Opinion Number. 691

Subject

COMMONWEALTH BANK: GERMAN NEW GUINEA WHETHER BRANCH OF COMMONWEALTH BANK CAN BE ESTABLISHED AT RABAUL: DISTINCTION BETWEEN ESTABLISHMENT OF GENERAL BANKING BRANCH AND SAVINGS BANK BRANCH: STATUS OF GERMAN NEW GUINEA

Key Legislation

COMMONWEALTH BANK ACT 1911, ss. 23, 35 (1), (2)

Date
Client
The Secretary to the Treasury

The Secretary to the Treasury asks for advice on the question raised in the following letter from the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia:

I have the honour to advise that the British Administrator at Rabaul has suggested that the establishment of a branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia at Rabaul is well worth consideration in view of future possibilities. I shall therefore be obliged if you will ascertain from the Honourable the Attorney-General whether, under the Commonwealth Bank Act 1911-1914, the Bank could establish a branch at Rabaul for conducting both general banking business and Savings Bank business. In this regard attention may be directed to sections 23 and 35, as amended, of the Commonwealth Bank Act 1911-1914.

Section 23 of the Act of 1911 empowers the Governor, with the consent of the Treasurer, to establish a branch of the Bank in London, and branches 'in any other places beyond the Commonwealth'.

In my opinion, under this section, the Governor has power, with the consent of the Treasurer, to establish a branch of the Commonwealth Bank at Rabaul.

Section 35 (1) empowers the Governor to establish a Savings Bank branch 'at the head office of the Bank, and at such other places as he thinks fit'; and section

35 (2), as amended in 1914, reads as follows:

35. (2) Branches or agencies for Savings Bank business may be established at any place within the Commonwealth or any territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, or, with the consent of the Treasurer, in any other part of the King's dominions, notwithstanding that the Bank has no branch or agency for general banking business at that place.

I think that the effect of these two sub-sections is that the Governor has power to establish a Savings Bank at any place where he has a branch for general banking; but where he has not a general banking branch his power is limited to places 'within the Commonwealth or any territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, or, with the consent of the Treasurer, in any other part of the King's dominions'.

I doubt whether Rabaul, at present, is either a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, or a part of the King's dominions, within the meaning of the section.

I think, therefore, that the Governor has power, if a general branch of the Bank is established at Rabaul, to open a Savings Bank branch there.

If advice is desired as to whether, if a general branch is not opened at Rabaul, the Governor has power to open a Savings Bank branch there, I should like to consider the matter further.

[Vol. 14, p. 259]