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Wednesday, 16 November 1927

Senator REID (Queensland) .- I am pleased that the Government has brought forward this amendment.

Senator Hoare - That is not in keeping with what the honorable senator said last week.

SenatorREID. - I did not say anything last week, nor have I said anything at any time about the bill since it has been before the Senate. I was strongly opposed to the idea of separating the savings bank from the general trading bank, and the proposal to create another board of commissioners; but I preferred to reserve my opinion until we reached the committee stage. I had made up my mind to vote against the proposal to appoint a commission; and many honorable senators heard me make that statement privately. Therefore, I am pleased that circumstances have allowed the Government to bring down the amendment.

Senator Needham - Circumstances have compelled the Government to bring down the amendment.

Senator REID - I do not see that there was any compulsion about it. I do not doubt the word of the Government that the board of directors of the Commonwealth Bank thought that they already had too much work to do. I do not think that any 'Minister would deliberately misrepresent the attitude of the board by telling us that the Government had consulted the directors and that they thought that it was best for them not to handle the savings bank business. I could quite understand the directors of the bank taking the attitude ascribed to them. For that reason, I said nothing on the second reading of the bill, because I thought that some value might be attached to the views of - the directors on the point, although my own opinion was that they did not have so much work to do that they could not handle the housing scheme. I can also quite understand them discussing the matter and changing their minds. Why should they not seek to strengthen their position, and also strengthen the bank, from their point of view"? Of course, honorable senators opposite would naturally be expected to make the most of the opportunity now presented to them. When Senator Needham rose to speak, I asked him to speak out, because I knew that he had a very juicy apple to chew, and would make the most of it, It was a delight to us to see him getting through the business so speedily. I was equally pleased to see Senator Findley start the ball rolling. It was the first time I had heard him leading the Opposition in challenging the Government. He did it well ; I congratulate him. I can quite see what is in the minds of honorable senators opposite. They profess to believe that they have convinced the Government of the need for bringing in this amendment, and they will boast about it when they are before the electors. I do not care from what quarter this amendment comes. I have not the slightest doubt that the present directors of the Commonwealth Bank will find that they can handle the housing scheme; but if they find, later on, that the task does not suit them, they can make representations to the Government. There will certainly be a great deal of worry entailed in seeing how the States spend the money that is advanced to them. We all know what trouble the Commonwealth has experienced in regard to the way in which the States have expended the road grants. If, later on, the board of directors of the Commonwealth Bank comes to the conclusion that the task of controlling the savings bank is too much for them, the bill makes provision' for relieving them of the responsibility. I hope that that will not happen, but any one who knows the work entailed in dealing with housing schemes will realize that the directors of the Commonwealth Bank may find the task more difficult than they think. I have no grudge against the Government, and I am pleased that I can vote for an amendment which will make the bill what I think it should be

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