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Wednesday, 9 March 1932

Mr E J HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - The introduction of a measure of this kind has been too long delayed. Such legislation is essential to the welfare of the people of this country. It is highly desirable, in my opinion, that the insurance business of all the States should be placed upon an equitable footing. With the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn), and the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin), I think that something more should be done to protect the insurance schemes established by employers and employees. I do not believe that the object of this bill is to destroy the cooperative insurance movements which have been set on foot by various private enterprises in Australia in order that the welfare of employees may be safeguarded in the case of misfortune overtaking them; I believe that it is to protect the interests of thrifty Australian citizens who should not be left open to the exploitation of bogus insurance companies which, in the past, have been able to do a good deal to injure the best interests of the workers of this country. In these circumstances I am surprised that honorable members opposite should have shown any opposition to the bill. They must have read into the measure some ulterior motive. Surely honorable members who represent New South Wales constituencies must realize that the policyholders in insurance companies would be protected by the lodging of deposits by the companies. Only recently, investigations have been made in New South Wales which have demonstrated beyond question that bogus companies have been operating there for some time. Some of these companies have actually robbed people who have been so ill-advised as to take out policies with them. This has meant a degree of distress too terrible to contemplate. Although this bill is not all-embracing, it certainly does do something -to meet an unsatisfactory position in New South Wales. It has been said that the measure is aimed definitely at the New South Wales Government. Even if that be so, we must remember that " hard cases make hard laws ". It is absolutely imperative that the welfare of the people of New South Wales should bc protected. The stability and credit of the State, and the value of its stocks and securities, will be improved if insurance companies are required to make deposits in accordance with the terms of this measure. I remind honorable members that the bill has already been passed by members of another place, who have been elected for the purpose of watching the interests of the States. We may take it, therefore, that State interests have been conserved in this measure. It is certainly undesirable that any government should be able to confiscate the funds of insurance companies in order to carry out pet schemes of its own. I support the bill, because I think such legislation is necessary in the interests of the nation.

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