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Tuesday, 13 October 1931

Mr JAMES (Hunter) .- Again I bring before the Government the matter of granting assistance to depositors in the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, particularly to those who are aged. On a previous occasion the Treasurer intimated that if I could state specific cases he would be prepared to deal with them. I have presented some such cases to the honorable gentleman, one of which concerns an aged couple of about 69 years of age. The amount of their deposit in the bank is £900. They undertake that, if the Commonwealth Government will grant them a pension to enable them to exist they will repay the amount advanced by this Government when the State Savings Bank makes their money available. The Treasurer has not replied to my letter on the subject. I admit that he is a very busy man. He has been particularly engrossed lately coining attractive phrases about " low-browed, leather-lunged " individuals, and so on.

I think, with the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley), that the

Federal Government should grant some assistance to the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. It is well known that that institution was subjected to systematic political propaganda on the part of enemies of the Labour party, designed deliberately to destroy the political existence of Mr. Lang. The attacks of the ex-Premier and the ex-State Treasurer of New South Wales, also of the Federal Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) were especially virulent. Following an irresponsible statement by the last-named gentleman a rush was caused on the bank which resulted in £3,000,000 being withdrawn from it the following day. Eventually the bank had to close its doors. However, the New South Wales State Government possesses Commonwealth bonds to the value of £30,000,000. Surely that is sufficient security to warrant this Government stepping in and assisting suffering depositors who have their life's savings locked up in the bank. I plead with the Government to do something, and in the meantime to grant pensions to aged depositors who undertake to repay the amount they receivewhen the bank resumes payment.

I t cannot again be said that any people are suffering more from the depression than those in my electorate. The Prime Minister has been through it, and he must be aware of the conditions that exist. The mine at Minmi closed down seven years ago, that at Redhead five years ago, while those at South Aberdare and Stanford Merthyr ceased operations four years ago. On top of other troubles there were sixteen months'lockout.

Mr Nairn - The men would not work. Starvation will do them good. They destroyed their own trade.

Mr JAMES - The honorable member does not know what work is and would not work if it were given to him. His statements are unbalanced and irresponsible. I appeal to the Federal Government to grant some assistance to the unfortunate people in my electorate. On many occasions the Minister for Defence has been liberal in this respect. Probably he can go no further, and I, therefore, address my appeal direct to the Prime Minister. These people particularly need boots. In many cases in my electorate these unfortunate people have to go barefooted. There are considerable stocks of boots in both our military and naval stores, which could be put to good use if distributed to the unemployed. I appeal to the Prime Minister to use these surplus stores and perform a humane service that would be worthy of any government.

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