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Thursday, 8 April 1965

Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) .- I move-

That clause 3 be postponed until after consideration of all remaining clauses.

The motion, if carried, is to be regarded as an indication that the Government should take steps to amend the definition of " savings bank " to include the voluntary savings scheme of. the South Australian Superannuation Fund Board. Clause 3 of the Bill seeks to amend section 4, the interpretation section, of the principal Act. The Opposition is not opposed to the definitions but it questions why a recognised and established savings insitution cannot be accepted for the purposes of the Bill. The measure would seem to be designed to compel people seeking grants to desert their established savings institutions or recognised savings institutions to go to one of the institutions named in the Bill. We do not understand the reasons and we do not agree with them. In South Australia there is a Superannuation Act enacted by the State Parliament. It provides that apart from the compulsory contributions to the Superannuation Fund, contributors may pay voluntarily into a savings account in association with the Fund. This money can be drawn out at any time. The contributors receive interest and the money can be used at any stage for any purpose by the depositors. It is their money at all times.

Under the provisions of the Bill, this savings scheme of the Fund does not comply with the definition of a savings bank. Therefore, public servants in South

Australia who want to qualify for the homes savings grant and who are using these facilities in South Australia will have to transfer their savings to an approved institution. This will weaken the South Australian organisation and the system they have built up over many years.

The report of the South Australian Superannuation Fund for 1963 shows that at June 1963 there were 9,777 contributors to the voluntary savings account. This was an increase of 293 during the year. That shows that this is not a small organisation and that it is supported by the contributors to the Fund. The balance to the credit of contributors at 30th June 1963 was £1,917,488 14s. lOd. The average balance for each contributor was £196 2s. 5d. compared with £188 5s. 2d. at 30th June 1962. Deposits during the year, including interest credited to. depositors amounting to £65,783 5s., amounted to £2,058,365 19s. Withdrawals totalled £1,926,325 ls. Id.

So it can be seen that this is quite an important organisation and that it is supported by members of the Public Service of South Australia. This has become their recognised avenue for savings. The money is invested under an act of the State Parliament. The money received as voluntary savings is deposited with superannuantion contributions and the total is invested together. This is a necessary requirement under the State legislation.

I am informed by the Secretary of the Department concerned that representations were made to the Commonwealth Government by the former Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, to have this form of savings account recognised for the purposes of the homes savings grant scheme so that those who are saving for a home through the Superannuation Fund in South Australia will not have to withdraw their savings or make future savings in another organisation. I have been informed that a reply was received from the Minister for Housing which stated that such savings could not be accepted for the purpose of the scheme as the bulk of the money held by the organisation was not invested under mortgage.

The South Australian Superannuation Fund not only consists of contributions by public servants but also embraces voluntary savings. The voluntary savings in the Fund amount to £2 million. The Secretary of the Superannuation Board has stated that 45 per cent, of the moneys in the Fund are lent out under mortgage, mostly on houses. The balance is invested in Commonwealth, State and local government loans. Surely no greater security could be provided than by this form of investment. A distinction has been drawn between funds held under the voluntary savings scheme and funds that are invested under long term mortgage and in government bonds.

The only argument that can be advanced for not recognising the South Australian Superannuation Fund as a savings bank is that we owe allegiance to the banks and must channel money to them. The South Australian Superannuation Board is not an irresponsible body; it was established under State legislation and is supported by the public servants of that State. In the lending of its funds it is making a substantial contribution to the development of housing in that State. If the Fund is not treated as being a savings bank, the amount of money that is held in the form of voluntary savings will be greatly curtailed, because people who want to acquire a home will be compelled to transfer their money to some other account. The Fund has had the support of the previous Government of South Australia and no doubt it will be supported by the present Government of that State. I repeat that it should be treated as a savings bank for the purposes of this legislation.

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