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Thursday, 27 May 1915

Senator SENIOR - The voluntary system has signally failed in Germany, and that country has the most up-to-date system at the present time.

Senator DE LARGIE - I cannot speak with any authority on the German system, but I do know that we have machinery now existing which would render the work of collecting the premiums in regard to any insurance the Government might take in hand a very small item indeed. If the Commonwealth undertook this business there would not be the need to rely on private enterprise to the extent we now do. If our public servants have to be insured in fidelity funds, private companies do the work. What need is there for it?

Senator Senior - That also obtains in regard to State Government servants.

Senator DE LARGIE - If the State Governments also utilize private companies, it only goes to show that they, as well as ordinary citizens, could take advantage of a Commonwealth scheme. Strange to say, the municipalities in Victoria have a scheme of their own. Formerly they were paying to private companies on almost the same basis as the figures I have quoted in connexion with fire and life assurance, but now they have an organization by which the municipalities provide for their own officers and any responsibilities they take as corporate bodies; and of the £20,000 which they paid in, they have since, even in the short time the scheme has been in existence, got back £17,000, which goes to show that the amount of financial responsibility is very low. In the face of these figures I think that we can say that the time has arrived when the Commonwealth Government should provide the money for a similar organization for doing its own business, and perhaps that of the State offices referred to by Senator Senior, as well as ordinary citizens. Instead of rushing this Bill through now, I would prefer to see a Select Committee appointed from this Chamber to inquire into the whole matter, with a view to bringing in a report, because it mustbe manifest to all that a complete scheme has not been submitted. I must admit that, after waiting fourteen years for a Bill, I am somewhat disappointed that a more comprehensive scheme has not been brought forward. The Government, of course, may have a policy' which they did not refer to, and this measure may be only an instalment; but before any action is taken in this direction, I think that an inquiry ought to be held and a scheme propounded from the results of the inquiry. The best way in which the inquiry could be carried out would be by means of a Select Committee to investigate the whole question in the light of the newer developments that have occurred from time to time, not only in Victoria, but in New South Wales, where a great deal of extravagance and even maladministration of the working of insurance schemes might very well be sheeted home. If we were in possession of the evidence of persons submitted to the test of examination on oath, we would be in a better position to understand the ground we occupy, and to act, than we are in at the present time.

Debate (on motion by Senator Keating) adjourned.

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