect of the problem which I think should be considered. Section 51 gives the Commonwealth power to legislate with regard to certain matters, including banking, and including State banking if it extends beyond the limits of the State concerned.

The Government Savings Bank of New South Wales is operating outside that State. There are agencies in the Federal Capital Territory, and many people in Canberra have deposits locked up in the old bank. I understand that these depositors are obtaining legal opinion as to whether they can make a claim against the assets of the bank. Everybody agrees that the position of the bankis very serious, and no one desires to say anything that might make the position more difficult. It is stated that a number of its depositors arc really in distress. They are unable to draw upon their accounts, and, because they have money in the bank, they are not eligible for pension relief or for sustenance in the form of the dole. If we can assist the Savings Bank to give the necessary relief to these depositors, it is our duty to do so. I am not at all satisfied with the reconstruction of the bank, and I doubt that it will ever be successful until it is amalgamated with the Commonwealth Bank, because there is no room in Australia for Commonwealth and State savings banking institutions in competition with each other. In Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia amalgamation has already taken place.

Mr Gregory - Not in Western Australia as yet.

Mr MARR - The amalgamation is practically complete there, and has been completed some time in the other States.I should not like it to go out as my statement that the New South Wales Government Savings Bank will fail because the Commonwealth Bank has not taken it over; but it is our duty to see that the depositors in that bank do not lose their money, and that the bank does not fail a second time. It is an appalling thing that the money of depositors should be in jeopardy although the bank was guaranteed by the State of New South Wales. When the largest State of the Commonwealth falls down on a guarantee of that sort it is time that this Parliament stepped in and ensured that the bank was put back on a sound footing.

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