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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Senator KEANE (Victoria) (Minister for Trade and. Customs) .- On the 28th May, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) asked me, as the Minister representing the Treasurer, the following questions, uponnotice: -

I.   Is it the policy of the Commonwealth Bank to retire bank officers, including State managers of the bank, when they reach the age of 65, whilst at the same time junior officers of the bank who are within the military age groupsare exempted from military training ?

2.   If so, does the Government, in view of the acute man-power shortage, intend to take any remedial action?

The Treasurer has now supplied the following answers : -

1.   I am informed that it is the bank's policy to retire its officers at 65 years of age, but that only nine officers have been retired from the bank under this arrangement since the outbreak of war. The Commonwealth Bank has released practically all its unmarried officers between the ages of 18 and 30 for military training, and the remainder will go into camp in the near future. All officers attaining the age of eighteen years are released when called up for training and unmarried officers volunteering for the Royal Australian Air Force or for the Australian Imperial Force are released immediately. No less than 52 per cent. of the bank's male staff as at the outbreak of war are engaged in the fighting services. This has been achieved in spite of the fact that the bank is undertaking many special services connected with the war effort and which take up the full time of a large number of the staff.

2.   See information supplied in answer to No. I. The question of granting exemptions is a matter for the man-power authorities.

On the 28th May, Senator Lamp asked me, as the Minister representing the Treasurer, the following question, upon notice : -

Will the Treasurer issue instructions that the Commonwealth Bank shall accept general banking business without having it first referred to the private banks?

The Treasurer has now supplied the following answer: -

By virtue of existing Commonwealth legislation, the conditions under which the Commonwealth Bank shall accept general banking business are entirely within its own jurisdiction. It is understood, however, that the Commonwealth Bank accepts all general banking business, such as current accounts and the issue of drafts,&c., without question, and only consults with a trading bank when it is a question of taking over an advance.

On the 3rd June Senator Aylett asked me the following questions, upon notice : -

1.   Will the Minister have an investigation made into the timber freights between Tasmania and the mainland?

2.   Have such freights increased by 68 per cent. since the beginning of the war?

3.   Is the Prices Commissioner controlling all increases in freight now charged by interstate shipping companies?

4.   If not, why not?

The answers to the honorable senator's questions are as follows: -

1.   Freight rates for the carriage of timber on requisitioned vessels which carry the bulk of timber from Tasmania to the mainland are under the control of the Shipping Control Board.

2.   Sec answer to No. 1.

3.   No.

4.   See answer to No. 1.

On the 3rd June Senator Lamp asked me as the Minister representing the Treasurer, the following questions, uponnotice-

1.   What Commonwealth loans are subject to Commonwealth and State taxation?

2.   What Commonwealth loans are subject to Commonwealth taxation only?

The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -

1.   and 2. Interest derived from investment in all Commonwealth loans is at present free of State taxation and is subject to Commonwealth taxation. In order to continue the concession of freedom from State taxation, a provision is being made in the legislation which is being introduced for the adoption of a uniform tax system, for a rebate of tax to be allowed in respect of interest from those Commonwealth Government securities which are subject to full Commonwealth taxation. It is proposed that this rebate shall be at the rate of 2s. for each £1 of such loan interest included in the taxable income.

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