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Wednesday, 16 November 1927

Senator DUNCAN (New South. Wales) .- Senator Pearce,for the Government has tried to reply to my few remarks on this amendment by deliberately misrepresenting what I said. I say " deliberately," becausealthough I corrected the right honorable gentleman, and other honorable senators also sought to put him right, he continued to maintain the attitude he had taken up. I did not make use of the words he attributed to me. I am quite prepared to accept his assurance that the Government did consult the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Bank. What I thought I had said and what I certainly meant to say was that, if consultations had been held, there was evidently no agreement between the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Bank and the Government. The assurance given to Parliament when the bill was before us at the second-reading stage was that there was an agreement between the Government and the Board of Directors on this point. We are now assured that the Board of Directors has had time to think over the matter, and time to examine more carefully the arguments that have been used - presumably by the Opposition and by Senator Thompson - against the Government's proposal, and has changed its opinion; it has told the Government so, and has also changed the opinionof the Government. That is about the strangest change of front in record time that I have ever heard of, and I have a little doubt as to whether it is exactly a correct statement of the facts. There is plenty of room for reason able doubt in the circumstances. I accept, however, the assurance of the Leader of the Government in the Senate that the Government now knows what it wants, and is prepared to do it, and that there will be no other change of front. For the sake of the supporters of the Government, and for the sake of the Commonwealth Bank, I hope that the Government now does know what it wants and is prepared to go ahead and do it. Despite all the sneers of the right honorable gentleman about my support of the Government, I claim to be a supporter of the Government, and one who is always ready to step into the breach to aid the Government. I am pleased now to be able to support it even though, in doing so, I have to eat the words I spoke only last week. If the Government has good grounds for making this change of front - we are assured that it has, although I cannot see that it has given us good reasons for it-seeing that it has to accept the responsibility for the step it has taken, it is up to us to support it and leave it to accept the responsibility for everything it has done in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank.

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