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Wednesday, 14 December 1927

Senator McLACHLAN (South Aus tralia) (Honorary Minister) . - Senator Herbert Hays appears to think that there is no distinction in principle between the amendment which he moved and that which has been accepted by the Government. I desire to point out, as I did when the honorable senator moved the amendment, that his proposal purported to give control to the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Bank. I then put it to the honorable senator that it would be most undesirable for any government to place in the hands of the board a power which the Parliament should exercise.

Senator Herbert Hays - Will the Minister submit such legislation to this Parliament in the future without consulting the directorate of the bank?

Senator McLACHLAN - The directors of the bank are consulted in regard to all of these matters. It is a question not of consultation, but of whether the supre macy of Parliament is not threatened. Parliament has now said the proposed commission cannot be brought into being, and shall not function, except by resolution of both Houses. That is very different from the amendment which Senator Herbert Hays wished to insert. At first sight, as I informed honorable senators at the time, it might appear attractive, but a closer examination showed that it would place in the hande of the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Bank a power which properly is exercisable by the Government. The amendment that I now ask the committee to accept proposes to place that power in the hands of Parliament, the tribunal to which it properly belongs. I remind Senator Greene that so far from being a negation of legislation, or requiring a further enactment, the only requirement, should the necessity arise, will be a resolution of both Houses.

SenatorGreene. - That is a distinction without a difference.

Senator McLACHLAN - This is merely a side issue to the main features of the bill. I have already pointed out that the important principle is the separation of the two arms of the Commonwealth Bank.

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is very different from the story which the Minister told us when he introduced the measure.

Senator McLACHLAN - Oh, no! The story which I then told was that of the separation of the two branches of the bank. I defy any honorable senator to say that that is not the outstanding principle of the measure. It is of no consequence whether a commission or the directorate of the bank are given the administration.

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - In the circumstances, I have every sympathy for the Minister.

Senator McLACHLAN - I can assure the honorable senator that his sympathy is entirely wasted. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) laid to his soul the flattering unction that something tremendous had been accomplished when this amendment was introduced. He practically said that there had been no separation. I ask honorable senators to read the bill to see what they have accomplished.

Senator Herbert Hays - The management has not been separated?

Senator McLACHLAN - What does it matter who is charged with the management? Under the bill as originally drafted, one of the directors of the bank would have been appointed to the commission that was to have had charge of the Commonwealth Savings Bank Consequently, there is no difference in principle. I ask the committee to accept the amendment.

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