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Monday, 16 November 1964

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Laught (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - To what clause is the honorable senator referring?

Senator MURPHY - I refer to clauses 3 and 4. The question is whether the bill ;should include such a reference as is in clause 3 to " lenders in the United States of America" rather than to "lenders in the Commonwealth of Australia ". As I understand it, the Minister argues that if these moneys were to be raised in Australia rather than in America, some detriment would be suffered by the States. This is fallacious. The Commonwealth is in control of the Australian Loan Council. If it likes, it can raise the limits for borrowing. It says it will not do so, because if more money were to be raised in Australia the States would be affected in their public works activities. How gullible does the Minister except honorable senators and the Australian public to be? This is a government which has sat back and done nothing at all to utilise its powers in relation to the great hire purchase institutions, nothing in relation to people such as the Reid Murray group, and others who, for innocent or other purposes, are allowed to raise as much money in this country as they like.

The Commonwealth puts a clamp upon the activities of the States and its own instrumentalities. It imposes a clamp, not pursuant to any law, but as the result of a gentlemen's agreement; upon the local government authorities and says that they are not to borrow more than a certain amount. Yet anybody in the community can go out with impunity and raise millions or tens of millions of pounds. In recent years people have done that to the detriment of the Australian community. But this Government says that for the Commonwealth to as for £13.4 million from the people of Australia would be robbing the States. If the loan situation in Australia is as tight as is suggested and if the Government is concerned about the position of the States, why has it not explored its powers over hire purchase finance? Why has the Government not used' the many avenues that are open to it to curb private loans to enable the States and the Commonwealth to raise the moneys they need? I suggest that the proposition which has been advanced and which goes to the kernel of the Bill is entirely without substance.

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