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Thursday, 6 May 1920

Mr FENTON (Maribyrnong) .- One of the causes for all this trouble, I dare say, is that the Commonwealth Bank, having started a Savings Bank branch, is out to do certain work along the lines of the State Savings Banks, in the matter of the Credit Foncier system. I do not know whether the functions of the Commonwealth Bank are to be enlarged by pending legislation, "but some arrangement between Commonwealth and State Savings Bank institutions would be welcome, whereby considerable duplication might be ended. The Commonwealth Bank has engaged a firm of architects, which is to get so much for house designs submitted, and a percentage for supervision of building. It is a very pushing firm, working in association with a pushing institution, namely, the Commonwealth Bank. I have been wondering whether the architects have not pushed the Repatriation Department into fields of activity in which their services were not called for.

Mr Francis - They have pushed them out altogether.

Mr FENTON - Whether that be so or not, it is certain that if a man is appointed upon a commission basis he will get as much work as possible, whether in this State or another. If these architects have the drawing up of very many specifications for a considerable number of houses in South Australia, it will be merely and naturally adding to the income derived by them by way of commission.

Mr Francis - I understand that these architects are not now engaged by the Commonwealth Bank.

Mr FENTON - That is news to me. I take it that the Commonwealth authorities have the right to resume land. In this connexion, I desire to cite an individual case. A working man had purchased a block of land within a suburb in my constituency. He was about to build, when the Commonwealth authorities - I presume, the Repatriation Department - commandeered that block. They notified the owner that they intended to make use of it for a soldier's home. He had no grave objection to offer to that, of course, but was compelled to wait for months, and even after going to considerable trouble he could secure no information with respect to the intentions of the authorities. In exasperation at last, he said, " If you are going to take my block, please take it quickly, and pay me at once, because I want to buy another block in the same neighbourhood on which to build, and meanwhile the price is going up." He has at last been offered the price which he originally paid for his block, and he finds himself faced, with the position that if he requires to purchase in the same locality he must pay considerably more. Why should he be penalized because of the long delay of a Federal Department ?

Mr Francis - Similar things have happened in my constituency, at Carnegie.

Mr FENTON - I think it will be found that the architects, in conjunction with the Bank, are pushing matters with regard to soldiers' homes, and are coming into competition with the State Savings Banks. I can testify to he magnificent work undertaken by the latter authorities. With regard to the triplication of activities, as disclosed' by the motion, I can only say that it is cruelly unfair to taxpayers, and is penalizing returned soldiers themselves. Let the best authority carry out the work in the best interests of the soldiers and the community.

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