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Thursday, 3 March 1932

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) (1:55 AM) .Honorable members opposite are treating this matter lightly, but they will realize before they are through with this legislation that it is serious. When this bill is passed it will be possible for the Commonwealth Government, merely by resolution of Parliament, and without a judgment of the High Court, to call upon the head officials of a bank to hand over the banking account of a State. What will be the position of a government operating on that account in order to carry on essential social services? The funds of a State Government may be seized and transferred to the Commonwealth without any proof being estab- listed that the money is owing. It is an outrageous proposal. The bank may refuse to hand over its client's money without an order of the court. On the other hand, it may accept the view that this legislation is valid, and, under section 109 of the Constitution, overrides State law. It may, therefore, hand over the funds of a State Government, and thus cause great inconvenience and loss to that Government, and suffering to the citizens of the State concerned. Moreover, as was pointed out by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Baker) if this legislation is proved to be invalid, it ceases to be an act, and, in the eyes of the law, never was an act. Therefore, there will never have been any authority for the bank to hand over the funds of the State, and the State Government may sue, not only for the recovery of the money, but for damages as well. Honorable members on the other side who are such champions of the banks might pause and consider where the Government is heading.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -

That the words " or of any branch of any such corporation ", sub-clause 1, be omitted.

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