The Sydney Morning Herald, March 28, 1950, p. 1.

A motion criticising the Commonwealth Bank Bill now before Federal Parliament was narrowly defeated at a meeting of the State Council of the Liberal Party last night.

Two delegates attacked the bill which, they said, gave control to a bureaucracy of the Commonwealth Bank Board.

The Minister for Social Services, Senator W. H. Spooner, said the council would not be “doing the right thing” by the Australian Liberal Party if it accepted the delegates’ “ill-informed” statements.

Mr. Spence (Neutral Bay) said the motion was one of no-confidence in the Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, and was a shocking thing to come before the council.

Mr. F. M. Hewitt (Mosman) moved that the Council view the bill with concern.

“During the elections, we were allowed to believe that the supporters of private enterprise would bring down an Act, if they were elected, which would give effect to the principles of private enterprise,” Mr. Hewitt said.

“The bill before the House does not do that.”

“If this bill attempted to accord with party principles while appeasing the Socialists and a hostile Senate, then it was a very wrong bill to introduce.”

Mr. Hewitt said the appointments to the bank board were to consist of five members of the Civil Services, with the governor of the Commonwealth Bank, Dr. H. C. Coombs, at chairman, with a casting vote.

“By this set-up, the bill gives complete control to this bureaucracy,” he said.

The policy of the Liberal Party should be to squash bureaucrats as much as possible, rather than to put them in a position of supreme power.

“By this bill, the members of the Commonwealth Bank Board will be able to exercise much more power than they could in their position under the Chifley Government.”

Mr. A. H. Jago (Gordon) said he seconded the motion.

He said Dr. Coombs was a product of the London School of Economics — “one of the most vile training grounds in the British Empire.”

Senator Spooner said: “If the Council debate this ill-informed motion it will not be doing the right thing by the Liberal Party of Australia.”

“The bill is before Parliament and as been approved by the Liberal and Country Parties.”

“We have introduced it because it is in the interests of the Australian people.”

A voice: “Is this a policy speech?”

Senator Spooner said: “Mr. Jago’s attack on Dr. Coombs is a direct reflection on our own Parliamentary Leader, who made statements that Dr. Coombs could be made the governor of the bank.”

Mr. Sefton Cullen (Wollondilly): “This debate is such dynamite it should be dropped so that our Cabinet friends should not be embarrassed.”

Mr. Spence said if the motion was passed it would be “another McGirr Act.”

“It could ring the death-knell of the Liberal Party at the next State elections,” he said.

Mr. Hewitt said in reply that there was “great danger” of the Parliamentary representatives of the council becoming “out of touch” with the Liberal organisation.

The motion was narrowly defeated on a show of hands.

Many State Liberal Parliamentarians were present.