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Thursday, 2 June 1921

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - On the 20th ult., the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) asked the Minister for Trade and Customs the following question, upon notice: -

1.   Will he inform the House whether the Governmenthave adopted the principle of the Clearing House for the settlement of debts as against the future indemnity to be paid by Germany as set out in the Peace Treaty ?

2.   What steps have been taken in the Commonwealth to put such policy into effect?

3.   Has the property of German nationals in Australia in the possession of the- Public Trustee been realized, and to what extent; and what remains to be realized?

4.   What is the amount of the credit in respect of the, German property taken possession of by the 'Public Trustee as against the indemnity due by Germany to Australia?

5.   Whatwill be the total amount of the credit to be given to Australia by the realization of properties belonging to German nationals in Australia?

6.   What steps have been taken to advise the British Government of the policy of the Commonwealth 'Government?

I replied that as far as possible the information was being obtained. £ am now in a position to . furnish the honorable member with, the following information: -

1.   The Government has adopted the principle of the Clearing Office for the settlement of debts between German, nationals resident in Germany, and British nationals resident in the Commonwealth. Any balance remaining in favour of Germany will, in due course, be reckoned as. a credit to Germany in respect of her reparation obligations.. 2.A Clearing Office was established, in Australia in April, 1920.

3.   The property in Australia of German nationals resident outside the Commonwealth has been vested in the Public Trustee, and is in process of -realization.

According to the latest figures available, £1,040,81215s.1d. is the total amount held by the Commonwealth Government in respect of the realization of the property of German, Austrian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Turkish nationals.

This total is made up as follows: -


It cannot . be stated exactly at present how much of this total is in respect of the property of German nationals, and how much is in respect of the property . of other ex-enemy nationals.

It is estimated, however; that about £1,000,000 out of the £1,040,81215s.1d. represents the proceeds of realization of the property of German1 nationals:

The property of German nationals remaining to be realized is considerable, but its value cannot be furnished with any degree of accuracy prior to realization. 4 and 5. See answer to No. 3.

6.   The Commonwealth Government's policy was communicated to the Secretary of State for the Colonics as follows: -

Readoption of Clearing Office system. - In January, 1920.

Reretention of . property in Australia of German nationals resident outside Commonwealth. -In December, 1920.

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