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Thursday, 22 October 1931

Mr GABB (Angas) .- This is the provision against which many honorable members have protested, but upon which they had not the courage to register a vote. In effect, the clause informs dissentient bondholders that their " no " means "yes". In common with other honorable members, I have received a number of communications on the subject, which disclose how severely the proposal will affect many bondholders. Today, in very brave words, the Prime Minister declared that the Government had saved Australia from insolvency. Why, then, should it be guilty of this dishonorable conduct to its bondholders? I know of the case of an old man of 81 who has South Australian stock to the value of £200 which matures on the11th August next. I do hope that his case will be regarded as a necessitous one. Strangely enough, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) stated that he is satisfied with the assurance of the Government in this matter. I am not satisfied. I am not unmindful that there is an election in prospect. I wonder to myself whether the £2,000,000 that is to be provided from the sinking fund to redeem stock held by necessitous bondholders is merely a vote-catching device. What is going to happen the following year, when there will be no election? I am particularly apprehensive on that score. I received the following letter from a person whose bonds fall due in 1933 : -

I write you in reference to £400 I have in Commonwealth bonds maturing on the15th February, 1933.I am a dissenter to the conversion of my loan for the reason that I shall require the money, when it becomes due, to live on. I wish to point out that the wife and myself are unable to work for our living.

The letter states that the writer is 74 years of age, and continues -

I am suffering with heart disease, and am unable to do any work. In our young days we worked hard and lived hard, and denied ourselves the comforts that we should have had. By our thrift we managed to save a little money for our old days. Now, it seems, we are to be done out of the use of our money. It is the hardest and most callous thing that could possibly he done to a poor old couple; to make paupers of them in their old days.

That man asks me to do what I can. I shall send him a copy of the Treasurer's speech. In spite of the promises of the Government, I am asked to say to that old man, " It does not matter what you want or think. Your ' no ' in this instance means 'yes'". That I am not prepared to do. I know the country that this man lives in ; it would try out anybody. Will the fact that the person is on a farm that cannot maintain him prevent him from obtaining money as a necessitous case?

Mr Theodore - No.

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