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Wednesday, 16 November 1927
Page: 1456

Senator MCLACHLAN (South Australia) (Honorary Minister) . - At first sight the amendment may appear to be attractive, but if honorable senators will examine it closely they will see that its effect will be to place in the hands of the board of directors of the Commonwealth Bank a power that should properly be exercised by the Government. A difference of opinion might arise between the board and the Government. The Ministry might be of the opinion that the provisions of the housing scheme would be better served by the appointment of commissioners, whereas the board might hold the contrary view. If the amendment is carried the Government will he powerless to take action pending a further amendment of the act. It is the duty of any administration to consult with so important a body as the board of directors of the Commonwealth Bank in regard to an important matter of policy affecting it. It is equally the duty of any government to take full responsibility for its actions. If it does wrong it is answerable to Parliament. This is the only control which should be exercised over it. The amendment cuts at the root of our system of parliamentary government.

Amendment negatived.

SenatorNEEDHAM ("Western Australia) [9.52J. - I believe that if the Government had really intended to appoint the commissioners Ave should not have had the amendment which has just been agreed to. It changes entirely the whole structure of the measure. There was only one principle in the bill, and that was the separation of the savings bank branch from the general business of the bank. It would be much better now to delete the proposed new sub-sections 35p to 35w inclusive. We should then know that the business of the bank would be carried, on by the board of directors as at present. If at any future time the Government thought it desirable to appoint the commission, the act could be amended. In its present form the bill gives the Government carte blanche to appoint the commission, but I feel confident that that will not be done. For these reasons I ask the committee to vote against this proposed section.

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