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Thursday, 3 November 1927

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- Seeing that this bill is closely allied with the Commonwealth Housing Bill, I expected that it would have received some commendation from honorable members opposite; but, though I listened attentively" to their remarks, I did not hear them utter one word in support of the measure. It is my regret, and that of many other honorable senators, that for bills containing provisions which may be helpful to the people, the Government cannot get a word of commendation from those who sit in opposition. I can understand an Opposition being firm in its attitude towards the Government on matters that conflict with its own platform; but I cannot understand needless opposition to matters which cannot be in conflict with its platform. The bill before us provides for the separation of the savings bank business from the ordinary banking business of the Commonwealth Bank, and when one realizes the fundamental difference between the functions of these two branches of the bank, one can easily see that it is advisable to bring about this separation be cause of the contemplated provision of a large sum of money for the effective housing of the people of Australia. Senator Greene has pointed out clearly that an ordinary trading bank must of necessity have its assets in a liquid condition easily realizable at any time. More particularly is this necessary in the case of the Commonwealth Bank if it is to fulfil the functions of a central bank. On the other hand, a savings bank is entitled to lend out the funds of its depositors on very long terms. My experience in Australia during the last two years, especially since housing schemes have been put in operation to provide homes not only for soldiers but also for civilians, is that a very deserving portion of the community has had no consideration extended to it in this direction. It is probablya more important section of the community than any other. I refer to the middle classes who, under the provisions of the Housing Bill, will now have an opportunity to obtain homes of their own on very easy terms. In what way can we make Australia better than by having a contented people living in their own homes, secured on the easiest possible terms? If there was nothing else to be considered than that achievement, this legislation should have secured at least some sympathetic consideration from honorable senators opposite. Everyone must be gratified to learn that the operations of the Commonwealth Bank since its inception have been so useful to Australia, and one can easily imagine that many avenues will be opened up by the legislation we are now considering which will lead to the development of primary industries, as well as towards the development of a housing scheme for the people. I hope that honorable senators who have spoken in opposition to this bill will recognize that they can support the Housing Bill in view of the ultimate good it must do to the whole community. I shall reserve my further remarks until we are discussing the Housing Bill.

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