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Tuesday, 15 March 1932

Mr RIORDAN - If a house is repaired at the cost of £40, and is not sold for twelve months, the Commissioner may take action against the former occupant for payment.

Mr SCULLIN - That, I understand, is not the position. I gather, from what the Minister has said, that a claim for repairs against a returned soldier cannot be made unless he has an equity in the home.

Mr Nairn - That is not right.

Mr Francis - That is the policy.

Mr Nairn - 'Paragraph a makes it clear that purchase money or advance is due to the Commissioner.

Mr SCULLIN - I am informed by the Minister that a returned soldier is liable only for the amount of his equity in a property.

Mr White - If the house is sold at a profit, yes.

Mr SCULLIN - I understand also that if there is a loss on resale, the Commissioner shoulders the whole of it.

Mr Francis - Yes.

Mr SCULLIN - The committee must be satisfied that a returned soldier who has no equity in the place cannot be sued for any expenditure in respect of repairs. Can any honorable member imagine the Commissioner taking action to recover the cost of repairs against a returned soldier who, through unemployment or other circumstances over which he has no control, falls into arrears, is forced to vacate his home, and is without means? Right through this bill there is power given to thu Commissioner to sue for instalments when overdue. This is only right, but we can intimate to the administration that while we should provide that every man shall be held liable for his legitimate obligations, it is not the desire of Parliament to inflict hardship upon any returned soldiers. We cannot enact that the law shall operate in certain circumstances and not in others. We must, in the end, leave these matters to the administration, in the hope that the Commissioner will interpret generously the expressed will of this Parliament towards returned soldiers.

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