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Wednesday, 7 July 1915

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - The Minister seems to be labouring under the impression that there are in existence, or mav spring into existence, companies of a bogus character. A small company may be quite as solvent as a large one within the ambit of its business, but, under a later clause, small companies will be precluded from registering by the excessive amount of the deposit demanded. The deposit to be paid by a large company bears nothing like the same proportion to its total business as in the case of a small company, although the latter may be just as safe. This shows the advantage of local consideration, because the local Deputy Commissioner would know the circumstances of each case, and the assets and liabilities of each company. I do not object at all to the provisions of clause 7 regarding registration, but the period under clause 8 should be extended to at least twelve months. As the Bill now stands, a number of small insurance companies now in existence will be forced to wind up, although they are doing a legitimate business under the present law. It is just as if the Government decreed that there should be no more small shops in Bourkestreet, and that only big concerns should be allowed to continue, by requiring the small shops to pay the same licence-fee as the big ones, and get their licence within the same period. That would surely be unfair.

Senator Barker - There is nothing in clause 7 or clause 8 to prevent a small company from registering.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - But they have to put up £20,000 in six months.

Senator SENIOR - That is the point. It is. a subsequent provision that requires a, very heavy deposit, and this clause gives the small companies practically no time to wind up their businesses. I. have in my mind a company doing a legitimate business under the present law in a limited ambit for a limited number of persons. It is perfectly solvent, but it cannot put up £20,000. It is a small shop in the way of insurance, and if this clause is passed it will be allowed only six months in which to pass out, or become liable to very heavy -penalties. It is just as if we required an honest man. doing a legitimate business, to wind up his affairs and clear out, leaving the field to larger concerns.

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